It's easy to assume that styling straight hair might be easier than with other textures, but that isn't necessarily so. Whether you have naturally poker-straight hair or happily use straighteners to achieve a sleek look, styling straight hair is not always as, well, straightforward as one might think.
Common issues, such as static and greasiness, can bring their own challenges. Adding movement, volume, and shine doesn't have to be a constant headache though. And no, achieving the kind of swishy, glossy straight hair that shampoo ads are made of shouldn't require deep-cleaning your roots every single day. From shampoo secrets to rounding up the best product out there that help turn straw to silk, we list the ‘need-to-know’ styling hacks that both pros and celebrities alike swear by.
5 professional tips for styling straight hair
1. Shiny hair starts in the shower
So you've finally gotten your hands on one of the best straighteners out there and are all set with the proper straightening technique. Are you then 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, explains how to make that light-as-air feeling last for as long as possible.
“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 can 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 look and feel fresher for longer, but will also make hair easier to style—think sleek but not slippery.” We like the airy bounce we get with OUAI Fine Hair Shampoo and Conditioner.
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 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 more integrity and heft, 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.”
We like Living Proof Full Root Mist, followed up with ghd Heat Protect Spray.
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 texturizing spray before braiding damp hair, then 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. Try Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo for a quick scalp and strand refresh.
3. Stick to the 80% rule
Don’t attempt a bouncy blow-dry if your hair is still dripping wet, says Patrick, emphasizing 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 Volumizing 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.
4. Invest in top quality hair tools
Weight up the Dyson Corrale vs GHD Platinum or thinking about investing in the popular L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0? 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, are straightening your locks evenly, and also reduces the potential for heat damage, as you’re less likely to straighten the same section twice.
5. Get regular trims
This old adage 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, Color Director at Billi Currie, favors 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.
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Anna is a multilingual award-winning journalist with over ten years of experience working in the beauty, lifestyle and travel industries.
Her extensive editorial portfolio includes Women’s Health, Woman & Home, The Sunday Times Style, Refinery 29, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Red and Good Housekeeping.
Anna is also well versed in commercial work, having experience in both start-up and corporate environments.
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