Experts reveal their sleek hair solutions.

By Jaclyn Smock
April 07, 2020
woman with blond ponytail
Credit: Getty / Westend61

It's no secret that straightening your hair with a flat iron can cause heat damage if you're not taking the proper precautions; without first prepping your hair properly, using these popular tools can actually lead to some strand breakage. But there's no need to trade in your favorite sleek, straight hairstyle quite yet. With these tips from industry experts, getting glossy, silky, straight hair is as simple as following a few steps. From the essential products used before you start styling to the right techniques to employ, find out what experts swear by to achieve straight hair without the use of a flat iron.

Using a Round Brush

An at-home blow-out is a surefire way to create a straight hairstyle. Start with freshly washed, slightly damp hair. "Then set the blow-dryer to medium heat, while keeping the dryer above the head and pointed down. When you blow-dry the head downwards, you are not roughing up the [hair] cuticle, and it lays smoother, so less damage is done and the hair is left smooth and straight," says Marilisa Sears, artistic director at Marc Anthony True Professional.

While drying, be sure to use a round brush as it allows you to create the kind of tension you need to effectively manipulate the hair to lay the way you want it, notes Kat Lewis, BELLAMI head of education and expert stylist. "Specifically, a boar bristle round brush helps drag your natural oils down the hair shaft, leaving the hair feeling soft and shiny."

Smoothing Products

Once you're done brushing, it's important to avoid any watery hair products, like leave-in conditioners or gels. "This will add moisture and open the hair follicle and revert the hair to the texture it had before being dried," notes Giovanni Vaccaro, Glamsquad artistic director. Instead, use a finishing product that smooths flyaways or creates definition and separation at the tips.

These finishing products should also be full of things that will maintain your look. "Proteins that will help hold the style and protect against environmental damage, like macadamia oil, which works to seal the hair's cuticle [are good]. Also, stay away from ingredients like parabens and harsh sulfates," notes MariLynne Cosmillo, Cherry Blow Dry Bar's director of education. It's also important to avoid mineral oils and phthalates because they can strip your hair of natural oils—leaving hair dry, the scalp damaged and unable to straighten, explains Mindy McKnight, founder of Hairitage.

Professional-Level Treatments

Not interested in using any heat at all? Opt for a professional treatment for a semi-permanent effect like a Keratin Complex Express Blow Out treatment offered at many salons. It's a one-hour treatment "that contains a less harsh chemical makeup and a breathable formula that works to eliminate frizz and smooth the hair without completely flattening it out, so there's still body and movement for up to six weeks," says Trey Gillen, a hairstylist at O&M Salon in New York.

There are also options that contain low levels of formaldehyde and even some that are formaldehyde-free, like the Lasio keratin treatment, says celebrity hairstylist Nunzio Saviano. These treatments make the hair straight by injecting the porous parts of your hair with protein, but since it's less toxic, the newly straightened hair maintains. "And grows back mostly with its natural texture and shape. It lasts anywhere between four to five months and can be repeated without worrying about damaging the hair," he says.


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