Tempted to Straighten Your Wet Hair? Why Experts Say Think Twice

Tempted to Straighten Your Wet Hair? Why Experts Say Think Twice

woman with slicked back wet hair


In This Article

Can You Straighten Wet Hair? Is Straightening Wet Hair Safer for Some Hair Types? How to Best Straighten Your Hair The Final Takeaway

Super sleek, straight hair is always in style, but it’s important to know how to achieve the look while keeping your hair healthy. With many things, shortcuts are buzzing around the web, like straightening your hair while it’s still wet, leaving many people to wonder: Is it safe to straighten my hair while it’s wet?

The short answer to that query is no. Straightening wet hair causes a lot of damage, and this goes for all hair types. To help break down the risks, we spoke to Yvey Valcin, hairstylist and founder of Yvey Salon, Dawna Jarvis, a professional hairstylist, and Dustin Portela, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Treasure Valley Dermatology. Ahead, find everything you need to know about straightening wet hair. 

Meet the Expert

  • Yvey Valcin, is a hairstylist and founder of Yvey Salon.
  • Dawna Jarvis, is a professional hairstylist.
  • Dustin Portela, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Treasure Valley Dermatology.

Can You Straighten Wet Hair?

Our experts say straightening wet hair is not recommended and can cause severe heat damage. It's important to fully dry your hair before going anywhere near those strands with a hair straightener. Here's why: "Hair is weakest when it's wet, and high heat from a straightener can turn the water in the hair into steam, leading to hair breakage and damage to the cuticle," explains Jarvis. "This can result in frizz, split ends, and sometimes even a burnt smell."

Jarvis adds that straightening wet hair can also discolor your hair, especially if you're blonde. Once your hair is damaged from straightening it while it's wet, it can lose its elasticity, and you might notice changes like increased hair breakage, frizziness, and difficulty managing your hair.

Is Straightening Wet Hair Safer for Some Hair Types?

No matter what type of hair you have, straightening wet hair with a flat iron isn't a good idea and can cause breakage. "This practice can lead to intense hair damage," Portela says. 

Also, once you damage your hair, it can take a long time to repair it, especially if you repeatedly damage it by straightening it when wet. "Blow-drying hair is still fine because temperatures aren't as hot once the air gets to the hair," Portela says. Jarvis raises another important point: "The hair never even fully gets straight if you straighten it while it's wet," she says. "So what is the point?" 

How to Best Straighten Your Hair

If you're going to straighten your hair, step one is to ensure it's completely dry. If your hair is not fully dry, you can air dry it or use a dryer. Of these two options, air drying is going to be less damaging.

“I often remind my clients that hot tools can reach temperatures like an oven baking a pizza. Think about the effect of that heat on your hair,” Jarvis says.” That’s why a heat protectant is essential when flat ironing your hair.” She recommends using a product like Kevin Murphy Heated.Defense ($33), which helps protect your hair when exposed to high temperatures.

PSA: We Just Found Out How to Get Glass Hair, and It's So Simple

After using a heat protectant, Jarvis recommends these steps to straighten your hair:

  1. Separate dry hair into small sections.
  2. Straighten the hair, working from the roots to the ends.
  3. Adjust the temperature of your straightener depending on your hair type. Lower temperatures should be used for finer hair, and higher temperatures for thicker and curlier hair.
  4. Use a heat protectant. This acts like a shield to protect the hair against the heat.
  5. Apply a conditioning treatment. This gives the hair elasticity and strength, so you don't lose your natural texture over time.
  6. Use a blowout comb. This will help dry and detangle naturally curly hair simultaneously.

The Final Takeaway

Whether you have fine, thick, curly or any other hair type, you should never attempt to straighten it when wet. Straightening wet hair can damage your hair, causing breakage, frizziness, and even discoloration.

Fortunately, you can avoid many of those problems by air drying or blow drying your hair thoroughly before picking up your flat iron. Before straightening, prep your hair with a heat protectant and conditioning treatment to improve manageability and ensure the best results. 

25 Haircuts for Stick-Straight Hair That Add Texture and Volume


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply