Flat irons are one of the most common hot tools in a woman’s beauty arsenal, and there are some tips and tricks to use them correctly. Any of these common flat iron mistakes can be a waste of your time and money and frustrate you while you’re styling your hair! Here are some flat iron mistakes that you might be making and what to do instead:
1. You’re Not Prepping Your Hair In The Shower
Gorgeously sleek locks don’t start when you sit down with the flat iron@ Start to prep your hair while you are still in the shower. A cleansing product like Ouai Smooth Shampoo ($28 for 10 ounces at Sephora) will remove dirt and product buildup while hydrating your hair and taming frizz. When choosing a shampoo/conditioner to use before flat ironing, look for keywords like “hydrating,” “smooth,” “moisture,” and “softening.”
2. You Flat Iron Hair That Is Still Wet
This is a huge no-no. Experts urge us not to ever straighten our hair while it is still wet, even if it is only a little wet. “Hair should be bone dry when you straighten,” stylist Harry Josh tells Teen Vogue. Other than heat protectant, experts say that you should wait to apply any products, such as like smoothing and frizz serums, until you are done straightening.
3. You Don’t Use Heat Protectant
You would never pick up a hot pan without using a hot pad, yet many of us think nothing of applying extreme heat directly to our hair without any heat protectant. We hate to break it to you, but it is indeed causing damage that will make your hair look dry and fried. We love Drybar’s Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Lotion, but even a simple product from the drugstore will make a big difference in the health of your hair. (Find Hot Toddy at Nordstrom, 1.7 oz for $16).
4. You’re Using The Flat Iron Too Much And Damaging Your Hair
With the right hot tool and the right technique, it should only take you one or two presses of your flat iron to achieve the results you want. If you are flat ironing the same sections of hair over and over again before you can get your hair straight, you are risking extended heat damage to your hair. “If you’re having to go over and over the same piece, your flatiron is not good or there is not enough tension,” T3 celebrity hairstylist David Lopez tells Self magazine.
5. You Are Holding The Flat Iron Wrong
Speaking of proper technique, many of us are actually styling the wrong way and accidentally making our straightened hair look limp. Here’s how to flat iron correctly: With your hair clipped in sections, start with the bottom portions of your hair. Hold your hair taut so there is tension as you pull the flat iron straight down your hair towards the ground. When you get to the top sections of your hair, keep your hair taut and pull your hair (and the flat iron) towards the ceiling. This is a tip from the beauty experts at L’Oreal Paris and will help to ensure that your straight, sleek ‘do still has lots of volume and movement at the roots. Who knew!?
6. You Crank The Heat Way Up
We are all guilty of this common mistake. Using the hottest temperature possible on your flat iron is surely the best way to quickly smooth and straighten your hair, right? Wrong! Experts say that you should not just put it on the highest setting. Instead, you should play around the temp to make sure that you are only making your flat iron as hot as it needs to be to still do its job.
“The 450-degree setting was designed specifically for in-salon, professional keratin treatments,” Living Proof creative director Tim Rogers tells Teen Vogue. “It wasn’t meant for consumers.”
Experts suggest that you don’t go above the 300 to 350 degrees setting if your hair is fine or color-treated. Oops, good to know!
7. You Are Using An Older Model Flat Iron
Flat irons have vastly improved in recent years, and this new technology makes them more efficient and safer for your hair. When choosing a flat iron, look for one that is ceramic and/or tourmaline, both of which are kinder to your hair. Ceramic heats more evenly than other metals, and tourmaline helps to close the hair cuticle, which will give you those sleek, soft strands you desire. We like the InfinitiPRO Ceramic Flat Iron by Conair ($29.95 on Amazon).
8. You Don’t Ever Clean Your Flat Iron
Uh, did you all know that we were supposed to be cleaning our flat iron? Because we totally are. If you don’t clean your flat iron plates on a regular basis, grime and oil from your hair, as well as hair products, will build up on the hot tool and make it less effective over time. Experts say to use a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol on your flat iron to swipe away this build-up. Of course, make sure it’s turned off and cooled all the way down first!
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