Confession: I spend at least two hours a week in my bathroom fiddling around with various hair hot tools to get my look just right — and that’s a lot of time. I also realized that I've invested a serious wad of cash into creating my precious arsenal of flat irons, curling wands, frizz-fighting dryers and basically anything else that boasts a ceramic heat function.
Do I have a problem? Perhaps. But all that time, effort and money equals a fabulously elevated hair-tool consciousness and now, I want to share my hard-earned wisdom with you.
Here are a few tricks of the trade to try.
1. You need to clean your flat iron at least once a week.
Most people don’t clean their hair tools and that’s as gross as not washing your underwear. My friend Ming Tran, senior product manager at T3, taught me the art of combining a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. No fancy cleansers or strange smells — all you need is an alcohol-dampened cotton swab and a few quick swipes over the ceramic plates of your straightening iron to make it as good as new.
2. Your blowdryer can act as an aromatherapy machine.
OK, admittedly this trick is slightly noisy, but if you spritz just a little bit of your favorite perfume at the back vent of your hair dryer and then blow your hair out as normal, you’ll be left with the most delish-smelling strands. It’s great for a fresh blowout, but I find it particularly helpful when I want to give a quick root lift and refresh post-gym. The heat really seals in the scent, too.
3. Your flat iron can help with fashion.
If you find yourself stranded in a hotel room or on-the-go without a clothing iron, don’t worry — you can quickly press your shirt or dress collar with your hair iron on a medium setting. Just don’t use it on synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, because they will melt, even at low temperatures. Also, I love customizing cheap sweatshirts with iron-on patches using my ceramic straightener. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with a real iron!
4. Your curling contraption can help you braid better.
If you have one of those automatic-curling or wave-making wands, use it to easily separate sections of hair before braiding. The machine I have, the Kiss InstaWave, is amazing in that it only pulls in hair that's the same length at one time. So when I position it close to the root of my hair and let it rotate for two to three seconds, it creates perfect sections for low-hanging braids and braided buns. This is ideal for a neat braid, since wonky or uneven sections often lead to weird flyaways and bumps.
5. Your blow dryer can seal in deep conditioner.
I remember my grandmother teaching me the best hydration hack of all time — using nothing more than a deep conditioner, a cheap shower cap and a blow dryer. You simply load up hair with the conditioner of your choice, pile it up on top of your head and cover it with the cap. Then, evenly distribute heat around your head with the dryer on a low-medium setting for two to three minutes. Let the heat soak in another five minutes and rinse. You'll be left with salon-level hair mask results!
6. Beachy waves are closer than you think.
Like the beachy waves look all year-round? Same here, I can’t get enough. This hack requires only a few easy steps. Start by making a low braid and secure it with a hair tie. Then, take a hot straightening iron and gently press heat, inch-by-inch, into the length of the braid. Let it cool for a minute or two, and then work in a small amount of texturizing cream. Five minutes later, you'll have totally glam, beach-worthy locks.
7. Hair ties are the best way to wrap your cords.
The easiest way to keep things tidy is by wrapping the excess cord around your hand and then securing with a ponytail holder. Feel free to use this trick when packing your favorite hair tools into your suitcase, as well!
This article was originally published on May 10, 2016 on TODAY.com.