How to flat iron your hair & maintain volume

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I shot a “how to flat iron your hair” video a few years ago, though it feels like much longer.

And speaking of longer, now that my hair is longer, I thought it may be helpful if I updated the tutorial! The concept is similar, for sure, but I really focus on explaining the technical part of pulling the iron through your hair so I hope that helps any newbies!

I used Aquage Uplifting Foam at my roots and blew it dry upside down with my T3 dryer the evening prior to filming this. I slept with it in a very high ponytail and what you see at the start of the video is what I’m left with!

I’m using my very old, though beloved, GHD classic flat iron. And I used Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser Oil to finish off my ends.

My shirt is from Scarlet and Gold. I also filmed this makeup tutorial on this day, so any questions about makeup can be answered there!

Share your photos using any of my tutorials on Instagram and use #smallthingshair. I love seeing them!

For more recent hair tutorials, check out another straight hair tutorial (for dark hair) and a low halo braid tutorial!


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Elle says · 05.16.16

Awesome tutorial! This is why I follow you!

Lori says · 05.16.16

Kate – in the market for a new flatiron. Just bought the babyliss and tried it twice and can’t decide if I love! I noticed the GHD doesn’t have a temperature setting and would prefer it does. Have you tried the T3 or babyliss?

Charlotte says · 05.16.16

This is exactly how I straighten my hair except for the very top layer and I am so glad you posted this because I always have a hard time getting volume on top!! Thank you so much!

Alyssa says · 05.16.16

This is how I straighten my hair too! I’ve been curious about what you recommend in terms of heat protectant sprays. I’ve been using Tressemme’s heat spray for years, but I’m always curious if there’s something better I should be using. You’re the best Kate!

Amy says · 05.16.16

I’m also curious about heat protectant products. Are the truly essential, more gimmicky, how do you know what’s a good one versus dud?

Jaclyn EC says · 05.16.16

So helpful, thanks Kate! 🙂
PS. Love following you on snap chat! If you are feeling down because of haters you should know that I actually think you’re the coolest person ever so please never change! I’m not sure why people feel the need to leave hateful comments when you are so kind, funny, and enjoyable to follow. Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate

jami says · 05.16.16

I remember watching that first flat iron tutorial when i first discovered your blog. Still use tips from that video to this day! You helped improve my flat iron game big time!

Beth Tessier says · 05.16.16

LOVE this tutorial!
Also…as far as what you shared on snap chat goes… UGH! I am seeing more and more gross behavior online. Not sure why people feel the need to be so snarky from behind a computer screen. It speaks to their own insecurity. Praying for you Kate! ?❤️

Kristin says · 05.16.16

Thanks for the tutorial Kate! I literally just found your original flat iron video this weekend – and I was thinking “I wish there were one for longer hair!” and here it is! Can’t wait to try your tips!

Kim says · 05.16.16

You’re seriously a pro at the effortlessly perfect hair look! Love this!

Kim .. MAY IPSY!

Jessica Hess says · 05.16.16

It’s like you read my mind. I’ve been wishing for a tutorial for this hair style. Thank you!!

Mary Brazil says · 05.16.16

My flat iron has a temperature setting that goes up to 450 degrees. What temperature should I set it to?

Amie S says · 05.16.16

I’m very curious how you put your hair in a high ponytail when you sleep on it. If I were to wash my hair at night then put it in a high pony I bet you any money I would wake up with a MASSIVE kink in my hair that I wouldn’t be able to get out. Esp after putting product in it. Any tips???

Kate says · 05.16.16

I use a very soft fabric elastic and put it in as close as I can to the ends!

Kacie M says · 05.16.16

I posted a comment on FB, but just had to say that this is what I needed right now. My hair isn’t as long as yours, but longer than I usually prefer it. I can’t get into my stylist until June 2 (great news to know she’s busy!), so I have been doing my best. I usually leave it this way (how you have it) for work during the week cos it’s fast. BUT, even with volumizing products (shampoo, mousse, etc)… it’s SO flat. I have stick straight hair, but seriously. I am also struggling with growing my side swept bangs out (which seem to not grow at all for the last year), and my hair not liking any place that I part it in (please help!)… so, that doesn’t help either. It’s just an every day struggle.

The bangs do well if I curl my hair, like yours, but only really do that on weekends. They are finally long enough for the side swoop, as long as I use my 1.25 curling iron! 🙂

I remember your original post, which I used when my hair was shorter, and appreciate this post now that it’s longer. I HAVE to shower every day so doing what you did may not work, but like the next day technique anyway!

Tricia from Pittsbugh says · 05.16.16

I also do mine the same way. The only difference is that I use an empty aerosol hairspray can in place of my hand to hold my hair up while it cools. The skin on my hands must be extremely sensitive because I actually find my hair too hot to use my hand. I think the coolness of the can actually helps to lock in some volume. I hope this tip helps anyone else who may find the heat to be too intense.

I’m loving your longer hair!

Tamara says · 05.16.16

Watching your snapchat this morning and cracking up; he’s obviously building a fort mom! Come on! Thank you for sharing your precious family!

Anna Lyon says · 05.16.16

I use this exact method on straightening my long bob that I’m trying to grow out, however, after an hour or two the ends start to flip out. Any suggestions on how to keep the ends bent? Thank you!

Shawn says · 05.16.16

Great tutorial. Love your shirt. And PS im also a big fan of your snapchat 🙂

Tara says · 05.16.16

Love your tutorials! Volume and flat iron sound like opposites. I can’t wait to try this out!

Hollie says · 05.16.16

LOVED this! I have board straight hair and so needed this because my hair can be flat and limp. Thanks so much!

Lynn says · 05.16.16

I love your hair straight! Great tutorial, great tips as usual.

Courtney says · 05.17.16

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have fine, thin hair so it is hard to add volume because products tend to weigh my hair down. The simple tip of pulling the hair straight up with the flat iron was a game changer for me this morning! I will be doing exactly this from now on! Thank you!

Susan says · 05.17.16

Oh, I wish I had thick hair!
But I will try the Bumble & Bumble oil since you recommend it for fine hair like mine.

Andrea says · 05.18.16

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’m a time-crunched mom too, so I like the idea of washing/blow drying the night before after the baby is asleep and quickly straight ironing in the morning. I do the high pony at night too (per a suggestion from you I saw on here a while ago) -isn’t that a sexy look? Lol. It works tho for maintaining the volume through no wash days!

Kathryn says · 05.18.16

Just the part about dividing into three levels (the “mohawk” top) instead of my usual two made a huge difference in both blowdrying and flat iron results. My past-shoulder length bob is finally starting to look like I want it to 🙂

Nicole says · 05.18.16

Kate, you are awesome! Seriously if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t know how to French braid!

I have super sensitive skin and in the past couple of months switched to the “no poo” method. Since I only wash my hair once a week or less often, I have to be careful about the products I use– as in I use minimal products and they can’t leave my hair feeling gross! BUT I could definitely use more volume. How does Aquage affect your hair a day or two after without washing? Or a week after for that matter? My hair is naturally thick, heavy, and wavy, and I would appreciate any insight or recommendations on a root lifter or volumizer!

Melissa says · 05.19.16

Any suggestions for a heat protectant? I use hot tools practically everyday and the damage is starting to show 🙁

Melissa says · 05.20.16

Love this tutorial! Could you do an updated tutorial on how you round brush your hair with a hair dryer?

Sunny Zhang says · 05.22.16

Hi Kate,
My name is Sunny. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials and especially this one. I am Chinese and have straight black, coarse and thin hair. I have medium to long hair. I always like to have volume so want to have healthy hair. Could you please help choose hair products from beginning of washing my hair to blow dry and flat iron or curl my hair? Like brands of shampoo, conditioner, or products that protect my hair when I blow dry or iron it? Right now I’ve been using Dove shampoo and conditioner. I have dry shampoo and a flat iron. Thank you!

Stephanie says · 05.27.16

Okay, I’ve finally been doing something right with straightening my hair all these years haha. But my problem is living in the south and the heat and humidity DESTROYS my beautiful, straight, volumized hair. How on earth do I keep the style all day?!

June says · 06.05.16

Hi, I am new follower… thankful your tips…. I LOVE your Isaiah 40:31 shirt. Where did you get it?

Kate says · 06.05.16 !

Claudine Monette says · 06.23.16

This tutorial has made me fall in love with my straight hair all over again! I have a long bob with a few layers and I have been curling it for the last year or so (since discovering your blog last july!) I had never mastered the technique for getting a straight look with volume and movement. One morning last month, I watched this tutorial on facebook, and went in the batheoom to plug my flat iron. Magical! Thank you so much Kate, your are such an expert, and an inspiration. Now, I can play more with my hair and get different styles, have more fun!

Annette says · 06.29.16

Awesome tutorial! I’ve been doing my hair like this for a few weeks, and I love how it turns out. Before I always felt like my hair was dull after I straightened it, but now I have volume and it looks cute. Thank you – you’re a miracle worker!

Miranda says · 01.16.17

Hi Kate! Is there a trick to keeping the back of straight shoulder length hair looking nice??? Mine tends to flip every way but the right way and look unfixed 🙁 Thanks!!!

Angela says · 01.24.17

OK, I just watched this video and I have a couple of comments/questions.

My hair is just past my shoulders and fine in nature. Last night (before watching video), I took a shower and went to bed with my hair wet (I know, but I was exhausted). I didn’t put any product in before bed.

This am, I used my flat iron using much smaller sections and I didn’t get it as nice as yours. As your hair is thicker than mine, I’m a bit surprised…maybe I need my flat iron hotter?

Also, even though I didn’t any product in last night, I would like to try your method. However, my scalp tends to get pretty oily, and I am thinking any volumizing product/mousse would have the roots greasy by am. Even if not, I can’t imagine it lasting all day without getting nasty.

Lastly, I toss and turn when I sleep, so ponytails fall out within an hour of me going to bed…any other suggestions? A fabric headband?

Cassie says · 01.27.17

Changed my whole life 😉
Thanks Kate!

Noelle P says · 03.19.17

Wow, I just watched and used this tutorial to straighten my hair and it’s never looked better! Thank you so much, I didn’t even know I wasn’t doing it “right” 😊

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April says · 08.25.17

I always struggled with keeping my volume when flat ironing my hair so I tried out a hair straightening brush and absolutely loved it, it’s super fast and gives me a naturally straight look. This is my favorite that I’ve tried

April says · 09.27.17

I’ve found hair straightening brushes to be the perfect tool for smoothening out my strands and increasing volume! This is my mini tool…

Derma Devine says · 10.14.17

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, appreciate it for posting.

Claudia wamack says · 03.23.18

You had a video of getting volume with teasing and adding hairspray on teasing and then hold flatiron on for more lift. I can’t find this one. Is it still available. You also used L’Oréal quick blow out in it. Thank u
I love all your stuff😊

Kim says · 08.19.18

I love your hair and how it is cut, I can never get my stylist to cut it like that nor get the volume you do, how do I tell my stylist how I want my hair cut, thank you for any advice?

Norene says · 11.05.18

Who cuts your hair? I love the long layers and how they are soft and tapered. (I am a stylist, so details would be welcomed). Your blog is my favorite 😊
Thank you so much!