How to Choose a Hair Straightener

Smiling woman using hair straightener in the bathroom

Thinking about investing in a new flat iron?

This is isn’t something that you should rush into, because there are quite a few different things that you need to consider when choosing a hair straightener.

Here are some tips to ensure that you make the very best choice:

Choose the Best Plate Material for Your Hair Type

The very first thing that you should decide when choosing a hair straightener is the plate type that you want.

From ceramic to titanium, flat iron plates are made from quite a few different materials, and each one has its pros and cons.

How do you know which plate material to go for?

It depends on your hair type, as well as how you use your hair straightener.

Here are some of the most common flat iron plate materials out there:

  • Ceramic – ceramic plates are great for holding onto high temperatures and keeping them consistent, ensuring that the heat is distributed evenly down the plates. Ceramic plates are smooth, minimizing tangles as you run them through your hair, and also enabling them to reduce frizz while adding shine
  • Titanium – titanium plates heat up very quickly, and are then able to retain that temperature for quite a while. They are lightweight and are gentler on the delicate ends of your hair. These plates are best for people who have damaged ends, as well as for those who have quite thick or coarse hair
  • Ceramic Coated – these are plates that you should avoid. They are usually made from metal but have a ceramic coating, meaning that the heat isn’t distributed evenly. While they do get quite hot, they aren’t good at retaining that heat, especially when compared to pure ceramic plates
  • Tourmaline – this is one of the newer plate materials, and does tend to be more expensive than the rest. While tourmaline is a gemstone, it is ground up and then used on flat iron plates, usually over the top of ceramic. This makes the ceramic even smoother than it was, resulting in less hair damage. Tourmaline is also highly durable, and maintains high temperatures well
  • Metal or Glass – these are both plate materials to stay away from. Not only do they break easily, but they also experience heat spikes in certain areas, resulting in burning and hair damage 

Negative Ion Technology Can Be Useful for Dealing with Frizz

Is your hair quite frizzy?

If so, this is probably something that you spend quite a bit of time trying to deal with.

Well, this is where negative ion technology comes in…

Wondering what negative ion technology actually is?

Think about when you dry your hair with a towel and it turns frizzy, or when you brush it and it goes a little static. This is because the friction from the towel and brush are pulling away the negative ions from your hair, leaving your hair positively charged instead. This is what causes that frizz and static.

Negative ion technology in a hair straightener means that the plates emit negative ions into your hair. This then neutralizes the atoms in your hair, meaning that you experience the bare minimum when it comes to frizz and static.

Negative ion technology is fantastic for those who have naturally frizzy hair. However, if your hair is quite fine and thin, negative ion technology may not be right for you.

Why?

Because of the way in which it reduces the natural activity of the atoms in your hair. This can make fine hair look quite limp and lifeless. 

Pay Attention to Plate Width and Shape

While the material that your flat iron plates are made from is so important, so is the actual width and shape of the plates.

Let’s begin by looking at shape…

This is something that many people don’t actually think about, but the way in which the edge of your flat iron is shaped can really influence how you are able to use the iron.

A flat iron that has fully straight edges is great for achieving super straight locks, but it does make the iron less adaptable. If your flat iron has edges that are slightly rounded, this makes it much easier to use your flat iron to curl as well as to straighten your hair.

In terms of plate width…

Wider plates mean that you will be able to straighten your hair much quicker. However, they do make the hair straightener significantly larger, which can make life inconvenient if you often travel with your straightener. Of course, you do have the option of purchasing a dedicated travel-sized straightener along with your regular one.

You are probably thinking…

If I’m not going to be traveling with my flat iron, then surely the wider the plates, the better?

Not necessarily. Those who have quite fine hair will likely find that their hair ends up easily damaged when using wide plates, since the plates will be emitting too much heat for fine hair to cope with. This is where narrower plates would be more suitable.

If you use your flat iron to straighten your bangs, then narrower plates would work better for you too.

Look Into Floating Plates

Have you heard of floating plates before?

Several high quality flat irons come with this, but many are unaware of the benefits that this can have.

What exactly are floating plates?

They are plates that are not 100% attached to the flat iron, and also feature springs. This may sound a little dangerous, but they are still completely secure. Don’t worry, floating plates won’t end up falling off!

Wondering what the benefits of floating plates are?

The springs in floating plates give the plates more flexibility. The plates are able to tilt into different angles, meaning that as you are straightening your hair, the tension and friction from the plates can be constantly adjusted to suit the style you are creating. The springs in floating plates also mean that the plates cushion your hair more, preventing snags and tangles. 

With plates that don’t float, or flat irons that have just a single floating plate, you will find it much harder to achieve sleek and straight locks. This is because the plates are not able to adjust themselves to move closer to each other, reducing the amount of heat that is applied to your hair.

Floating plates can really cut down on the amount of time it takes you to straighten your hair, making this something well worth looking into.

Adjustable Temperature Is Important

There is no denying that higher temperatures mean that you will be able to straighten your hair much faster, as well as more effectively, but don’t ignore the damage that these high temperatures are likely causing to your hair.

You only really need a high temperature if your hair is very thick, coarse or curly. For everyone else, a lower temperature would be much better.

While some hair straighteners come with just one temperature setting, there are now more and more models out there that feature an adjustable temperature range.

Using hair straightener with red LED light

How do you decide which temperature to use when straightening your hair?

It depends on your hair type, along with how much hair damage you already have. If you dye your hair, then this is something else to take into consideration, as you will want your hair color to stick around for as long as possible.

Here are some guidelines for you to follow:

  • Fine, delicate or damaged hair – stick to a temperature of around 350°F/175°C. Anything higher than 370°F/190°C could really damage your hair
  • Colored hair – in order to make your color last for longer, don’t go any higher than 390°F/200°C. This is especially important if your hair is dyed red, as this is a shade that is highly susceptible to fading
  • Normal hair – again, a temperature of around  390°F/200°C is all you really need
  • Thick, curly or coarse hair – you will need quite a high temperature for the heat to properly penetrate your hair, so begin with a temperature of around 450°F/232°C. After you have done the initial styling, turn this down to around 370°F/187°C

Don’t be tempted to turn the temperature up to higher than you actually need. While it may seem as though it takes less time to straighten your hair, the damage that you will be causing to your hair in the long run is really not worth it!

Take a Look at Unique Features

Many flat irons come with unique features or added extras. While you shouldn’t necessarily let these have too much of an influence over which straightener you choose, they are still worth taking into account when making your decision.

If you frequently travel, look for a hair straightener that comes with a heat protective case. This can be placed over the top of hot plates to prevent them from burning items around them. You can also purchase these separately.

Do you often forget to turn your flat iron off after using it?

If so, a flat iron that features a sleep mode would be useful for you. This mode will automatically turn your flat iron off after a certain amount of time if they haven’t been used, making your life much safer.

Cord length can also be important for some. A long swivel cord will give you more flexibility, whereas a cordless flat iron would be more convenient for frequent travelers.

You Get What You Pay For

If you have been looking into the different hair straighteners out there, you have probably already noticed the huge difference in prices.

You may be tempted to go for the bargain hair straightener that claims to be able to do it all, but, just like with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

If a hair straightener is something that you barely use, then an inexpensive model may be all you need. However, you do still need to make sure that this is one that is suitable for your hair, in terms of everything from plate material to temperature settings to heat distribution. You should also be prepared for an inexpensive straightener to not be as sturdy and durable as the quality straighteners out there, and you may find that it breaks quite quickly.

If you use your hair straightener almost daily, or have hair that can be quite difficult to manage, then investing in a quality product is definitely worthwhile. This is a product that can last you for years if you treat it right, meaning that it will likely save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Of course, there are steps that you can take to prolong the life of your hair straightener. This is worth doing if you have invested in a quality product.

How can you prolong the life of your hair straightener?

Here are a few tips:

  • Turn it off after using it – this will prevent the excess heat and electricity from slowly deteriorating your flat iron
  • Store it properly – make sure that you give your flat iron enough time to cool down after turning it off, before you store it away. You should also avoid wrapping the cord around the iron, as the heat from the iron can damage the cord
  • Keep it clean – it doesn’t take long for a flat iron to end up with quite a bit of product build-up, along with dust, dirt and more. These not only transfer onto your hair each time you use your straightener, but also cause damage over time. Keep your hair straightener clean by rubbing it down with a damp cloth after each use 

With so many different flat irons out there, choosing which one to purchase can be quite tough. However, by deciding which of the above options would work best for your hair, you will be able to narrow down your options quite significantly, making it easy to find the perfect hair straightener for you.

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