If you want smooth, silky locks that are damage-free you need to learn how to straighten hair with flat iron in the best way.
I have curly, coily hair. I’d say my hair was the type 4c hair texture. And as you know these hair textures are very difficult to manage.
But I have always shied away from relaxing my hair or getting keratin treatments. So during special occasions I often use a flat iron to straighten my tresses.
Related: Best Flat Iron For Short Hair
Related: Best Flat Iron For Curly Hair
I have a few hits and misses over the years, so I decided to put my accumulated knowledge to good use and tell you how to straighten hair with flat iron so that it looks its silky best.
Flat irons are hot styling tools that use high amounts of heat to change your hair texture. The heat melts away the keratin bonds between the hair cells and rearranges them back in a straighter, smoother way.
A lot of hair experts have cautioned against using flat iron every day as constant heat exposure can damage your hair.
So this article will give you tips on how to straighten hair with flat iron so as to minimize any damage, frizz, or hair breakage.
How To Straighten Hair With Flat Iron
Prep Your Hair
Before I straighten my hair with a flat iron, I try to shampoo my hair and condition it. If you don’t have time for this, you can skip this step.
But I’ve found a flat iron works better on clean hair.
You can use any mild, sulfate-free shampoo, but I tend to use products marked as “smoothing” or “straightening”.
No, they don’t change your hair texture from curly to straight. But they do add tons of moisture to your locks.
It’s always better to straighten nourished, moisturized hair then dry, frazzled locks.
Also use a conditioner afterward without forgetting. I use a wet comb to distribute the conditioner through my hair while I’m in the shower.
This also helps detanlge hair and eliminates any knots. If you have very coily, natural hair like mine, you an even use detangling brushes for curly hair.
Dry Your Hair
It’s best to dry your hair before straightening it. Wet hair is fragile and the direct application of high temperatures can lead to it becoming brittle and damaged.
But resist the temptation to towel dry your hair vigorously. Gently pat your damp locks with a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to remove excess water.
Then, use hair dryer to blow dry your hair to completely dry them.
If you don’t want to expose your hair to heat from the blow dryer right before your apply more heat while from a flat iron, I suggest using the cold setting.
You can let your locks air dry naturally but this is very time-consuming and not the best idea if you have an event to be at or if you’re getting late in the morning.
Apply Heat Protectant
According to me, this is the most important step of hair straightening.
Want to know the secret of how to straighten your hair with flat iron in a way that it doesn’t get damaged? It’s a heat protectant.
These products form a protective layer around your hair shaft, minimizing the damage heat can do on hair cuticles.
There are several heat protectant serums, sprays, and oils in the market. You can choose one that suits your hair texture and scalp condition (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.)
I always recommend heat protectants that are alcohol-free and perfume-free.
Aslo, it’s best to go with lightweight sprays if you have wavy hair or type 2 hair as heavy serums or oils can weigh down strands and make hair look limp.
However, curly hair that needs a little more moisture always benefits from nourishing creams and oils.
One of the best natural heat protectants out there is argan oil as it has a high smoking point. You can simply use organic, pure argan oil instead of sprays if you want to keep the chemicals away from your scalp.
Hair Care Tip: Always apply a heat protectant to slightly damp hair. Then you can leave it to air dry or blow dry it. If you apply product to bone-dry locks and straighten them, the product can get boiled into the follicles on your hair. This can actually damage hair integrity, especially if the product contains ingredients like ethanol or dimethicone (alcohol and silicones).
Section Your Hair
Unless you have really short, thin hair, always divide your hair into sections before straightening it.
The thicker your hair the more sections your need. Thin hair can be divided into just 3-4 sections (top, back, and sides).
But thicker hair needs more sections. I use alligator hair clips to hold the sections together and away from each other.
As I have very curly hair, I actually tie up the top portion of my curls into bun while I work the back hair sections.
It’s always best to work from the front to the back.
Warm The Flat Iron
Before you start to straighten your hair, it’s best to warm up the flat iron for 3-4 minutes as this ensures even heat distribution through all hair sections.
However, this is becoming unnecessary nowadays as most flat iron brands like Babyliss or GHD come with a 30-second heat-up time.
When it comes to selecting a temperature, I’d say it depends on your hair texture and how quickly you want sthings done.
Sure using direct 450F heat will straighten your locks in less than 5 minutes. But if you have thin or color-treated hair, you also might end up damaging it.
I’d say thin, type 2 and type 3 hair textures should keep the temperature range between low-medium. That is, you should use 300–350ºF or 150–177ºC heat range.
If you have Afro-textured hair, then more heat is required to change the texture from coily to straight. So you can keep the temperature around 400–450ºF or 200–232ºC.
Also, damaged, color-treated, and chemically-treated hair should always use low heat settings.
I always buy a hair straightening iron with multiple heat settings so I can go from low to high heat while using it on my hair. It gives me more control.
Also, using flat irons with ceramic in their plates is also a good idea as this material helps in the even distribution of heat.
Hold Hair Taut And Clamp The Flat Iron
Now let’s get down to business. Here’s how to straighten your hair with flat iron with precision.
Firstly, place a section of hair wide in between the plates of the hair straightener.
Make sure the flat iron is around 1-2 inches below your scalp. This ensures you don’t burn your hair follicles or the skin on your head.
Also, don’t clamp the plates too tightly around the hair section as this will leave ridges on your hair.
Leaving the flat iron for too long on one area of the hair section can also cause ridges.
So at the most leave the section clamped around the hair for 2-3 seconds and gently pull downwards.
It’s normal to see a bit of smoking as this is usually the heat protectant being evaporated. But if you see your hair smoking too much or smell something burning, you should reduce the temperature.
If your hair is too curly, then I suggest giving it a few short strokes around the scalp area before dragging it down the hair section.
For thin, type 1 or 2 hair going over the hair section once is usually enough. But women with natural hair might need multiple do-overs with the flat iron.
Note: Remember, going over your hair sections multiple times with a flat iron, even if you use low heat settings is more damaging than using a flat iron once with high temperature.
Straighten One Section At A Time
I always start straightening the back sections of my hair first as they are easy to miss. It’s also harder to see any kinks or flyaways at the back if you straighten the front portion first.
When you are done straightening one section of hair, then unpin the next section and repeat the same process as mentioned above.
Work your way from the back to the front and finally the top sections. If you have bangs, I suggest you keep them for the very last.
Use Finishing Products
If you want your newly-straightened hair to stay that way for a long time, you need to use finishing products like hair straightening serums or hairsprays with a light to medium hold.
I don’t usually like products with silicones in them, but if you’re not using them often and have really curly or frizzy hair then they can actually help.
I also suggest getting a flat iron with ionic technology if you have frizzy hair. They really help smoothen your locks!
Straight hair has its own merits. It’s easy to style, manageable, and can be a classic hairstyle on its own if left loose.
So a lot of people (men and women) choose to straighten their curly or wavy locks.
I hope this article helped you learn how to straighten hair with flat iron without incurring any heat damage.