A flat iron is the curly-haired woman's styling tool of choice when she's longing for smooth, straight locks. Flat irons work their magic by using high heat to wipe out curls. Unfortunately, that much heat also takes a heavy toll on your hair. If you iron the wrong way, you may suffer dry, frizzy hair or strands that snap like twigs. The best way to avoid breakage is to protect your delicate hair from the heat. By doing so, your hair will feel silky and soft instead of like straw.
Select a ceramic flat iron with a tourmaline coating. Ceramic irons heat evenly, so you'll be able to straighten your hair with one pass. Other types of irons may heat unevenly, so you need to iron your hair several times in the same spot. When your hair gets limited heat exposure, it's less likely to break.
Wash your hair with a smoothing or antifrizz shampoo and conditioner. Dry, frizzy hair may break more easily when ironed.
Your hair is weaker when it's wet so dry your locks thoroughly before ironing them. If you use a hair dryer, hold it about 6 inches away from your head. If your hair dryer has a cool-air setting, use it.
Apply a large dab of a heat-protection product to your hair after drying but before ironing. Work the product through your strands with a wide-tooth comb.
Adjust the iron to the lowest possible heat setting that works for your hair. Some irons go up to 400 degrees, which is too hot for most people's hair. If your hair is very fine, start with the lowest temperature setting. If your iron doesn't allow you to adjust the heat level, consider getting one that does.
Iron a section of hair only once, if possible. Try to avoid making multiple passes through the same section. When ironing, hold the tool in place no longer than three or four seconds per section of hair.
- If your hair is thin and tends to break easily, consider applying a keratin treatment. Keratin treatments make hair stronger by infusing your locks with protein. Get the treatment at a salon or do it yourself with an at-home product.
Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.