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Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron
BaBylissPRO
Nano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron
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Unique Design
Bottom Line

A popular straightener from a veteran brand with a wider plate made of coated titanium.

Pros

Uses titanium plates and a ceramic heater to warm and cool quickly. Available with plates between 0.5 and 2 inches wide. Warms up to 450 degrees and has 50 different heat levels. Has a 9-foot-long cord that rotates.

Cons

On the high end of the price range.

Best Bang for the Buck
Revlon Smooth and Straight Ceramic Flat Iron
Revlon
Smooth and Straight Ceramic Flat Iron
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Bargain Pick
Bottom Line

An affordable straightener from a popular hair care brand with wide locking plates.

Pros

Plates are coated in ceramic and measure 2 inches wide. Heats up to 400 degrees with various temperature settings. The cord resists tangles and rotates. Features a power button, LED indicator light, and locking button.

Cons

May not work well on thicker hair.

CHI Original Ceramic Hair Straightening Flat Iron
CHI
Original Ceramic Hair Straightening Flat Iron
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Premium Brand
Bottom Line

A hair straightener, curler, and more with a compact and lightweight feel.

Pros

Features raised ceramic plates measuring 1 inch wide. Has a rounded design that straightens or adds curl and flip to hair. Heats up to 392 degrees with different temperature levels. Has an 11-foot cord that rotates.

Cons

Maximum temperature is lower than some other options.

Conair 1-Inch Double Ceramic Flat Iron
Conair
1-Inch Double Ceramic Flat Iron
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Most Stylish
Bottom Line

A white straightener with rose gold-colored accents and plates with an extended length.

Pros

Heats up to 410 degrees in 30 seconds and offers 5 digital temperature levels. Features 1-inch-wide raised ceramic plates and a locking handle for easy storage and safety. Turns off automatically and adds waves or flips to hair.

Cons

Some reports that the straightener does not offer a smooth feel.

Hot Tools Pro Signature Ceramic Digital Hair Flat Iron
Hot Tools
Pro Signature Ceramic Digital Hair Flat Iron
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A hair straightener with dual voltage for traveling and a digital temperature display.

Pros

Features ceramic plates measuring 1 inch wide. Turns off automatically after 2 hours and heats up to 450 degrees with different temperature levels. Has a 6-foot cord that rotates. Takes 30 seconds to heat. Rounded for flipping ends.

Cons

The outside of the straightener may get hot.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Consumers
Consulted
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Buying guide for best hair straighteners

Having some natural wave or curl in your hair can give it more body and volume, but sometimes you prefer a sleek, straight style. With a hair straightener, you can easily smooth out your hair whenever the mood strikes.

A hair straightener is a heated styling tool that helps even out hair’s texture. You can choose from different types, but most have heated plates you move along the hair. Some straighteners are more effective at adding volume, while others are better for fine or damaged hair. You can also find straighteners that are versatile enough to let you create loose curls and waves.

With so many hair straighteners on the market, a good shopping guide and recommendations can help you find the one that best suits your hair type and has the features you prefer.

a hair straightener
If you have a flat iron, you can also use it to create waves and curls by turning the tool as you move it along your hair.

How to buy the best hair straightener

Flat iron vs. hot brush

You can choose from two main types of hair straighteners: flat iron and hot brush.

Flat iron: This type is basically a clamp with two plates that heat up. When you sandwich your hair between the hot plates and slide the iron down to the ends, the heat smooths and straightens the hair. Flat irons tend to get hotter than hot brushes and so work more quickly. They’re more effective on extremely curly or wavy hair too. However, because flat irons get so hot, they can do more damage to your hair, so it’s important to use them properly.

Hot brush: This type isn’t as common and typically requires more effort to use. It has a handle that stays cool like other heated styling tools, but it has bristles that heat up rather than plates like a flat iron or a barrel like a curling iron. The heated bristles smooth and straighten hair as you move them through it. Hot brushes work well to boost volume and shine, but if you have extremely curly or wavy hair, they might not be as effective at straightening your hair.

Plate material

If you opt for a flat iron, it’s essential to consider the type of plates it has. The three main options are ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline.

Ceramic plates are highly effective heat conductors and generate an even heat that works for most hair textures. These tend to be more affordable than the other types.

Titanium plates heat up quickly and work especially well on thick, coarse, curly hair.

Tourmaline plates, also known as ionic plates, produce negative ions that help cut down on damage, such as frizz. These are usually recommended for fine, thin, or damaged hair. Tourmaline plates don’t last as long as ceramic or titanium plates.

Plate size

In addition to the material, you should also consider the size of the plates on the hair straighteners you’re considering.

Wider plates can hold larger sections of hair and so work best on long, thick hair because you don’t need to go over the same section of hair multiple times. Look for a hair straightener with plates that measure between 1.5 and 2 inches wide. For medium to long hair, plates between 1 and 2 inches wide work well.

Narrower plates work well on short or fine hair. For short hair and bangs, stick to hair straighteners with plates that measure between 0.5 and 1 inch wide.

For best results, move the straightener slowly over each section of hair. That helps ensure you straighten the hair enough to avoid having to do a second or third pass.

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Features to look for in hair straighteners

Heat settings

Some hair straighteners only offer a few heat settings, such as low, medium, and high. While these may work for normal hair, they aren’t as effective for extremely fine or coarse hair.

Instead, look for a hair straightener with variable heat settings. These models let you choose a specific temperature across a range in increments, such as 5°F or 10°F, depending on the number of temperature settings a model offers. For the most versatility, opt for a hair straightener with a temperature range of 200°F to 450°F.

Below 300°F: Use these temperatures on fine or chemically treated hair to prevent damage.

300°F to 380°F: These temperatures work best on normal or medium hair.

350°F to 450°F: These temperatures work best on coarse, thick, and curly hair.

Floating plates

Some hair straighteners have floating plates, which move a bit when compressed because they’re not fully connected to the handle and housing. This allows the plates to adjust based on how you hold the straightener so they’re always as close together as possible. As a result, the plates apply even pressure along the entire length of your hair for consistent straightening and less damage to your hair.

Swivel cord

Hair straighteners must be plugged into an outlet, so maneuvering one around your head can be challenging. Those with a long cord allow more freedom of movement, but you’ll have the easiest time if you choose a model with a swivel cord that rotates with the straightener as you move it around your head. That way, you won’t have to unplug the cord to reposition the straightener as you style your hair.

Automatic shutoff

Heated styling tools pose a fire hazard if you forget to turn them off. Some hair straighteners have an automatic shutoff feature and turn off if they aren’t used for a certain period of time. This provides important peace of mind when you’re away from home because you won’t have to worry about whether you’ve turned off your straightener.

a woman using a hair straightener
DID YOU KNOW?
Dirt, oil, and hair products can build up on your hair straightener. Make sure to clean your unplugged tool periodically with rubbing alcohol or warm water, scrubbing gently to remove any residue.
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How to accessorize a hair straightener

Hair dryer

Your hair must be completely dry before using a straightener, so you’ll want a good-quality hair dryer. Opt for a model with multiple speeds and heat settings so you can choose the best option for your hair type. It’s also a good idea to find a lightweight dryer that’s comfortable to hold for long periods.

Hair brush

For the best results, your hair must be completely free of tangles when you straighten it. With the right hair brush, you can easily detangle your hair to prepare it for straightening. Brushes with synthetic bristles work best for smoothing the hair, but natural bristles work best for distributing your hair’s natural oils for improved shine.

How much do hair straighteners cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable hair straighteners cost $20 to $40. These models don’t include the highest-quality materials, and most have limited temperature settings, which could potentially damage your hair.

Mid-range

These hair straighteners generally cost $40 to $100. They’re made of higher-quality materials that protect your hair, and they offer variable settings that allow you to customize the heat based on your hair type. Many also have special features, such as a swivel cord and floating plates.

Expensive

The most expensive hair straighteners typically cost over $100. These models are made of the highest-quality materials to limit any damage to hair. They also boast the most extensive variable temperature range and have plenty of special features, including a swivel cord, floating plates, and more.

You can prep your hair for straightening by using a smoothing shampoo and conditioner. These products reduce frizz and add hydration to help strengthen your hair.

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Tips

  • Apply a heat protectant to your hair before straightening. If you want to limit the damage done by heat styling, a thermal protectant is a necessity. It coats the hair and offers protection up to 450°F to keep your hair smooth and sleek.
  • Start with completely dry hair. Using a straightener on wet hair can cause severe damage to hair, possibly leading to breakage and loss. It’s best to let your hair air-dry, but those with extremely curly hair might see better results if they blow-dry it before straightening.
  • Use the lowest heat setting that will straighten your hair. Another way to limit heat damage is to make sure you never use more heat than you need. If you have fine, damaged, or color-treated hair, stick to temperatures below 300°F. Medium and coarse hair can go higher but should still avoid the highest heat setting if possible.
  • Straighten one section of hair at a time. If you want smooth, pin-straight hair, don’t just straighten random pieces of hair. Work in small sections, holding your hair taut, and move carefully around your head to make sure you straighten every piece.
  • Mist your hair with a finishing spray after straightening. Once your hair has cooled, applying a light-hold finishing spray can help tame frizz and add shine.
a hair straightener
Always check that your hair straightener is completely cool before you put it away.

FAQ

Q. Does straightening damage the hair?

A. Unfortunately, like any heated styling tool, a hair straightener can damage your hair. Using heat above 350°F can harm the hair by roughing up the cuticle and stripping it of moisture. That can lead to split ends, frizz, breakage, and even hair loss. You can limit the damage by not straightening your hair more than once a week, applying a high-quality heat protectant beforehand, and using moisturizing products to hydrate and smooth the hair.

Q. Can I use a hair straightener if I have fine hair?

A. Fine hair is more fragile than medium, thick, or coarse hair, but you can still use a straightener. However, it’s crucial to choose a model with variable heat controls so you can use a setting at or below 300°F. Use a heat protectant before straightening too.

Q. How long do hair straighteners last?

A. It depends on the quality of your straightener and how often you use it, but most models will last two to four years. You can tell you need a new one if your current model has scratched plates, takes a long time to straighten your hair, or doesn’t provide consistent heat.

 

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