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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 buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best infrared flat irons

Styles fall in and out of fashion, but having smooth, shiny, straight hair is a look that always stays classic. Achieving pin-straight hair usually requires serious work, blow-drying alone often doesn’t get the job done. For this reason, the flat iron is an important hairstyling tool. If you’re not a fan of the damage that a flat iron can do to your locks, it may be time to invest in an infrared flat iron.

An infrared flat iron uses gentler heat than a traditional flat iron, but it’s able to penetrate the hair more deeply and evenly. That allows you to straighten your hair faster and use less heat overall, which minimizes the damage to your hair. Infrared heat also helps lock in moisture by releasing negative ions, so your hair isn’t as frizzy or dry afterward. If you have highlighted, color-treated, or otherwise processed hair, you should have an infrared flat iron in your beauty arsenal.

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The cuticle is the most fragile part of the hair. Infrared technology protects the cuticle, which is why the infrared flat iron is lauded for causing less damage to your locks.

Key considerations

Ceramic vs. titanium

Most infrared flat irons have either ceramic or titanium plates. Both materials work well, but depending on your hair type, you may prefer one over the other.

Ceramic infrared flat irons are the most common. These irons heat up quickly and provide extremely even heat, allowing you to straighten your hair quickly. Ceramic plates work well on both thick and thin hair and effectively reduce frizz.

Titanium infrared flat irons are lightweight and heat up quickly, just as ceramic plates do. But titanium conducts heat even more effectively than ceramic, and it distributes the heat very well. For thick and coarse hair, a titanium infrared flat iron is extremely effective.

Plate size

Plate size matters. Depending on how long and thick your hair is, you could end up needing more time to straighten your hair if you choose the wrong size.

Most infrared flat irons have one-inch plates. This works for most hair lengths, but if you have hair that is extremely thick, coarse, or long, you may prefer an iron with plates that are 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide, as you’ll be able to work through your hair faster.

Smaller flat irons that are approximately 1/2-inch in size work well for specific areas of the hair, such as the bangs. This type of iron also works well for travel.

Temperature range

To avoid damage when you are straightening your hair, you shouldn’t use more heat than necessary. However, if you have extremely thick, coarse, or curly hair, you may need a higher temperature to achieve smoothness.

No matter what type of hair you have, you never need a flat iron that gets hotter than 420°F. In fact, if you have fine or thin hair, your flat iron should never rise above 360°F. For medium or normal hair, a maximum temperature of 360°F to 390°F is ideal. For thick, coarse, or extremely curly hair, a maximum temperature of 360°F to 420°F is appropriate.

Features

Variable temperature settings

Some infrared flat irons have fixed temperature settings, which means you have limited control over how much heat the iron produces. These flat irons typically have high, medium, and low settings. The owner’s manual may (or may not) specify the temperature range for each setting.

Some infrared flat irons have variable temperature controls, allowing you to select a precise temperature for your iron. With this type of control, you can select the least amount of heat necessary to straighten your hair.

Some variable infrared flat irons allow you to raise the temperature in 10°F increments. Others advance in larger increments of 20°F or 30°F. The smaller the increment, the greater control you have over temperature.

Digital controls

Entry-level infrared flat irons usually have simple button or dial controls for powering on/off and temperature selection. High-end infrared flat irons may have digital controls that allow you to fine-tune the temperature. An LCD display makes it easier to determine what temperature your iron is set to and whether the iron is on or off.

Auto shutoff

Leaving any type of flat iron unattended can be a fire hazard. To avoid stress related to this danger, choose an infrared flat iron with an auto shutoff feature. The iron will automatically turn off if it’s left unused for a certain period of time. Most models automatically turn off after 20 to 30 idle minutes.

"Some infrared flat irons include accessories, such as a heat-resistant glove, a travel case, or a styling comb. "
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Swivel cord

Moving a flat iron around your head to straighten all your hair can be difficult because the cord gets in the way. To avoid this annoyance, choose an infrared flat iron with a swivel cord that can turn 360°. You can move the iron freely without having to change hands in the middle of styling your hair.

Beveled edge

Many infrared flat irons have beveled edges rather than hard, straight edges. Beveled edges help prevent snagging and allow you to use the iron to add curls or waves to your hair.

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Did you know?
The infrared technology used for flat irons is similar to the way heat is generated in an at-home sauna.
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Infrared flat iron prices

Infrared flat irons vary in price based on plate material and features offered. The most affordable infrared flat irons usually have ceramic plates, fixed temperature settings, and just a few special features. The price for these irons ranges from $20 to $50. This is probably the best option if you’re new to flat ironing or don’t straighten your hair often.

Mid-range infrared flat irons typically have ceramic or titanium-coated plates, variable temperature settings, and a few special features. The price ranges from $50 to $115 for these models, which are suitable for those who like to flat iron a couple of times a week.

The most expensive infrared flat irons usually have titanium plates, variable temperature settings, and a variety of special features. Cost ranges from $115 to $180. If you’re serious about flat ironing and do so frequently, this could be an investment that makes sense.

Tips

  • Dry your hair completely before using an infrared flat iron.
  • Even though an infrared flat iron is gentler on your hair than a traditional flat iron, always apply a heat protectant product to your hair before using the iron. This helps prevent further damage.
  • It’s best to use a natural bristle or synthetic and natural bristle brush when you’re flat ironing your hair. Brushes with entirely synthetic bristles can cause static and frizz.
  • Don’t just straighten random pieces of hair with the flat iron. Divide your hair into sections and carefully work section by section for the smoothest, straightest results.
  • Pull your hair taut before you run the infrared flat iron over sections of your hair. This allows you to straighten the section by passing the iron over your hair only once, so your locks aren’t exposed to as much heat.
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Infrared flat irons are effective at detoxifying your hair of bacteria that can cause bad odors and other issues.

FAQ

Q. How does an infrared flat iron work?
A.
 Rather than heating your hair from the outside in, an infrared flat iron heats your hair from the inside out. This process helps protect the outer cuticle of hair, so it stays healthy and doesn’t develop as much frizz.


Q. Can I use an infrared flat iron on damaged hair?
A.
If you have severely damaged hair, it’s best to avoid heated styling tools completely. But if you have colored or processed hair that’s just a little dry or frizzy, an infrared flat iron is a much better option for straightening your hair than a traditional flat iron. The infrared technology provides gentler heat and actually helps seal moisture into your hair, so it looks smooth and shiny.


Q. What benefits does an infrared flat iron offer beyond reducing heat damage?
A.
In addition to limiting the damage your hair experiences due to heat styling, an infrared flat iron allows you to cut down on your straightening time. In most cases, you’ll be able to straighten your hair with a single pass over each section. Many users can reduce their straightening time by five to ten minutes.

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