Firstly, if you don’t already own one, decide which size works best for your hair. The general rule is that the shorter and thinner your hair is, the narrower the straighteners you need. Wider straighteners are best for longer, thicker hair:
1/2″ mini iron: Ideal for pixie cuts and fringes (bangs)
1″ flat iron: Best for shot, fine hair
1 1/4″ flat iron: Great for hair that’s shoulder length and medium-thickness
1 1/2″ flat iron: Perfect for thick, coarse, curly hair and hair that’s longer than shoulder length
2″ flat iron: This is ideal for thick, very long hair
There are different types of straighteners, made with different materials:
Ceramic: Ceramic plates evenly distribute heat and are less likely to burn the hair. Try to avoid ceramic coated plates though as they can often chip and therefore snag on hair, so it’s better to use plates made fully of ceramic.
Tourmaline: This is a crystalline mineral which is used to coat the plates of a flat iron. It generally makes hair shinier, straighter and a lot less frizzy than the other options.
Titanium: These heat up faster than ceramic and are less likely to cause heat damage if used correctly, as long as they are not left on the hair for too long.
Preparing your hair:
Look for shampoos and conditioners that claim to have straightening and/or moisturising properties, as these are specially formulated to create sleek hair.
Pat your hair dry after washing, rather than ruffling harshly, as this helps to keep frizz at a minimum.
Whilst your hair is still wet, use a thermal protection serum or hair treatment. This is best on wet hair as the moisture allows it to spread more evenly. Comb through after applying.
Products containing Argan oil or coconut oil are great for deep conditioning, and products with silicone will help keep hair straight.
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Blow dry your hair, or if you have time, allow to dry naturally. Your hair must be fully dry when straightening otherwise it will be prone to damage. Point the hair dryer downward whilst blow-drying. This downward motion away from your roots encourages your hair to dry straight. Set your hair dryer on the lowest heat setting. If you have particularly frizzy hair, drying your hair on a lower heat setting for a longer period of time will prevent your hair from puffing up as you dry it.
Plug in your straighteners and allow to heat up. The thicker your hair, the higher the temperature should be. However, do not set the heat any higher than 365°F. Hair burns at a temperature of 451°F, the same as paper. For finer hair, keep the setting to between 300°F and 325°F.
Separate your hair into several sections and pin out of the way. Hair going through the straighteners need to be approximately 1 to 2 inches thick only.
Place the straightener as close to the roots as possible, clamp the iron down and run it down the length of your hair. Use a straightening comb in front of the straightener to detangle and help the hair sit flat while the straightener does its job.
Don’t hold the straightener in any one place for too long.
Work your way through the sections, unpinning as you go along and moving the straightened sections of hair out of the way. It is generally easier to work your way around your head, from one side to the other, so that the straightened hair and non-straightened hair don’t get mixed up.
After straightening, blow dry your hair on the coldest setting, again going downwards from the roots. This will help to set the hair. You can then use a hairspray or anti-frizz serum containing silicone.
To get more volume, flat iron your hair just at the roots, going upwards, towards the ceiling
Get natural looking waves by twisting 1 inch sections of hair tightly then running your straighteners over it. You can also braid your hair and run the straighteners over the braid.
To get tighter curls, wrap a section or hair around your finger then pin to your scalp. Repeat until you’ve pinned all your hair up. Press each roll flat with your straighteners then unpin. Spritz with a little hairspray to finish.
Hair straighteners can be cleaned using a damp towel, or a face wipe. A soft cloth soaked in lemon juice also cleans well, as does a thin mixtur of baking soda and water.