If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to switch up your look. One of my go-to moves is to straighten my frizzy, curly hair. I go from Ms. Frizzle to Malibu Barbie in just a few not-so-short hours. Don’t get me wrong; I love my curly hair, but having the ability to completely transform the way I look is fun every once in a while (and the drastic change tends to freak people out).
So, naturally, I’ve had a few fun experiences with this. Three months into my previous job I decided to straighten my hair, which led my former boss to reintroduce himself to the “new hire”—nope, still me! All curly girls know this struggle. The endless, “Wow, you look so different,” or, “You’re so pretty with straight hair,” or even, “I didn’t even recognize you” come flooding in when you nail the perfect hair-straightening techniques.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at straightening my hair, but there’s definitely a steep learning curve—especially for girls with tight curls. I would leave the house with sleek, perfectly straight hair and once I stepped outside, it would poof into something out of a nightmare—a very frizzy nightmare. To help all my fellow curly-headed girls out there, I’ve spoken to some of the best hairstylists I know for pro tips on how to get perfectly straight hair at home. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Start with completely dry hair.
I will never forget the look on my childhood friend’s older sister’s face as she left the bathroom with a piece of hair missing because she tried to straighten her hair when it was wet. The horror. Always get your hair completely dry before straightening. Always. There are different ways to go about this depending on your hair type.
If you have curly hair, blow-drying your hair first is key.
This is something I always do but it isn’t always necessary. I have extremely tight curls and just a single pass of the straightener won’t do. Hairstylist Alison Rea, who is my personal stylist, swears by this trick—especially for her clients with coarse hair. “Rather than damaging the hair over and over again with a straightener, I take out the major kinks with a blow dryer first. I use a concentrator attachment and paddle brush to get the hair super straight before using my flat iron.” This process is much less time-consuming than you might think, and it will actually save you time later on.
- Invest in a blow-dryer with a concentrator attachment. Hot Tools makes a great, affordable blow-dryer that comes with this game-changing tool. This paired with a paddle brush or round brush can make a killer combo.
- Lift a section of hair with your brush from the underside and apply heat from above, sandwiching the hair between the two tools.
- Move them down the length of your hair slowly with the hair inside of the brush bristles and watch the kinks disappear.
- Repeat this all over to remove most of the frizz and curl from your hair before you start straightening.
If you have straight or slightly wavy hair, let it air-dry instead.
It’s a different story for girls with naturally straighter hair. Long Beach, California hairstylist Shannon Murray says, “I always air-dry so I’m not using extra heat for no reason. If you have typically straight hair, maybe a slight wave, there’s no reason to add additional heat, you could wash the night before or with enough time to air-dry.”
2. Stay away from oil-based thermal protectors.
Is straightening your hair a part of your daily routine? You might want to stay away from oil-based thermal protectants. “I always start by using a thermal protector, but nothing with oil. Long-term, using oil to straighten ends up damaging the hair, even though it looks beautiful the day of,” explains Murray.
Using a product that contains less oil but also packs in the same thermal protectants is a great option for girls who use their straighteners daily. Try adding Alterna Bamboo Smooth Anti-Breakage Thermal Protectant Spray to your daily hair routine to minimize heat damage.
3. Use hairspray before you straighten.
Hairspray is not just a post-styling product. Spraying a little hairspray on dry hair before you start to straighten keeps it straight for longer, but professionals suggest to keep it light. Rea says, “I like to use a light-hold hairspray before I straighten each section of hair—it keeps frizz away and helps keep the hair straight for longer. A heavy spray can weigh down hair and make it feel crispy after flat ironing.” Using a spray is a great tip for girls with curly or wavy hair. This will help fight your curls from coming back in humid weather and even keep your hair straight for days on end. That’s right—start stocking up on dry shampoo now.
If you’re like me, you probably have little wispy hairs sticking up all over your head post-straightening. Bring back out the hairspray and try this fun tip from Murray: “A fun tip for at-home straightening is to use an aerosol hairspray and a pair of panty hose! Spray the hairspray and then stretch the pantyhose and press them on the area to lay those suckers down.”
4. Use a fine-tooth comb when straightening.
This is my go-to trick to get my hair sleek and straight, which I learned from one of my many visits to Rea. “After I’ve gotten most of the kinks out of the hair with the blow dryer, I always let the comb lead the process,” she says. “I start by attaching the comb to a section of hair and follow with the straightener to make sure I get every piece of hair perfectly straight, and that way, I don’t have to damage the hair by running the iron multiple times over each section,” she explains.
5. Consistency is key.
Like most things, following a consistent technique when straightening your hair will give you the best results. “Always straighten from root to ends,” shares Murray. ”Don’t straighten just the ends or from mid-shaft down. You’ll end up with different textures all over your head. Consistency is key.” Once you’ve found the best technique for your hair type, stick with it. Use the same motions throughout your entire straightening process to get the best results every time.
6. Focus on your hair’s health first (stylists love coconut oil for this).
To get sleek and beautiful locks every time, it’s important to focus on the health of your hair. Strong and healthy hair not only looks better, but it will allow your blowout to last longer. “To keep my clients’ hair straight for long periods of time, I encourage them to focus on their hair’s health,” says Murray. “I highly suggest coconut oil. Sleep in it, bathe in it, swim in it—I swear by it. Use coconut oil as a treatment once a week and shampoo it out in the morning. In a few weeks, your hair will feel like silk. But do not go out in the sun with it on. I have all my girls sleep in a braid lathered in coconut oil at least once a week. It seems to be the best, most affordable thing for my clients.”
When your hair is healthy and strong, it can hold up to heat a lot better, giving you a better, longer-lasting blowout. You’ll have to do your hair less, resulting in less damage and better overall hair health for better blowouts. That’s all we really want in life—healthy hair and better blowouts—right?