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The most obvious of all the hair straightener uses is, of course, the purpose for which they were intended – straightening your hair. But did you know there are actually lots of other things you can do with them?
Instead of just offering you a route to poker-straight hair, flat irons are designed to be multipurpose tools. The best hair straighteners can be used to add waves or curls to the hair, turn down the volume or amp it up, and even smooth out your clothes (you weren’t expecting that last one, were you?)
This is good news, as according to the experts, straight hair isn’t likely to be one of the biggest 2023 hair trends. “Pin-straight hair is less popular, with movement towards natural texture or a straight but bouncy blow dry (a la Cher from Clueless) instead, says Live True’s Expert Stylist & Educator Natalia Vera (opens in new tab). “This is particularly true with natural color techniques being on trend (including dimensional balayage and copper hair), which all look best with a bit of texture or shape to the hair.” With this in mind, here’s how to get maximum bang for your buck when it comes to your straightening irons. Groomed, glamourous hair, here we come.
8 clever hair straightener uses
1. Create curls
Find you’re all fingers and thumbs with a curling iron? Learning how to curl hair with straighteners is easier for most people to master. It does take practice to get the technique right though, so allow a bit more time than you’d normally need to get ready the first time you try this.
Work in small sections, using a clip if needed to keep the rest of your hair out of the way. Take your first section and softly clamp the straightener onto the hair close to the roots. Then, instead of moving downwards as you glide it through the hair, turn it at a 180° angle away from your face and gently pull it down. When the curl is still warm, wrap it around your finger to help it set in place. Repeat until you have finished your entire head. Keep in mind that the shape of your straighteners will impact the size of the curl. Narrow plates will give a tighter curl, and wide ones a looser curl.
2. Fake a bouncy blow-dry
Everyone loves that just-walked-out-of-the-salon feeling, where your hair practically bounces down the road with you. Lucky for us, it’s possible to replicate that same oomph at home with your straighteners.
“Prep hair using a root spray and distribute evenly through hair when damp,” says Frankie Moody (opens in new tab), Senior Hair Stylist at Jo Hansford. “Rough dry the hair, lifting it at the roots. Then take even sections and, using straightening irons, glide them through the ends of the hair, twisting at a 90° angle to create a flick. Do this in alternating directions with each piece of hair, then gently backcomb at the roots for extra volume.”
3. Form beachy bends
Wishing for tousled, beachy hair with no flights to somewhere sunny in the diary? Straighteners make it easy to create a salt-kissed texture at home. There are two ways to approach this. The first option is to take hair in small sections and then, starting close to the root, effectively wiggle the straighteners through the hair – changing direction at each turn to create bends. You can go all the way to the ends, or leave them straight for a more modern finish.
The other option is less labor intensive and great if you’re shorter on time. “Section your hair into four parts, like a hot cross bun,” says hairstylist and GHD Ambassador Patrick Wilson (opens in new tab). “Braid each section and secure the ends with an elastic. Then gently run your straightener over each braid. Leave to cool down, then unleash the texture.” You could do this with hair that's been washed a couple of days before, or if your hair is fine enough to dry naturally, braid overnight and run over the plaits with the straighteners in the morning to set the waves and smooth any flyaways.
4. Hide greys
We’re all for transitioning to grey hair if that’s what you want, but equally, there’s no judgment here if those salt-and-pepper strands at your parting annoy you. Or maybe you’ve skipped a hairdresser's appointment and your natural roots are starting to show? Either way, you can use your straighteners to make these less visible.
“To really hide the roots, the best thing to do is increase movement and add volume,” suggests Johnathan Soons (opens in new tab), Creative Ambassador for Headmasters. “Reach for a straightening iron and wave hair away from your face, even at the top, then shake. Blast in a texture spray and create a wavy, natural-looking parting.” It’ll buy you at least an extra week before your next color appointment.
5. Achieve a frizz-free finish
The name straightener implies straight hair, but you can also use your flat irons to simply smooth frizzy hair without making your locks poker-straight. For smoothing at the roots, the place where most of us experience flyaways, move your straighteners over the area with a very light touch. Don’t clamp down (pull too much and you’ll knock out any natural shape) instead gently glide the plates across the top of the hair.
6. Seal in treatments
Lots of at-home hair smoothing and straightening treatments require the additon of heat to activate them. If you’re using your best hairdryer on your hair, there will of course already have been some heat in the mix, but following with your flat iron will help to really seal this in. In the salon, straighteners are used as part of the Brazilian blow dry (also called keratin blow dry) as well as trending treatments such as hair botox to help them into the hair for longer-lasting results.
7. Make waves
If curls always feel a bit too 'done' for your taste, a wave is a great way to add texture and movement in a more laid-back way. “Create a smooth wave by wrapping the hair around the iron from the middle section then pulling down slowly, holding the iron horizontally to create a tousled look,” advises pro session stylist Stephen Glendinning. (opens in new tab) The waves will drop naturally during the day, or if you want to make them feel more undone instantly, brush through gently with a wide-toothed comb to break up the individual waves.
8. Smooth out clothes creases
This final tip isn’t a hair hack, more a handy life tip. Using your straightener to de-crease your clothes is for those times when getting the iron out feels like way too much effort. Maybe you’re traveling, or you’re just feeling lazy (no one’s judging!) We find that a crisp collar hides a multitude of sins, and just smoothing this small section is enough to make your outfit feel put together. Flat irons are more than adept at straightening the wrinkles out of a small surface area like this, and they can actually get into those hard-to-reach corners better than a regular-sized iron can.
Would straightener brands recommend this? Probably not. But it’s fast, effective, and saves us the hassle of dragging the ironing board out of the closet - so what’s not to love?
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
- Fiona McKimBeauty Editor, womanandhome.com
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