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How to Straighten Hair

Longing for super-straight locks? See which method best suits you.


  • Step 1: Prepare your hair Try the easiest straightening method: a blowout. Towel off as much moisture as possible, blotting gently to minimize frizz. Remove tangles with a wide-tooth comb, and spray a small amount of volumizer on the roots. Blow-dry until the hair is nearly dry.
  • TIP: For best results, use a regular or hammer-style blow-dryer with at least 1,800 watts.
  • Step 2: Blow it out Clip the top half of your hair to your head. Taking 1- to 2-inch-wide sections of the loose hair at a time, wrap them around a medium-round brush, moving the brush from root to end as you aim the dryer at it. When the bottom pieces are done, let down the pinned-up hair one section at a time and repeat.
  • Step 3: Flatiron it For an even sleeker look, straighten hair with a flatiron that has ceramic plates: Apply a heat protecting product to the hair, then slowly slide the flatiron down 1-inch sections from roots to ends, pulling it at a consistent speed. Try not to go over sections more than twice.
  • Step 4: Get a keratin treatment For a semi-permanent solution, get a keratin treatment, which adheres to the surface of the hair. The treatment lasts for several weeks, and gradually washes out. It usually doesn't work for people of African descent.
  • TIP: Ask for the formaldehyde-free version.
  • Step 5: Turn Japanese If you want a permanent treatment, consider Japanese straightening. Also known as "thermal reconditioning," it uses strong chemicals, making it effective, but also damaging to hair, and too strong for thin or already damaged hair. Like keratin treatments, it's generally not effective for people of African descent.
  • Step 6: Relax! Consider using a hair relaxer if your hair is very curly or kinky. Both lye and no-lye relaxers work because they contain chemicals with very high pH levels that force the hair to straighten. Hair must be retouched as it grows, usually every six to eight weeks.
  • Step 7: Let it shine However you straighten your hair, finish it off with a shine-enhancing product. Because straight locks look even better when they're glossy.
  • FACT: Hair originated more than 300 million years ago in birds and lizards, according to one study.

You Will Need

  • Towel
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Volumizer
  • Blow-dryer
  • Clips
  • Round brush
  • Flatiron with ceramic plates
  • Heat protection
  • Straightening treatment
  • Shine product
  • Hammer-style blow-dryer (optional)

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