The 10 Best Hair Straighteners
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in May of 2015. If you don't always want your hair to be as wavy as it is naturally, you can cut down on your morning routine significantly with one of these efficient straighteners. Incorporating tourmaline and ionic technology, they will give you that silky smooth, flat iron effect quickly. Whether your locks are thick, thin, or frizzy, there is a reliable option on this list that will work for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 05, 2021:
In this update, we removed the GVP Digital and Babyliss Pro BP9561 due to availability issues, and removed the Karmin G3 because of issues with its heating element being unreliable.
New to the list, the Rusk W8less is a lightweight option that's comfortable to hold and durable enough for everyday use. If you want to invest in a high quality option, this one is worth considering. Its sleek white design should look at home either in a salon or on a bathroom counter.
We added the Tymo Ring to provide an alternative to the traditional flat iron design. Using two plates to heat hair from both sides is effective, but it can also be damaging for certain hair types. This brush design is gentler while still providing enough heat to get results, and it helps you detangle as you go.
The Kipozi Titanium has a digital screen that makes it easy to know what temperature you've set it to. The way that its controls are laid out makes a certain degree of sense: the on/off switch is tucked away inside so you can't hit it accidentally and its temperature buttons are within easy reach so you can adjust on the fly. However, many don't like having to open the straightener up to reach the power switch and find it too easy to accidentally alter the temperature. Note that this one also tends to get hot in the area on the outside of the plates, so be careful while using it.
As with any device that is designed to get hot, hair straighteners should always be used with caution and should never be left unattended while turned on.
January 18, 2020:
This update sees the arrival of two cheery bright yellow models from popular brands. The Bed Head Attention Grabber delivers high-quality performance at a relatively low price. This user-friendly choice is equipped with purple grippy dots on the handle and a six-foot swivel cord. It offers three heat settings, which makes it suitable for all types of hair. For a highly portable model, look to the Drybar Tiny Tress Press, which, thanks to its small design, is able to reach close to your roots, as well as your bangs and any short layers around your face. It comes with a trendy travel pouch bearing its logo, which doubles as a heat protection pad. (For more options that are easy to use on the go, see our list of best travel size flat irons.)
The best-selling HSI Glider can dramatically help even the coarsest of hair, and tens of thousands of happy users sing its praises. It’s easy to use and is equipped with a protective glove, silk storage pouch, and a packet of leave-in conditioner. Its plates are designed with ceramic and tourmaline to create a smooth, shiny finish in less time. What makes the BaBylissPro Nano stand out from the crowd is its edge-to-edge plates that help you reach your scalp more easily than most other models, so you can straighten your entire head of hair. It heats up in under 30 seconds and provides a handy light-up screen that shows your selected temperature setting.
No matter which one you choose, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, so as not to burn or dry out your hair. Don’t clamp down too hard, as this can cause hair damage, and never use these tools on wet or damp hair. For safety’s sake, be sure to keep hot flat irons out of children’s reach.
Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush This brush features a pretty pink, yet edgy, design and will help you achieve a sleek style with little effort. It can instantly create smooth hair in a single stroke, thanks to its double negative ion technology. Its ceramic bristles feature nylon cool-tips that penetrate the hair cuticle, heating from the inside out. This results in hair that’s heated in half the time of conventional methods, which reduces the risk of damage. Its LCD interface allows for precise setting and monitoring of the temperature up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and an auto shutoff means no power will be wasted and you won’t have to worry whether you turned it off before leaving the house. loveamika.com
It's All in the Materials
You'll come across references to ionic, infrared, and nano technology.
Flat irons may get the kinks out of your hair, but trying to distinguish among them -- to attempt an intelligent purchase decision -- can threaten to tangle your mind! A quick review of packaging reveals numerous heady claims -- and a long list of materials and techniques. You'll find the terms ceramic, tourmaline, and ceramic tourmaline. You'll come across references to ionic, infrared, and nano technology. What does it all mean, and why does any of it matter? Below is an attempt at explanation, along with some common-sense cautions.
The term ceramic refers to plate material. According to product manufacturers, ceramic plates distribute heat more evenly. Therefore, even at higher temperatures, so they say, a ceramic flat iron will be kinder to the hair than, for instance a stainless steel tool. Some industry professionals insist ceramic plates heat the hair "from the inside." Other stylists claim ceramic plates offer a more intense heating experience and are therefore more likely to damage hair. Whose advice you'll accept depends upon your inclination.
Here's the rub: Some lower-priced irons offer a ceramic coating over metal plates. You'll get some of the benefits of ceramic material when the product is new. But over time, the coating can chip off which can lead to uneven heat distribution. Irons that are made of solid ceramic are more costly but both the product and the even-heat benefits will last longer.
Titanium became a preferred material in a range of consumer products - including eyeglass frames -- in the 1980s and 1990s. In flat irons, according to manufacturers, titanium plate coating allows the plates to pass through the hair more smoothly. This helps cut down on frizz and reduce damage, so the claim goes. Titanium plates are also lightweight, heat quickly and retain heat well, making them great for traveling...or just taking to work!
Tourmaline -- yep, the gemstone, ground for industrial use -- helps make the plates of a flat iron smoother, discouraging snags and therefore, damage. Some claim tourmaline also helps the iron maintain heat longer. Tourmaline is typically used in combination with ceramic material. Most of all, tourmaline generates negative ions which help keep moisture in the hair. It also allows for greater shine. Tourmaline, therefore, leaves your hair healthier -- and shinier than other materials.
Ionic packaging claims may be a bit misleading here. There is no specific "technology" that is "ionic." It's just that tourmaline as a material produces negative ions. So if your plates are coated with tourmaline, you'll get the positive benefit of those ions, namely less frizz and "poufiness."
Infrared technology allows heat to penetrate the cortex of the hair, according to manufacturer claims, without negatively affecting hair's structure. Infrared rays also allow the cuticle to lay more flat. It all adds up to less frizz and less damage.
According to flat iron product materials, nanotechnology amounts to creating billions of particles from a single particle. This helps improve the performance and functionality of any material. In flat irons, nano technology may be applied to any number of coatings. Sometimes, even silver is added to another coating, like ceramic, to buttress performance and create more shine in the hair.
So there you have it. An exhaustive (whew!) review of materials and technologies.
Hair-Altering Implements: Centuries of Conceit
Even ancient Egyptian ladies heated flat iron plates over a fire to straighten their tresses. But it was not until the 19th century that Europeans devised instruments to alter their natural hair texture. Sometime in the 1870s, Frenchman Marcel Grateau -- working in the slums of Paris-- crafted a pair of hinged rods. Heating them and applying them to hair acted to alter its native look. Marcel's iron could be used not only to straighten but also to crimp the hair. Believe it or not, Marcel's early clients were prostitutes. All the same, the craze for the marcelled look went into overdrive and lasted nearly 50 years!
All the same, both Grateau's and Schofield's implements often led to injury -- burns on the scalp, face, neck, -- as well as the singeing of the hair.
The next advance emerged from the very top of society when, about 40 years later, an Englishwoman named Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield developed her own tool, quite similar in design to that of Grateau. The plates were attached to longer handles, the better to keep the hot metal of the irons away from the face. All the same, both Grateau's and Schofield's implements often led to injury -- burns on the scalp, face, neck, -- as well as the singeing of the hair.
Some historians report when you entered a middle-class English home in the 1920s, the smell of burned hair was an unfortunate reality. One of the chief drawbacks of these early tools was lack of temperature control. Users could estimate how long to leave the iron in the fire, but no one could ever be sure of its actual temperature.
Fast-forward to the 1950s when women in the U.S. literally used a clothes pressing iron to straighten their hair on an ironing board. Awkward, yes -- and of course, dangerous. One false move and burns to the ears, face, hands or neck could result.
Today's flat irons are not only more convenient, but safer than the early tools. Temperature control is a major improvement. In addition, manufacturers are using materials that are kinder to hair than exposed metal.
Keeping Tresses Healthy
Even though today's high-tech flat irons offer a lot more in the way of safety and efficacy than their primitive forebears, let's face it. You're still applying hundreds of degrees of heat directly to your hair. To keep your tresses healthy, look toward these common-sense safety rules:
Adjust the heat to suit your hair type. Ideally, you'll choose an iron with temperature-specific heating controls. But even if your iron includes only a range of settings from very low to very high, you still need to consider how best to keep your hair from becoming damaged.
Coarser hair typically requires higher heat to get and keep strands straight.
Straightening hair amounts to breaking down the hydrogen bonds that result in your natural curls or waves. The curlier the hair, the stronger the bonds. The stronger the bonds, the more heat you'll need.
The general guideline is that if you have fine hair, you should use lower temps. Coarser hair typically requires higher heat to get and keep strands straight.
Minimize the number of passes. This goes hand-in-hand with temperature selection. If you choose the right amount of heat, you won't need to go over the hair more than a few times to get it straight. Each time you pass the flat iron over a section, you run the risk of heightening damage.
Keep the number of uses per week to a minimum. Fond though you may be of straight hair, experts recommend using a flat iron no more than once or twice a week. More frequent use than that can lead to serious, and sometimes, permanent damage to your strands.
Use a heat protectant. Store shelves abound with products that are intended to protect your hair from heat. It's wise to use some form of protectant each time you blow-dry or flat-iron.
Deep condition, especially if you use heat styling tools regularly. How often depends on the original texture and condition of your hair.