Follow these hair care tips to achieve perfectly smooth, straight, shiny hair every time you flat iron. Celebrity hairstylist Amita Moticka shares the scoop on how she keeps her A-list clients’ hair healthy and sleek, so you can finally copy those gorgeous, red carpet hairstyles you’ve been salivating over…

Tip 1: Pick the right size flat iron

Flat irons are like clothes, they are not one-size fits all. The length and thickness of your hair should determine the size of your iron, says Moticka. The right size iron will be easier to maneuver, straighten your hair more efficiently, and decrease the risk of overheating and damaging hair.

For short, thin or fine hair: Use an iron with narrow plates ranging in size from half-an-inch to one-inch thick. This will allow you to iron smaller sections, says Moticka.

For long, thick or fine hair: Use an iron with wider plates ranging in size from one-and-a-half inches to two-inches wide so you’re able to cover more surface area in less time, advises Moticka. Also, be weary of the weight of your iron. Anything super heavy (more than two pounds) will have your arm hurting in no time. Straightening hair shouldn’t be equivalent to weight training.

Tip 2: Select the right heat setting

Your hair texture and type should determine your heat setting. Most professionals use an iron with variable heat settings, but a drugstore iron (if you are on a tight budget) will work on some hair types as they are set to a “higher, workable temperature” and if the “density of your hair is average, than you should be OK,” says Moticka. If you do have the ability to purchase an iron with a variable heat setting, then do so. The more your iron caters to your specific hair needs, the less likely you will be to damage your hair. The temperatures Moticka uses are as follows:

For fine or damaged hair: 250-300 degrees
For medium/average hair: 300-350 degrees
For thick or coarse hair: 350-400 degrees

Tip 3: Use the right material

Look for flat irons that use ceramic, tourmaline or titanium metals. They will heat more evenly causing less heat damage to your hair, says Moticka. They are the “gentlest on the hair” because they release negative ions which work to tighten the hair’s cuticle. This produces a shinier, healthier, less frizzy look and feel, advises Moticka. On the flip side, be weary of “irons that are ceramic ‘coated’ or Teflon ‘coated’ as they will heat a little more unevenly, and tend to have a more drying effect.”

High-rated Flat Irons According To Total Beauty Readers
Ceramic: Conair Infiniti 1″ Straightener, $44.99
Tourmaline: Sedu Revolution Professional Nano Tourmaline Ionic 1″ Styling Iron, $139
Titanium: Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium 1 ¾” Flat Iron Straightener, $129

Tip 4: Prep hair properly

Once you’ve found the best iron for your hair, the next crucial step to straightening your strands like a pro is preparing your hair for the heat it’s about to undergo. Here’s how:

Preparation for fine hair: Wash hair with a lightweight volumizing system like PureOlogy PureVolume or Volumique Shampoo and Conditioner. Once out of the shower use a volumizing mousse or root booster with built-in heat protection. Blow dry hair to create volume by lifting at the roots. Smooth hair from the mid-shaft to your ends using tension and a natural bristle brush, says Moticka.

Preparation for thick/coarse hair: Start by washing with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner like PureOlogy Super Smooth System. Out of the shower, apply a smoothing serum with heat protection technology like Moroccan Oil and blow dry hair thoroughly with a natural bristle brush, applying tension as you dry your hair says Moticka.

Tip 5: Get a super straight look

Follow these steps to get a super straight, polished look like the one seen here on Michelle Trachtenberg:

Step 1: Start by clipping your blow dried hair into manageable sections — the thicker your hair, the more sections you should create. Starting on the bottom half of your head, near the nape of your neck, grab a half-an-inch to two-inch section of hair.

Step 2: Starting half-an-inch down from your roots (this will help your hair maintain some volume), quickly smooth the iron down the hair shaft “making sure to move at a steady pace,” advises Moticka. Continue this until you have straightened the bottom and mid-sections of your head.

Step 3: For the final sections near the crown of your head, lift hair off your scalp and get the iron as close to your roots as possible, pressing firmly while drawing the iron straight outward from your head to achieve a flat, smooth finish, says Moticka.

Tip 6: Get a voluminous straight look

For a fuller, more voluminous look — like the one seen here on Jennifer Aniston, you will want to hold the iron a bit differently. Moticka says to iron from the mid-shaft to ends, still moving the iron straight out to the sides, lifting from the scalp. “As a rule, I do not drag the iron down when working, because it tends to put creases in the [hair] if you are going against the growth pattern,” she continues. For added flip, twist your wrist slightly away from your face once you’ve reached the end of a straightened section for a bit of bounce. Mist with a shine spray or flexible hold hairspray.

Tip 7: Things to avoid

  • Do not iron hair when wet, as this is a sure way to fry your strands.

  • Do not use broken or chipped hot tools, as they can be dangerous.

  • Do not use a flat iron everyday as “any tool or procedure involving high heat will dry the hair and make it brittle over time, especially with prolonged and frequent use,” says Moticka.

Tip 8: Clean your iron

After every use you “should always clean your hot tools with an iron cleaner or lukewarm water and a cloth when the iron is cooled off,” says Moticka in order to remove any product buildup on the plates. She recommends Misikko Hot Tools Styling Iron Cleaner, $9.99.