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How do I Use a Flat Iron to Straighten my Hair?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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If you occasionally desire silky, straight locks of hair but are blessed with resolute curls or waves, a flat iron may be the key to your hairstyle dreams. Flat irons use focused heat and steam to straighten even the bounciest curls and give you temporarily straight strands. Although it is possible to do considerable damage to your hair by singeing or burning it with a flat iron, used correctly it can be a great tool. With just a few easy steps, you can have a whole different hairstyle in no time.

There are many different hair irons to choose from in today’s market. Experts recommend using an iron with ceramic plates, which warm up very quickly and give a constant, even source of heat. Some new models also use tourmaline technology, which emits negatively-charged ions to keep tricky hair from frizzing while straightening. Typically, people with short hairstyles should use narrower irons that can easily grab short or choppy sections, while those with longer hair will cut down on the time it takes to straighten by using models with a wider plate.

To prepare your hair for straightening with the least amount of damage, consider using a shampoo and conditioner that contains straightening agents. While this may not do the job entirely, it can reduce the amount of heat-styling needed, protecting your hair from heat damage. If you straighten your hair often, try using shampoos and conditioners made for damaged or dry hair, and indulge in a deep-conditioning treatment once a week. If you don’t like to spend your money on beauty products, protect hair by rubbing warmed olive oil on your locks, allowing to set for ten minutes, and then rinsing completely.

Next, use a heat-protection product to keep hair from excessive damage. These typically should be used on wet or damp hair, and worked in from root to tip. Many heat or thermal sprays also contain agents to prevent frizz and flyaway strands, which will help tremendously with the finished look.

Blow-dry hair completely after treating. Although some models do work on damp hair, it is considered by many to be both safer and more effective to straighten dry hair. Never use a flat iron on sopping wet hair, as it can result in shock or electrocution.

If you have layered or long hair, you may want to pin it up in sections by length before ironing. Let down one section at a time to enhance your layers, starting with the longest hair first. Be sure to use small sections of hair; although this may seem inefficient, it will actually help you. Small, manageable sections will give you a uniform finish and allow you to keep the iron on your hair for the shortest amount of time.

After you have ironed your hair, consider finessing the look with a light hair spray or finishing spray. These products can keep hair in place, add body and shine, and tame any flyaway strands. To avoid overuse or patchy distribution, consider spraying product into your palms and using your hands to work it through your hair. After spraying, try to avoid touching or playing with your hair to keep your style perfect.

To keep your flat iron at its best condition, clean after every few uses. Products, fuzz, and frizz can build up on the plates and then transfer to your hair the next time you use the iron. Look for models with removable plates for easy cleaning and never wash plates without making sure the iron is unplugged.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for The Health Board. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By surflover00 — On Aug 09, 2010

ColdRain- I have very thick, curly, long hair. It usually takes me about an hour to straigten my hair.

A tip I have is to apply a relaxing serum to wet hair if you have very curly hair before flat ironing it. This helps to tame my hair and take some of the curl out. It reduces the time needed to straighten my hair to about 30 minutes.

By ColdRain — On Aug 09, 2010

How long does it take you to flat iron your hair based on the length and texture of your hair? Do you have any tips for shortening the time needed to straigthen your hair?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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