Straighten Up! Making Unruly Hair Straight As A Ruler
I have been blessed [cursed] with super-thick super-wavy hair that has a mind of it's own... a very opinionated mind. Being the mother of a 1-year-old I generally don't have a lot of time to mess with such unruly hair, but every now and then I get the urge to straighten it.
This endeavor, my friends, can be difficult or it can be easy. Over the last few years I've had hair down to my lower back, cropped up to my ears, and now it's just above shoulder length. I'm finally mastering the straightening routine after trying out tons of methods and products.
I follow my hair washing with a quick towel-dry, then with a product that helps tame my curls, like Brocato Curl Interrupted. There are lots of products that do this out there, but this is what works best for me. It's a necessity to find some kind of serum or cream that straightens hair and, again, fights frizz. It's even better if you can find something that has a heat protectant in it; blowdrying and straightening hair will obviously cause damage and you want to protect your tresses as much as possible from the exposure.
Once my hair is dry I section it off. The way you section your hair will entirely depend on you: your hair thickness, how long you can spend on straightening and how straight you hope to get your hair. I section the front of my hair (beginning at my ears and going up and towards my part) into to sections; my crown to mid-ear level into two sections, and then I let the hair at the nape of my neck hang loose.
I try to really protect my hair from heat damage. Just before straightening each section of my hair I give it a few spritzes of Brocato Cloud 9 Hot Shapes Miracle Repair Flat Iton and Curling Spray. It's just an extra step to provide that little bit more protection. When I'm out of this product I don't worry about it; I'm not particularly find of the smell, to be honest, and I don't purchase it unless I'm purchasing other Brocato hair things... it's just not that necessary to me, especially when I've taken steps to avoid heat damage prior to this.
Your biggest investment for this entire endeavor might just be the straightening iron itself. Whether you spend $20 or $150 it is definitely going to be the tool you use most often and for the longest duration during your straightening process. As with hair dryers you will want to do your research and find what you think will work for you as well as what fits with your hair's needs... and what fits with your budget.
There are a couple things to keep in mind when shopping for your perfect iron: heat settings, width, materials, and potential life span. I won't go into these things in depth, but will describe them so you can be a better, smarter shopper. Higher heat settings often make for more expensive irons. I have very thick and coarse hair and a higher heat setting works better for me; if you happen to have thinner or 'tamer' hair you might not need such high heat. I always purchase an iron that goes up to about 395 degrees. The width of an iron directly impacts the length of time it will take you to straighten your hair but you must take into consideration your hair length. Wider irons are for longer hair and reduce the amount of passes you have to take with the iron, however using a wide iron on short hair exposes your hair to too much heat. Irons can be made out of several things (gold-coated plates, ceramic plates, aluminum, etc.). Different materials fight static and protect your hair in different ways, and ceramic is supposed to be the best at this. Other materials don't offer as much protection. Finding one with tourmaline plates or tourmaline somewhere in it is even better: tourmaline has negative ions that counteract the positive ones and help seal in your hair's moisture or color (if you dye), plus tourmaline fights static very well. As for life span, you probably want something that is proven to last and not peter out if you're going to spend the big bucks. I am a little pickier with my iron than with my hair dryer; I generally spend around $40-$60 and pick something with the right kind of plates, the width I need and that has good reviews.
I have extremely thick and unruly hair so it takes me 30-60 minutes to straighten my hair, depending on whether or not it was already dried and brushed/combed out. My hair has gotten a lot longer suddenly and I would probably cut my time in half with a wider iron width. After straightening my hair I try not to pull it back with a hairband to avoid the lines it would make, and I also don't brush it too much to avoid static. If I straighten my hair I usually leave it that way for the entire day, plus the next day, and sometimes part of the next day, too; overwashing (at least in my case) leads to ultra dry hair and that combined with blow-drying and/or ironing my hair can lead to very unhealthy hair. I also don't hairspray my straightened hair, partly because I want to avoid overloading it with product and also because I would want to wash the product out at the end of the day, but mostly because it just isn't necessary.
I hope this covers it! Happy and healthy straightening to you.
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