True salon-like performance that delivers a smooth, shiny finish. Produces consistent results among all hair types.
Offers a unique design that gives hair a wavy look. Waves can last for more than one day. Tourmaline ceramic technology reduces frizz. Heats up fast.
Gets very hot on higher settings and is somewhat awkward to use. Not ideal for hair shorter than shoulder length.
Anti-static technology reduces frizz and ensures even performance. Heats up in a matter of seconds.
A few units initially emitted a plastic smell, which ultimately cleared after subsequent uses.
Separates itself from the pack in terms of performance, features, and durability. Incredibly versatile with respect to all hair types.
It's pricey, but your hair will thank you for the investment.
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One of the most dynamic changes you can make to your hair is taming it straight with a flat iron. However, the best flat irons can also add body and curl to your hair while doing as little damage as possible in the process – not every flat iron is for every type of hair.
A lower temperature ceramic infused flat iron will be the most desirable option for individuals with fine hair. Coarse hair, on the other hand, can handle higher temperatures and may require titanium heating plates. A comfortable grip, a long swivel cord, and an automatic shutoff are all desirable features for any flat iron.
If you already know what your hair needs, check out our top choices to find a high-quality flat iron that will keep you looking your best. If you would like a little more insight into proper hair care and what else you might need to consider before finding a model that is perfect for you, continue reading.
The best flat irons offer multiple heat settings so you can tailor your styling session to your hair type. How do you know which heat setting is best for you?
The part of the flat iron that heats up and presses the hair is called the plate. Different irons offer different plate widths and materials. The trick is to know which width and material would work best for you before you invest in a pricey new iron.
The average plate width is one inch, but dimensions vary across the product line from a very narrow one-half inch to a generous three inches.
Flat iron plates are made with a handful of different materials. Ceramic, tourmaline, a ceramic/tourmaline mix, and titanium are the most common. What’s the difference between these materials, and how does the plate material you choose affect your results?
Many of today’s flat irons have ceramic infused into the plate. The negative ions emitted by the ceramic help create a smooth, shiny look. This might sound like magic, but there’s actually a scientific explanation behind it.
Hair naturally carries a positive electrical charge associated with its degree of “dryness.” The negative ions created by the styling tool counteract the effect of the positive ions. Think of the positive ions as “bad guys” who try to make your hair look ragged and fried. The negative ions supplied by your iron are “good guys” whose mission is to rescue your hair from the bad guys – or at least temper their ill effects somewhat.
But buyer beware: whereas some plates are pure ceramic, others are simply “coated” with ceramic. The latter are cheaper, but they’re also weaker and less durable, since the ceramic coating will eventually wear off.
Tourmaline is an organic, crystalline gemstone that has been ground up and layered onto the surface of the heating element. The gemstone layer holds heat evenly and consistently, which in turn helps you create a better style.
Because tourmaline is even closer to nature than ceramic, it’s got a lot of the good guys – negative ions, that is – working for it. Faced with a choice between ceramic and tourmaline, many people gravitate toward tourmaline because it’s naturally better for the hair. Fortunately, manufacturers got wise to this and quickly began infusing both ceramic and tourmaline into the plates of their flat irons.
Titanium is an actual chemical element (symbol: Ti) that some manufacturers use as a top coat over the styling plate. Styling tools made of titanium are extremely powerful. They heat up fast, and their high heat is often enough to tame the most unruly of tresses with one pass.
People with stubborn, difficult-to-style hair appreciate the effectiveness of this material. Notably, titanium hairstyling products tend to cost more than other styling technologies.
Ceramic plates tend to work well for people with fine hair, but those with thick or curly hair may want to consider titanium.
Flat iron plates range in width. If you’re unsure which is best for your hair, opt for a one-inch plate. This size tends to work for most people.
Ideally, you won’t be spending too many minutes with your flat iron in hand. The faster you can complete your style, the sooner you’ll relieve your strands from the stress of high-heat exposure.
But while you’re standing there in front of the mirror primping and coiffing, you want to be comfortable. You shouldn’t have to assume the role of a contortionist just to get the look you want on the sides, top, and back of your head.
Look for these comfort-related qualities in your next flat iron:
The metal part of your iron might shoot up to 450°F, but the part you touch with your hands should stay cool. Look for a flat iron with a handle made of a material like Ryton, a thermoplastic material that temporarily resists high heat.
Some flat irons include a 360° swivel cord for easy manipulation. You won’t find yourself performing the contortionist exercises mentioned above with this type of user-friendly cord.
Owners tend to prefer longer cords over shorter ones. A longer cord is simply more convenient for some bathroom setups.
This feature refers more to your emotional comfort than your physical comfort. A styling tool with automatic shutoff can be a godsend for those who feel particularly scattered or stressed in the morning. If you get to work or school and suddenly remember that you forgot to turn off your flat iron, you needn't stress about it all day if it has an automatic shutoff function.
Much like sunblock protects your skin from the sun’s UV rays, a heat protectant shields your hair from the heat damage caused by frequent styling.
If you plan to straighten your hair every day, a cheap flat iron is simply not the way to go. With repeated use, a cheap flat iron can wreak havoc on the health of your hair. Repeated exposure to this kind of heat, no matter how many negative ions it releases, can create breakages and brittleness. It can even damage your color.
You can find some good flat irons in in the $20 to $40 range, but be choosy about what you select. Cheaper flat irons are sometimes associated with hair damage.
This is quite a broad price range. Depending on sales, however, you might be able to get a flat iron that normally sells for $100 at a price closer to $50 or $60. You'll have fewer worries about heat damage to your hair if you select a product from this mid-level pricing category.
Why would you pay this much for a flat iron? If quality is a top priority, you may find it worth the investment. There are some terrific flat irons with nanoionic technology in this price range. Nanoionic technology employs negative ions just as tourmaline and ceramic do, but it does so on a "nanolevel" that is considered to be more thorough. Flat irons with this technology often promise to keep hair healthy and hydrated even as it is exposed to the extreme heat of the iron.
Avoid shine sprays, as these can “fry” porous hair. Instead, apply a moisturizing conditioner both before and after your styling session.
Don’t use alcohol-based heat protectant or leave-in conditioner before you straighten, or you’re likely to hear a sizzling noise.
Q. I have long, thick hair that’s sometimes wavy and sometimes curly. It’s a nightmare to style. What type of flat iron should I use?
A. Consider a flat iron with a larger plate (between one and two inches in width). Titanium might be your best bet, but a well-made flat iron of ceramic or a ceramic/tourmaline mix could also be great. We recommend a flat iron with an adjustable temperature that can go up to about 420°F.
Q. My hair is long, fine, and thin. Even though it’s rather straight, I find that it looks even shinier if I use a flat iron. What’s the best product for me?
A. A flat iron with a one-inch plate, or perhaps even a bit smaller, would likely suit you. Choose a tool that can be dialed down to a temperature of 360°F or lower to minimize heat damage. The negative ions supplied by a ceramic or ceramic/tourmaline straightener should give you a good shine boost.
Q. I am African American, and my hair is very dry, coarse, and curly. How do I proceed with a flat iron?
A. Your number-one goal (aside from a great style) is the preservation of your hair’s health and moisture content. Shampoo first to remove any product buildup or residue. (You don’t want to bake the previous day’s chemicals into your hair while you’re straightening it.) Then, working in sections, comb out your curls as much as possible and apply a leave-in conditioner and oil to safeguard your strands.
Wait until your hair is dry; then begin the straightening process. Experts recommend that you use a fine-tooth comb to separate extremely small sections. The work will be slow and tedious, but if done right, you should be pleased with your results.
Q. I understand how to straighten my hair with a flat iron, but I have no idea how to create waves with it. Any advice?
A. For beachy waves, try this quick trick on longer hair:
The above is just one of many flat iron styling tips you can find on the internet. If you’ve got the time, the internet has the resources for creating curls, waves, chic bang styles, and much more with your new flat iron.
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