The more temperature control options you have, the more control you'll have over the heat you'll be applying to your hair. Keep in mind, any type of heat styling can be damaging to your strands, so you want to take care not to use too much high heat, especially if you're styling daily. Flat irons that have lower temperature options that start around 250 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for those with thin, damage-prone hair. If you do have thick hair, higher heat settings can help straighten those curls. To help prevent damage, you should start with lower heat first, and then only increase as needed. Keep in mind, anything above 400 degrees has the potential to damage your hair. Even those with coarse, curly hair should stay within the 350-400 degree range to be safe.
We started with six flat irons but ultimately dropped two because they didn’t work well on any of our testers’ hair. The inexpensive, but highly rated HSI Professional Glider Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron was bulky and awkward. Testers said it felt like two pieces of plastic passing through their hair. We thought the NuMe Megastar Hair Straightener, a popular and more high-end tool, would be a clear contender for our list. However, testers said it snagged hard against their hair to the point of hurting. It was also difficult to hold closed when styling. Because both of these flat irons received such low ratings among our testers, we didn’t include them in our top picks.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]
You do not have to use a blow dryer. In fact, I recommend not using one at all, as it could save extra damage to your hair and the extra heat isn't needed. After a shower, you could put your damp hair in a braid, let it dry in the braid, and when you want to straighten, your hair won't be as puffy or frizzy. That ultimately leads to straight, sleek hair.
The plate material you choose can also make a big difference on your style results. Ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline are the most common terms you'll come across. Ceramic plates hold heat well and provide even heat distribution, preventing any hot spots on the plates can cause damage. Ceramic is especially effective for fine hair that can be especially vulnerable to heat damage. While many hair straighteners have ceramic coated plates, plates made entirely from this material are more effective, as this coating can wear off over time. Tourmaline is a gemstone, but when crushed and used to coat the plates of a hair straightener, it has properties and results similar to ceramic plates.
If your hair is plagued by tangles and knots on a regular basis (even in between straightening!), try switching your hairbrush out for a wide-toothed comb! The added space in between the teeth gently separately knots and tangles without the painful “Ouch!” with each stroke. If that still isn’t enough to tame your stubborn tresses, try a wet brush! These brushes are specially designed to work through knotted, wet hair without any tugging or pulling.
The curling iron can also have either a spring-loaded, Marcel, or clipless handle. Spring-loaded handles are the most popular and use a spring to work the barrel's clamp. When using a Marcel handle, one applies his or her own pressure to the clamp. Clipless wands have no clamp, and the user simply wraps hair around a rod. Most clipless curling irons come with a Kevlar glove to avoid burns.
Brant Mayfield, who styles everyone from Diane von Furstenberg to Nicole Scherzinger, favors this glossy white flat iron. "It has digital single pass technology, which helps for smoothness and contains an eternal microchip that maintains an even temperature," he says. The angled edges and ceramic plates will keep your hair smooth and without kinks.
This mini straightener is perfect for my bangs. I also used it to make some longer strands wavy by pulling it down at an angle. I bought it for travel abroad in Denmark since it has the dual voltage, but have only used it in the US so far. It heats up fast and makes my hair super smooth. And the free sample of conditioner smells soooo good and made my hair super soft!
The two strips of silicone atop Bio Ionic’s flat iron plates seem silly, but they serve an important purpose. By buffering the outer edge of the plates, they reduce your chances of hair snags. They also force you to glide the flat iron more slowly through your hair (they are called speed strips, after all). While the slower technique maximizes shininess and smoothness, the speed strips can become a bit of an obstacle if your hair is thick.