6 Mistakes To Avoid When Using A Flat Iron

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Being a flat iron addict isn’t easy. You know it’s not good for your hair, but you just can’t help yourself when all you crave is the smooth, sleek look you get with your favorite straightener.

Of course, it’s important to use an appropriate flat iron for your hair, but how you use your flat iron is just as important.

For best results, try to avoid doing the following 6 things.

Straightening Too Much Hair At One Time

dos and don'ts flat iron

This is a common mistake that many users make. Grabbing a fistful of hair and then running it through your flat iron is not only ineffective, it’s harmful if you keep doing multiple passes over and over to get it perfectly straight.

The reason: you’re only ironing the outer layer of hair if each section is too thick, leaving your inner strands untouched. Repeating this over and over on the same section will overheat the hairs touching the plates while not straightening the ones in the middle.

Instead, section your head before you start so you can work through different layers of hair from the bottom up. The simplest approach is to divide the top half near your crown, clip it up, and then work on the bottom portion before tackling the top layers. 

Take smaller 1” sections that will flatten out to a single layer of hair between the plates so each strand can maintain contact throughout the entire glide. This ensures that each hair gets properly pressed and ironed – leaving your tresses straight and smooth in only one or two passes.

Using Your Straightener On Wet Hair

woman with wet combed hair

Another big no-no – never use your flat iron on anything but dry hair. (Unless, of course, you’re using a wet-to-dry straightener, which is specifically designed with steam vents to handle damp hair.)

You might think straightening damp hair will be more effective in getting your locks nice and straight, but in reality all you’re doing is cooking your tresses if you’re using a standard flat iron.

Keep in mind that wet hair is inherently more fragile than dry hair, which makes it more susceptible to splitting and breakage if you stretch it out or apply direct heat. Since pressing your hair between two hot plates does both of these things, you’re likely to end up with a good amount of damage.

So do your hair a favor and make sure it’s completely dry – whether naturally or by blow drying, or a combination of both – before firing up your flat iron.

Not Using Heat Protectant

woman trying to straighten hair without protectant

While we’re talking about saving your hair – don’t just ensure that it’s not wet before you use your flat iron. Another big mistake is not using any heat or thermal protectant.

I know, I know, who really wants yet another hair product to add to their routine? However, if you heat style frequently – this includes blow drying, curling, and yes, straightening – this is a must to protect your hair from damage.

Even if you have healthy hair, you should still use some form of protectant since high heat is damaging to all hair types.

The way heat protectants work is by forming a barrier or coating on your strands to help shield them from the drying effects of high temperatures.

They come in all sorts of formulations – sprays, serums, creams, foaming agents, and leave-in conditioners – so there’s sure to be one for you. 

Some are made to apply on dry hair immediately before styling, like sprays or serums. Others, like leave-in conditioners, should be applied to clean, damp hair after showering.

For thin or limp hair, a lighter spray formula may be in order so as not to weigh down your hair. Coarser, drier hair types may benefit from a serum or cream to give you more shine and smoothness.

Whichever type you choose, just make sure to apply as evenly as possible across all strands for even protection.

Using Too Much Heat

flat iron on high setting

Speaking of heat, don’t switch your flat iron to the hottest temperature setting just so you can get through the process faster.

While it’s tempting to use the highest setting to tame unruly locks, doing so may burn, fry, or melt your tresses. 

The rule of thumb is to always use the lowest heat setting necessary to straighten your hair. 

If you haven’t figured out the appropriate temperature for your hair yet, start low (under 300°F for fine hair, under 350°F for medium, and under 400°F for coarse) and work your way up.

Some flat irons come with color-coded lighting or display indicators that tell you whether the temperature you’ve selected is appropriate for fine, medium, or coarse hair. 

Not Combing Through Each Section Before Straightening

woman combing section of hair

This one might not sound like a big deal, but it makes a real difference.

Even if you brush your hair before straightening, you’ll get better results by combing through each section immediately before passing it through the plates. This will get rid of any small tangles or knots that can result in unstraightened areas that require a second or third pass to smooth out.

Professional stylists sometimes use a thin comb right in front of the flat iron to align and guide the hairs evenly between the plates. This helps ensure equal and consistent heat across each strand for maximum straightening effectiveness.

Since it’s hard to do that on yourself, combing the section before running your flat iron through gets you similar results.

For extra assistance in this area, the BIO IONIC OnePass Styling Iron has a special silicone strip embedded in the plates to help grip and distribute hair evenly as you swipe hair through.

Gliding Too Fast Or At An Uneven Pace

The devil is in the details, as they say, and yes it applies to hair straightening too. As with all things, rushing doesn’t usually help matters.

If you pull hair through your flat iron too quickly, you’re not giving it a chance to properly press the curl, wave, or kink out of each strand. The best technique is to combine a slow and steady glide with a single row of hair between the plates.

Again, this will help achieve more straightness in one or two passes versus multiple quick swipes over the same section.

Lastly, don’t press the plates together too hard or you’ll start to pull on your hair. If you have fine or less textured tresses that tend to slip out of the plates, try using a bit of light or flexible hold hairspray before ironing each section for some extra grip.

What Are Your Biggest Flat Iron Mistakes?

The quest for smooth, straight hair isn’t always an easy one. It takes some trial and error to get the right combination of tools, products, and techniques down because everyone’s hair is different.

But if you avoid doing these 6 things, you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your flat iron – whichever model you have – for beautiful, smooth and shiny locks.

Emma Lee
As long as she can remember, Emma has been obsessed with beautiful hair. Her favorite look is pin-straight, sleek glass hair. She's had multiple styles from short and permed to long and natural throughout her life, and knows full well that how your hair looks can make or break your day.

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