Straighten Your Hair

Curls and waves are fun and exciting, but can be hard to keep neat at times. So if you are in the mood to switch up your look, try straightening your hair! Many people are reluctant to straighten their hair because they are afraid of causing damage, but with the proper equipment, products and techniques, you can achieve an amazing straight look without destroying your hair. To properly straighten your hair, using either straightening irons or a hair dryer, just follow the steps below!


Straightening Iron

  1. Wash and blow-dry your hair. Straightening your hair works best on freshly washed or day-old hair. When washing your hair, tailor your shampoo and conditioning products to your hair type. For thick, frizzy hair, use a smoothing shampoo and conditioner. For thin, flat hair, use volumizing products. Once hair is washed, give it a quick towel dry, then blow-dry with a hair dryer. This will help to pre-straighten your hair, so you will have less work to do with the straightening iron.
    • Dry the roots of your hair with the hair dryer first, then work through the lengths of your hair.
    • Turn your head upside down while drying to add more volume.
    • Use a paddle brush to work through tangles and hold hair taut as you dry.
  2. Apply a heat protection spray. Investing in a good heat protection spray which you apply every time you straighten is one of the best things you can do for your hair, without forgoing straightening altogether. The heat protection spray locks in moisture and prevents hair from becoming dry and frazzled. Apply the heat protection spray evenly over dry hair, holding the can about six inches away from your head.[1]
    • Don't apply the heat protection spray to your roots, as this can cause them to look greasy.
    • Heat protection sprays can be found at most drug stores and hair salons. It may be worth investing in a brand name product which will do a better job of protecting your hair. Try asking your hair stylist for recommendations.
  3. Divide your hair into sections. Dividing your hair into sections will ensure that you straighten your hair properly, without missing any strands. The easiest way to section your hair is to divide it into three layers.
    • Create the first layer by taking the front sections of your hair and scooping them back with your thumbs to grab all of the hair on the crown of your head. Separate this layer by twisting it and securing it with a hair tie or butterfly clip.[2]
    • Create the second layer by scooping up the hair that remains above your ears and securing with a hair tie or clip.
    • The third layer consists of any hair which remains unclipped, which should be the hair at the back of your head, growing around the nape of your neck.
    • If you have very thick hair, you can divide your hair into extra layers. If you have very thin or fine hair, you may not need to divide hair at all, or you can just split it into two sections.
  4. Set your straightening iron to the correct temperature for your hair type. Most good quality hair straighteners give you the option to adjust the temperature of the irons. Using the right temperature for your hair will ensure you get the best results and will prevent you from doing unnecessary damage to your hair. The temperature your straightener should be set to will depend on your hair type:[3]
    • Fine or damaged hair should use a temperature of between 200 and 300 °F (93-149 °C).[3]
    • Hair of average thickness which is in pretty good condition should use a temperature of between 300 and 350 °F (149-177 °C).[3]
    • Very thick or coarse, frizzy hair should use a temperature of 350 to 400 °F (177-205°C).[3]
  5. Use the correct technique. Straightening your hair with a straightening irons does not involve anything very complicated, but there are a number of helpful tips you can follow in order to achieve the best results:
    • Use the right size strands. For best results, straighten your hair in strands that are {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} wide and no more than half an inch thick. IF you use sections that are much bigger, your hair won't straighten properly, but if you use smaller sections, it will take too long.
    • Hold the hair taut. Use one hand to hold the section of hair taut as you clamp the straightening iron around it and smooth it through the hair. If it's not completely straight the first time, don't worry, just pull the straightener through again.
    • Begin straightening about an inch away from the roots. This will leave a little volume in your hair and make sure it doesn't look too flat.
    • Use smooth rather than jerky movements. Try to run the straightening iron over the hair in one smooth, fluid movement. If you move it jerkily, you will end up with horizontal lines across your hair.
  6. Stop if you see any steam or your hair starts to sizzle. If this happens, it means that your hair is not fully dry. Stop, turn off the hair straightener and use a hair dryer to get your hair completely dry before you resume straightening. Using a straightening irons on damp hair is very damaging and will leave your hair in bad condition, so avoid whenever possible.
  7. Straighten the next layer of hair. Once you have straightened the bottom layer of hair, unclip the next section and begin to straighten it using the same technique as before. The top layer of hair should be the last section of hair you straighten.
  8. Examine your work in a mirror to make sure you didn't miss any sections. It can be easy to overlook a strand or two throughout the straightening process. Don't forget to check the back. If you spot any waves or kinks, just go over them with the straightener one more time.
    • You can check the back of your hair by standing with your back to a mirror while you hold a second mirror in your hands. You should be able to see the reflection of the back of your head in the hand-held mirror.
  9. Style your hair. You may need to position the straightening iron in a certain way to get it out of your face or to help it style a certain way. Twist the iron slightly when you get to the end of each strand to create little flicks at the bottom.
    • It’s very important to do these touch ups before applying any finishing products because some styling products (such as hairspray) are flammable and can catch fire under the heat of a straightening iron.
  10. Use a finishing product. You can use a silicone-based serum to add shine, or spray your hair with hair spray to hold your hair in place. Just don't add any mousse or water-based product as this will dampen the hair and cause it to turn wavy.

Hair Dryer

  1. Wash your hair. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you will need to wash your hair before blow drying. Use a smoothing shampoo and conditioner if your hair is thick or prone to frizz, or go for volumizing if your hair is thin or flat.
    • Only apply conditioner to the ends and mid-lengths of your hair. If you apply it to the roots, you hair will look flat and greasy.
    • Use a wide-toothed comb to work out any tangles while the conditioner is in your hair. The conditioner will make it much easier and will minimize hair breakage.
  2. Towel-dry your hair. Once you step out of the shower, wrap your hair in an absorbent, microfiber towel and leave it for a minute or two. Then unwrap your hair and use your towel to gently dab or blot your hair to get rid of any excess moisture.
    • Don't rub your hair with the towel, as this will cause your hair to break.
    • Remember that you are not trying to dry your hair with the towel, it should still be pretty damp when you're finished towel drying.
  3. Comb out any tangles. Use a wide-tooth comb or paddle brush to part and comb your hair. Make sure to be gentle because damp hair is very fragile. Remember to work from the ends upwards, rather than from the roots down, as this will cause less breakage.
    • Defining your part while your hair is still wet will help it stay more naturally after it’s been dried and straightened.
    • If your hair is very knotted, try spraying it with a detangling mist or a leave-in conditioner.
  4. Apply some product. Apply a small amount of straightening serum or cream to the ends and mid-lengths of your hair and massage it in. This will help to make your hair extra smooth and sleek after drying.
    • If you can find a straightening product which contains a heat protection element, all the better.
    • Again, avoid applying these products to the roots, as they will weigh hair down.
  5. Use a good hair dryer. A good hair dryer is essential when you are trying to blow dry your hair straight. The more power and heat a hair dryer can provide, the easier and faster you can straighten your hair. If you need to invest in a new hair dryer, there are several things you should consider:
    • Wattage. The wattage of a hair dryer is an indication of how powerful an air flow it has. The higher the wattage you can get, the better. Most salon hair dryers have a wattage of around 1800, though a wattage of 2000 may be necessary for very thick or curly hair.[4]
    • Speed and Temperature Controls. Having a hair dryer with adjustable speeds and temperatures is a major bonus, as you will use different settings to achieve different styles. For example, a cool setting can be used to finish your hair with a blast of cold air, which helps to set the style while adding shine.[4]
    • Weight. The last thing you want is a heavy hair dryer which is going to tire out your arm when you're just halfway through a blow dry. Look for a hair dryer which weighs less than two pounds. The weight should be indicated on the box.[4]
    • Attachments. If you are using a hair dryer to blow dry your hair straight, you will definitely need a nozzle attachment which concentrates the air flow and prevents hair from frizzing. Check to see if a nozzle attachment is included with your hair dryer or if it needs to be purchased separately.[4]
  6. Rough dry your hair. Turn your hair dryer on (to a high speed and heat, if possible) and begin roughly drying your hair. Concentrate on drying your roots, using your fingers to lift and separate your hair. You shouldn't use a brush just yet.[5]
    • Make sure that the hair dryer is pointing downwards. It should be blowing hair down from the crown of your head, rather than upwards.[5]
    • You should continue rough drying your hair until it is about 60% to 80% dry, but no more.[5]
  7. Divide your hair into sections. Dividing your hair into sections before you finish blow drying is a good idea, as it will help you to focus on straightening one layer of hair at a time. Split your hair into three layers - one at the crown of your head, one at the middle sections and one at the nape of your neck. Use butterfly clips or hair ties to keep the top two layers out of the way for now.
    • If you have bangs, leave them down and dry them first, before you dry the bottom layer. This is because bangs will dry quickly and they will be harder to straighten once dry.
  8. Use the right kind of hairbrush. The type of hairbrush you use while blow drying your hair will have an impact on how your hair turns out. If you want to add volume while you straighten, or add a slight curl or flick to the ends, use a thick round brush. But if you want poker-straight locks, a paddle-brush is your best option.[6]
  9. Use the right technique to blow dry the hair straight. Take a section of hair between two and four inches wide and hold it taut with the hairbrush. Keeping the hair taut while drying is the most important technique in achieving straight hair.[7]
    • You also need to make sure that you are directing the air flow downwards - the nozzle of the hair dryer should be pointing towards the ends of the hair as you dry. This keeps the hair cuticle down, giving you a smoother, sleeker result.[7]
    • Once you have completely dried each section of hair, finish it off with a blast of cool air to help set the style and add shine.[7]
  10. Let down the next section of hair. Once you have completely dried the bottom layer of hair, remove the butterfly clip holding the middle layer. Dry this layer of hair using the same technique as before. Once the second layer is completely dry, let down the third and final layer and finish off your blow dry.
    • Once your hair is completely dry, it should look straight and sleek. If it's still a little wavy, you may need to dry it further, really using the brush to pull the hair straight.
    • And if all else fails, use a straightening irons to go over any particularly stubborn bits.
  11. Apply some finishing product. To set your style and give your hair a little extra shine and control, apply a pea-sized amount of finishing product to the ends and mid-lengths of your hair. A shine serum or a shine spray will both do the trick. If you're worried about your hair falling flat or losing its shape, mist it with a light layer of hairspray, holding the can about six inches away from your head. This will ensure that your hair stays straight all day (or night!) long.

Keeping Hair Straight

  1. Avoid spraying water or adding mousse. The water content will cause your hair to curl back up or frizz immediately. Do use a hair spray if you live in a humid area, however. Your hair will be prone to frizz due to the added moisture in the air.
  2. Keep an umbrella handy. Rain will undo all your hard work and leave you with a frizzy mess. Also, remember to carry a headband with you in the summer to keep the perspiration from your bangs. If you are jogging or walking, consider putting your hair up in a ponytail.
  3. Consider using a curling iron for adding subtle curls or doing sassy flips. Even if you love the straight look, a curling iron can be used to flick out the ends of your hair or flick the front sections away from your face.
  4. Understand that if you wash your hair it will return to normal. Don't worry though, all you have to do is repeat the straightening process again! Just don't straighten your hair too much, as it will cause your hair to become dry and damaged. Try to save the straight look for special occasions!


  • Make sure you don't add any oils to your hair before you straighten it, because it will fry your hair. Just imagine what happens to a french fry in oil.
  • When straightening bangs, be sure to pull straight out rather than to the side. This will provide an even distribution of heat, making sure that the hair strands are uniform.
  • NEVER EVER straighten, or curl your hair when it is wet. It damages your hair and you will start to see smoke. If you do take a shower before you straighten, be sure to blow dry it until it's dry.
  • When using a flat iron, consider using some heat protectant. It doesn't have to be very expensive. You can just pull off the cheap dollar store brand.
  • If your blow dryer has a cool setting, turn that setting on after drying it fully. It makes the hair appear shinier, just like rinsing your hair with cool water will.
  • Use a wide tooth comb and as you comb through, just follow with your straightener behind. This works really well because this way your straightener gets each individual strand much better.
  • If it's rainy or very humid outside, try not to walk or be outside for too long or else the humidity will cause your hair to frizz.
  • Always have plenty of hair ties on hand to hold your hair in place when going from section to section..
  • Another type of straightener that can help straighten without damaging is an ionic or wet-to-dry straightener. Instead of using two heated plates, it acts as a blow-dryer, causing less damage and frizz.
  • If you have trouble straightening the hair on the back of your head, ask an adult or friend to help.
  • Divide it into sections. If you have thick hair, take really small sections, but if you have thin hair you can take bigger sections.
  • Blow drying and straightening your hair on the same day can be extremely drying and damaging. If time allows, ditch the hair dryer and air dry your hair instead.
  • When blow-drying your hair, make sure the hairdryer is pointing down (i.e. with the “grain” of the hair, not against it), which shines your hair. You may also want to apply a heat protection spray before blow-drying.
  • Pull the straighteners upward (as opposed to straight down) to get straight hair but with volume at the roots.
  • Try and get straightening clips to divide your hair into sections and that will make it easier.
  • Don't straighten your hair to much, it will become damaged.


  • Never straighten your hair when your hair is wet or damp, as it will cause too much damage.
  • Don't use too much hair serum or product; you don't want your hair to look lank and greasy.
  • Don`t use hair spray unless you are planning on taking a shower that night because it is not good for your hair to leave on all night long.
  • Don't use a straightener more than two or four times a week. Constant straightening will lead to damaged hair, no matter how much protective spray you use. Consider wearing your hair naturally or putting it up in cute hair styles.
  • Always turn off and unplug your straightener after every use.
  • Don't brush your hair when it's wet because it stretches and breaks the hair. Instead, always use a wide-toothed comb.
  • Don't go over one piece of hair too many times; it's unnecessary and can damage your hair.
  • Don’t burn yourself!

Things You'll Need

  • Wide-toothed comb
  • Hair dryer (preferably with a nozzle/diffuser)
  • Hair spray
  • Hair straightener
  • Heat protection spray
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairspray (optional)

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Sources and Citations