Flat Iron Features To Look For
Adjustable Temperature Control
Flat irons come in a variety of options for controlling the temperature of their plates from a simple on/off switch found in some Chi models, a mid-range brand, to LCD screen programmable models made by Paul Mitchell and others. You should choose a straightener with the appropriate temperature control for your individual hair type. Some models offer a little more control with a three-way switch for low, medium, and high settings or a dial for even greater control. LCD programmable models offer the most control with more precise heat settings for a wider variety of hair types.
Irons with beveled edges protect against snagging and breakage while also preventing demarcation lines and wrinkles in your hair. This produces a much smoother look than models without them. Because the edges are curved and not straight, these irons can also be used for curling and creating waves. Most current models have beveled edges, but be on the lookout for any that don’t.
The most common plate sizes are between 1 and 1.5 inches wide, but they can also be found up to 3 inches wide. While the standard, smaller plate sizes will work for any hair type or length, they are usually best suited for shorter hair or for adding shine to hair that is already naturally straight. Models with wider plates can straighten larger areas of hair in less time than those with smaller ones, making them better suited for longer hair. This means you don’t have to hold the straightener as long to get the same results, saving you both time and effort. While smaller plates allow for curling as well, the wider plate models will make that a difficult task.
When you are focused on looking your best it can be easy to forget simple things like turning your flat iron off when finished. This safety feature automatically turns off your straightener 30 minutes to 2 hours after being turned on, preventing problems that can occur if accidentally left on for a more extended period while also helping to lengthen the life of your strengthener’s heating unit. This also makes it much safer if there are children in the house as well as helping to keep your power bill down.
This term “nano” is used to describe very small particles that are embedded into your flat iron’s plates, and is used to describe tourmaline. It is also used in combination with several other words related to plate materials. Nano-ceramic plates contain tiny ceramic particles to impart some of the qualities of ceramic into the plate, but are not considered salon quality. Plates containing nano-silver use the micro silver particles to inhibit bacterial growth that can accumulate on the plate surface. Nano-titanium oxide plates actually inhibit chemical buildup and odors. Both nano-silver and nano-titanium oxide plates straighten your clean hair with a non-contaminated iron. Nano-titanium plates have even heat distribution and add to hair shine with increased negative ion output.
Ionic Plates Charged With Negative Ions
Hair can be damaged from static electricity, chemical use and build-up from shampoo and other styling products, environmental pollutants, and from using excessive heat appliances such as hair straighteners and blow dryers. All of these cause a positive ion charge to build up in your hair. Ionic plates are soft, smooth, and charged with negative ions that are released during use to help prevent and repair damaged hair by locking in moisture to condition and protect. They also provide more balance to your hair and help eliminate static and frizz.
Far Infrared Rays
Infrared heat is an efficient and gentle way to heat hair. It penetrates your hair more evenly and deeply, keeping your hair straight for longer while also helping to restore good circulation. It also is a more direct, focused heat that directly heats one section without heating the entire area so that your hair is exposed to less heating overall thus potentially causing less heat damage.
The Paul Mitchell brand is sold in over 10,000 salons across the U.S. and offers a wide variety of products, from budget priced models to high end professional ones. They offer great features and many models employ the latest innovative technology. One of these is their express ion complex plate, which is a blend of silicon and ceramic that styles from the inside out providing hydration and conditioning for a frizz free result. One of their best selling models is the mid to high end Neuro Smooth flat iron. It has a 1.25 inch wide plate and heats up to 450°F in 30 seconds. Well known for their durability, all models come with a 2 year warranty.
Babyliss offers mid to high end straighteners, and is a very popular brand. Their titanium plates make them long lasting and durable products, but they can also tend to get overly hot on some occasions. With a wide variety of hair straighteners, Babyliss offers something for every hair type.
This brand is known for their ergonomically designed handles which give more comfort and additional control during use. Many of their products come in dual voltage models, 110V and 240V, for use in many different countries. They have adjustable temperature settings ranging from 140 to 450°F, and a quick cool down feature for faster storage after use. Many models also come with heat resistant gloves and a travel pouch.
Remington offers a variety of models for combating frizz and maintaining straightness. Many models feature digital controls with temperature lock, quickly reach the appropriate heat, floating plates, and auto shutoff all at a low to mid price range. They also offer cordless and wet to dry models.
Chi is a popular mid-range brand well known for its flash quick heating ability and 360° swivel power cords. They are famous for their versatile “all in one” ergonomic designs known for straightening, curling, and flipping. Some models offer only an on/off switch and no temperature control while the Chi Farouk Turbo 2 inch ceramic straightener has temperature setting from 176 to 356°F. They offer cordless models as well.
A readily available, budget brand, Conair offers a wide range of products including wet to dry and cordless models. The Infinity Pro has a true ceramic heater for instant, 15 second, heat up and recovery, and 30 heat settings. They have many models that come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, designs, and plate types. Some downsides related to this overall brand are the handles getting hot and snagging and pulling during use.
Revlon is an inexpensive and affordable option for flat irons and comes without the bells and whistles offered by other manufacturers, but also comes with some customer complaints. Straightening is a slower process with this brand while reports show that it gets much hotter than the maximum temperature claim and many times the highest heat setting is needed, making its use more likely to damage your hair.
Bellezza offers mid-range models in an assortment of colors, designs, and temperature settings. The Flat Iron Lumina is a dual voltage iron with settings from 140 to 450°F and comes in many colors. It uses microprocessors to monitor each plate to guarantee consistent even heat and far infrared technology for shiny smooth hair.
There are many other flat iron brands that are sold online, some good and some not so good. In the low to mid-range are the more affordable brands such as Andis, and also PYT, Solia, GVP, Hai, Croc, and Cortex. Also in this range is Herstyler which offers a popular titanium professional straightening and curling iron. On the higher end are brands such as Amika, Rusk, Brocato, KQC, Royale, and Jose Eber. FHI makes the Runway Flat Iron that is used by celeb stylists and is offered in the mid to high end price range.
Features of Professional & Commercial Flat Irons
Wet to Dry
Almost all hair straighteners require your hair to first be dry before starting the straightening process. Using a regular iron on wet hair can result in frizzed, and worse, burnt hair. Models that are labeled as Wet to Dry, such as some made by Remington and Conair, use steam to straighten damp, towel dried hair. This straightens your hair while drying it at the same time, saving you both time, effort, and subjecting your hair to less stress.
Chi, Conair, and Babyliss all make cordless models which are travel friendly and allow you to straighten while on the go. They have battery life range of 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the heat level required. These models are not recommended for thick, course or curly hair because they cannot provide sufficient heat to straighten these hair types. Conair has a portable, butane powered model as well.
Cord Length and Swivel
A longer cord length, sometimes known as salon length, will give you greater mobility allowing you to multi-task while using your flat iron. Also, twisting and tangling of the cord is a common issue when straightening your hair due to the sometimes, wide variety of movements involved. A professional flat iron model with a 360° swivel cord will prevent this from happening.
Color Lock Tech
Repeatedly coloring your hair, even if done by a professional, will lead to damaged hair. Irons with this feature are designed to specifically protect hair that is artificially colored. They help lock in hair color and prevent fading to maintain the original color that you wanted for a longer period of time.
Irons with the high end, Tri-Zone Technology contain six sensors embedded in their iron plates. These sensors give feedback to maintain a constant, accurate temperature which helps to prevent excessive heat exposure and aids in humidity protection.
Smart Sense Microchip
This feature is also found on the more high end professional flat irons and monitors the plate temperature, similar to the Tri-Zone models, but uses microchip technology to regulate and maintain perfect and even heat distribution. This leaves hair straight for longer and provides a smooth and shiny look all day without frizz.
If you have a tendency to clamp down fairly hard when straightening your hair then floating plates are like shock absorbers. These will always apply the right amount of pressure and help you to avoid demarcation lines and prevent pulling. If you can find a model in your price range with floating plates, they offer a more comfortable straightening experience while usually providing better results.
When searching for the best flat iron for your individual hair type, there are a few things you need to consider. The first, identifying your hair type. In general, fine, mostly straight hair requires low heat settings and narrow plates. This makes straightening and curling much easier while also getting as close to your root as possible. Fine, curly hair needs a wider range of heat settings along with narrow plates. When searching for the best flat iron for your thick, mostly straight hair, consider various heat settings and wide plates. Wide plates cover more area of your hair while decreasing time spent on styling. Thick, curly, and course hair will need a high temperature setting and wide plates as well.
Dry vs. Wet Hair
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user of flat irons, the easiest way to make sure your hair looks its best is to start out with clean/dry hair. Unless you have a hair straightener specifically made for use on wet hair, it can do more damage than good to try and straighten your hair while it is still damp, not to mention the instant frizz your hair will sustain.
Styling With A Flat Iron
When styling you hair, be sure to only work on small sections at a time. This allows for a better overall look because you can target specific areas such as the roots and tips of your hair. It is also important to find the heat setting best suited for you individual hair type. Beginning with the highest heat setting can lead to damaged and fried hair if you are not careful, so try starting out with a low temperature setting and working your way up until you find the ideal heat output for your preferred styling. Better to be safe than sorry!
More Than Just A Straightener
Did you know that you can use your hair straightener to curl, wave, flick, and crimp your hair? Easy to follow, how-to videos can readily be found on YouTube.com and many styling blogs. Narrow plates with rounded/beveled edges make these additional styling options much easier. When purchasing your flat iron, consider other styling techniques you will want to use it for and be sure the needed features are available on that model. Then make sure you also purchase hair spray to prolong you new bouncy style!
Conditioning Your Locks
While heat styling is a popular and a widely practiced way of achieving your best and favorite hairstyles, it can become a burden for your hair. Using regular moisturizing conditioners can lessen the amount of damage your hair will endure over time with the use of hair straighteners. There are many websites and blogs that offer home remedy deep conditioner recipes that can be less expensive than products purchased in a store. Some recipes include ingredients such as eggs, avocados, coconut oil, and other oils which are all great sources of natural hair protectants.
Take A Break
To help keep you hair as healthy as possible, it can be advantageous to take a break from heat styling every now and then. On days that don’t require you to have perfectly styled hair, try to avoid using your flat iron on those days. Instead, opt for a cute ponytail, french braid, or your natural curl. Not only does this help keep you hair healthy, but it also gives you a chance to experiment with other hairstyles.