The flat iron is most often used to straighten coarse hair and to add volume to fine hair, but it is also an essential tool in creating hairstyles-- especially for African-American hair. Regardless of whether your hair is relaxed or natural, there are several hairstyles you can do at home with the flat iron.
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If your hair is of medium length, one of the easiest hairstyles to create using the flat iron is the straight, smooth look. You should first thoroughly comb and detangle your hair, especially if your hair is natural. Using clips, separate the hair into small sections and slowly and firmly iron each section from the root in a downward motion, gradually releasing pressure as you reach the end. Once all of the hair has been flat-ironed, comb through to cool. Several African-American celebrities have worn this style, including Beyonce Knowles and Tyra Banks.
Although the flat iron is commonly used to straighten African-American hair, it can also be used to create curly hairstyles. You can create wavy, lightly curled ends or fringe, or flipped ends. To do this with the flat iron, grip the hair at the root, then twist the flat iron down so that the back, rather than the side, of the flat iron is against your head. Pull the hair up in the air and lightly turn the ends under. If you want flipped ends, turn the ends outward instead.
If you have a short, layered haircut, the flat iron is the best way to create a faux hawk, the more conservative version of a mohawk. Men and women wear the faux hawk and, for African-American hair, it requires a flat iron and hairspray. It is easiest to create the hairstyle if the root of the hair is not completely straight, as stronger roots help hold the style in place. Freshly relaxed hair may not be strong enough to hold the style. To create the style, start at the centre of the head and comb hair from the top of the head toward your face. Grab sections of the hair that will be a part of the faux hawk and firmly iron it in a forward and upward motion. The front of the faux hawk can stand up or can fall forward, depending on how flat or spiky you make the faux hawk.
To create a spiked look, separate the hair into small sections, grip the root of the hair and pull upward. Rotate the flat iron slightly when you reach the end of a section so that the spikes do not stand straight up. You should make the spikes go in different directions to make the hairstyle softer. Leave the hair on the back of the head lying flat or add light curls with a small curling iron. Actress Halle Berry wore several derivations of this style early in her career.
The flat iron you use should have ceramic plates and otherwise be suited for your hair type--natural or relaxed. For example, flat irons with teeth are best used on natural, thick hair because they can also detangle hair. Before styling, treat your hair with a deep conditioner or a leave-in conditioner to minimise heat damage and check that your hair is completely dry. Also, do not flatiron the same section of hair more than twice. Remember, if your hair is damaged or is vulnerable to damage, applying the pressure and intense heat of a flat iron may ultimately result in thinning, breakage and split ends.
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