10 Best Flat Iron Hacks and Products

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Confession time: Waaay back during my emo phase in the sixth grade, I’d straighten the crap out of my hair every single morning with a $15 flat iron from CVS (t-b-freaking-t, man). And as a 12 year old with basically zero knowledge about heat damage, you can imagine how fried and sizzled my hair looked by the time I grew out of my phase. Flash forward many years later, and I can confidently say I’ve mastered the art of straightening my hair without, you know, destroying it—and all it took was a little technique, a few products, and a genuinely good flat iron. So, if you’re still learning how to straighten your hair to sleek, shiny perfection, read on for my tried-and-true hacks for getting a perfect finish every time.

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How to Straighten Hair: The Basics

Sure, flat-ironing your hair is preeeeetty intuitive, but there are a few technique you should keep in mind. First and foremost: Make sure your hair is 100 percent dry before you do anything, since straightening even semi-damp hair guarantees a ton of heat damage.

You’ll also want to separate your hair into sections your flat iron can easily pass over—even though it might seem faster to grab huge chunks, it will take you way longer to get a smooth, straight finish (which, in turn, equals even more damage). Need a visual? This YouTube tutorial is an excellent place to start. And as for products, I’ve got you covered with the best heat protectants, finishing sprays, and more, below.


How to Straighten Hair: Go Sulfate-Free

Moroccanoil Smoothing Shampoo

IMHO, if you’re looking to really straighten your hair, it’s best to start the process in the shower (yup, before you even plug in your flat iron). I like to cleanse with a super-hydrating sulfate-free shampoo—like this one from Moroccanoil. Why no sulfates? They can be really harsh and drying, and the last thing your hair needs before being literally ironed is a lack of protective moisture.


How to Straighten Hair: Hydrate and Condition

Briogeo: Farewell Frizz Smoothing Conditioner

Fun fact: Even if you’re just rinsing your hair—i.e., not using shampoo—you still need to coat your ends with a conditioner. Your hair is super delicate when it’s wet, and a nice dollop of conditioner (this one from Briogeo is spiked with hydrators like rosehip, argan, and coconut oils) gives you an extra layer of protection against damage (which you’ll def need if heat styling is on your agenda).


How to Straighten Hair: Use a Microfiber Towel

Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban

Wait! Before you wrap your wet hair in a scratchy cotton towel, pls consider using this microfiber wrap instead. Not only does it cut down your drying time, but it also helps minimize frizz and prevent breakage (for real), without roughing up your hair cuticle like a traditional towel. If you’re an air-dryer like me, twist it around your hair and get cozy. Need to blow dry? Wear it for a few mins to soak up any excess water before blowing it out.


How to Straighten Hair: Prep With Leave-In Conditioner

L’Oréal Paris Blow It Dry Thermal Smoother Cream

Next up, heat protectant. While your hair is still damp, smooth a quarter-size dollop of a flyaway-smoothing, heat-protecting cream all over (hi, this one from L’Oréal is my favorite). Follow with a quick blow dry—angling your dryer downwards will cut down on frizz and tangles—or let it completely air dry.


How to Straighten Hair: Prime With Heat Protectant

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray

Once your hair is dry, you’re ready for your second round of heat protectant. Blast your hair with a few quick spritzes of a lightweight, non-greasy spray like this option from Living Proof. I like to spray section by section to make sure each strand is coated, especially the ends and around my hairline.


Best Hair Straightener for Curls and Waves

Bio Ionic 10X Pro Straightening & Styling Iron

Now comes the step you’ve been waiting for: actually straightening your hair. BTW, flat irons aren’t exactly a one-size-fits-all tool—you need to make sure you’re using the best one for your specific texture. This Bio Ionic hair straightener has vibrating—yup, vibrating—plates that help evenly flatten out waves and curls with each pass, so you’re left with fewer kinks.


Best Hair Straightener for Damaged Hair

Ghd Platinum+ Pro Performance Styler

Got damaged hair? Spend your money on this Ghd flat iron, which takes 20 seconds to heat up to its max of 365 degrees (aka the highest, optimum heat for straightening your hair without completely damaging it).


Best Hair Straightener for Bangs

Drybar The Tiny Tress Press Compact Detailing Iron

Take it from an emo girl who had eye-skimming bangs: Straightening your bangs can go really wrong really fast. That’s why I love this mini iron from Drybar—it makes it way easy to clamp small hairs without burning your skin (which, yay!).


How to Straighten Hair: Finish With Dry Oil

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray

Last, but certainly not least, freshly flat-ironed hair requires a quick coat of finishing spray. This dry oil from Bumble and Bumble is a cult-favorite, and for good reason: It’s lightweight enough that it doesn’t make your hair look greasy, but it still gives you a nice dose of shine and hold. Spritz it on your hands, rub them together, then rake your hands through your hair, focusing on the mid-lengths to ends for mega shine.

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