Beyond Straightening: How to Use Your Flat Iron to Create Any Kind of Hair Look


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Every day should be a good hair day — no matter your hair texture or style. And for those days when you feel like your hair needs some extra help getting shiny and frizz-free or you simply feel like changing it up from its normal ‘do, you’ll find that a flat iron is the only tool you’ll need. The versatile styler can get your hair super sleek and chic, tousled and sexy or bouncy and curly in no time.

For expert tips on how to get your mane glossy and gorgeous without a hair out of place, we grilled our favorite celebrity hairstylist Adir Abergel (whose A-list clients include Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway,  Kristen Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow) on how to flat iron hair the proper way and how to curl your hair with a flat iron. 

Important Tips Before You Flat Iron Hair

  • It’s important to never ever flat iron damp hair. You will damage it by literally cooking your hair.
  • Blowdry your hair as straight as possible. The smoother your hair beforehand, the better. It will make the flat ironing process a breeze.
  • If you air-dried your hair, run a brush through each section, stretching out the curls as you do so­.
  • Use a lightweight, heat protecting oil or thermal protectant spray. If using an oil, stay away from the roots; you don’t want them to get greasy. For thick, textured hair, Abergel recommends the lightweight Moroccanoil Treatment.
  • Select an iron where the temperature is distributed evenly throughout its plates. Next, set the iron to 365 degrees, which is the optimal temperature to flat iron your hair without damaging it — no matter your hair’s texture.

How to Get Super Sleek Styles with Your Flat Iron

  • You should be able to get your hair as straight as possible with a single pass of the flat iron on each section.
  • Start by taking a small section of your hair, no bigger than one inch. (Any bigger and you won’t be able to smooth the section evenly throughout.)
  • Taking your time, glide the flat iron slowly and firmly through your hair, from root to tips. (If your hair is shoulder-length, it should take you about six to seven seconds to pass through each section.)
  • Pull the hair taut as you straighten. You need to apply enough tension and pressure to your hair to get good thermal contact between it and the plates as you caress the iron through, but not too much where it would cause you to pull your hair out or crease it with the styler.

How to Get Curved and Turned Under Ends Using Your Flat Iron

  • For hair with some bend to it, you don’t want an iron that is completely flat. Select a flat iron that has a beveled edge to it.
  • Follow the steps above, but as you reach the ends, just flick your hand around toward your face so that the hair curls under. In other words, with the iron clamp closed, quickly turn it back on itself in a half turn. And voilà, you’ve created a U-shaped bend at the ends.

How to Create Tousled, Beach Babe Waves with a Flat Iron

  • To get the gorgeous S formation, with the iron clamp closed, move your hand back and forth in a wave motion as you pass it through each section of hair.
  • Start from the scalp and clamp the iron down on your hair, smooth an inch or two, then turn it down a half of a turn toward your face. Then, as you’re gliding it, turn it up a half of a turn away from your face. Repeat this process, turning it up and down the length of your hair a half of a turn every few inches until you reach the ends.

How to Curl Your Hair with a Flat Iron

  • Use a flat iron with beveled edges that won’t crease or dent your hair.
  • Depending on how tight you want the curls (the smaller the section, the tighter the curl; the larger the section, the looser and bouncier it is), take a section of hair and curl it into a barrel curl.
  • When you’ve reached the scalp, slip the styler out without disturbing the curl. Then, pin the curls in place. Don’t remove the pins until your hair has cooled down to set the curls.
  • Afterward, for a looser style, just run your fingers through your hair after the curls have set, gently tousling it.

Finish off with a great shine spray like SHOW Beauty Premiere Finishing Spray or Fekkai Pre-Soleil Hair Mist. Finally, Abergel recommends sleeping on a silk pillowcase to stretch out the longevity of your hairstyle.