Curling irons, also known as curling tongs, create waves or curls in hair using a variety of different methods. There are many different types of modern curling irons, which can vary by diameter, material, and shape of barrel and the type of handle. The barrel's diameter can be anywhere from .5 in (1.3 cm) to 2 in (5.1 cm). Smaller barrels typically create spiral curls or ringlets, and larger barrels are used to give shape and volume to a hairstyle.
It is important to consider what options are important to you when selecting a hair straightener. You must select a hair iron with a heat setting that fits your needs. If you have fine hair, a lower heat setting may be sufficient. However, thick coarse hair may require a higher heat setting to achieve your desired look. Plate size should also be considered. A flat iron with small plates might be best for shorter hair, while a flat iron with larger plates might be best for longer hair. Some hair straighteners have features such as temperature readouts and rollers that might be important to your needs.
Size matters. With plates too big or too small, you’ll have to make multiple passes. This exposes your hair to high heat longer and increases the risk that you’ll do damage. According to Janine Jarman, owner and operator of acclaimed Hollywood salon Hairroin, a 1-inch-wide plate will do for most people, and if you want to use your iron for anything other than straightening, like creating curls or waves, you’ll need a 1-inch plate; anything larger won’t make the waves or curls tight enough. She also pointed out length is important too. “You need plates to be at least 3 inches long, or close to it, so you’re not spending a ton of time with small sections.”
Fine or thinning hair can easily become damaged under too much heat, so cooler temperatures (i.e., those under 300° F) are ideal for these hair types. If you have very curly, course, or thick hair, then higher temperatures upwards of 400° F may be more suitable to your needs. With the ISA Professional Titanium Flat Iron, you can cool it down to 265° F if need be and also crank it up to a whopping 450° F for textured styled.
“I’m in ‘ahhh’ at how awesome of a straightener this is. If you ask me, it’s a lot better than the high-end brands. It leaves my hair silky-smooth and shiny. I absolutely love its features, and you can watch the heat meter rise as it’s heating up. To me, five stars is not enough to rate this product. It’s definitely worth the money. I’m in love with this straightener. Also, the lock on it I found to be a awesome bonus.”
This feature is particularly helpful if you have textured hair with waves or curls, which can become damaged so easily by heated styling tools. That said, it is not clear which heat setting is ideal for users with thick or somewhat straight hair. This may make this slightly more difficult if you are using a flat iron for curling purposes or if you need to straighten an especially thick head of hair each day! However, we are confident that a little tinkering is all it takes to find the perfect heat setting for these different hair types and styles, so you can rest assured that this hair straightener can still meet all your hair styling needs!

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Xtava’s two inch-wide plates are massive, making them perfect for people with thick or coarse hair. Aside from the plates, everything else about this flat iron is fairly standard. You can use it at a temperature range in between 265 and 445 degrees Fahrenheit, the plates are made with tourmaline and ceramic, and it takes less than two minutes for the tool to fully heat.
While it isn’t the fastest heating hair straightener we have reviewed, the CHI Air Expert Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron warms up to temperature in just one minute! If one minute seems like too long for you to wait, try adding a bit of multitasking into your morning routine by taking advantage of this found time. If you are at a loss for what you can do in just one minute, check out this list for a little inspiration:

Seemingly small details like cord length can make all the difference in the effectiveness of a beauty tool. A longer cord length is desirable here, giving you more freedom and versatility depending on the power outlet situation in your home or your hotel if you're traveling. A cord with 360 swivel capabilities is also a plus. You'll be moving your hair straightener all around your head as you style, and a rotating cord will keep it from getting tangled.


A lot of hair straighteners will boast that their nano-ceramic like this is a good thing. In reality, this means that they’re made up of a cheap filler material (that will not heat as evenly or remain as durable as true ceramic) which is coated with a thing outer ceramic layer. If you want a flat iron that’s safe for natural hair, make sure you go 100% ceramic, or better yet, solid ceramic infused with tourmaline or titanium.
Though it looks high tech with an LCD screen, this budget-friendly straightener has impressed Amazon reviewers everywhere. "I have very thick curly/wavy hair and in a matter of 45 minutes my hair was the straightest I’ve ever been able to get it by doing my hair on my own," wrote one reviewer from Florida, who said her straight hair managed to endure the state's humid climate.
Given its tiny stature, it is no surprise that the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Straightening Iron is ideal for users with short or medium hair lengths. Unlike the more industrial models we reviewed that are designed for longer or thicker hair, this BaByliss hair straightener is small and light enough to polish off a short bob or shoulder-length style in no time.
An upgrade from their since discontinued Eclipse Styler, you won't be tempted to heat this flatiron up to 450 degrees, because the temperature dial is always stuck on one number: 365 (the ideal heat to mold hair without frying it, according to the scientists at GHD). Underneath each of those 365-degree plates are three fancy sensors that measure the density of the hair in the iron so that it can maintain consistent heat regardless of the chunk of hair you grab. The result? Silky, shiny hair with zero frizz.
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