I'm a bit of a flat iron junkie, so I've learned a thing or two about how to select the right hair straightener. Today I'm sharing my top tips with you! There are three main things to look for in a flat iron: surface material, width of plate, and heat settings. Ready to learn? 🙂
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small referral fee from purchases at no cost to you. You can read our affiliate policy here.
Hair Straightener Surface Materials:
The 3 main types of flat iron surface materials are ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline. Each has its benefits:
Ceramic: This surface distributes heat evenly and has a lower potential to cause damage to your hair. It is slower to warm up, but — unless you're in an extreme rush — it heats fast enough. Ceramic is a porous material, but the plates are very smooth so they won't typically cause breakage or tangles. Recommended for: Ceramic works great for girls like me who have somewhat fine hair and need to protect hair from damage.
Titanium: This type of surface heats rapidly and also transfers heat to your hair quickly. Titanium plates are also very durable, so a titanium straightener may cost more but it will likely last longer. Recommended for: It's better suited for experienced users and anyone with very coarse or curly hair.
Tourmaline: This is the newest technology in straighteners. It's a coated surface covering another type of plate (usually ceramic). Normally I wouldn't recommend a coated surface because it can chip off, but one of the benefits of newer technology means it's less likely to do that. Tourmaline is a crushed mineral that is ground into a fine powder then infused with the ceramic plate to form an even smoother finish than you get with ceramic alone. Recommended for: Anyone who gets the frizzies. Because tourmaline can produce six times more negative ions than ceramic, it's perfect for cancelling out the positive ions of dry, frizzy hair and creating a smooth, shiny finish.
Hair Straightener Plate Width:
Once you've determined the best plate type for your hair type, you'll need to select the right width. The basic rule-of-thumb is: the shorter and thinner the hair, the thinner the surface of the iron. I have long hair but my texture is thin, so I use a surface that's an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide. For my girls with the short pixie cuts, you'll want to go with a half-inch to an inch width. Anyone blessed with really thick, naturally curly, or very long hair should select a two-inch option.
Hair Straightener Heat Levels:
I think it's better to have adjustable heat settings on a straightener, because I like having the option to increase the heat if I want to (for example, if I'm using my straightener to add curls) and lower it when needed. If you have finely textured hair, you can get by with a lower heat setting. If you have damaged hair you'll definitely need a lower setting to prevent further damage. Anyone with coarse hair should use a higher heat setting. It takes a stronger level of heat to change the shape of the hair.
If you have finely textured and long hair (like mine!), I recommend this straightening iron:
CHI PRO AIR 1″ (made by FAROUK) – Ionic Tourmaline Hair Straightener – This is the one I own and use most often. I like that it comes with a protectant mat and that it cost less than $80. (The CHI Air brand is the same brand as CHI, but their “Air” line is the more affordable version.)
The Best Hair Straightener Accessories:
If you're purchasing a new straightener, there are two items I highly recommend buying to go with it. The first is a heat resistant flat mat that you can roll the straightener into. That way you can easily pack it away in your backpack or suitcase while it's still hot. It's also great to set the flat iron on the mat when you're in the middle of straightening your hair! Since the mat is made of silicon and absorbs heat, it protects your furniture and/or carpet.
You could probably guess the second item from my previous hair posts, but you definitely want to get a good heat protectant. TRESemme Keratin Flat Iron Smoothing Spray is the one I currently use and recommend. It's inexpensive but still works great.
Here are a few other accessories that aren't absolutely necessary, but they do come in handy:
- Handy-Dandy Silicone Ear Protectors – (hehe. Not their official name!) These are great if you tend to burn your ears frequently when using a straightener or curling iron.
- Handy-Dandy Hot Iron Holster – (Also not the official name.) This works well if you have very little counter space and need to hang the flat iron off the edge of a table or bathroom counter.
- Handy-Dandy Hot Iron Cleaner – Use this if you think you need a special cleaner for hair tools. I don't. I just use rubbing alcohol on a washcloth and it works fine. 🙂
- Handy-Dandy Heat Resistant Glove – This is one I do use and recommend. If you burn your neck or hands often, this is an essential item. Wear it and place your hand between the wand and your neck to better protect your skin.
I hope these tips help! As usual, if you have any questions, please ask in the comments. This will be a two-part post and in the next half I'll spill all my secrets for straightening hair like a pro! Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly summary of our posts or follow us on Bloglovin’ for updates.
**A tourmaline coated flat iron usually costs MORE than a regular flat iron, so that makes it easy to spot. The brand will also typically point out the tourmaline coating as one of the top features.
*Source: Hair burning temperatures