Whether you’re used to wearing your hair naturally and you want something new for a while or if you straighten your hair regularly, there are some things you have to consider before you put your hair through the stress of a straightening iron. Heat damage is a real problem and sometimes can lead to split ends or irreversible damage that can only be fixed by a haircut. But if you know what to do and what to avoid during the straightening process, you should be able to get the results you’re looking for. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts when straightening your hair.
Never Work on Wet Hair
This is one of the most common mistakes people make when straightening their hair and one of the main reasons for hair damage. Even if the iron you’re intending to use says that straightening your hair when wet is fine, avoid doing it at all costs.
The problem is that you’ll have to spend more time on your strands if they’re wet and you’ll end up exposing your hair to more damage than you’d like to. So, if you want to prevent the amount of heat your hair will be exposed to, try to use your iron on dry hair only.
If you don’t have the time, one of the things you can do is remove any excess amount of water you have in your hair and then blow it dry. Or, you could decide to clean your hair the day before, so your hair will be completely dry in the morning and only straighten it then.
Note that wet-to-dry straighteners are an exception, but they should only be used on damp hair, not when it’s soaking wet. Just because your model is a wet-to-dry, it doesn’t mean you can just use it out of the shower. And even then, don’t take the word of the manufacturer at face value; even in this case, it’s always better to limit the amount of direct heat you apply to your hair.
Use Protective Spray
We all know that heat can be your hair’s worst enemy, but it’s not something you can avoid when straightening it. However, there are some things that you can do to protect it. Even if you’re using the gentlest setting with the best straightening iron for your hair type, you are still prone to damage. In this case, your best protection would be to use a protective spray before using your straightening iron. While there are multiple types of protective sprays on the market, try to go for ones containing argon oil, as they’re particularly beneficial to hair.
Never Use the Maximum Setting
A lot of us have the bad habit of cranking our straightening iron on the last level to get the fastest results possible. But even if you’re on a tight schedule, this is something you should try to avoid as much as you can. You should never, under any circumstance, use the hottest temperature on your iron. Ideally, you shouldn’t go over 400° F if you have thick natural hair and 300° F if you have fine hair, or else you risk of causing some serious damage.
On the other hand, don’t assume that the opposite is true either. You shouldn’t assume that going with the lowest possible setting is a better option. If you go too low, you’ll have to go over each strand multiple times, which could cause cumulative damage to your hair.
Section your Hair First
One nice trick you can use when straightening your hair is to always separate it in multiple sections before you start working on it. It would be a wise idea to clip all other sections before you are done with the first one. If you don’t separate your hair into sections, some of the strands might get run over more than others and you could cause some of it to suffer more damage.
Don’t Clamp the Iron Down too Long
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is leaving the iron clamped down for too long on some of your strands. Whether you are distracted or just think that it’s the right thing to do, doing so could lead to some serious damage. If you spend too much time on one spot, you might cause an indentation and have to go back over the strand, which will cause even more damage.
Keep a Comb Close
You should always have a comb in hand while straightening your hair. Each time you go over a strand with your iron, comb the area through. Not only will it help to prevent knots from forming, but it could help you get more volume. Without volume, you’ll be limited in the styles you can achieve and might not be able to get what you were looking for. If you want some inspiration for straight styled hair, take a look at these from The Right Hairstyles which are best suited for women over 40.
Don’t Go for just Any Hair Straightener
Before you even think about straightening your hair, however, you have to make sure that you pick the right one for your hair type, or else you might cause some damage and not get the results you wanted.
One of the first things you should be looking for is a unit that will give you more control over the temperature. It should have a thermometer on it that will allow you to set it at the absolute best temperature for your hair and prevent you from accidentally setting it too high.
And when picking a straightening iron, don’t judge them by the price alone. Whether an iron is cheap or expensive doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to how well it will work on your hair. While hair straighteners all serve the same function, they all work very differently and have a different effect on hair.
When it comes to material, for instance, tourmaline, ceramic and titanium work very differently and aren’t suited for the same kind of hair. And just because it says ceramic on the box, doesn’t mean all ceramic plated iron are equal. Some might only have a ceramic coating, for instance, while others will be completely made of ceramic. So, before you pick a model, make sure that you do your homework and pick the right one for your particular hair texture.
You should also pick a model that is wide enough. For instance, if you happen to have finer hair, then you should pick a unit that is no larger than an inch if possible. If you have thicker hair on the other hand, then you should be looking for something like a 3” iron. But if all you want to do is do some styling, then something like a 1.5” iron should do. And if you’re trying to get some big curls while ironing, then you should try to avoid a straight edge straightener. You should go with something with curved edges. Not only will it allow you to get the look that you want but it will also prevent bumps from forming.
If you manage to incorporate these tips into your straightening routine, you should be able to prevent heat damage and get the results you’re looking for in no time.