Most mid-grade and high-end hair straighteners come with plates that are 1” or 1.5”. If you are looking at one that is 2”, 2.5”, or even bigger, steer clear immediately. Not only does larger plates make it easier for you to accidentally over-iron (and seriously damage) your hair, but they also make it more difficult to get all of the way down to your roots. For anyone with type 3 or type 4 hair, trying to use a large-sized flat iron would be far more trouble than it’s worth.
Our two testers with kinky and thick hair loved the Chi Air Expert Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron. In fact, it was each of their top picks, with the Bio Ionic coming in second. The Chi Air reaches 410 degrees F, which is definitely hot enough for thicker and curlier hair types. The speed at which the tool worked was surprising considering the kinkiness and thickness of both testers’ hair. One tester with long, curly hair had to leave early for an event and needed to finish styling. The Chi Air moved through her hair quickly, giving her time to spare. And, even at 410 degrees, our testers didn’t feel like their hair was being fried or that the heat burned their heads. In fact, they complimented how soft it made their hair feel and how comfortable it was to use, unlike the NuMe Megastar which snagged a lot or the HSI Professional Glider which felt hot against their scalps. As one tester said, “Chi is killing it.”
This durable KIPOZI flat iron can be set anywhere between 170 and 450 degrees to suit any kind of thickness or texture, and its curved plate design makes it great for giving your hair some texture. The Nano-Titanium plates heat up quickly and lock in moisture, so hair looks hydrated, healthy, and sleek. It’s also got a compatible voltage for anywhere in the world.

Early hair straightening systems relied on harsh chemicals that tended to damage the hair. In the 1870s, the French hairdresser Marcel Grateau introduced heated metal hair care implements such as hot combs to straighten hair. Madame C.J. Walker used combs with wider teeth and popularized their use together with her system of chemical scalp preparation and straightening lotions.[3] Her mentor Annie Malone is sometimes said to have patented the hot comb.[4] Heated metal implements slide more easily through the hair, reducing damage and dryness. Women in the 1960s sometimes used clothing irons to straighten their hair.
“I’ve owned a Conair, Chi, and I-Tech straighter before, but this one is FABULOUS! There really is no tugging at all on your hair — so smooth, and I was shocked that it truly heats up in 15 seconds, as advertised! It also does something magical to my hair: It adds more shine like no flat iron has done before. Mind you, my hair is very difficult to deal with. It has always been coarse, wavy, dry, and thick! This iron worked beautifully on my hair.”
Automatic shutoff isn’t a feature we included in our criteria since people have varying opinions about it, but we liked that the Chi Elite has this. Especially for new users who might forget to turn off their flat irons. Like the Chi Air, the Chi Elite will shut off after one hour. However, if you’re working with kinky hair, auto shutoff may be a problem. Traditionally this hair type will take longer to straighten due to detangling and the fragility of the 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.
EDITOR’S CHOICE: CHI has and always will be a powerhouse brand in the hair straightener industry, and the company’s new G2 Ceramic and Titanium Flat Iron is no exception! Packed with ceramic and titanium technology, this hair straightener was designed to give you silky, shiny styles without snags. We also love its easy-to-read, color-coded temperature settings, so you know the temperatures that you are using at any given time!

The plates in this techy tool house an internal microchip that constantly measures and maintains an even temperature. With no random hot or cold spots, you'll get smoother, straighter, strands in fewer passes. (Spoiler alert: Fewer passes equal less damage). Adjustable temperature settings — from 260 to 410 degrees — make this ideal for any and every hair texture.
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