Curly to Straight: Step-by-Step Guide to Straightening Curly Hair

If you’re someone with wavy, kinky, or curly hair, you already know your locks need extra love and attention to look their best. That extends to the straightening process. Sometimes you just want to switch things up -- but doing it right remains a must.

So, are you wondering about the best straightener for your hair? Or curious how to curl hair with a straightener to regain some volume? Read on for a breakdown of the process.

Step 1. What You’ll Need

The first thing you’ll need is to set aside adequate time.

With a streamlined system like the AirIron dryer and styling attachment combo, many people can halve the amount of time they spend straightening their hair. The ceramic styling tool allows you to directly and safely apply heat and straighten using only the dryer and your preferred brush.

Still, rushing through straightening and curling hair with a straightener won’t yield the best results and doesn’t encourage you to handle your hair as carefully as you’d want.The next thing you’ll need to do is to arm yourself with knowledge (and the right tools).

The next thing you’ll need to do is to arm yourself with knowledge (and the right tools).

Styling with heat necessitates a heat protectant, and you should pick one that fits well into your routine. For afterward, you might want to have a finishing product on hand -- an oil to add shine and reduce frizz or a light holding spray to set flyaways. A headscarf also goes a long way in maintaining your new style when your head hits the pillow.

The trickiest part might be choosing a specific styling tool. What’s the best hair straightener for your needs and within your budget? A hair straightener is anything from a simple blow dryer to a flat iron to a heat brush and everything in between. To get results, get to researching.

Generally speaking, you’ll want a machine that’s not too heavy, has different heat settings, and that doesn’t have gigantic heat plates. Bigger does not equal better in this case; 2 inches and under are all you would need.

If you want to curl hair with straighteners, note that not all systems will be equally easy to manipulate, and you should aim for air-based systems or thinner irons.

Step 2. The Prep

Start with clean, conditioned, and detangled hair that has been slightly towel dried. Damp, not dripping. Remember to apply that heat protectant.

If you’re using a traditional hair straightener, you don’t want to start without a blow dry. Wetness in your hair can promote damage and give you bad results if the straightener isn’t meant to steam wet hair.

Make space for yourself in front of a mirror so that you can see what you’re doing and have room to safely put down your hot straightening tool. Turn it to the appropriate heat setting so that it can warm up.

Choose as low a temperature as will get the job done rather than a catch-all scorching hot. After all, you can always adjust the heat upwards, but can’t unburn hair. Part your hair into manageably-sized sections, usually upper and lower and left and right, if you didn’t already for the drying process.

Step 3. Straighten and Curl

Straightening itself is extremely straightforward. For wavy, curly, and kinky hair, blow drying alone won’t get optimal results, so it’s only the first step. It smooths the hair while it dries and begins the straightening process.

An attachment like the AirIron Styler nozzle, which has a straightening vent, may undercut your need for a separate hair straightener, but in either case, you’ll be going through similar motions. Start at the roots and work your way down to the ends in one smooth pull, quickly enough but not fast. When using heated air and not an iron, support your hair with a round or paddle brush.

You can curl hair with flat irons or dryers, too! Don’t expect ringlets like curly fries, but just because you’re straightening doesn’t mean you have to have straw flat results.

To add wavy volume or bounce as you smooth everything out, simply use a little wrist action to twist individual sections as you move downwards. Make sure your hair starts the twist over the top of the iron or brush and not underneath it.

It’ll be easier to accomplish this midway down a strand than at the roots. So, don’t worry if you go over the same section twice. Smaller sections will be more receptive than big bunches. Try this cheat sheet on how to curl hair with a flat iron if you’re more of a visual learner.

Step 4. Having Trouble?

The problem: hair sections need multiple passes with the heat.

The solution: use a higher heat setting/go over less hair.

Repeatedly going over the same strands, or re-doing the same section to get a better curl, will inevitably damage that area. Twice should be enough. If it’s proving not to be, raise heat to the next highest setting and make sure that section isn’t too thick.

The problem: a burning smell or sizzling sound.

The solution: use a lower heat setting/go over more hair.

If straightening your hair reminds you of a griddle plate being served in a restaurant, that’s bad. Too high settings do more harm than good for your style, and may even prevent heat protectants from working. Also, check that you aren’t overexposing smaller sections of hair.

The problem: waves are too tight or too loose.

The solution: remember that practice makes perfect!

Unfortunately, you won’t immediately know how to best curl hair with a straightener the first time you try it. Maybe not even the second time! Don’t be afraid to experiment with the style until you find what you like and a consistent way to achieve it.

One tip is that once you’ve taken away the heat, it’ll be more difficult to tighten up a curl. Instead, err on the side of curlier and gently tug on individual sections to loosen the curl from there.