Hair that is sleek, shiny, and straight can have a big impact. It's the kind of look that works with everything from a great dress to your lazy Sunday sneakers and joggers, and it's flattering on all hair lengths. Do you want to copy the look? We spoke with professional hairstylists to learn how to straighten hair like a pro. These rules of thumb will show you how to straighten hair without causing unnecessary damage (we're dealing with high heat, after all!) from the shower prep to the finishing touches.

Tips to Straighten Your Hair Perfectly

1. Straight Hair Preparation in the Shower

Let's be clear: no shampoo or conditioner will make your hair straight. Smoothing hair products, on the other hand, may be able to help prepare the strands for the process by providing significant moisture. Frazzled hair that won't lie flat is caused by hair that's dried out and brittle before you even use the straightener. "Comb the conditioner through with a paddle brush," says stylist Sarah Potempa (who has worked with Lea Michele), "then rinse your hair gently." Don't over-towel dry after you get out of the shower! The natural curl will be enhanced as a result.

Instead, gently pat downwards." Try the super-soft Towel as an alternative to the traditional terrycloth towel, which promotes frizz. Its microfiber material helps to promote sleek strands.

2. Dry Your Hair Roughly

"What's really the most damaging to the hair is the blowdryer," says Tim Rogers, the creative director for Living Proof. "When you're trying to achieve a sleek finish, that makes all the difference." If you do use a dryer outside of the shower, Sarah recommends rough drying (shaking the dryer back and forth over your head) until it's 80 percent dry.

"However, it's critical to keep the nozzle pointed downwards the entire time, or the hair will frizz," she cautions. The final 20% is up to you: you can either apply your product and let it air dry, or "blow it out smooth for the best result," as Tim recommends. "It gives the hair more shape and direction."

3. Choosing the Right Brush

Sarah recommends her boar bristle and nylon mix for your brush because "nylon would cause static on its own, which is why plastic brushes are difficult to use," she explains.

"The boar bristle aids in the smoothing and polishing process." (By the way, have you seen those fancy Mason Pearson brushes?) This is essentially the same thing, but it costs nearly $100 less.)

4. Wait until your hair is completely dry

"Stop and evaluate the situation if you see steam or hear a sizzle," says Harry Josh, the stylist behind the sleek hair of models like Karlie Kloss and Taylor Hill. "When straightening your hair, it should be completely dry." If you're sure your hair is dry, it's possible that product build-up is to blame. "Before you flatiron, you need to be selective about the products you use," Sarah insists. "Straightening differs from curling in that you should avoid applying anything to dry hair. There's nowhere for the product to go because the iron clamps down on the hair. You're boiling the product into the follicle, which isn't a good idea, especially if it contains alcohol."

5. Apply a Thermal Protectant

You don't want your hair to sizzle, right? "Living Proof's Straight Spray coats the hair with a molecule we patented known as OFPMA," Tim explains, "but how are you supposed to get runway-ready strands without the help of a little something?" "It's great because you can use it on damp hair, and it protects up to 450 degrees and resists humidity, so it drastically reduces frizz." It's also free of oils and silicones, which can weigh hair down in the long run. Even if your hair is thicker or coarser, you can use argan oil to moisturize it and add shine.

6. Keep an eye on the temperature

Always keep your hair safe by avoiding excessively hot temperatures. "The 450-degree setting was created with in-salon, professional keratin treatments in mind," Tim explains. "It wasn't intended for the general public. However, now that anyone can use it, it speeds up the at-home process." Obviously, this is at the expense of the health of your hair. "Higher heat is required for coarse hair," says T3 stylist Jeanna Pizzollo.

"However, fine hair, particularly damaged or color-treated hair, should be kept in the 300-350 degree safe zone." The SinglePass Luxe Iron from the brand won't let you go above 410 degrees, and its tourmaline and ceramic plates heat evenly, so you won't have to run your hair through it more than once.

7. Focus on a single section at a time

"You shouldn't be grabbing fistfuls of hair at random," Sarah advises. "The iron won't be able to get to thick pieces, and you don't want to reapply heat unnecessarily." Instead, she recommends creating sections to make it easier to keep track of your progress: Split your hair in the back in the middle and bring it forward. This will give you two sections to work with, but if your hair is thick, you might want to cut it into four sections. One of the most important hair straightening tips is to section your hair carefully.

Jeanna adds, "Sectioning will save you time." "Everyone complains about how long straightening takes because they're working with random strands of hair!"

8. Keep your hair taut at all times

You'll need fewer pass-throughs with the flat iron if you keep your hair sections pulled taut (and less passes mean less damage, of course). Although passing the iron over hair multiple times won't kill it, you shouldn't need to do it as often if you're pulling your hair and creating tension. "Tension is necessary," Harry says. "Create tension, then begin pulling the iron downward from the root." Curly styles will obviously require pulling, straightening, and repeating a few times, but pulling the hair taut while straightening will greatly assist.

9. Use finishing products to add shine and reduce frizz

Finishing products are your friends, not your foes, if your hair is prone to frizz or curling. But, since we've already learned to stay away from silicones and oils, which are found in most shine agents, what's left? "It's a good idea to use a light hold hairspray," Sarah advises. "However, it's best to let the hair cool down first." Spraying a hot pan will cause it to sizzle and steam.

"The same thing will happen to your hair!" She recommends spraying the product onto a boar-nylon brush and combing it through for an even application. "It's the best way to ensure your hair doesn't get a sticky or stiff hold," she says. Leonor Greyl Spray Structure Naturelle is a good option. Hair that is thicker or coarser may benefit from it. Proof of Life No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner is a silicone-free formula that adds shine to hair while reducing frizz.

10. Use an Advanced Technology Flat Iron

You could be following all of the above steps and still end up with less-than-perfect hair if your flat iron is a dinosaur. The truth is that the proof is in the product when it comes to straightening. Here are some compelling reasons to break the bank for a good flatiron from our experts:

"T3 irons must have an automatic shut-off feature. It's a fantastic safety feature for the on-the-go girl "Jeanna explains. "Keep an eye out for the recovery time," Sarah advises. "Because many cheap flatirons take up to 90 seconds to return to the temperature you set, you're actually losing heat as you go. This also means that heat will not be distributed evenly between the two plates." Her model, like Harry Josh's and T3's, is equipped with advanced technology that ensures an even and consistent heat flow.

Sarah adds, "Material is important." "Ceramic is gentler on the hair, but it's only suitable for fine-to-normal hair. Look for gold or titanium if you have curly hair." T3's iron is infused with tourmaline for added polish, while Harry's combines ceramic and titanium.

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