How To Straighten Curly Hair

Straighten Curly Hair

Dazzling ringlets, beautiful corkscrews and natural waves and have been lusted after by many a straight-haired girl! There is an exquisite charm about natural curly hair that allows it to look relaxed, stylish and charming.

But sometimes we want to tame our luscious locks into a more manageable style, or just fancy a change. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can easily straighten curly hair. It will probably take longer than it does to straighten wavy hair, but you can still get the same beautiful results.

So to help you to achieve that sleek style, we have compiled our ultimate guide to straightening curly hair.

Straightening Your Hair At Home

Choosing to straighten your hair yourself at home will save you a huge amount of money over time. Salon prices seem to be going up regularly at the moment, and unless you are among the elite and very rich, a weekly or even more often straightening session with your stylist is no achievable. But owning a set of straighteners comes in very handy when you want to touch up a look or sort out a particularly frizzy or puffy area of your hair! You can create the perfect style to suit you and don’t have to wait for an appointment each time.

What Tools You Need

To get the best results and to look after your hair before, during and a long time after you straighten your hair, we suggest you have these tools to hand.

  1. High-quality hair straightener – you want to choose one with a wide range of temperature settings, which has high-quality plates such as ceramic which distributes the heat evenly and that is the right size for your length of hair. Choose wider plates for longer hair and slimmer plates for shorter hair. Ideally, select quick heat-up to save you time when you are styling.
  2. Heat protector spray – this is to protect your hair from potential heat damage. Not only that, but many good-quality heat protector sprays also impart nutrients and moisture into the hairs to enrich them and keep them healthy. Many contain ingredients such as nourishing argan oil which is rich in antioxidants. Many heat sprays also multi-task as holding spray too!
  3. Hair clips – and lots of them! They make it far easier to keep your sections separated than just leaving your hair loose! You can use regular snap clips, but we find the best are the same ones many hairdressers use – duckbill/alligator clips or longer condor clips. These have a hinge at one end that you can easily unclip one-handed as you switch between sections.
  4. Wide-toothed comb – to get all the tangles out of your hair before you begin straightening it! Even if you have just conditioned your hair, it is worth combing through just before it is completely dry. It makes it easier to separate the sections. Wider combs cause less friction than finer combs and you can also use them to spread product through your hair.
  5. Setting spray – to keep that straight look for longer. As we mentioned before, some thermal protector sprays are designed to be used both before and after heat-treating your hair. This saves you doubling up on the products you keep in your bathroom! The spray helps to hold your style for longer, so your curls don’t bounce up hours after you have straightened them!

Straightening Your Hair

Before getting started, you may want to shampoo and condition your hair. This isn’t necessary every time, but it does mean that you can have your hair straight the maximum time in between washes, as washing it will enable the curls to spring back in full force. However, if you do wash and condition your hair first, then make sure that you dry your hair thoroughly before using your straightener.

Whether you choose to let your hair air dry, or you use a blow dryer, be careful not to rub your hair. This can cause frizz to get worse, even in people with straight hair, so avoid it if you can. Instead, squeeze excess water from your hair with your hands as you finish washing it, then wrap it in a towel and squeeze it again. Be careful also not to scrunch your hair, as this can encourage the formation of curls!

Once you have thoroughly dried your hair, spray on some heat protector spray. Not too much – you don’t want to make it greasy and anyway a little goes a long way – but enough to spread throughout the whole amount. To begin with, you can rake it through with your fingertips.

Heat Protector

Next, you want to comb through your hair to remove the tangles. For your curly hair, you will want to use a wide-toothed comb for this over a finer tooth comb. Avoid using a hairbrush, which can cause friction and therefore frizz.  If your hair is very curly or tangled, then start at the ends and gradually work up the strands as you clear the tangles. This step is a lot easier if you have already combed through it while you were washing and conditioning your hair!

Once you have combed through your entire head of hair and removed all of the tangles, start organizing your hair into sections. Pin up the outer layers of your hair using the clips we mentioned earlier so that when you begin straightening it, you start with the bottom layer. You may find it best to twist your hair and pin it up, so you don’t have lots of long bits hanging down from the clips.

If this is the first time you have straightened your hair, take the time to practice with the flat iron before you switch it on. It gets you used to holding it and won’t burn if you accidentally touch your ears!

Flat irons at the ready, it is now time to actually straighten your hair! You will want to work methodically – front to back or back to front, whichever you find easiest, but working in order means you won’t miss chunks!

Gather a small bunch of hair in your fingers, roughly an inch across. Comb through it once more to remove any last minute tangles, then hold it a little way from the top of the strands with the comb. Clasp your flat iron around the hair above the comb and then glide both the comb and the straightener down the hair towards the root. Make sure to keep your hair pulled taught as you straighten it as it will straighten faster and more effectively.

If your hair starts to sizzle at any point, STOP! This will probably be because it is not completely dry, or you have the temperature of the straightener set too high!

After making sure the temperature is set correctly, continue onto the next bunch of hair. Again, comb it through, then comb it a second time, keeping it taut and chase it straight through with the flat iron. Work methodically around your head and then undo the next section of your hair.

Using A Flat Iron

Once you have worked around all of the sections of your hair, it is time to apply the finishing touches! You can style it out first by having the edges around your face twisting out, curl the ends out with your straightener, or pin it up. Don’t forget to straighten your fringe if you have one!

Once your style is complete, finish it off with some setting spray to help it hold for longer. As we mentioned before, you may be able to use the same product you sprayed before as thermal spray, so check on the bottle!

And now you can enjoy your new style! You may need to touch it up every now and again if you want it to last longer. To help it last as long as possible, avoid getting it wet and try to use dry shampoo to enable you to wait a bit longer before you wash it. We have some more tips for keeping your style for longer on our blog.

Common Straightening Mistakes

Common Mistakes

Once you get the hang of it, straightening your hair is easy, and you’ll get quicker each time you have a go. But if you are not getting the effect you are looking for, here are a few ideas as to where you are going wrong and how to correct them:

  1. Applying too much or too little product – this goes for both before and after you straighten. Applying too much product before or after you straighten your hair can leave it greasy and lank. Instead, know that a little goes a long way in terms of applying products to your hair, and remember to comb it through your hair, not just leave it on the top surface of your hair.
  2. Using sections that are too large – if you find that your hair just isn’t becoming straighter, try using smaller sections which are more easily managed by the straightener. Smaller bunches will fit better in the flat iron and have a more even heat distribution, meaning the hairs are straightened more efficiently. It takes a little longer, but you will get a better result.
  3. Forgetting to clean your straightener – if you are finding your hair is catching on your flat iron and that it is hard to glide it down your strands of hair, you probably need to give it a clean! Turn it off, wait for it to cool then use some rubbing alcohol to clean off any residue. This is also a good idea to check the plates for chips and other damages which can snag your hair.
  4. Not drying your hair properly – this is a big mistake and can seriously damage your hair! Occasionally straighteners are marketed for use on wet hair, but we don’t recommend this. If you are in a hurry, use a blow drier to dry your hair thoroughly before you straighten it. Blow dry it down the strands from the roots, and you can brush it through as you go along.
  5. Choosing the wrong temperature setting – choosing a heat that is too high for your hair can singe and burn the strands. Choosing a temperature that is too low for your hair type can mean it doesn’t straighten or remain straight for long. Here is our guide for choosing the right temperature, but read the instructions for your own straightener to make sure first:
    • For fine or damaged hair, choose below 300°F (148°C),
    • For normal hair choose between 300°F and 380°F (148°C to 193°C)
    • For coarse hair, choose 350°F to 400°F (176°C to 204°C)


Hopefully now you feel confident and happy in how you are going to straighten your curly hair. Don’t worry if it doesn’t give you the exact finish you are looking for the first time – practice makes perfect! If you have yet decided on the right straightener for you, take a look at our reviews of the models we consider to be the top straighteners on the market right now.

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