How to straighten your hair
Want to take your hair from curly or frizzy and give it some sleek style? Try these top tips for straightening your hair
From curly to straight hair
For curly-haired women, wanting straight hair instead isn't just about feeling defeated by the daily wrestle with mutinous frizz, or longing for swingy hair so glossy that it might tempt, say, Clive Owen to run his fingers through it. "Straight hair is perceived as more professional, more authoritative," notes Tim McLean, senior stylist at Oskar on Scollard salon in Toronto. "Many women with curly hair will have it blowdried straight before a presentation because they feel they'll be taken more seriously."
The thing is, outside the salon, making curly hair go straight comes with certain frustration and a side helping of potential damage from the heat styling required to get the job done well. Happily, there are many ways to make the process easier and safer on the hair as well as last longer.
Pros have been saying it for years, and celeb type Harry Josh is happy to say it again: "Good styling starts in the shower with the shampoo and conditioner designed for the hair you want." Prepare hair with cleanser and conditioner that promise smooth or straight results.
Post-shower, skip the towel-turban stage entirely, says Josh, who does Amanda Seyfried's hair. By the time you get around to removing the towel, your hairline and sections of hair that were against the fabric have already dried frizzy. Instead, squeeze excess water from your hair and reach for styling product, which Josh says works best when it's applied to still-wet hair.
- John Frieda Frizz Ease Smooth Start shampoo and conditioner, $11 each at drugstores
- L'Oréal Paris sulfate-free EverPure Smooth Masque, $13 at drugstores
- Kerastase Sérum Oléo-Relax Leave-In Smoothing, Controlling Care for Dry, Rebellious Hair, $40, 1-800-Kerastase
Smooth-styling sprays and lotions these days offer multiple benefits: crucial protection against heat damage, improved manageability during the blowdry, and results that last for days. Celeb stylist Frank Barbosa appreciated results from BC hairtherapy Repair Rescue Sealed Ends ($18 at select salons) on the set of Sex and the City 2. Andrea Claire, who has worked with Lady Antebellum and actress Kelly Rowan, likes TRESemmé Extra Hold Mousse ($6 at drugstores) because it leaves hair with swing rather than stiffness.
Others to try:
- Greg May Hair Architects Smooth Operator Leave-In Conditioner/Straightening Balm, $20 at gregmayproducts.com
- Kevin Murphy Straight Defense, $22, kevinmurphy.com.au/salon_finder
- Pureology SuperSmooth Smoothing Cream, $30, pureology.com
Some products offer cumulative benefits-the more often you use them, the less frizzy hair is and the easier it is to straighten.
- Phyto Phytodéfrisant Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm, $28 at Sephora
- Nexxus Sleek Memory Straightening Smoothing Spray, $13 at drugstores
- TRESemmé Anti-Frizz Secret Smoothing Crème, $6 at drugstores
Unruly hair bends best to the will of professional tools. Salon brand Toni & Guy offer's pro-quality dryers and flat-irons at Shoppers Drug Mart for around the $100-mark or a bit less. Other pro brands to consider, available only at salons and beauty supply stores, are Babyliss, Chi, h2pro and Rowenta. "Blowdry while using your fingers to comb through at first," instructs Greg May of Greg May Hair Architects (he's done the 'do of Chantal Kreviazuk). "You want your hair about 20 to 30 percent dry before you get close with the hot air and brush."
Also necessary are good brushes. Claire likes a skeleton brush-widely spaced bristles and a vented back-to "straighten without severity." A good paddle brush is another option, and, for smoothing, a boar bristle brush, either paddle or round. A salon or beauty supply store is your best bet for sturdy selections to last you years. For claw clips to keep hair out of the way as you style section by section, hit the drugstore.
A keratin smoothing treatment at the salon is the newest hot option for easy-going swing. "It's for the person who has to spend more than 20 minutes styling her hair every morning," confirms McLean.
"The condition of hair improves dramatically, with a notable impact on lifestyle from cutting down drying time, to the amount of hair product needed, to options to wear hairstyles never before possible," explains Deborah McGrath, founder of Do My Hair in Toronto. "One of our clients was thrilled to be able to cut bangs for the first time in her life."
The process involves the application of a protein-rich treatment (that penetrates the hair shaft), carefully flat-ironing the hair section by section, and allowing it to cure for 72 hours, during which the client has to be diligent about ensuring hair stays seriously straight and away from moisture.
Sodium-chloride-free shampoo and conditioner is required to maintain the sleek effect, which, depending on the brand and formula, can then last 12 weeks (Bio Ionic Kerasmooth, from $220) to six months (Coppola Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, from $450).