So you’re now in the market to buy the perfect hair straightener to tame your unruly locks. However, not all hair straighteners are made equal. When choosing your flat iron, take note of these factors to get the best tool for you.
Figure out your hair type
Hair straighteners are not a one-size-fits-all deal. The type of hair that grows on your head is the most important factor in choosing what kind of flat iron to choose that works for you.
A flat iron made for thick or curly hair will not work as well for fine hair, and in worse cases might even do more damage in the long run. On the other hand, a flat iron made for fine hair might take longer to get the same results on thick hair.
Also Read: The Best Flat Iron for Thick Hair
Find out your flat iron’s plate material
The next most important factor to consider is what actually touches your hair. Hair straighteners have gone through various materials since they have been invented, all to find the best for each hair type or styling need. Often, the price of a flat iron will tell you the kind and quality of material used.
Less expensive flat irons usually tend to have metal or glass plates, or are simply ceramic coated. They may be cheaper, but are not necessarily good for your hair, as they could fry your hair or leave it damaged.
The two most common materials used are titanium and ceramic plates. The choice between these would depend on your hair type.
Hair straighteners with titanium plates are best used for thick and coarse hair that’s difficult to straighten. Titanium plates produce the most ions, which are responsible for straightening your hair. Used with thick hair, they are able to tame even the most unruly curls. Use it with fine hair, though, and expect damage and split ends.
Ceramic plates are great for every other hair type, including fine hair. Ceramic flat irons are able to maintain high temperatures and a good distribution of heat, with little damage to your hair.
There are also flat irons coated with tourmaline, a semi-precious stone crushed and added to ceramic or titanium plates. It works by reducing friction, eliminating static, and heating hair more quickly, lessening the styling time. It also makes hair sleeker, as it closes the cuticle of the hair shaft to allow each strand to lay flat and shiny.
Also Read: What’s The Best Titanium Flat Iron
Determine plate size
Your hair length and type also determine the size of hair straightener to buy. Bigger is not always better in this case.
Slim plates of 1 ½ inches or less are best for short or fine hair. The narrower plates allow you to iron smaller sections of hair for a smoother and more uniform look.
Wider plates of 2 inches or more work best for long or thicker hair. These cover more area, which will save you time and straighten hair more efficiently.
Look for flat irons with temperature controls
As with plate material and size, your hair type and length also determine what kind of heat setting you need.
The best hair straighteners will always have variable heat control settings, which let you adjust how hot the iron can get for best results. Hair straighteners without temperature control could end up giving you split ends or even a burnt scalp if you’re not careful.
Heat settings will vary based on your hair type. Fine hair will do best at the lowest temperatures of 250-300 degrees. If your hair falls between thick and fine, you could set the temperature between 300-350 degrees. However, if your hair is thick and curly, you’ll need the highest settings at 350-400 degrees.
Ions make a difference
Hair straighteners don’t work like a clothes iron, which often uses steam to get wrinkles out of clothes. In fact, it uses a very different kind of science to iron your hair.
What actually straightens hair are the ions released by the materials in the plates that touch each hair strand. Different plate materials release different ratios of active and passive ions. The active ions do the work of returning moisture to each hair strand and reducing static to make your hair shiny and sleek.
Look for hair straighteners with the best plate materials you can afford, as these most often release the most active ions and produce the best results.
The best features with the best price point
A lot of hair straighteners these days often come with various features to appease a more discerning market. When you buy a hair straightener, consider not just the factors mentioned, but also other features that might be useful to you.
Some flat irons have a built-in comb that can tame curls and would be useful for a curly-haired gal. More versatile flat irons even come with styling tools that can help create waves or curls for straight or limp hair. Jetsetting ladies can get a cordless straightener that lets them style wherever, whenever. If you have little time to prep each morning, some flat irons even come with an instant heat setting that can drastically reduce styling time.
If budget is not a problem, you can also spring for professional hair straighteners, which often come with the highest quality materials and most sophisticated technology to deliver the best results.
Also Read: Top 5 Best Professional Flat Irons
Other tips and tricks
To get the best results with a hair straightener, it’s always best to prep your hair. For fine hair, use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner in the shower, then follow up with a volumizing mousse before you blow dry your hair.
Thicker hair require a smoothing treatment that will tame curls and make it easier for the flat iron to do its job. Use a natural bristle brush to dry you hair to make it as straight as possible.
NEVER attempt to use a hair straightener on wet or even damp hair, as this will definitely fry your hair. Do not use it every day, either, as the heat will damage your hair over time and make it brittle.
The next time you’re looking to buy a hair straightener, keep these tips in mind to get the best bang for your buck.