How can I keep my hair straight all day?
January 5, 2010 12:58 PM   Subscribe

My straightened hair won't last for more than an hour or two. How can I fix this?

I've had very long hair for most of my life, and it's naturally straight. I recently wanted a change and got an A-line bob cut. Tragically, I then discovered that when short it has a natural wave in it right around the chin area. It flips out at the chin at the right side and looks incredibly stupid. And this isn't a little flip at the bottom - this is a big-ass flip. It looks like one of those 60's flip haircuts - except only on one side.

Obviously, I want to grow out this awful pain-in-the-ass haircut, but in the mean time I want to look half-decent. I'm stuck straightening it every day, which works initially, but after an hour or two, it always flips out again. I went out and splurged on a CHI straightener, and bought John Frieda Frizz-Ease serum on the recommendation of a hairdresser. I've tried straightening it straight, straightening it in the opposite direction, extra hairspray, hairgel, various heat protectants, but it STILL won't stay for more than an hour or two.

I would just give up and hide it under a hat now, but I feel like that there's got to be a way. I mean, people with tight curls manage to get their hair to go and stay straight - am I really stuck with my flip until my hair grows out?
posted by vanitas to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might be able to get some layers cut in to make it look like a wave rather than a flip, and to reduce the flip's volume.
posted by yarly at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2010

do you blow it out first?

that's the only way i can get the flat iron to actually straighten it.

i use a brush that is vented - hollow on the inside so the heat from the dryer passes thru, i think it's bigger than 1" brush but not a huge one like the 3" or 4". 1 1/2 or 2?
posted by sio42 at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2010

I mean, people with tight curls manage to get their hair to go and stay straight

Not without very expensive chemical intervention, they don't.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest what roomthreeseventeen alluded to. You can get just that portion of your hair chemically straightened to deal with it until it grows out. Save yourself a lot of time and heartache. If you go to a good hairdresser, your hair will end up in as good or better condition than before you had it treated.
posted by decathecting at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2010

Living Proof and MoroccanOil are expensive but miraculous. Both are way better than any product I've ever tried, and I've tried them all.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

It could be the specific way its cut that is making your hair flip that way. You could try going back to the stylist and explaining or showing the problem and they might be able to help. They could undercut it to have it go the opposite way.
posted by JenMarie at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2010

is your hair wavy or super kinky?

if it's just wavy then you don't need a chemical straightener. also, a lot of people with straight hair who get that hair cut have that flippy thing happen naturally.

a good hairdresser will also show you how to do your hair the way you want it done and even let you handle the tools of destruction yourself so she can help you learn. at least mine does, she is awesome that way. once i was shown how to do it, it was actually really easy and i can make my *almost* look like does.
posted by sio42 at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2010

My hair kind of does this. I use a round brush around my whole head in 1 1/2" sections to sort of smooth all those waves in/down rather than up/out. Then, after that, I use a flat iron if I want it more straight and less flipped under. Without the roundbrush then flatiron, I just get a wonky flip instead of a round/curved flip. I typically keep my hair in a chin-length-ish bob now, and it took me months of having this type of cut to get the hang of using the round brush to smooth it all under.

2nding MoroccanOil. I have never gotten more compliments on smooth, shiny, straight hair than during the short time in my life I could afford to use that nectar of the hair gods.
posted by bunnycup at 1:30 PM on January 5, 2010

I mean, people with tight curls manage to get their hair to go and stay straight

Either by wrestling with a blowdryer and flatiron for three hours then not letting water touch your hair ever until you are ready to wrestle for three hours again (which means you have to be comfortable with not shampooing your hair for a week...or more. But honestly, you're probably better off shampooing less anyway since you're constantly frying it between two really expensive and hot ceramic panini presses and you needed about a week to regain your strength again after the last straightening session), or killing your hair within an inch of its life with chemical treatments....then still having to wrestle with a blowdryer or flatiron every now and then.

Obviously, from where I'm sitting, I can't tell if it's your method or just how stubborn that flip is or both. I have curly hair, so the below is probably overkill, but if the curl/flip is as stubborn as you say it is, you're going to have to start out by stunning your opponent with a blow drying first, preferably after washing it while its wet. Use one of those round boar's bristle brush to work on that flip (be sure to use product here*). After that you flatiron, though with your straight hair, you might find this step unnecessary if you can do a decent blow out. Unfortunately for people with curlier hair, that's not an option. Oh, it'll be straight, all right, but it'll look like frazzled sticks, hence the smoothy niceness of a flatiron. And I know there are some flatirons out there saying you can go from wet to dry, but NO. NO. NO. NO. You never go from wet to dry with a flatiron alone unless you want to fry your hair even more than you already are. Also, the blow drying cuts down on time you're clamping an iron anyway.

You can follow up with some other product to give it shine if you think it looks dull, or to just give it nurse it a bit after the hurt you put on it, but no matter how much these products promise to lock out moisture, I usually find it doesn't work as well as just being hypervigilant of moisture your own self. Rule #1 of Hair Fight Club. NO MOISTURE. NONE. NOT A DROP. IF IT RAINS YOU RUN FOR SHELTER SCREAMING. If it's humid and muggy, then goddamn, you're fucked. Sorry. That curl is coming right back.

And don't let your guard down as you sleep. You tie it back, sorry, your hair is gonna crimp in the shape of whatever you used to hold it. If you let it loose and sleep on it funny, again, sorry it might crimp that way too. You'll find yourself investing in a silk scarf or some kind of headwrap walking around the house vacuuming like your dear old auntie. You have to be on your toes. Any action you take or don't take on your hair is just another chance for the natural curl to attempt and make a break for it.

Only thing I'll add here is, it definitely IS a bit tougher to get a good foothold on shorter hair for straightening. The shorter the length, the less weight, and the more your curl feels free to go wild. Also it's hard to get right to the root with a blowdryer, or to have enough hair between your flatiron plates to comfortably straighten it and your already tired arms are now contorting in weird ways to get at your hair. However, considering your is straight otherwise, I wouldn't worry too much about this.

*Product-wise, I was never a huge fan of John Frieda. It worked just ok for me for straightening purpose, but in general seemed to heavy and meh. Basically you're looking for something to act as a shield between your hair and the blowdryer/flatiron. I used to spray in lighter leave-in conditioner or heat/blowdry de-frizzer type product for the blowdrying, then for the flatironing some kind of nutritional/conditioning/defrizzing serum type product. Also, if you're regularly doing this, you'll have to follow up with some kind of deep conditioning at regular intervals at some point. So invest in some hot oil treatments or hair packs like Dr. Miracle or some such. Doesn't have to be expensive. Seriously, people need to moisturize. I can't believe half the time I walk down the street and see someone with crispy hair and I just want to dunk their head in a bucket of Vo5 or something.
posted by kkokkodalk at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

I also suggest a blowout with a round brush before ironing. I have fine, slightly wavy hair that likes to flip out at the ends. Blow dryer and brush alone don't do it, and a flat iron alone doesn't do it. I have to do them both. It may sound like a lot of work but it's not so bad - I dry my hair until about 90% dry, then use the brush on sections of my hair just until it takes on a halfway-decent appearance, so it's not like I spend ages brushing it out before then using the iron. YMMV since I don't know how curly your hair is, but that's the only thing I have found that works for the problem you describe. Oh, and using products, but you have that covered.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2010

Also piling on with the blow drying first. I have thick curly hair that is not chemically treated in any way and that I don't use product in. Blow drying with a round metal-barrel brush then going over with flat irons leaves it perfectly straight in a way that lasts for days. It doesn't really take that long either, because it doesn't matter if the blowdried version looks messy since you're going to straighten it and using the irons on already dried hair just involves going over everything twice. I may just be lucky but again, messy frizzy curly hair over here which turns smooth like silk and stays that way.

I don't do that very often to my hair but do blowdry my very curly fringe (aka bangs) every day. Just the heat from the blowdryer is enough to make it lie perfectly flat these days, although it took about month of daily drying for it to fully learn how to behave. So whatever you're doing stick with it, it does get better!
posted by shelleycat at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2010

I did keratin straightening this past summer upon the advice and supervision of a friend who owns two salons. She researched all of the different treatments (some use FORMALDEHYDE for heaven's sake) and found one that she felt was safe. My hair was stick straight without need of a blowdryer until almost October (I got it done in June). It's not cheap but it's less expensive than Japanese straightening.
posted by micawber at 2:12 PM on January 5, 2010

Seconding the brazilian hair straightening. I know it's somewhat controversial, but it's made my thick, frizzy hair shiny, beautiful, and straight with no ill effects. This is who I used:
posted by designmartini at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2010

Wavy haired gal here. On good days, at the right length, I can blow dry my hair straight using some pretty cheapo gel (the stuff I have now is Pantene Pro-V "get it straight smoothing gel," bought for three bucks at Big Lots so it might have been discontinued, for all I know) and one of those big flat brushes. But my hair is much happier when I cooperate with it--something like Aussie scrunch spray is awesome, though any curling mousse/spray will work. On my wedding day, for example, I "styled" my hair in about five minutes after showering, by spraying some stuff in, scrunching (grabbing handfuls in your fist, basically), sticking a headband in, and letting it air dry.

The great thing about wavy hair is its flexibility, even if that can be frustrating sometimes, too. There's no need to beat it into submission with a flat iron.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:27 PM on January 5, 2010

Seconding Living Proof products for this. My wavy hair wouldn't stay straight when I straightened it or curly when I curled it until I used their products. Now I am in love.

PhoBWanKenobi, your hair is seriously beautiful, you lucky thing.
posted by coffeeflavored at 7:07 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay, I'm am a living infomercial when it comes to hair-straightening. I have a crazy mix of Jewfro and Afro and my hair stays straight for days.

Regular flat irons, like the hyped CHI, just press your hair straight.

Buy a Maxiglide. It's not a vibrator -- it's an AMAZING straightening iron that has "pins" on one of the plates -- basically it's like combing your hair while you flat-iron it. The light tension (tension is the key to a good blowout) creates a really shiny, smooth, and long-lasting straightness. I was so sold from the infomercial that I called the company and begged them to let me come pick one up in person instead of waiting for shipping -- I drove to New Jersey for this baby. And every single promise came true. It literally does exactly what it says it will. I have an extra one in case God-forbid it stops working one morning. I never go anywhere overnight without it if I can help it. I'd go on television if they'd have me to tell the world that the Maxiglide changed my life.
posted by thebazilist at 7:53 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have had better results with the CHI than the Maxiglide. I also use a round brush to pull the hair taut while straightening it. If you are using one of the cheaper irons, vanitas, you might want to try a CHI (or Maxiglide). My hair which is normally unruly and wavy (but not "pretty") stays straight for 2-3 days with the CHI.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:59 AM on January 6, 2010

Another wavy haired girl here, and I had the same cut you do a few months ago. I loved it, but only with some Kevin Murphy Easy Glider and a good flat iron. One thing that should go without saying is to, after the blow out, only straighten tiny sections of your hair. The smaller amount of hair in the straightener at a time, the better it holds. I section my hair off a great deal (mine's stupid thick) and then straighten sections that are no bigger than an inch wide and fairly thin. It takes forever, but it's to the point that the younger members of my family had no idea my hair was naturally curly/wavy. I've been straightening it for so long, they had no memory of me with curly hair. So it can be done, good luck.
posted by teleri025 at 7:11 AM on January 6, 2010

I don't know if the curly hair advice will work. I have super straight hair and it will do exactly what you are describing. My hair will not hold a curl or style for very long. Admittedly, I am no styling expert.

One of the benefits of having naturally straight hair is that it will do the same thing all day. What you need is a better hair cut. I once had a hair cut that flipped out all the way around - it was shorter than my chin and had lots of layers - but I was never able to recreate that. I've had hair cuts that flip on one side, I've had hair cuts that curl in at the bottoms - a stylist should be able to give you a wash and dry hair cut.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:13 AM on January 6, 2010

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!

I tried the blowdrying + round brush method that some of you recommended, and it definitely made a big help. However, since I'm trying to grow out my hair and blowdrying will only cause more damage to it, I decided that it was probably a bad idea to do it every day. I also looked into permanent straightening, but I didn't want to pony up the cash for it - especially if it would also damage my hair more.

I did find a pretty decent solution though. First of all, I was inspired by some of the posts to break out the hot oil treatment, which made a massive difference. I realized how horribly dry my hair was before, and the dryness seemed to make the straightening a much more difficult process. What also helped a lot was teleri025's advice on straightening a small section at a time. I'm a newbie to the whole process - I had never, ever, flat-ironed before I got this haircut - and I realized that I was trying to do too much hair at once.
posted by vanitas at 10:49 PM on January 6, 2010

Vanitas, glad to be of help. Also, I really can't say enough wonderful things about the Kevin Murphy line of hair products. Yeah, they're a bit expensive, but they are way worth it and you don't use much product for your bang. I would also strongly suggest you invest in a heat protection shampoo or conditioner. I'm fond of this one. I've found that does more to protect my hair than anything, and I'm particularly hard on my hair. I've been dying it for over 20 years and blowdrying and straightening for close to the same. So far it's in pretty good shape.
posted by teleri025 at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2010

Blow your straightener budget on a GHD. My hair is long, past my shoulders, and when a GHD is used, my hair can stay straight for about 4 days. Part of the key is minimal use of styling product.
posted by chronic sublime at 9:11 PM on January 12, 2010

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