Flat Irons and Burning Yourself

Woman with her ear burned by a flat iron
Photo: Imarin/Shutterstock
Q: I would like to buy my own flat iron, but I hear so many horror stories about people burning themselves with hair straighteners. How dangerous are hair straighteners? Can they really burn your skin or are only low-quality straighteners doing this?
A: Well, hair straighteners are effectively small appliances with ironing plates that are meant to compress together with locks of hair in between, so if not treated with proper respect, you can burn yourself.
The same is true of curling irons and clothing irons as well. Yet, most times, burns from flat irons come as a result of the individual trying to rush or being otherwise careless.
You obviously want to pay attention carefully when you are using a flat iron around sensitive areas of the head that protrude (the ears) since these can easily be caught in between the plates. And you want to teach yourself to use a comb to provide a guard to prevent touching the scalp with a hot iron.
In addition, here are some important things to remember about buying and using a flat iron:
Get an iron with an adjustable heat setting - something more than just high and low. A temperature dial that lets you set the heat levels allows you more control over the hair. Not everyone needs the same level of heat to straighten their hair. When first using the iron, start with a low setting and gradually increase the heat until you get the straightening results you want in one or two passes.
Second, make sure to only use the iron when your hair is fully dry. If the hair is damp, when you press it between the heated plates, you will generate steam which can easily burn you.
See also:
How to use a hair straightener
How to choose a flat iron that meets your needs
Why do I smell a burned smell when I wash my hair?
Burnt and frizzy hair after using a straightening iron