A Review of the Top Flat Irons for Straightening Your Hair

The elusive flat iron that works?

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Beauty is a common topic among my friends and family. Pinterest and blog tutorials are frequently traded back and forth, all promising incredible results and boasting life-changing effects. While many of these endeavors turn out well, many end with my face and hair smeared in goo, awaiting grandeur. One popular topic of debate is the use of hair straighteners in creating smooth, sleek hair.

How do flat irons differ from other straightening methods?

Flat irons are, undoubtedly, useful hair styling tools, capable of creating sleek locks and bouncing curls alike. For those seeking straight, sleek hair, flat irons (also termed “straighteners”) typically do the trick. Straighteners differ from other straightening treatments such as permanents in several ways, including the duration of use and the endurance of the hairstyle. Unlike permanent treatments, hair straighteners may be used without the application of harmful, harsh chemicals, and may be used by novices and professionals alike; straighteners do not require previous experience, and are not as susceptible to failure as popular do-it-yourself straightening treatments. High quality straighteners may require an up-front investment, but ease of use easily justifies the price.

Who should use a straightener? How should they be used?

Using a hair straightener can be intimidating for the uninitiated. However, straighteners are easy to use, and can readily produce incredible results without the assistance of a professional stylist. Just as not all hair straighteners are created equal, not all flat iron products are made equal. When professionals use straighteners, they typically apply a heat-protectant spray, and use long, quick strokes. These techniques may be applied in one’s own home. An inexpensive heat protectant may be purchased from the local drugstore and applied sparingly to dry hair before straightening, resulting in a salon-fresh look.

Not all straighteners are created equal

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Many different materials are used to create flatirons, including ceramic and titanium. While both are considered higher-end materials, they do differ in some respects: while both ceramic and titanium are lauded for their heat conductivity, titanium irons are capable of producing higher heat levels faster, and are the go-to type of straighteners for professionals. Ceramic, conversely, does not transfer heat as quickly, resulting in a slower hair-styling routine. However, it should be noted that less heat results in a lower likelihood of damaging hair.

Selecting a hair straightener for your needs

When selecting a flat iron, it is best to seek out one made with either ceramic or titanium. Consumers should closely examine product details, however, to ensure that cheaper metals are not used as a base, then coated with ceramic or titanium; though these are effective for a short time and boast lower price points, the coating will chip away and expose weaker metals prone to damaging hair. Search for a straightener with adjustable heat settings and high quality materials.

The titanium straightener made by BaByliss Pro is a high quality iron made with titanium

The BaByliss Pro Titanium straightener is a high-quality titanium implement, praised for its size and durability. The BaBybliss Pro is created by the BaByliss Company, and is generally marketed to professional hair stylists. Because of this, these straighteners are typically only available in a salon, or a beauty supply store. Apart from this minor inconvenience, however, consumers rave about the product.

The BaByliss Titanium straightener is regarded as something of a miracle worker among women with long, thick, and curly hair; while many straighteners require several passes to sufficiently straighten a 1-inch section of hair, the Titanium Nano is reported as requiring only a single pass (at most, two passes) to create shining, sleek hair that is smooth to the touch in as little as 15 minutes. For women with difficult to manage hair, both curly and straight, this straightener is ideal.

Although many women find the BaByliss straightener to be of superior quality, some women do report difficulties, typically stemming from the shape of the plates. Because the plates are not entirely flat, but have a gentle curve, thin hair may fall out of the clamps easily, resulting in frustration and inconsistently straightened hair. Because of this, this straightener is best used on thick hair.

Apart from the occasional difficulty presented by the plates, the Nano Titanium straightener is a wonderful styling tool. Because it heats up quickly and delivers greater volumes of heat than other straighteners, consumers can more quickly and easily style hair, whether in long, straight strands or short, tight curls. For this reason alone, the Nano Titanium flat iron from BaByliss Pro is superior to numerous other brands on the market, particularly for women with thick and unmanageable hair.

How do ceramic straighteners compare?

 Remington is a brand based in Wisconsin, most commonly seen in Wal-Mart stores, though the brand may also be found in most drugstores. Due to its accessibility, Remington products are on the lower end of the spectrum, providing consumers with affordable styling tools. One such tool is the S8500 Shine Therapy Moisturizing and Conditioning Digital Ceramic Straightener. The straightener is reportedly infused with avocado and vitamin E, conditioning and strengthening hair as it is applied.

Users report a high degree of satisfaction when using the Remington S8500 flat iron. The device’s controls are simple and easy to use, the plates heat up quickly, and it performs its job effectively and efficiently. Because it boasts a drugstore price rather than a salon price, the Remington S8500 is identified as an excellent straightener for all hair types and budgets. It is easy to use, and smooths and straightens hair with minimal tension and damage.

Despite its benefits, the S8500 does have some drawbacks. The greatest source of discomfort for some users is the location of the straightener’s controls. Because the controls are on the outside of the device, some users found that their palms changed the dials during use. Others found that the plates heated adequately, but were too hot to the touch on the outside, forcing users to straighten or curl one-handed. Fortunately, these are minor difficulties that can be worked around through consistent use and the implementation of the device’s “lock” feature.

The Remington S8500 Digital Ceramic Straightener is an excellent purchase for those with difficult hair and a tight budget. The straightener provides users with a conditioning treatment and styling tool in one, providing adequate heat and long-lasting use.

The Verdict

Straighteners are an ever-popular styling tool, used by people at home as well as paid stylists. Flat irons are versatile in their functions, as they are able to create straight hair, as well as wavy and curly hair. For this reason, high quality hair straighteners are much sought after products. Because countless brands and models are available, at a wide variety of price points, consumers should keep the following in mind when searching for a straightener:

  • Always look for “100%” or “pure” regarding straightener materials. Without these buzzwords, companies may construct straighteners with cheap metal coated in more expensive materials.
  • Conduct research. Talk to family members and friends and read reviews to determine which straightener is right for your needs.
  • Don’t be afraid to try out a straightener and return it if necessary. If a straightener does not meet your needs, return it and keep searching.
  • Use heat protectants when possible.
  • Finally, read all product warnings and information to get the most out of your device.

Using these tips, searching for and using a hair straightener will be a pleasant experience, and will drastically improve day-to-day routines.

Flat Out Gorgeous

I have always peered enviously at the gorgeous, stick-straight luxurious hair on models in magazines. My own hair is very wavy (to put it kindly) and not in the good way. I have tried blow-drying my hair straight and using giant rollers, but that takes forever and was never just right. Finally, I turned to a flatiron. Well, several of them. Let me save you the angst of burning your hair, your hand and throwing good money after bad by giving it to you straight (pun intended) about the best hair straighteners on the market.

Fast Flat Facts

First, a little hair straightening iron terminology to get you orientated. The first flatirons on the market were very basic and the best way to singe your hair and burn your lip (long story…) They are available in drugstores for about $30, have metal plates that cannot conduct heat evenly and will pull on your hair as you try to straighten it. Do not buy this kind.

  • Ceramic – heat is conducted through ceramic plates very evenly and usually does not pull when you slide it down your strands. They produce negative ions, which seal the hair shaft and help repair frizzy, damaged hair. There are lots of different models and styles to choose from in a variety of prices for any budget.
  • Titanium – These are what you’ll find being used in most salons because they heat up with lightening speed and are the most durable. They are very lightweight, heat evenly and work quickly on almost all types of hair.
  • Tourmaline – These hair straighteners include the gem, tourmaline, which is ground up and mixed with the ceramic on the plates creating negative ions to seal the hair shaft and to make it look smooth and shiny looking.

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My review will be of each kind of flat iron to give you an idea what one might work best for your hair, and budget and offer a decent hair-straightening alternative to chemicals.

Onei MK-I Halo Ceramic

The best ceramic coated flat iron I have found is the Onei MK-I Halo Ceramic. It heats up fairly fast and there is a handy temperature gauge so you know when it’s ready to use. The floating ceramic plates (layers of ceramic coating) give a little (floats) making styling easier and causing less damage to the hair shaft. It produces negative ions, which seal up the hair shaft for smooth shiny locks.

The Onei MK-I has a long cord that swivels for convenience and an auto shut off. If like me, you have poor time management skills, having a flat iron that heats up fast and then shuts its self off after 30 minutes when you fly out the door and only remember you left it on when you’re trapped in rush hour traffic, is a handy safety feature.

The Onei MK-I is great for most hair types, thick, and African-American and there are a lot reviews from users to back that up. It can take a lot more work on really thick hair that has a lot of damage, so you’ll need to evaluate that before you buy. The biggest negative about this flat iron is that the on/off button is easily because of where it’s placed and gets pretty hot to handle and will burn your hand if you grab it near the end of the styling plates.

Overeall the Onei-MK hair straightener is pretty versatile for flat styling, flipping and curling and it’s safe to use if you’ve had a Brazilian keratin treatment, or any other kind of chemical hair straightening process. For the price (around $100) it’s a good value with a 4-year warranty included.

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium

The straightening iron of choice for most salons is titanium. The reason being is they heat up super fast and are more durable than those with pure ceramic plates (which are very easy to crack or break) with a long swivel cord making them easy to us in a salon setting.

The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1” Ultra Thin Flat Iron is a top selling titanium hair straightener. It heat up within a minute and has extra long (5 inch) plates so you can get more hair between them and do the job quicker.  It gets up to 450 degrees with an adjustable temperature gauge.

If you have thick course hair this is an okay flat iron. However, I found this model to be frustrating because you have to push a button every time you want to turn it on, and the design of the plates can make it hard for those with thinner hair to keep it in place and it will fall out easily because of a slight gap in the plates at the top.

The BaByliss is usually sold for $130 (so moderately priced) but I’ve seen it on sale for around a $100 and it does have a (very) limited 4-year warranty. Is it safe to use in conjunction with chemical hair straightening products? Who knows? There is not a lot of information about that so if you have chemically treated hair this could be a risky buy.

Last word of caution: beware of fakes. The BaBylissPRO Nano should arrive packaged tightly with instructions. If it does not, it’s a knock-off.

Paul Mitchell ProTools Express

Another top-selling flat iron is the Paul Mitchell ProTools Express Ion Smooth Iron (1.25’). It’s the priciest of the three because it has solid ceramic plates that conduct heat very well. It is exceptionally easy to use, efficiently straightening with less passes down your strands to get them stick straight and tame frizz.

There are some disadvantages to the Paul Mitchell hair straightening iron, though. It does not have auto shut off so don’t store it near tissues or a towel in case you forget to unplug it. Some like the eight -foot cord, I think it’s a bit much in a small bathroom.

As for user reviews, the Paul Mitchell ProTools Express gets a lot of high marks. It’s safe to use on all types of hair, works well on African-American hair and is particularly adept at giving you smooth, straight and shiny hair very quickly. Ceramic plates are pretty fragile, so be sure to unplug and store it away when it’s cool, in a drawer or something because it cracks easily if knocked on the floor. I know this from painful, real world experience.

CHI and CHI Home

Chi-Turbo-Ceramic-Flat-Iron-Regular-1-Inch-Hair-Straightener-1-500x500-300x300The best tourmaline flat iron is probably the CHI. Unfortunately you can only buy the original one designed for the pros to use in salons from an authorized dealer (Ulta,Trade Secret or salons listed on manufactures website).  The CHI Home line of flat irons (reviewed here) can be purchased in many places like Target and off Amazon.

The CHI basic (CHI Home products) tourmaline hair straightener has a nice sized area (1.5’) for flattening hair and usually one pass for thinner hair two for thicker more course hair.  With a swivel cord it’s easy to use and does not snag or pull hair and glides along smoothly evenly straightening your hair with one or two passes of the straightener.

The Verdict

So for the final verdict on what flat iron I recommend; I’m going with the Onei MK-I. It’s a good value for the investment, easy and quick to use, durable, with auto shut-off feature and 4-year pretty comprehensive warranty. I found it to heat up fast, get the job done with fewer passes than my previous straightener and versatile to use for a variety of styles. If you have had Brazilian Keratin treatment it’s still safe to use and will keep your strands smoother and straighter longer.

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