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How to use flat iron
- Nov 15, 2016 -

How to Use a Flat Iron

Now that we have combed through our list of hair straighteners, let’s take a moment to discuss how to really use a flat iron. The best flat iron for natural hair won’t do a thing if you aren’t operating it correctly.

When used correctly, a straightening iron will provide you with the safest way of altering your hair. Follow these steps to learn how to properly use a straightening iron.

  • Wash and condition your hair if needed. Pat your hair dry to prevent excess frizz.

  • Before your hair dries completely, apply a thermal protection serum throughout. Comb with a wide-toothed comb after application.

  • Blow dry your hair on the lowest setting. Point the hair dryer downward.

  • Plug in your hair flat iron and turn it on. Set it to the appropriate setting. The thicker your hair is, the higher setting you should use.

  • Separate your hair. Try to make sections that are one or two inches thick. You will only work on one section at a time so pin the other sections back.

  • Grab the first section and place the straightening iron as close to your scalp as possible. Clamp down, letting the heated plates touch, while keeping your hair between them.

  • Run the flat iron down the section of hair in a fluid and steady motion. Don’t allow the flat iron to sit in one spot for too long.

  • Repeat this motion until your hair is completely straight. This will vary depending on the thickness of your hair and the size of the selected section.

  • Use hair spray if needed.

If you follow these instructions and avoid using excess product or holding the flat iron in one place for too long, you should be left with gorgeous straight hair and minimal damage. You’ll love the look that hair straighteners can give you.

What Plate Material Is Best for My Hair Type?

Not all flat irons feature the same material when it comes to their plates.

Does it make a difference? You better believe it!

Think of the plates as a flat iron’s claim to fame. A flat iron can only be as good as its plates allow it to be and this is completely controlled by the material that they are made from.

We already know about the main different types of materials utilized in flat iron plates but when it comes to your specific type of hair, which should you lean towards?

To start, let’s keep it simple.

Tourmaline is the best material that a plate can be constructed with and it will work well with any type of hair.

Because it can actually improve the condition of your hair through negative ions and infrared heat, even the most damaged of hair can be styled with a flat iron that features tourmaline.

If your hair is thin and fine, both ceramic and tourmaline are excellent options. Ceramic will be much more affordable though.

Titanium can still be a possibility but you’ll need to make sure that it has a lower heat setting or you risk damaging your hair.

Remember that titanium plates heat up very quickly and even though they won’t create damaging hot spots, high levels of heat could wreak havoc on thinner hair.

For thick, course or curly hair, you’ll want to make sure that your flat iron is able to not just get hot enough but stay hot during the entire straightening process.

Titanium is the ideal plate material (if tourmaline is out of your price range) and will help to straighten and control volume without damaging your locks.

Ceramic is also an option but because most ceramic plates are only ceramic coated and mostly constructed with less than superior materials, your flat iron will cool off too quickly and leave you feeling frustrated with your results.

If you have what can be classified as normal hair, meaning that it’s not too thin or overly thick, holds moisture well and isn’t too oily, feel free to experiment with all different types of plates. What will be more important is temperature and plate size.

Flat Iron Temperature Guide

Unless you’ve been using flat irons for quite some time and know exactly what temperature works best with your hair, you’ll want to get a flat iron with temperature control.

Generally, the thicker your hair, the higher temperature you’ll need. The opposite is true as well, with thinner hair needing lower temperatures.

Here’s a quick guide that will help you use the right temperature on your hair.

Thick Hair: 380 degrees Fahrenheit and above, based on the thickness of your hair

Curly Hair: Between 350 and 370 degrees Fahrenheit

Normal Hair: Between 330 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Thin Hair: Between 300 and 330 degrees Fahrenheit

Damaged Hair: Below 300 degrees Fahrenheit (start with the lowest setting and increase as needed)

If your flat iron is too hot, you could be seriously damaging your hair. In general, never go above 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

At this temperature, the keratin protein in your hair begins to melt, which will lead to split ends and broken strands.

However, if the heat is too low you’ll be left with minimal results and dull hair.

It may take a few tries before you find the ideal temperature for the condition and thickness of your hair but always remember to start low and build your way up unit you find a temperature that provides shine and results without damage.

Flat Iron Plate Sizes

There are still more decisions to be made! What size plate should you buy? Does it make a difference? Of course it does!

The general rule of thumb is that the longer your hair is, the larger plate you should use.

A one-inch plate will work for most hair lengths and styles but if you’re looking to get the most out of your flat iron, take a few other factors into consideration.

If your hair falls below your shoulders (or is thicker than most) you’ll want to choose a plate that’s, at least, 1-1/4-inches.

Think of it this way. A larger plate will allow you to cover more ground (or hair) in less time and because you aren’t going over the same section several times, you’re minimizing the potential for damage as well. Save time and your hair!

If your hair is cut above your ears, you will want to lean towards a slimmer plate. Something around ¾-inches is ideal.

Using a thinner plate will give you much more control as you work with the hair closest to your scalp. You’ll also be working with smaller sections most likely so a larger plate will only get in the way.

When choosing between hair straightener sizes, the most important factor to take into consideration is the health of your hair. You’ll want to make sure that the size you choose is working with you instead of against you.

How to Clean Your Flat Iron

Depending on how often you use your flat iron, you’ll need to periodically clean it to avoid product build up that can cause your styling tool to stop working properly. So how do you clean a flat iron properly? Take a look at this quick guide.

  1. Heat the flat iron slightly. You should be able to touch the plates without being burned. Unplug before continuing.

  2. Dampen a towel with warm water (must be warm to avoid shocking the plate). Very gently rub each plate where you notice build up. Avoid scrubbing and be careful not to scratch the plate.

  3. Continue down the handle of the flat iron. Use a cotton swab to clean any buttons or crevices. Clean all surfaces.

  4. Allow flat iron to dry completely before using again.

You can also look into purchasing a hair straightener cleaner that you can apply to the plates and other surfaces to remove tougher areas of product build up.