The Sleek Story: How to Get Smooth, Straight Hair

It's hard to get your hair to look frizz-free and shiny. So what's the secret? Hair expert John Barrett lets us in on his simple technique in this excerpt from Universal Beauty: The Miss Universe Guide to Beauty (Rutledge Hill Press).

Even as more and more crown-bound women are embracing their natural hair textures, plenty continue to blow-dry their natural curls and waves into smooth submission. John Barrett shows us how it's done.

 

Step 1: Prepare

After blotting the hair dry with a towel, lightly coat strands with a styling product: mousse for soft hold or gel for sleeker, stronger hold. Save any silicone serums until the end.

 

Step 2: Relax

Rather than reaching for the blow-dryer the minute you step out of the shower, let the hair air-dry for a bit first. "One of the biggest mistakes women make is starting when hair is too wet — you'll just get tired and fed up by the end," he says. Instead, chill out and wait until tresses are only damp before cranking up the hot air.

 

Step 3: Prioritize

"If the hairline is blown out beautifully, you can get away with the rest of the hair being a little less than great," confides Barrett. If you have bangs, start by combing them forward and holding them tightly with your fingers as you blow them dry, directing the nozzle starting from the roots. "Do the same for the entire hairline," he says. "Then lightly run a brush over it once the hair is dry."

 

Step 4: Divide and Conquer

Separate the hair into four or five clean sections, detangling each with a wide-tooth comb before clipping all but one of them to the head. Blow-dry the loose section, pulling it taut toward the floor with a large round brush and rolling it either under or out at the ends. Keep the blow-dryer's nozzle a few inches from the brush at all time, directing it down to the floor to keep the cuticle flat and smooth. Repeat with the other sections, rolling some under and flipping some out at the ends so that the hair doesn't look too uniform.

 

Step 5: Bring Out the Big Guns

Flat irons and rollers let you cheat your way to Miss Universe-caliber polish in minutes. To use a flat iron, Barrett presses small sections of completely dried hair, starting at the roots and working his way down to the ends. Or, for smooth, sultry waves, he winds nearly dry hair in large Velcro rollers and pins them against the head before blasting hair with the blow-dryer to set the curl. After a few minutes, he removes the rollers and gently tousles the hair with his hands.

 

Step 6: Seal the Deal

Silicone serums and creams can impart healthy shine to hair that's prone to frizz or plagued by split ends — just don't use more than a drop or two. "It should be used sparingly and only on the ends after you've completed styling," says Barrett. "If you use too much, it can make the hair look very slimy."

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