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How to Go From Curly to Stick Straight, According to the Pros

Written by Dahvi Shira

As we’ve seen—thanks to public figures, including Shakira, Vanessa Hudgens, Taylor Swift, and Kerry Washington—curly hair can be a beautiful, statement-making accessory and natural form of expression. But with curly girlies on our team, we can tell you firsthand that styling curls sans frizz, with actual shape and volume, is no easy feat. And when you throw straightening tools in the mix, it can become an equally complicated situation. A special technique is required to straighten curly hair, especially when dealing with a full head of thick, coarse curls.

To help us crack the ultimate straightening routine, we turned to West Hollywood-based hairstylist April Kayganich. The Hairstory network stylist not only has decades of experience but stunning curls that will make your head spin. Even so, she knows how to change things up! Keep reading for her detailed guide to straightening curly hair.

About the expert: April Kayganich is a Hairstory network stylist and West Hollywood, CA salon owner.

Woman getting hair straightened in salon | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Getty / Yellow Dog Productions)

Things to Know Before Straightening Curly Hair

1. Make Sure Your Hair Dryer Has a Comb Attachment

Kayganich opts for a dryer with a comb because it ensures extra smoothness. You can also opt for a heated styling brush, which can offer equal sleekness leading up to the hair straightening process.

2. Heat Should Be Based on Hair Texture

Just because a tool offers the 450-degree option doesn’t mean you should take it.

“I set the temperature based on texture,” the pro says, adding that she’s referring to thickness. “Remember, just because a curl is coily or tight, doesn't mean it's coarse and vice versa. Actually feel your strands so you can get an idea. Finer textures? Hot tools should stay at 350. Medium texture? 360-365 Coarse texture hair? 375.”

3. You’ll Need Two Heat Protectants

If you’re planning to blow dry and then flat iron, those are two separate heated styling experiences that require two applications of heat protectant.

“When you apply your heat protection on your hair when it's wet, after you blow dry, you’ve ‘used up’ that protection,” Kayganich explains. “Before moving to the next tool, you’ll need an additional heat protectant to shield your hair. Usually, the best choice is an aerosol so it doesn't make the hair revert back to curly.”

4. You’ll Need Sectioning Clips and a Carbon Rat Tail Comb

When it comes to sectioning clips, “The smaller sections you take when straightening and smoothing, the faster you can get the job done and have a better result,” the pro advises. And then a carbon rat tail comb is key because “it won’t melt from the heat, and it’s needed to assist when using a flat iron to smooth the hair more.”

5. Don’t Let the Idea of Damage Scare You

Straightening doesn't mean a death sentence for your strands. “If you use the right tools, have heat protection, and prep your hair beforehand, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Kayganich explains. “Hair gets damaged by straightening when the hair loses its moisture, which leads to breakage. These tips can help prevent that. Making sure you have all of these tools while smoothing the hair in smaller sections will also expedite the process.”

A Guide to Straightening Curly Hair

1. Cleanse With a Moisturizing Product

Whether you opt for a shampoo or a 2-in-1 product, you’ve got to keep those strands hydrated. “Let the product sit for a few minutes before starting to detangle thoroughly from ends to roots with your fingers or a wide tooth comb,” Kayganich says. “Then make sure you rinse really well.”

Depending on the initial product used, you can then apply your conditioner or hair mask as necessary.

2. Divide Hair Into Sections and Apply Product

Make four sections in the hair while they’re still dripping wet, and use your clips to separate them. Kayganich suggests parting down the middle, then ear to ear. This is when you can apply a hydrating heat protectant along with a smoothing cream.

“Put one pump of each product in your hand, emulsify, and apply to one section, from ends to roots,” the pro advises. “Then take your wide tooth comb or a wet brush and comb or brush through to ensure even product distribution. Repeat until you’ve applied the product to all four sections.”

3. Smooth Hair With Blow Dryer

Because you’re going to finish with a flat iron, your blow dry doesn’t need to look fresh from the salon. It just needs to smooth out static and keep the hair dry enough for the fourth step. We personally opt for a heated styling brush (aka blow dryer brush), which does all the legwork for you. But if you don’t have one on hand, Kayganich shares easy tips for traditional blow drying below.

“Starting in the front, start smoothing the hair using your blow dryer with the comb attachment,” she advises. “This ensures you get the roots very smooth, especially if you have tighter curls. Always start in the front around the hairline because that hair usually dries the fastest and will be harder to dry. After smoothing both front sections, move to the back. Your hair should have no visible curl and will look voluminous.

4. Grab Flat Iron and Carbon Comb—and Begin to Style

Part your hair as desired, which will leave you with two sections.

“Starting at the bottom of one section and selecting no more than a half-inch section, take your heat protectant and spray from 6-8 inches away from the section,” Kayganich says. “Grab your carbon comb, comb through, then put the comb in the section at the root, teeth up, and slowly start to comb down while you ‘chase’ your comb with the flat iron. Repeat until your whole head is complete.”

Products You Need to Straighten Curly Hair

1. Hairstory New Wash Rich

Hairstory New Wash Rich | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: HairStory.com)

Kayganich recommends this 2-in-1 product because it cleanses and conditions your hair simultaneously. “It’s a highly moisturizing clen-ditioner,” she calls it with a laugh. “Since New Wash isn’t shampoo, it doesn't suds-up, which means it’s less drying to the hair.”

2. Briogeo Farewell Frizz Smoothing Shampoo

Briogeo Farewell Frizz™ Rosehip, Argan + Coconut  Smoothing Shampoo | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: BriogeoHair.com)

If you’re planning to use conditioner, this rosehip, argan and coconut oil smoothing shampoo is an excellent precursor. We love it because it’s frizz-fighting, sulfate-free, and smoothing, leaving us with soft, healthy-looking strands.

3. Hairstory Dressed Up

Hairstory Dressed Up | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: HairStory.com)

As Hairstory’s network stylist, Kayganich implements the brand’s hydrating Dressed Up heat protectant into so many of her looks.

“It’s my favorite heat protectant,” she says. “A little goes a long way, which is why I love it so much. You’ll most likely only need 2-4 pumps for a whole head application, depending on the density of the hair. I always apply in sections on wet hair. It also has UV protection, which helps protect your hair from feeling dry if you spend a lot of time outside in the sun.”

4. AIIR Smoothing Cream

AIIR Smoothing Cream | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: AiirProfessional.com)

We love this popular pick from AIIR because not only is it infused with the healing amethyst stone, but it repairs dehydrated hair, tames flyaways, adds shine, and makes hair smooth and touchably soft. It also doubles as a heat protectant you can use before blow drying, or you can work it into dry hair for soft definition and bounce.

5. ghd Duet Style 2-in-1 Hot Air Styler

 ghd Duet Style 2-in-1 Hot Air Styler | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: GhdHair.com)

Consider this one Mane Addicts-approved! Our curly peeps have tried this and the results were groundbreaking. It’s incredibly user-friendly, it’s designed for wet-to-dry hair, and it works remarkably on thick, coarse strands. An investment we stand by.

6. CHI Lava 2.0 Flat Iron

CHI Lava 2.0 Hairstyling Iron | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Chi.com)

As the name suggests, this game changer from CHI is made with actual lava mineral floating plates. Its heat conductor is known to be the most powerful in the world, allowing you to use lower heat settings while maintaining consistent heat that doesn’t fluctuate like traditional irons or plates. If you want the full review, we’ve got it for you here.

7. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

 Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer (Ceramic Pop) | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Dyson.com)

“I always tell my clients before you attempt this on your own, make sure you have a great hair dryer with a comb attachment,” the pro says. She lives for Dyson’s popular product, and she actually put it to use on us directly (except in the opposite direction—we opted for curls). That said, the dryer works at lightning speed, so we get why it’s a fan fave.

8. Mane by Mane Addicts The Three Way Multi-Use Flat Iron

Mane by Mane Addicts The Three Way Multi-Use Flat Iron | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: ManeAddicts.com)

We couldn’t plug our list of faves without including one of the standouts from our Mane By Mane Addicts collection. The ceramic, nano-coated, 1-inch flex plates straighten, wave, and curl. The sleek accessory delivers even, snag-free styling while taming frizz and flyaways, bending, boosting volume, and adding shine. Need we say more?

For more tips, click HERE for our seven key rules to follow for curls you won’t forget!