I have long had a battle with dry damaged hair. But when I decided to start flat ironing my hair I noticed the damage increase tenfold. That's when I started to do some research to help my hair and sanity. Apparently I had been doing it all wrong! Now that I have changed my ways I would like to share some tips with you. A flat iron is not for Straightening your hair. It's for FLATTENING your hair. that means if you have a wave in your hair, you are just flattening the wave. That's not the best way to treat your hair. Plus the heat needed to "straighten" curly or wavy hair can cause a lot of damage to your hair. I used to wash my hair at night, let it air dry, and then tackle it with a flat iron the next morning. This is pretty much how NOT to flat iron your hair.
So here are some tips to have you avoid my mistakes. The first and major rule is to:
1. PICK THE RIGHT IRON
Before you even start ironing your hair you need to make sure you have the right flat iron. And in order to pick the right iron for your hair you can't just use what your BFF Jill is using. The length and thickness of your hair will determine what size flat iron you need. Also, don’t skimp on the purchase, because buying a "cheap" iron may cause more damage in the long run. If you have the right size iron, it will be easier to use and more efficient. Not to mention that it will decrease the risk of overheating and damaging hair.
a) For short, fine, or thick hair, an iron with an inch to one and 1/4 inch thick plates are ideal. You should be flat ironing in smaller sections, the small width of the plates will help with that. The BaByliss Nano Titanium 1-1/4" Straightening Iron $139.95. might be one to check out.
b) For long, coarse, or very curly hair, an iron with one and a half inch plates or larger is your best bet. Like the T3 SinglePass X 1.5" Wide Iron $230.00.
c) Don't be afraid to invest some money in your flat iron. A top flat iron should last up to 10 years. Brand names may cause the price to jump, but that's not a reason to buy one. You want to make sure it has some other key features too.
i) Make sure the flat iron has either ceramic, tourmaline or titanium metals plates. This will ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and lessen the possibility for frizz. Like the Sedu Revolution Professional Nano Tourmaline Ionic 1" Styling Iron $159.95.
ii) Steer clear of "Ceramic Coated" or Teflon Coated" as those types of irons typically do not distribute the heat as evenly.
d) Adjustable HEAT is key: Investing in a flat iron that allows you to adjust the temperature according to the condition of you hair is key. If your hair is damaged, like mine, and /or color treated, like mine, you want a lower temperature. I have found using the setting below 300 degrees keeps my hair from getting damaged. If you have stronger, coarse, or very curly hair, you can use an iron that goes from 350 to 400 degrees and up. Some irons you had your eye on may be ruled out because there is no temperature adjustment, or the auto set temperature is just too high for your hair type.
2. BLOW DRY YOUR HAIR FIRST!
Blow drying hair prior to flat ironing it will give you a chance to
a) Establish some volume in your hair
b) Allow for you to put styling product in it like a mousse or a thermal protectant (more on that later)
c) will lessen the time the flat iron is used to flatten the hair. Less time = less heat = less damage
Basically, flat ironing after a blow out will ensure that your style is "sealed".
I never blow dried my hair before I did my research, and now I understand why my hair looked so funky at times. Aside from not having the right thermal protectant, I also was just flattening my curls and tugging on my hair to make it look straight. If I had done a basic blow out before, flat ironing my hair would have been so much easier. I have used many hair dryers, but the one I like the best is my BaByliss Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer $139.95. It comes with 6 heat/speed settings and 3 concentrator nozzles and diffuser! I have only had it for 2 years, but so far so good, but the 4 year warranty helps. OF course if you want to go the less expensive route for a dryer, the Babyliss replaced my Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Styling System $29.99. It was inexpensive and did it's job, but it was extremely loud!
3. HEAT PROTECTOR PRODUCT
Using a heat protector product is a must. There are many different ones out on the market. I try to avoid using straight oil on my hair as a heat protectant because it just doesn't protect and makes my ends look greasy and frizzy all at the same time. I have been using Chi Infra Treatment $15-$30 for years. A little goes a very long way. While it's not the best smelling product in the world, it's not the worse either/ a few drops rubbed into my palms and applied to my hair from the ends up gives me the protection I need. I try to avoid getting any near my scalp as it can make my hair look greasy. Another heat protector I just started to use is the Alterna Bamboo Smooth anti-Breakage Thermal Protectant spray $25. I still spray this into my palms and apply to my hair that way, only because when I spray directly on my hair, I can over do it and end up with greasy locks. I have also used to use L'Oréal Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray $4.99. It works well but be careful about using too much. Remember these tips when using a heat protector product:
a) Less is more. Start out with the smallest recommended amount by the manufacturer and work up from there.
b) Use this on damp hair that is about to be blow dried. It's OK if you blow dry your hair with the heat protector product and then flat iron it.
c) Apply from the ends of your hair working up. Do not apply to the roots or else you will end up with greasy looking hair.
Oh there are several "don't"s when it comes to flat ironing your hair.
a) Don't pull the iron through your hair. Smooth it! That vice like grip you have on the iron is not doing your hair any favors. Gentle pressure and smooth movement are key.
b) Don’t pass multiple times. When you pass over the same section of hair like more than three times you may end up damaging your hair more than if you were using a higher temperature setting. So if you find that your hair is getting FLAT upon the first or 2nd pass you might need to use a higher temperature!
c) Don't iron wet or damp hair. Wet hair and the high heat of the iron make a terrible combination for your hair. That sizzling and popping sounds are actually the moisture in your hair coming to a boiling point and damaging the hair shaft. That heated water has to go somewhere and THROUGH the hair shaft is where it goes, leaving damaged and broken hair in its wake.
d) Don't use a flat iron with chipped plate or any broken parts. This could be dangerous beyond burning your hair.
e) Don't keep the iron on your hair if it is steaming or smoking. Remember if you're smoking, you’re burning.
f) Don't use a flat iron every day. Any hair styling tool using high heat will dry your hair out and make is especially brittle over time.
5. KEEP IT CLEAN
You should clean your iron after every use. Once the iron has cooled completely and is UNPLUGGED, take a cloth with lukewarm water and wipe down the plates. This will prevent product buildup on the plates and keep the iron snag free for future use.
What say you? Do you have any tips for Flat Ironing Your Hair? Please share them in the comments section.
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