Refuse to have bad hair...seriously Pt. 1 of 3

With the major advances in hairdryer, curling iron and flat iron technology, there is really no excuse for bad hair. Good quality versions of each of these 'handy' (pun, intended) hair tools is available at a price to suit most any budget. My guess is that many of you simply do not know how to properly use a hairdryer, curling iron or flat iron (by the way, a flat iron can be used to straighten OR curl your hair...did you know that? didn't think so.)

As a former professional hairdresser and makeup artist, I feel it's my duty to pass along a few tips on how to use these tools so that we may no longer have bad-hair days...or at the very least, reduce their frequency. In this three part series, I will attempt to give some basic guidelines for using these hair tools and also share my favorite picks in each category.

Since the introduction of 'ceramic' technology, flat irons have seen a dramatic boost in popularity. They heat up so quickly--many in a matter of seconds--and no longer scorch the hair as they used to. Having soft, shiny straight or curly hair is a breeze!

Before you start 'ironing,' your hair should be clean and completely dry. If your hair is particularly course or damaged, feel free to work in a little anti-frizz serum or lotion, but use the least amount of product possible or you will end up looking like you dumped a bucket of grease on your head. Recommended products include Alterna Hemp Straightening Balm or Chi Biosilk Silk Therapy.

You'll need the following items:

* A flat iron: A wide range of irons is available--and size counts. If you have short or fine hair, use a one-inch flat iron. For medium-to-long hair or for hair that is thick or course, use a wider plate size, up to two inches. My favorite irons are the new Infrashine Redline Professional Line. Personally I feel that Infrashine is the best manufacturer period. Even their consumer models are far superior to many other company's "professional" models. Sedu, Wigo and Isinis also make good irons. Honestly, spend what you can on your iron--it'll last if you take care of it. If possible, invest in a ceramic iron.
* Sectioning clips allow you to section your hair so you can focus on straightening your hair evenly.
* Rat Comb. These are the combs they used to use to create your grandma's bee-hive hairdo. When flat ironing, the comb end is used to comb through the hair so it's tangle-free while the tip of the handle is used to section hair off.

How to use your flat iron to achieve optimal results:

* If you are new to using a flat iron, practice using it while it is turned off to get the technique down and to "feel" it out. This'll make getting the perfect result much easier once your iron is on.
* The temperature setting is important in achieving the best possible results. The higher temperature settings are designed for straightening very curly and/or very course hair. Using the graph to the left, set the temperature according to your hair type.
* Brush or comb through your hair until you have no tangles or knots.
* Next, use the pointy end of the comb handle to section your hair. The number of sections you have and the number of sectioning clips you use depends on the thickness of your hair...thicker hair=more clips, thinner hair=fewer clips. Also, the smaller the sections, the lighter, more weightless the hair will appear.
* Remember that you will start with the lower sections and progress to the top.
* Time to iron (finally, right?!). Starting at the roots, go over each section with the heated flat iron slowly and evenly. Keep the iron moving through the hair. As you finish ironing each section, comb through the just-ironed hair. Move on to each section and repeat.
* Before applying any finishing products, i.e. serum, wax or spray, let your hair cool completely.

To curl your hair with your flat iron, be sure to use a one-inch iron--the larger irons will not work.

Soft Curls
Insert a 2-inch section of hair between the plates gently squeeze handle together and glide iron to the ends, then wind hair around plates.

Flip Out
Insert a 2-inch section of hair between the plates, then squeeze the handle together and glide slowly together hair beginning at the roots, slightly flip out the ends.

Flip In
Insert a 2-inch section of hair between the plates, then squeeze the handle together and glide slowly together hair beginning at the roots, slightly flip in the ends.

Lastly, take care of your iron. Once it is completely cool, wipe it clean and keep it clean.

special thanks to Kelly Taggart at Purely Visual for introducing GirlPaint to Infrashine