When it comes to beauty, there are few things more covetable than long, sleek, shiny and straight hair. It’s the kind of style that somehow manages to look chic with everything. But there are many concerns about straightening hair at home. After all, you’re clamping your precious, pretty locks with an iron that’s at the temperature required to bake a pizza! As compiled from Teen Vogue, here is what you could be doing wrong…
1. You’re not starting in the shower
Let’s get one thing clear: no shampoo or conditioner will give you straight hair. But hair products labelled “smoothing” may be able to help by providing some moisture. “Take a paddle brush to comb the conditioner through and then rinse your hair gently,” suggests stylist Sarah Potempa. “Once you’re out of the shower, don’t towel dry as it enhances natural curls. Instead, pat downwards, gently.”
2. The blow-dryer is in the wrong direction
“The blow-dryer is most damaging,” says Tim Rogers, the creative director for Living Proof. “So it makes all the difference when you’re trying to get a sleek finish.” If you do use a dryer out of the shower, Potempa suggests rough drying until it’s 80% finished. “It’s important to keep the nozzle facing downwards the entire time, otherwise the hair will frizz,” she notes. “Blow it out smooth for the best result,” Rogers suggests. “It gives the hair more direction and shape.”
3. Sizzle is the enemy
“If you see steam or hear a sizzle, stop!” says Harry Josh, stylist to Miranda Kerr. “Hair should be bone dry when you straighten.” If you’re certain that the hair is dry, product build-up could be the culprit. “You need to be selective about what products you use before you iron,” insists Potempa. “Avoid applying anything to dry hair because when the iron clamps down, there’s nowhere for the product to go. You’re essentially boiling the product into the hair follicle!”
4. You’re not using a thermal protectant
How are you supposed to get sleek strands without the help of a little something? Invest in a good-quality hair protector at your local medical store. If you have thicker or coarser hair, you could use argan oil.
5. You cranked up the temperature
“The 450 degree setting was designed specifically for in-salon, professional keratin treatments,” Rogers explains. “But now everyone can use it, which makes the at-home process faster.” Obviously, this comes at the expense of hair health. “Coarse hair does need a higher heat,” states stylist Jeanna Pizzollo. “Fine hair and especially damaged or colour-treated hair should stay in the safe zone of 300 to 350 degrees.”
6. You’re not sectioning
“You shouldn’t be grabbing fistfuls of hair randomly,” clarifies Potempa. “The iron won’t be able to get pieces that are too thick and you don’t want to reapply heat.” Instead, she suggests creating sections so you can easily track your progress and also, save time.
7. You’re repeating yourself
Passing the iron over particular hair more than once won’t kill it but is it really necessary? “Tension is essential,” Josh notes. “Create your tension and then pull the iron downward, starting from the root.” Obviously, curly styles will find it necessary to pull, straighten and repeat a few times but pulling the hair taut while straightening will help immensely.
8. Your finish is damaging
If you have hair that may frizz or curl, finishing products are your best friends. “A light hold hairspray is a good idea,” Potempa shares. “But it’s best to wait for the hair to cool down first. Think about spraying a hot pan— it’ll sizzle and steam…as will your hair.” She suggests spraying a nylon brush with the product, then combing it through for even application. “It’s the best way to make sure your hair gets a hold that isn’t sticky or stiff.”
9. Your iron is a dinosaur
When it comes to straighteners, proof is in the product. So break the piggy bank for a good iron with features to assist the process. “An automatic shut-off feature is crucial. It’s a great safety feature for the girl-on-the-go,” Pizzollo says. Potempa advises looking at the recovery time. “A lot of cheap flatirons take up to 90 seconds to recover the temperature you set, so you’re actually losing heat as you go along. That also means heat won’t be evenly distributed between the two plates.” According to her, Ceramic is softer on fine-to-normal hair, but if you have curly tresses, go for gold or titanium. Also, never go above an inch-and-a-half or you won’t be able to reach the root properly.