Naturalistas can tell you about heat damage till you rethink your visit to the salon. But did you know that flat irons/hair straighteners are not as bad as they’re made out to be? Now before you go ahead rejoicing you should know that there are secrets to straightening your hair while keeping it healthy. So if you’re in the mood of unleashing your locks and flaunting a healthy, shiny and sleek mane, get your pen and notebook and read on to uncover what many have discovered but only a few tell.
- Know the material your flat iron is made of
While shopping you may have seen flat irons with different metal names like titanium or ceramics as their main highlight. There’s a reason for this. An iron made of good metal material will heat up fast and evenly saving you waiting time and your hair from burning. A cheap metal plate, on the other hand, absorbs heat unevenly and it’s likely to produce that infamous sizzling sound which is a sign that your hair is frying. So what iron plates should you be shopping for? There are 3 options to choose from;
- Ceramics – they heat up fast and contain negative ions that smooth out your cuticle leaving the hair looking healthy and shiny. However not all ceramic irons are made the same. Straighteners made of ceramic coating will eventually lose these amazing qualities when the coating wears off. Therefore to get a flatiron that’s made of ceramic plates all through, check for a triple baked label on the product.
- Titanium flatirons – they are of superior quality than ceramic flat irons. Titanium irons absorb heat quickly and evenly giving the hair a smoother finish. Titanium plates are durable, smoother and they glide on the hair better than any other plates. They are the most expensive, the best for thick coarse and curly hair.
- Tourmaline flat irons – Tourmaline is a gemstone that facilitates ionization better than ceramic irons do. This means it helps close the hair cuticle while sealing the moisture for a smoother finish and longer-lasting hairstyle. However, since tourmaline is a gemstone it tends to wear out faster.
Other flat irons will have a combination of any of the above metals to maximise the benefits and provide a more durable metal. The only drawback with such straighteners will be the price.
2. Factor the size of the flatiron
The size of a flat iron can determine the results and whether your hair will come out damaged or not. Small flat irons are recommended for people with shorter hair while a larger iron is best suited for someone with coarse hair. With a large flat iron, you are less likely to go over a section of hair more than twice and thus reducing heat damage. Nonetheless a1 inch (23mm) flat iron is versatile for most hair type and hence the best option if you are overwhelmed on what to use.
3. Check the adjustables
One of the mistake people make when buying a flat iron is choosing one without temperature controls. The problem with this is that often one tends to use too much heat which can lead to irreparable damage and cause a permanent change in the hair texture. Bear in mind that 450℉ is the temperature used for semi-permanent keratin straightening treatments. Therefore to keep your hair healthy, ensure that the iron has controls that can allow you to set a specific temperature and that the temperature you use doesn’t go over 365℉ or 180℃.
4. Turn down the temperature
The secret to maintaining a healthy-looking mane is staying away from heat. But what if you’re using a flat iron? Turn down the temperatures. Whenever you’re straightening your hair, start with low temperatures and increase the heat as you move along. But only if necessary. Note that if you have finer hair, highlights or colour treated hair set the flat iron towards the cooler temperatures. If your hair is thick or coarse and it doesn’t respond to cool temperatures increase the heat but ensure that you do not exceed 400℉ or 200℃.
The outer cuticle of your hair strand is easily susceptible to heat damage which means high temperatures will only increase porosity and cause your hair to be prone to dryness, frizz and breakage. Here’s a guide to preventing excessive hair breakage
The secret is to always match the heat with your hair type and texture.
5. Shampoo and condition your hair
Flat ironing dirty hair ends up heating the products already in your hair, frying your hair and compounding to the damage. That said, shampoo and condition your hair before applying any heat styling method. More on how to take care of your natural hair.
6. Air dry your hair
To lessen the damage caused by heat detangle then air dry your hair instead of blowing it out. Make sure that your hair is not wet as this could facilitate serious heat damage and moisture loss when you flat iron. Since you don’t want to subject your hair to heat twice, air drying or blow-drying your hair on cool temperature is better than otherwise.
7. Use the right products
We’ve established that spraying your hair with water before straightening is not cool – your hair should be completely dry. However, if you don’t use a heat protectant your hair is likely to lose its natural moisture and suffer from heat damage. What to do? If you have thick coarse hair, use a serum, or balm to nourish and moisturise your hair. Once the hair is dry, follow up with a heat protectant spray. Choose one that provides hold, for a smoother and sleek finish. Heat protectants that contain silicones are recommended as they add shine and insulate the hair strand from high temperatures. If you have finer hair, use a heat protectant spray.
The key is to always protect your hair with the right product right before using a heating tool. After you’re done ironing, you can apply an oil to add lustre.
8. Use the right technique
When using a flat iron always match the sections of your hair with the width of the plate on your iron. The sleeker you want your hair to be the smaller the section you should be working on.
Use slow controlled movements to avoid going over a section from more than once, at maximum twice. Besides the smaller the section the more control you’ll exert and the straighter your hair will be. The only drawback is that it will take you much longer to finish as compared to if you were working on big chunky sections.
9. Have a night-time care routine
After your hair is sleek the last thing you want is for it to frizz. To successfully keep your hair in its sleek form, wrap it and cover it using a silk or satin bonnet. Come the following morning all you’ll need to do is take it down and style as desired. If you need a touch up in the coarse of the week, flat iron using minimal heat. Do not flat iron every day.
Check this video to see how you should wrap your straight hair at night.