We all remember the feeling of receiving our first hot tool and spending hours in front of the mirror flat ironing your hair to sleek, straight perfection. When you give sixth graders the chance to iron their hair at high temperatures without the supervision of a professional, however, they tend to run amok. Soon enough, we were all walking around with singed hair and laid the blame on the hair straightener.
Scarred by the sins of our past, many of us began to reconsider whether or not we should use hot tools at all. Chelsea James, L'Oréal Professionnel artist and brand ambassador, says it doesn’t have to be this way. She believes everyone would fall back in love with their hot tools if they were educated on which tools to purchase and how to use them properly. When using hot tools, James advises paying special attention to the quality of the tool and the temperature you’re choosing.
When purchasing hot tools, James says there are a few things you should look out for. First, pay attention to the materials that make up the tool: In her experience, ceramic tools produce superior results. Ceramic plates allow for even distribution of heat, lowering the chance that you’ll burn your hair.
The second thing is price point. We love a good deal as much as the next person, but your hot tools are not something you should cheap out on. The stylist says the price point is often indicative of the quality and grade of materials (not to mention the technology) used to create the tool.
After you’ve chosen the perfect tool, you need to know how to use it properly. If you’re unsure how to safely and properly use your hot tools, your stylist should be able to educate you on the best practices for your hair type and texture. However, there are some general guidelines everyone should follow.
“Avoid using extremely high heat at all costs. Especially if you’re not a professional. I always recommend that my clients keep the temperature below 365 degrees,” James says.
The stylist also believes it’s important to educate her clients on the purpose of each hot tool. For example, when blow drying your hair you should always point your nozzle down to help seal your strands cuticles.
“I think blow dryers can be misused pretty easily because the goal is to close the cuticle and if you’re going the opposing way and blow open the cuticle it leaves the hair shaft susceptive to damage,” James explains. “Also it’s terrible for your color and shine.”
Most importantly, never skip heat protectant. Make sure the heat protectant product you choose protects your strands up to the temperature you typically use with your hot tools. James’ go-to heat protectant is L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Color 10 In 1 Perfecting Multipurpose Spray. The multipurpose spray has 10 key benefits including heat protection up to 450 degrees, anti-breakage, and helps reduce the look of frizz.
Now that you know what to look for when purchasing hot tools and how to use them properly, you need to know which ones you should have in your arsenal. James is adamant that she loves all good quality hot tools but believes women should own a blow dryer and a flat iron at the very least. The flat iron is a jack of all trades, giving you the ability to create beach waves, sleek styles, and even curls. However, the blow dryer is the OG of all hot tools for a good reason—it can do pretty much anything.
“Heat is heat. So if I have a round brush I can create beach waves, I can even create curls. I just need the heat to create the shape in the hair and a blow dryer I can control the power and make any shape,” James says. “I can make the hair straight, I can make the hair curly, I can make the hair voluminous, all with a blow dryer.”
No matter which hot tools make it on your must-have list, as long as you follow James’ tips, you’ll end up with flawless hair every time.