9 mistakes everyone makes with hair straighteners

From tangling the cord to applying too much pressure, these are the mistakes you should avoid making with hair straighteners

Woman using ghd hair straighteners on her hair
(Image credit: John Lewis)

Regardless of how you style your hair, the best hair straighteners are a must-have hair tool that help you achieve sleek, frizz-free locks without taking a trip to the salon. Whether your hair is short, long, tightly curled, pin straight, thick, thin, dense or coarse, having a quality pair of straighteners as part of your hair care routine can take your messy mop from a bad hair day to a good one.

While hair straighteners are relatively easy to use, it’s easy to make a few mishaps here and there when styling your hair. If you make these common straightening mistakes, you won’t get the best styling results, you could damage your hair and even break your hair tool beyond repair.

Here are nine mistakes everyone makes with hair straighteners and what to do to avoid them.

1. Putting the heat up too high

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have your hair straighteners at the highest temperature for them to work properly. The highest heat on most straighteners is 230º but you don’t need to use this temperature to achieve the best results. A key indicator that your hair straighteners are too hot is if you smell burning or you see any smoke while using them. If this happens to you, turn the hair straighteners down immediately to a few degrees below the highest temperature to protect your hair from heat damage.

2. Repeatedly straightening the same strand of hair

If you’re trying to get your hair super straight, you might be tempted to go over the same strand over and over again. But this can damage your hair and not give it the look you’re going for. If your hair isn’t doing what you want, it could be because you’re using the wrong technique, so instead, limit the number of passes on the same strand to three. Experts advise going over the root twice and the ends once to get straight locks. If you still don’t get the right result, let the hair strand cool completely before trying again.

3. Working on thick sections

If you’re in a rush or have lots of hair, it’s easy to grab thick chunks and big sections to straighten. But if the strand is too thick, it can exceed the length of the straighteners and won’t calm the frizz. Make sure the section you’re straightening is as wide as the flat iron plate and take smaller sections to achieve a more professional look. It might take a little longer but you’ll thank yourself later.

A woman sitting at the salon with a hairdresser straightening her hair

(Image credit: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels)

4. Applying too much pressure

One mistake people overlook is applying too much pressure on your straighteners. You might be tempted to press firmly on your hair straighteners while you go over your hair but it makes it more difficult for your hair to move through the plates. This pressure can leave marks on your strands and can cause damage to your hair. Instead, take it slow and apply smaller levels of force so your hair doesn’t struggle to pass through the hair straighteners. If you feel resistance, you’re pressing too hard!

5. Using straighteners on damp hair

With more hot brushes and wet-to-dry stylers coming to the market, there are many hair tools that can be used on damp hair. But unless your straighteners specify that you can use them on wet hair, always make sure your hair is dry before using them. If you do, you will likely see steam and hear a sizzling sound which is damaging to your hair, making it brittle and encouraging split ends. Avoid this by fully drying your hair before straightening or buy a wet-to-dry styler like the Dyson Airwrap or the ghd Duet Style.

6. Only using them for straightening

If you’re only using your hair straighteners for straightening, you’re seriously missing out on the styles you can create. While the best curlers achieve the best ringlets and waves, straighteners are also amazing at creating beautiful waves and curling looks. Not only do hair straighteners unlock more styling possibilities, but they can fix any styling mistakes you’ve made, and mean you don’t have to buy as many hair tools (although what’s the fun in that?!).

A shelf of hair straighteners and curlers with tangled cords and cables

(Image credit: Cottonbro Studio / Pexels)

7. Not using heat protection

It goes without saying that hair straighteners use high temperatures, so forgetting to use hair protection can overexpose your hair to heat which can result in broken and damaged hair. Always remember to use heat protection spray before using straighteners to create a layer of protection and help your hair react to heat better while maintaining its natural texture and quality.

8. Storing them incorrectly

Many people are guilty (myself included) of hastily packing away their hair straighteners and winding the cable to conserve space. But this is the worst thing you can do to your straighteners, especially if you want them to last a long time. Avoid tightly wrapping the cable as you can cause the wiring to break internally which could lead to breakages and fires. Try to keep your straighteners packaging and store them in the box so your cord is separate from the straighteners.

9. Forgetting to clean your straighteners

Yes, you can (and should!) clean your hair straighteners. If your hair straighteners are dirty, this can translate to your hair. Having smudges, dust or product residue on your straighteners can also cause them to break quicker if this build-up is left for too long. Remember to wipe the plates of your hair straighteners regularly with a towel, and you can use rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth to remove any markings and smudges.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!