Hair styling irons or hair styling tools are the updated version of flat irons. The famous brand GHD, was the first to use the term styling tool but it seems to have caught on. Although many people think it is the ceramic plates that make the difference it is actually the bevelled or curved edge to the hot plates that turns them from a hair straightener to a hair styling tool for curling and waves as well as straight styles. This simple feature allows you to turn the hot styling tool, with a bend of the wrist, as you slide it along the hair length and create hair styles that are not just straight but curly and waved too.
However it is due to technological advances in the heat plates (often ceramic) that they can be used more regularly.
Plate types - Ceramic/ionic and everything in between
Ceramic ionic technology is used in this type of hair styling tool to emit ion reflective's that enhance and renew hair. Results wise this means your hair will be smoother, silkier and straighter.
An ion is a molecule either positively or negatively charged. Frizzy, coarse, dry and damaged hair has a positive ionic charge, which makes it stand up. To have smooth, shiny hair you need to neutralize that positive charge with a negative ion ceramic plate. Therefore styling irons or flat irons that use this technology will be able to neutralize the positive ions and seal moisture and oils into the outer surface of the hair leaving each strand silky and smooth. Additionally all this sealing and smoothing will help to lock in any color on your hair and make it look fresh and last longer by reducing fade.
Using a ceramic flat plate iron on hair that is normal in condition or has been chemically straightened, colored or bleached should not damage your hair in a perfect world but.......it is my experience that because we all tend to go back over a section a couple of times, we pause on some areas longer than others and we don't all use a thermal protective spray some damage or breakage does occur with over use. So what is over use? For me it is definitely everyday so try to only use them once or twice a week.
If your hair is scorched, burnt or singed by one of these styling tools something is wrong with either it or the way you are using it. For help ask your hairdresser what they think it is.
Which size of styling iron is for what?
You can use this size of hair styling iron on all but very thick hair types for every hair style from flicks, curl, stick straight and luscious waves.
The very small or mini styling irons are for use on short to mid length hair cuts and medium to fine hair types. You can use them to create all the normal style variations from tight curls, flicks and waves as well as perfectly straight hair finishes. The ideal styling tool for urban angels with short hair, men's hair and fringes.
Usually broader in width but shorter in length than regular hair styling irons these are designed specifically for those of you with longer, thicker hair and Afro Caribbean hair types. You can create all the curls, waves, flicks and straight hair styles that everyone else can with this type of styling iron head.
Things to look for when purchasing a styling iron:
A long lead or electric cable so that you can both see in the mirror and reach the socket.
A swivel attachment for the cable, this makes a lot of difference if you intend to use them for curling.
Quick to heat up plates.
Bevelled (curved at edges) ceramic plates, this one feature is what will allow you to flip, twist, wave, straighten and curl.
We thought that some tips from Marc Mendicino Style Director and in Salon Educator at E' Salon might help when you are using your straightening irons at home.
These apply whatever style you are trying to achieve
- Always ensure your hair is completely dry before using the irons, never use the irons on wet hair.
- Use a heat protective spray or styling product on each section before using the irons (i.e.: Kerastase Voile Protecteur).
- Work through the hair in approximately one inch sections, this will ensure you don’t miss any hair or get lost whilst your working through.
How to straighten
Always work the iron horizontally outwards away from the head. Section the hair up into manageable sections no wider than the plates of your iron. It is best to do this by dividing the back into 2 sections and front into 2 sections above the ears. Start in the nape of the neck at the back and above the ears at the front and work up. Slide the iron slowly and evenly along each section as you work keeping the iron flat. Slightly round the iron off through the ends for a more polished finish.
How to curl
When curling with the irons still work horizontally to the head as you would with straightening, but over direct the hair up and away from the head for lift and volume at the roots. Draw the iron a short distance along the section and then with a flick of your wrist twist the hair in the iron back on itself 180 degrees. In one smooth, slow action now draw the iron whilst twisted in this way along the hair to the ends. Once through the entire length of hair, twirl the section around your fingers and leave to cool in the ringlet shape you have formed. The slower you draw the iron through the hair the tighter the final curl result will be.
- Don't try to curl a section bigger than one inch squared.
How to make a wave or bend
When making a wave curl result with the irons still work horizontally to the head, but lift the hair up away from the scalp. Grab a section between the iron plates and move it slightly away and out from the scalp as directed above. Now twist the iron over using your wrist so that the hair is doubled back on itself. Then in one smooth action like with curling, drawn the iron through the entire length of hair from roots to ends. This should be done reasonably quickly as the faster the action the looser the curl/wave will be. Place each section as you finish it by twisting or twirling it around your finger and allow to cool before you dress the finished look.
- bigger sections make looser waves.
Thanks Marc Mendicino from ESalon for your tips. Images used as examples in this section are from Joey Scandizzo, Jacen Ward and Maria Uva respectively.
- For added volume on fine hair begin by spraying a volumizer in at the roots before you dry off.
- Make sure hair 100% dry before you begin.
- Work on sections about 2cm deep and slightly narrower than the width of your iron at a time.
- Clip unwanted hair out of the way and make sure each section is tangle free before you begin.
- To get the hair style to last longer, spray each section of hair, with hair spray before you iron it.
- Work form close to the root to the ends.
- If draw the iron slowly ,evenly and smoothly down the length of your hair, when you get to the ends insure none are missed or you may end up with frizzy tatty looking ends.
- Caution: Don't place the iron so close to the scalp that you burn yourself! Special care is needed around the forehead as a burn does not add to the attractiveness of your hair style. Try inserting the teeth of a fine comb into the base of each section as a barrier.
- Always iron or heat style all of your hair and allow it to cool before finishing by placing or separating sections of hair, drawing your fingers through the hair, using a wide toothed comb or hair brush. Each one of these "brushing out" methods respectively will give a more blended finish to the hair.
- Which ever way you "brush out" the hair the final finishing is best using your hands with a little oil or gloss distributed evenly over them to either smooth over the surface for the ultra sleek ironed look or to separate the waves by drawing your fingers through the hair. Lift sections with your hands or brush and spray with a light hold spray for a more fluffy hair style.
For a quick and simple hair style change try waving curling or straightening only random sections of your hair cut.
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