I'm a bit of a flat iron junkie, so I've researched them a lot through the years. In the process, I've learned a thing or two about how to choose a hair straightener for many different hair types. Today I'm sharing my top tips so you'll know which one to invest in to keep your hair looking its best!
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How to Choose a Hair Straightener
It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but there are really only four main points to consider: surface material, plate width, heat levels, and cost. I've broken each point down to help make your decision easier.
Hair Straightener Surface Materials:
The 3 main types of flat iron surface materials are ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline. Each type has its benefits:
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 light or finely textured hair that is easily damaged.
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.
This is the newest technology in straighteners and the type I currently use. 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 so.
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'd 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 and a lot of it, but the actual texture (width of each hair strand) of my hair is thin. 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 prefer 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, a lower setting is a necessity to prevent further damage. Anyone with coarse hair should use a higher heat setting, because it takes a stronger level of heat to change the shape of the hair.
The Cost Factor:
Since hair straighteners last for years, I consider them an investment piece — which means I don't mind spending more money on them. If you want to keep your hair healthy and looking its best, it's worth investing in the latest technology to get a good straightener.
I'm only going to recommend the specific straighteners I've used, because I don't want to recommend something I haven't tried.
As previously mentioned, my hair is long, but finely textured and thick (meaning the actual strands are thin, but I have a lot of hair). If yours is similar in texture, I recommend these straightening irons:
- Duvolle Ceramic Tourmaline Far-Infrared Ionic Hair Straightener – This is the one I currently use, and I'm very happy with it. I love how soft and shiny it makes my hair, it has the newest technology, and there are numerous heat level options. The price on this one is very reasonable.
- CHI PRO AIR 1″ (made by FAROUK) – Ionic Tourmaline Hair Straightener – This is one I also own and used most frequently prior to switching to the Duvolle straightener. 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 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 about how to choose a hair straightener, please ask in the comments. Also, this is a two-part post! You can find the other half, as well as my video tutorial, here: Hair Straightening Tips: How to Flat Iron Like a Pro.
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