I don't really have a set routine that I follow solely when I flat iron my hair. I pre-poo, shampoo, deep condition, etc. just like any other wash day, but there are a few things I focus on when preparing my hair for direct heat.
My approach is pretty simple: lots of moisture, with a little protein.
There isn't a specific moisturizing deep conditioner that you should use. So long as it's a quality deep conditioner that infuses your tresses with moisture and simply works for you, you're golden. It's important to provide your hair with plenty of moisture prior to using direct heat because the heat will cause some moisture loss.
For the protein, I either using a protein shampoo or spraying my hair with a protein leave-in (e.g. ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea or CHI Keratin Mist).
Avoid being heavy-handed
I also tone down the amount of product I apply to my hair. The more product I apply, the more weighed down the final results will be. You want your flat iron results to have body and by light and flow-y, for lack of a better description. When applying leave-in conditioner I divide my hair into four (as usual) and apply a very small amount to each section.
Heat protectant is a must!
Do not skip out on the heat protectant. You want to have a layer of protection between the heat of the iron and your precious tresses. To date, my favorite heat protectant is Redken Smooth Down Heat Glide (it has been discontinued and replaced with Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide). It's on the heavy side I only apply a few drops per quadrant.
Use proper temperature settings
I do not set the temperature of the flat iron above what is recommended for my hair (I have fine strands). You don't want to cause unnecessary heat damage, no no.
Flat irons: choose ceramic plates
To straighten my hair, I'll either use Sedu Revolution 1" Tourmaline flat iron or Hana Titanium 1.5" Ionic flat iron. You absolutely, positively do not need to have these specific tools to achieve good flat iron results, but it is important that whatever flat iron you use have ceramic plates. Ceramic plates allow for even heat distribution, preventing potential heat damage caused by a section(s) of the flat iron heating up more than an other.
Maintaining the look
To maintain the straightened, light look of my flat ironed hair, instead of moisturizing and sealing every night, I'll switch to every other night and focus on my ends. Cross wrapping helps maintain the straight hair but lately I've been doing a big loose bun on top of my head for bed and when I take it down the next day, my hair is still straight but with a slight curl to the ends, which I like.
I hope this was helpful and answered questions regarding how I go about flat ironing my hair. You can watch how I flat iron my hair here.
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