Aug. 15, 2013 at 5:41 PM ET
It just figures. When you want to get straight hair, your hair is naturally curly. When you want a head full of waves, your hair is stick-straight. It’s the beauty gods waging war against us mere mortals. Thank goodness we can fight back.
Arm yourself with a great flat iron, blow dryer, paddle brush, straightening serums and a few other strategic weapons, and you can defeat unruly locks and get straight hair like you’ve always wanted. Here are four strategies to help tame even the wildest of waves. Game on, beauty gods. Game on.
If you want to get straight hair—like, totally straight hair—you’ll need a flat iron. Today’s top irons come in ceramic, tourmaline and titanium models, and, as a rule, the thicker and coarser your hair, the more heat you’ll need (adjustable heat dials are preferred).
If your hair is short, snag a 1 ½- to 1-in. iron. If it’s long, go wider. Next, work in a heat-protecting product (we like Fekkai Ironless Straightening Balm, $25, at Ulta.com) that works with your dryer. Then, blow-dry your hair as straight as possible. (Trust us, this will save you time in the long run—especially if your hair is quite wavy or curly.) Then, section your hair into three layers so you can really grab your strands to iron from root to tip. If you’ve got a ton of hair, add more layers or section out the layers to make your hair easier to handle.
Start straightening, pulling the iron in an even motion through 1- to 2-in. sections of tightly held hair at a time, working your way through the layers. Finally, brush it out and add a shine spray like Aveda’s Brilliant Spray-On Shine ($25, at aveda.com) and toss those super straight tresses from side to side.
After you wash your hair (perhaps with a specialized straightening shampoo and conditioner from your favorite drugstore), towel-dry to soak up as much moisture as you can. Comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb or paddle brush and apply a straightening crème such as Redken’s Align 12 Protective Straightening Lotion ($17, at Ulta.com), which will help you get straight hair while protecting your tresses from heat.
Now, grab your hair dryer. (All hair dryers are not created equal. Be sure yours has at least 1,600 watts, is lightweight and has a long nozzle. Conair’s Infiniti Pro is a fave—and affordable at $48.99 at Conair.com). Give your hair a quick all-over blast with the dryer, leaving your locks just slightly damp. Now, as with flat ironing, divide your hair into three layered sections, and, using a paddle brush and working in 2-in. sections, hold the hair tightly as you run the brush down your hair from root to tip. You’ll want to aim the nozzle of the hair dryer down to avoid frizzies.
Finish up with a spray that will hold your straight hair in place, such as Warren Tricomi’s Hot-Set Spray ($17, at Beauty.com).
If you want to get straight hair without harsh heat, grab your brush and your bobby pins. First, you’ll want to wash and condition your hair as usual, and then brush it out with a wide-tooth comb or paddle brush—no scrunching!
Then apply a leave-in conditioner throughout the hair and smooth in a few drops of Moroccan Oil ($15, at Amazon.com) to help tame any frizz. Now, you’re going to divide your hair into sections and brush it down as flat as possible, keeping it smooth by adding bobby pins in about 2-in. intervals all along the way, working from a few inches from your part down.
Continue this until your hair is pinned flat all around your head. Then, sleep on it and when you wake up, you’ll get straight hair along with your beauty rest.
If it’s something more permanent you crave,there are plenty of at-home versions of salon straightening applications—and they’re much cheaper than a professional Brazilian or Japanese blowout.
TheKeratinPerfect 30-Day Brazilian Hair Smoothing System Essentials Collection ($95, at Sephora.com) gives you two treatments for months of straightened hair. Ojon’s Super Sleek Hair Straightening System ($39, at ojon.com) is said to keep locks straight for up to 30 shampoos. And the Concen-Straight Smoothing Treatment from Bumble + Bumble ($45, at bumbleandbumble.com) is an at-home smoothing treatment, also said to last up to 30 washes.
Here's to happy straight hair, however you achieve it!
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.