Growing up, I had to deal with thick, frizzy hair. In the Georgia summers, that left me uncomfortable, sweaty, and feeling hideous. I remember always being picked on by boys. They used to even call me, “Cavegirl.” I was always jealous of the girls with naturally straight hair. I wanted my hair to look sleek and and light, just like them or the models and actresses I saw on TV. I spent a lot of my time sitting in front of the mirror, wishing there was something I could do to maintain my lion’s mane. It wasn’t until I was older, starting my training as a hair stylist, that I was introduced to the many different types of hair straighteners. Suddenly, I grew to understand that there was a science behind finding that ideal hair straightener for me. I needed one with a high temperature and wider plates. Suddenly straightening my hair was no longer a chore, but something I could easily do in my morning routine without dread! Since then, I’ve made it my mission to help other women who wish to get that perfect straight hair look, so no one has to go through the troubles that I did.
I used to think that a hair straightener was the same, just different brand names. However, as I began to understand the different types, plate width and sizes, temperature, and more, I began to realize that to get that flawless, sleeked look that I always dreamed up, I would need to do my research. In the following sections, you’ll see how I began to understand the right approach to determining the perfect hair straightener for me compared to my friends or clients.
Hair Types and Textures
How your hair responds to a hair straightener heavily relies on its natural look.
Determining your hair style is detrimental to getting those perfect results, and will help you avoid wasting money on a type of hair straightener or damaging your hair.
Fine vs. Thick
Fine hair requires less heat, due to the fact that less strands of hair are taking up space between the plates. The thicker your hair, the higher temperature you need. If you’re somewhere between fine and thick, a medium setting hair straighter will work.
Straight, Wavy, or Curly?
Straight hair doesn’t need as much as a wavy or curly hair, unless your hair is thick. I recommend using a straightener with a variety of heat settings to find the best one for you.
Wavy hair works similarly to hair with medium thickness. A flat iron that offers medium heat will get the job done.
Curly hair demands the highest temperature, this is so you don’t risk damaging your hair with a prolonged period of hair straightening. You want to be able to straighten your hair almost just as fast as your friend with wavy hair and her medium temperature.
Short hair doesn’t need long or thick plates. A small, even traveled sized hair straightener can get the job done with the best results.
Shoulder length is similar to medium thickness. It requires a middle ground for temperature and hair straightener plates and sizes, which will be explained later on.
Below shoulder length requires more time and effort, which is why it’s recommended to buy a hair straightener with a higher heat capacity, especially if your hair is thick or curly!
Ultimately, you want to consider these three aspects of your natural hair because the wrong hair straightener will put you at risk of damage.
Now that you’ve decided your hair’s natural state, it’s time to consider the most important part of the picking your hair straightener, the type of flat iron that you will using. By type, we are talking about the plates which heat up and you run your hair through.
Standing in a store without being prepared, you might understand the importance of knowing the different types and what they do. As a result, you put yourself at risk for picking a hair straightener that is not fit for you and will most likely damage your hair or produce unsatisfactory results.
I have had many clients come in to say that they can’t understand why a hair straightener that worked so well for their friend did not work for them. I explain that there is a variety of types for hair straighteners for a reason. These different types all exist because one does not work for everyone!
Which Types of Flat Iron should I use?
Basic Flat Irons
A basic flat iron is for someone who isn’t looking to spend too much. People with medium thick hair, wavy or straight, are the ones who get the best results. These only offer one to three heat settings, offer no protective surfaces for their plates, and are generally the least favorite for people who are looking for a top notch hair straightener. These are best used for someone looking to straighten small portions of their hair rather than obtaining an overall straightened, sleek look.
Ceramic Flat Irons
Ceramic flat irons are best known for their ability to evenly spread heat and therefore cause the least amount of damage. It’s great for straightening hair at a lower temperature. This is ideal for those committed to straightening their hair on a regular basis. A precaution is to avoid plates with only ceramic coating- which can chip off and produce undesired results such as snagging of the hair. Make sure the plates are solid ceramic, which shouldn’t be hard. Ceramic flat irons are the most common to find. If you’re looking for a lower chance of damaging your hair, I highly recommend the ceramic flat iron type. Ceramic Flat Irons also have a variety of functions, but know that with more functions comes a higher price tag. These flat irons have the broadest range of options, so there is bound to be a right one for you within your price range.
Tourmaline Flat Irons
Tourmaline, for my stylist profession is one of my favorites. It gives my clients hair a shinier and smoother look than they’ve experienced before, plus it doesn’t need as much power to heat up. Tourmaline flat irons are basically ceramic plates with a tourmaline coating, which allows more heat to be applied to your hair! It makes it a lot easier for a one pass (when just one pass through the flat iron straightens your hair perfectly). If you’ve ever had your hair straightened by a stylist and wondered how they can make your hair look flawless, know that you are just as capable of replicating that look with a Tourmaline Flat Iron. This is what I choose for my customers when I want them to walk away completely satisfied and confident with their look.
Titanium Flat Irons
For those who are constantly in a rush, such as myself, I am always in need of a hair straightener that can heat up quickly and still give my hair a pristine finish. It’s also considered the only type of flat iron you should consider purchasing, since it is the least likely to snag or damage hair. As a hair stylist, my hair has to look just as good as the clients on a daily basis, so I trust my BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium to help me in the morning. Titanium heats up faster than the ceramic flat iron. However, they can pose a risk of damage to your hair if used incorrectly, so make sure you’re careful! If used properly, Titanium flat irons can actually cause less damage. My busiest friends and clients rave about Titanium flat irons, because they make getting ready so much easier with such beautiful results.
Ionic Flat Irons
The latest hair straighteners feature Ionic Flat Irons, designed to remove the static frizz from your hair all while preserving your hair’s natural glow. How does it work? The Ionic flat irons have infused negative ions that wipe away the frizz, sort of like a dryer sheet removes the static cling from your clothing. The ions also help maintain moisture in your hair instead of drying it out. This is great for clients who suffer from dried or damaged hair. After using Ionic flat irons, their hair looks naturally like it did before, but perfectly straightened.
Ionic, however, tend to lean towards the pricer ends, which is why I reserve recommending this brand unless I know a client is really invested in consistent and pristine results.
Regular vs. Wider
Regular plate widths provide you with the option of straightening or curling your hair. That’s right, you can do both! It’s all in the technique. Straighten your hair by just passing it through the irons, whereas curling requires flipping the straightener as the hair is passing through. I love regular plate widths because they allow a certain freedom for flipping or curling your hair, and I’ve seen a few of my friends become professionals after practice.
Wider plates are ideal for thick and coarse hair. It allows you to cover more strands of hair faster, making the overall process easier and quicker.
Plates range from 1” to 3” thick. To find the right plate size for you, consider the length of your hair and your hair texture. For reference, short hair is above the shoulder, medium hair is shoulder length, and long hair is below the shoulder.
1”-1.5” are recommended only for Fine & Thin hair at any length. This is because thinner plates mean less heat, and therefore a smaller risk of damage.
1”-2” plate size is best for a normal, or wavy, hair texture depends ultimately on your hair length. 1.25”-2” is recommend for longer hair, where as 1”-1.25” is recommended for short, medium length falls in the middle.
1.25”-3” are highly recommended for coarse, thick, or curly hair. Similar to the normal hair, the longer the hair, the higher the plate size. As an example, my client Chelsea has coarse thick hair that’s long loves using a 3” thick plate size, where as my client, Josie with normal hair but the same hair length only needs a 2” plate.
Temperature or Heat
Temperature all depends on the thickness of your hair. Hair Straighteners can range anywhere from below 250 degrees Fahrenheit up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coarse, curly, thick hair requires the highest temperature since they require the most work for straitening.
Fragile hair shouldn’t deal with a hair straightener above 300 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if thin as well. I recommend to my clients with that type of hair to use a hair straightener that is below 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
For normal hair, anywhere from 300 degrees to 380 degrees should work, depending on the length of your hair. Above the shoulder hair styles require less heat compared to below shoulder styles.
When it comes to weight, take it into small consideration. Know that it isn’t always the biggest deal, but if your hair is long and therefore, going to take a while, it’s best to find a brand with a lighter design so your arms don’t start to get tired. Also consider if you traveler. A large hair straightener is much harder to carry around during your travels!
Consider how often you will use your hair straightener, how much you want to avoid damaging your hair, the amount of time you want to spend straightening your hair – these factors will help you start to formulate a budget for what you are willing to spend on your hair straightener. Someone who straighteners their hair regularly ought to invest in a higher priced brand compared to someone who does it on special occasions. For someone like me, who rushes in the morning but still wants to straighten my hair, I had to invest in a quality hair straightener that allowed me to get ready in time without damaging my hair. At the same time, I also made sure to do my research and find a reasonably priced straightener with the best results.
Things unfortunately break sooner than they should. It’s ideal to consider at least getting a year of warranty. After a year, you’ve most likely made a good investment, especially if you use your hair straightener on a daily basis. I hear from clients that they never risk getting a hair straightener without at least a one year warranty, because otherwise, it seems to be more likely to break!
The Best Flat Irons & Hair Straighteners for You and Your Budget
Best Ceramic Flat Iron- BaBylissPro BABNTSL3072 Nano Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron
For my clients with thick,frizzy, or curly hair, I recommend the BaBlyliss Pro BABP9559. The ceramic plates are 1 1/2” thick, which heats instantly. The temperature can be dialed up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, ideal for thick hair that requires hair temperatures. However, it has lower heat settings, which is perfect when dealing with flyaway strands of hair. This the perfect hair straightener for people who find that their hair normally take longer than usual to straighten.
One of my clients, Abby, has natural, kinky African-American hair and swears so much by the BaByliss Pro BABP9559 that she’s started sharing with her family members. It’s made her morning routine easier, especially when her daughter also wants her hair straightened. The longer plates allow for more coverage, making it so much easier and faster to straighten her hair! Not to mention, this hair straightener is quick to heat up, and is able to spread heat evenly to the strands as they pass through. The consistently applied heat reduces the risk of damaging hair and producing flawless results. For her, her hair has never looked better after a straitening than with the BaByliss Pro BABP9559.
Best Ionic Flat Iron- BIO IONIC Onepass Straightening Iron
If you read about the ionic flat iron and desired that quality finish but still have a budget, look no further than the BIO IONIC Onepass. This hair straightener was given that name for a very specific reason: with just one pass through your hair, you will experience perfectly straightened hair. As a result, that reduces time spent straightening without diminishing the finished look. Instead, with the silicone speed strips, you will experience a faster straightening but with a natural hair shine. This specific flat iron has a higher level of negative ions, which will block in the moisture of your hair. For someone who has experienced easily damaged hair due to straightening, I recommend the BIO IONIC Onepass, due to its instant recovery.
This hair straightener heats up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and has 1” plates. Due to its high quality and lightweight, I recommend this product to those with thick curls, frizzy and thick hair. This hair straightener is still pricier than some of the others on this list, but it’s worth the investment if you’re looking for consistent looks. My best friend Sharon has spent about five months with her BIO IONIC Onepass after she experienced dryness and damage from her old hair straightener. Since she’s made the switch, her hair now looks naturally straight and healthier than ever before.
Best Professional Flat Iron- Professional Flat Iron Hair Straightener 6th Sense
One of the best flat irons around for fine hair is the 6th Sense Professional Flat Iron. Starting with the top, solid ceramic tourmaline plates, this straightener provides even heating almost instantly, helping you save time! It’s adjustable temperatures, ranging from 266-445, is designated with a red, blue and green light indicator. For clients who are looking for a cheaper, yet effective flat iron, 6th sense is the perfect choice! It’s 4-year warranty and lower price makes it great investment.
It stands as one of the better flat irons for curling or flipping in addition to straightening. The 6th Sense offers a quick heating and guarantees a one pass for perfectly straightened hair. My clients with fine hair rave about this product, which heats to a low temperature and prevents damage. One client has been able to successful straightener her hair for months, mastering flipping and curling techniques, without causing damage. It reduces styling time by half and doesn’t snag hair. For on the go, this straightener is perfect with it’s heat resistant case and free 2 in 1 mini hair straightener. If you’re looking for a hair straightener with additional products and perks for an insanely cheap price, choose the 6th Sense Professional Flat Iron.
Best Titanium Straightening Iron- BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium-Plated Straightening Iron
Several of my clients, ranging in a variety of hair types, have grown to love their BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium hair straightener. So much so, that they claim they will never look at another brand again. With over 50 heat settings going up to 450 degrees and its extra long, 5” plates, this hair straightener is perfect for households with different styles of hair. The 1” thickness of the plates makes curling and flipping so easy that even beginnings will see great results! The titanium plates and nano technology allow for even distribution, quick heat, and negative ions to remove frizz and preserve moisture from hair.
If you’re trying to save time in the morning or have a busy household where multiple people are looking to straighten their hair, I swear by BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium. It’s quick heating will straighten your hair in quick, easy passes. For several clients with thick, frizzy hair, they’ve seen immediate and flawless results, claiming they’ve never seen their hair look more naturally straight before. My client, Kelly, and her two daughters, all share their BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium on a regular basis. The multiple settings let them adjust to their exact hair style. For any hair type, I highly recommend the BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium, because it’s versatile temperatures and nano titanium technology allow you to get the perfect, naturally straightened hair down to the very last strand.
Best Tourmaline Flat Iron- HSI Professional Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron hair straightener
For the person who likes to style their hair differently on a day to day basis or experiment with straightening, curling, and flipping techniques, I always suggest the HSI Professional Tourmaline Flat Iron. The 1”, round-edged plates create a thin body, easy for wrapping hair for curling/flipping styling. Additionally, the adjustable temperatures, ranging from 240 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit make it ideal for multiple hair length and types. The HSI Professional features ceramic infused with tourmaline plates, allowing for faster heating times and an even distribution of heat. The high temperatures and infrared heat Technology works amazing on tight curls without causing damage. In addition to the quality hair straightener, your purchase gets your free Argan oil, a glove, and travel bag.
My close friend Hillary wanted to learn styling her hair without worry about causing damage. For her, the HSI Professional preserved her hair and allowed her to learn new techniques. She also shares her home with her teen daughter, who has much curlier hair. Both have expressed their love for the HSI Professional, giving them straightening and shinier hair than ever before. It’s quick heating and straightening makes mourning routines quicker and easier. They’re no longer fighting for the bathroom!