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How to Choose the Best Flat Iron

Updated on September 13, 2011
Searching for a flat iron made easy.
Searching for a flat iron made easy.

No matter what your hair type, chances are that you have a flat iron in your collection of hair tools. If you don’t or if you’re in the market for a new one, keep reading to find out factors to consider when deciding on a flat iron to purchase.

Hair Type

Do you have super curly hair? Is your hair fine? Is your hair thick? When choosing a flat iron, it is important to consider your hair type. Your hair type will determine the heat settings needed for your flat iron, the type of flat iron that will suit you best and the ideal size of the plates.

Heat Settings

Hair Type
Temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit)
 
Fine or damaged hair
250 - 300
 
Normal (Not too dry, not too curly, not too fine, generally healthy)
300 - 375
 
Super curly, coarse, thick hair
375 – 450
 

As a general rule, avoid damaging excessive heat to your hair shaft. Always work from the lowest heat setting to the highest heat setting in your range. More expensive flat irons have heat settings that vary from 260 degrees F to 450 degrees F. Inexpensive flat irons have the “on and off” position or basic high, medium and low settings. If you need high heat or really low heat, opt for a flat iron with more heat options. If you have normal hair (lucky you!), you may be able to do without the detailed heat options.

Plate Material

Ceramic, tourmaline, titanium, and kryptonite . . .Okay, well, maybe not kryptonite (yet), but flat iron technology is constantly evolving.

According to Folica.com, the leader in online flat iron sales, “ceramic plates disperse heat evenly for fast, safe styling. It seals cuticles to lock in moisture and leave hair smooth and shiny.”

Tourmaline, according to Folica.com, is a crushed gemstone in the plates of the flat iron. Tourmaline increases negative ions that balance hair to drastically reduce static and frizz.

Titanium flat irons evenly heats hair with a high ionic output, so the plates on a titanium flat iron get hair shinier & sleeker.

This all being said, professional flat irons may be more costly, but the quality is often better. More of the ceramic, tourmaline and/or titanium material is used in the plates. Some more basic flat irons only have ceramic coating on the plates that may wear off over time.

There is no drastic difference between ceramic, titanium and tourmaline flat irons. Ceramic flat irons are more common, followed by tourmaline and titanium.

Size

The main difference between 1”, 1.5” and 2” (increasingly rare) flat irons is maneuverability. In general, short to medium hairstyles do best with the 1-1.5” flat irons and longer hairstyles (considerably below the shoulders) do well with 2” flat irons. Honestly, unlike other things in life, size doesn’t really matter as much as you think.

Price

How much money are you willing to spend on finding the best flat iron for your hair type? Flat irons range from $15.00 to $300 USD. As discussed, the less expensive flat irons have less flexibility in terms of temperature settings and may have ceramic, tourmaline or titanium coatings on the plates. Over time, these plates wear faster than the higher end flat irons. Flat irons that are below $60 may be ideal for short-term use on normal hair.

If you have anything but normal hair, you may want to opt for a mid-range ($60-$150) or high-end professional ($150+) flat iron. If you can afford it, make the investment. These flat irons last longer and are less damaging to your hair.


Other considerations

  • Curved flat irons are great for flipping and curling your hair. Flat irons that are straight on the edges will create dents in your hair if you try to curl the ends.
  • An automatic shut off is a great feature to look for in a flat iron, especially if you’re anything like me and forget to turn things off. (Much to your boyfriend’s chagrin.)
  • Make sure that the ceramic plates go to the edge of the flat iron so your hair does not get caught or snagged in the space between the plates and the edge. This causes hair breakage.
  • Use a heat protective spray or conditioner before blow-drying or flat ironing your hair. This will not only protect your hair from excessive heat damage, but also give your hair a nice slick look.


Comments

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    • profile image

      Mary Ask 

      6 years ago

      The best flat iron I've ever used is the Karmin G3 Salon Pro with ceramic tourmaline plates to avoid damages, it heats up really quick and leaves my hair soft, shiny and super straight. I bought it at safrons.

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