UPDATED, December, 2018
You are a smart girl and you like that clean look that straight hair gives you. To get “the look” a good hair straightener is a must. I’ll try to help you choose the best through reviews, comparisons and by interviewing some of the well-known names in the hairstyling and fashion industry.
The problem is – these days it’s hard to know what’s true quality and what’s a waste of money.
That’s where I step in.
An all-inclusive guide that will help you find the hair straightener that’s just right for your hair and has the quality to last for years.
I was a hair styling competition judge for over 5 years and I know my stuff. So, from this point on, think of me as your industry insider.
Enough chit-chat, let’s get to work.
Ultimate guide to the best hair straightener:
|HSI Professional 1 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron||Home Use & Pro||4.9|
|Onei MK-I Halo Ceramic Flat Iron||Home Use & Pro||4.7|
|Millennium Model TS-2||Pro||4.8|
So, let me take a moment and explain what I am looking for when reviewing and rating a hair straightener.
I’ll do my best to keep it simple.
I’ve personally worked with a number of these babies, and I have seen hundreds of people work with different brands, types of plates, types of handles and I know exactly what can bring you that smooth silky look.
By the end of this page, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing, so that you can make a good investment in a quality piece and avoid spending a fortune at salons over the next few years or more.
Honorable mentions – digest reviews
GHD Candy Collection
This GHD baby really sets the bar high, especially when it comes to looks. But it’s quality lives up to the expectations as well.
Let’s see why:
It looks so good that you might get the urge to eat it once you get your hands on it. It comes in 4 beautiful colors: purple, classic mint and classic lemon (or bright yellow if you prefer).
It does say professional in the name, but the price makes it available for home use, especially if you can find it discounted.
So, what’s so good about it?
The plates, as we talked, make or break a product. This GHD has high quality ceramic/tourmaline combination that works amazingly fast with almost zero damage to the hair. It makes a very practical travel sidekick wherever you travel because it features universal voltage.
Very safe to use because it automatically shuts off if not used for 30 minutes. One of the longest cords I’ve seen in a hair iron (9.5 feat) for freedom while styling your hair to perfection. The materials used are all high end and that’s why GHD had no problems backing this baby with a full 2 year warranty.
But let’s simplify things so that you can fully understand what makes this hair straightener one of the best.
Think of it this way:
The high-end materials remove the static effectively and inject your hair with moisture. Again, because of the materials that release more active ions, it takes less time to get the job done, so your hair is exposed to less heat for a shorter period. That’s the secret behind the unique silky shine you get with this straightener. Simple.
And one last thing – I know colleagues that have had it for years, and they say it’s practically indestructible.
George Clooney of hair straighteners, this one’s a real looker. So slick and fancy, you would think that it can’t be that good when things get serious.
You would be wrong. This eye candy packs some serious heath. It’s a work of art to balance design and quality like ISO did with this piece.
It’s ultra-modern, ultra-weight, ultra everything…
This baby is part of the Turbo Series and features a nice big LED screen, so that you are in control at all times. The temperatures are, of course, adjustable in a wide range and the products has a 1 year warranty. Pretty good at that price.
In my opinion, one of the 3 best value/price balance in the market today.
This one is my favorites. I am using it and loving every second of it. I just haven’t seen that kind of speed and shiny end results with any other iron I’ve used.
The secret behind the awesomeness of this Paul Mitchell is something they really like to brag about. They call it Express Ion Complex. Without getting technical here, this means that the material used releases ions more readily than the other models, which speeds up the straightening. The plates are solid ceramic.
The EIC system also helps eliminate the static better and that, combined with the beveled edges of the plates, makes for a smoother “sailing” through the hair. The result is shinny, healthy-looking hair because of more moisture getting into your strands.
There’s one more thing about this iron that I haven’t seen anywhere else – the plates are infused with silicone grips. That also adds to how smoothly the iron moves through your hair.
And, yes, let’s not forget the fact that the product is made in the USA, “head to toe”.
“CHI” It’s a fun word to say, don’t you think?
But whoever made this CHI had more than fun on his mind when making this iron.
Strong and sturdy, this piece is built to last. They even added a water resistant finish to the design that adds to its lifespan (no, when I say water resistant here I don’t mean that you can use it on wet hair, it just means that the material doesn’t get damaged by water).
Extremely budget friendly for the quality it provides. Big bang for your buck.
As we’ve seen with all of the best products, each of them has a unique approach to making the iron go through hair as smoothly as possible to minimize the damage. This CHI item has one of those unique design approaches too. The plates are actually “floating”. This means that they give in a little when you catch a forelock.
Comes in 4 modern colors: fire red, deep black, pink and purple.
The handle is designed so that:
- it allows for a better grip of the hair
- makes the grip gentler
No, these two do not conflict because the moment the plates rich a thicker spot in the lock, they give in a little. Very Smart.
CHI is one of my personal favorites in hair iron brands. They brag about “15 Hour Humidity Protection” which, simply put, means that your hair will not get frizzy.
I talked to a friend of mine who is using this this straightener every day, and she says that it’s more like 10-12 hours. OK, they might be exaggerating with the 15 hours claim, but 10-12 hours is great, way above average.
Best value for money, no doubt about it – professional quality for the price of a home use hair straightener.
What to look for in a hair straightener – what gives you a real bang for the buck and what’s a waste of money.
Criterion 1: Plate materials used in the straightener
It’s all about the materials and the technology. You might think that girl at the salon works some kind of magic on your hair, but most of the work is done by the technology in her hands.
Why is this?
Because what straightens your hair are the negative ions that the materials used in the plates produce. Quality materials are highly efficient at producing these ions and they do so over a prolonged period.
The plates are made of ceramic, titanium, tourmaline or a combination of these.
But here’s the catch – when some of these sellers say that the material is ceramic they really mean “ceramic coated”, so always read the fine print. This coating wears of much more easily, but that’s not the main thing to worry about it.
The important thing is that the plates that are simply coated with ceramics will chip and damage your hair, while the solid ceramic ones are gentler to your hair. I am very strict about this when reviewing and rating a straightener. It’s simply because I know what kind of damage it can do to your hair as the ceramic coating thins, and your hair is exposed to 100% aluminum.
So, go for solid.
Now, with solid plates we have the options to choose between titanium and ceramic plates.
When should you choose a ceramic straightener?
Very straightforward – unless you have a thick, healthy, coarse head of hair, choose ceramics every time. They maintain high temperatures and have a very good distribution of heath so it will do minimal damage to your hair.
The solid ceramic plates are more expensive than the coated ones, but believe me when I say this that the difference in price fades when you really understand what’s going with your hair when you use the coated plates.
Solid ceramic plates are also good for thick and undamaged hair, while titanium is a bad idea for weak and fine hair.
When to go with titanium plates?
Using a flat iron (hair straightener) with titanium plates is only a good idea if you have a thick, healthy hair that’s otherwise difficult to straighten. The titanium has a much higher ionic output and is thus more aggressive.
If you have fine or damaged hair, titanium is not a good idea. In case you have that old titanium plates straightener that you just refuse to give up and want to continue using it on your fine hair, always use it at the lowest setting.
What’s tourmaline and how does it fit the story?
Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone that is crushed and added to titanium or ceramics to reduce friction.
That’s why plates infused with tourmaline are ideal for coarse hair. The reduced friction will give you that sleek locks.
When to use a straightener for metal plates?
Criterion 2: Plate Size
Go with a wider plate if you have long, strong hair (go for plates of 1.5 inch or more). The irons that are 1 inch and below are good if you have fine silky hair.
Criterion 3: Temperature control
Go with a hair iron that has adjustable temperature levels. This is even more important to have in mind if your hair is weak or damaged. Uncontrolled temperature can split your ends.
So, these are the three crucial criteria simplified. Going into more detail here would just confuse you and after all, that’s why I made this website, to do the research so that you don’t have to.
Criterion 4: Not all ions are created equal
So we got our basics straight. What’s doing the straightening are the ions. But it gets more complicated than this.
The surface of your iron will release different ratios of active vs. passive ions. That’s why you get different results with different products that seem to be created equal. Different kinds of ceramics and titanium release different number of active ions, which actually penetrate the hair strand and fight static. The more of these active ions, the more moisture is transported back into your hair to make it shiny and silky.
Let me say it again so that it sticks – the best hair straighteners/hair irons will launch the most active ions.
This is kind of the industry NOSTRUM (hidden knowledge).
But how do I know which one of the irons releases more active ions?
You can’t know. Not really. Yes, you can read the label, and it can even say something about the active ions (it rarely does) but you can’t know whether the claims on the label are correct or just advertising. You would have to have the experience and to have seen these products in action or know how to read between the lines when reading someone else’s reviews.
Again, that’s why I am here, and that’s why this website is here, to decode this puzzle. I’ve actually either seen in action or personally used most of the products I review.The ones I haven’t, I have colleagues to phone and ask. If that doesn’t work, I can do the research, read reviews and find for some specific things that would tell me if the product is good enough in the active ions arena.
If that fails, I don’t review the product. As simple as that.
The bottom line here is that, if you see a product reviewed on my website, rest assured that I know it’s true face, not just the one described on the label.
Moving on to some other frequently asked questions about flat irons.
Can you use a straighener on a wet or damp hair?
No, unless otherwise stated on the box. You will fry your hair beyond recognition. For a flat iron to be used, the hair would have to be completely dry.
The hair straighteners that can be used on wet or damp hair are a rare breed, and it’s always stressed on box and in the specifications of the product. If in doubt, don’t do it.
By this point, I hope you are getting a good feel on what this website is all about. It’s about helping you choose a good product. When I say “good” I don’t just mean a high quality product, but one that will be just right for your hair.
But that’s not where the story ends. It’s a one stop shop.
Apart from the detailed reviews of hair straighteners. You’ll find comprehensive articles on things like:
- how to use a straightener to curl your hair
- best brands
- best hair straightening creams
- best hair straightening oils
- how to keep your hair straight longer
- and much more…
Let’s get really specific now, and take a look at my choices for top 5 ceramic and top 5 titanium hair straighteners.
That’s pretty much it for this main guide, gals.
I always keep this page freshly updated so that you can be sure you are only getting fresh info.
Take care of yourself and your hair,