5 professional tips for styling straight hair

Styling straight hair couldn't be simpler with these expert tricks

woman straight hair
(Image credit: Getty)

Many people assume that when it comes to styling, straight hair would be the  simplest to work with. However, whether you have naturally poker-straight hair or use the best hair straighteners to achieve a sleek look, styling straight hair is not always straightforward (pun intended). 

Common issues, such as static and greasiness, can bring their own challenges. Adding movement, volume and shine needn’t be a constant headache though. And no, achieving the kind of swishy, glossy straight hair that shampoo ads are made of needn’t require deep-cleaning your roots every single day. From shampoo secrets to the best hair dryers that turn straw to silk, here are some of the ‘need-to-know’ styling hacks that pros and celebrities alike swear by.

5 professional tips for styling straight hair

1. Shiny hair starts in the shower

Finding that your hair’s post-shampoo polish is replaced by an oil slick within hours? Chances are that your hair washing routine could do with a tweak. Cheryl Munoz, Style Director at Daniel Galvin Kensington (whose clients include the very sleek-haired Millie Mackintosh), explains how to make that light-as-air feeling last.

“If your straight hair quickly turns lank and greasy, it’s likely that you’re using the wrong kind of shampoo,” says Cheryl. “Avoid silicone or plant-oil loaded formulas as they can be tricky to wash out and make hair look oily and lifeless, even if you’ve just washed it. 

“Instead, opt for a lightweight, volume-boosting formula, which will not only help hair to look and feel fresher for longer but it’ll also make hair easier to style – think sleek but not slippery.”

2. Use styling products with staying power

When we talk about the best hair styling products with long-lasting hold, we don’t just mean hairspray. Patrick Wilson, ghd UK ambassador, underlines this, telling us that “styling straight hair is all in the prep – a beautiful, long-lasting finish depends on the foundations.

“Layering light-textured products will give hair guts, so start by applying a root-lifting spray to damp hair followed by a heat protector. Mist both into hair while tipping your head upside down for maximum volume.”

Gently scrunching product into hair with your hands can also help to create texture for a beachy effect. For even more sexy surfer appeal Cheryl recommends applying a texturising spray before braiding damp hair and leaving it to dry overnight. Undo in the morning for effortless mermaid waves and keep dry shampoo to hand to zhuzh up your roots – it’s as handy for giving hair a lift as it is for mopping up oil. 

3. Stick to the 80% rule

Don’t attempt a bouncy blow-dry if your hair is still sopping wet, says Patrick, emphasising that “hair needs to be 80% dry before beginning a blow dry”. If you’re after shape and body, he advocates adding a hot brush to your styling arsenal; the  ghd Rise Volumising Hot Brush will make that final 20% of drying time a breeze. It creates salon-worthy waves, flicks and lift, all without the need for heated rollers or any elbow grease. 

If a sleek ponytail or Bella Hadid-inspired mirror finish is more your vibe, bear in mind that you still need a specialist brush. Cheryl recommends styling hair with a natural-bristle brush to achieve a smooth, shiny result. Avoid plastic bristles, as they can create static and make flyaways worse. Once hair is completely dry (and only then), you can add further polish with hair straighteners. Speaking of which…

4. Invest in top quality hair tools

Gliding a straightening iron over your locks can encourage the hair cuticle to lie flat and seal in shine for days. Just remember: don’t go there if hair is still damp or you hear sizzling – heat damage is all the more apparent on straight hair and frying lengths can cause brittleness and breakage. 

Once hair is totally dry, let your tools do the legwork. Good straighteners diffuse a consistent level of heat evenly across the plates, allowing you to style hair in just one ‘pass’. 

If you’re finding yourself repeatedly running your straighteners over the same section of hair, chances are that either your hair isn’t completely dry or that your straighteners don’t quite cut it. Perhaps you'd be better off with one of the best hair straightener brushes instead?

Another possibility is that you’re not sectioning your hair effectively. Dividing hair into sections before you begin styling can speed up the process; it ensures that you don’t miss a cowlick and also reduces the potential for heat damage, as you’re less likely to straighten the same section twice. Happy, swishy ponies ahoy.

5. Get regular trims

This old chestnut applies to most of us, but Cheryl stresses that “it’s especially important for those with straight hair to commit to regular trims in order to to snip off split ends and allow ‘less-is-more’ styling.” 

As for the best cuts for straight hair, Tom Smith, Colour Director at Billi Currie London, favours going with the flow.

“When cutting very straight hair it's better to work with, rather than against, its natural texture. This means focusing on clean, sharp lines rather than lots of layering. Find a hairdresser who is comfortable with ‘precision’ cutting, as straight hair can be rather unforgiving!” 

Patrick agrees that simple cutting techniques reap the best rewards for straight hair.

“When it comes to haircuts, a bob hairstyle is your best friend. I personally think there’s no better haircut for straight hair – it’s strong and powerful.” 

Anna Wintour knows it, and now you do too.