Everyone hates bad hair days. Today hair has become a mirror of ourselves – if our hair looks like a mess, at least I get frustrated, give up and just throw my hair into a ponytail just to be done with it. As a mother of a three-year old I have to be able to get going with my day in a hurry. At least with a hair straightener, I don't need to worry about blow drying my hair with a round brush. I just take my hair with a quick swoop and in 5 minutes, I am ready to go.
These days, we can't live without a hair straightener. It can help style our hair from tired and messy to ready to conquer our day or a night out. This is a quick guide to hair irons for the look you need.
What Is A Hair Iron?
You know how you use irons to take out the crimples from your clothes before going out of the house? That’s exactly what a flat iron does for you – only instead of straightening your clothes, it straightens your hair.
It turns you from the random Jen walking down the street to the hot Jennifer going down the catwalk.
There are several types or hair straighteners that you can go for:
Curling is also a form of hair straightening – only instead of making your hair go into a direct streak, you’re making it go in curls.
Curls are something that will never go out of fashion; unfortunately, however, our hair is not as nice as to offer us that dreamy Hollywood look without a fight.
As a result, the curling iron may just be our only weapon.
Crimping irons are something in the middle of flat irons and curling irons; they don’t make your hair curly, but don’t leave it technically straight either.
A crimping iron has two ridged plates that will allow your hair to have a (purposefully) crimped look. It will leave waves in your hair that are small, but smooth – similar to a saw tooth.
Depending on the straightener that you use, the waves can be either big or small.
This is the classical hair straightener that everyone uses. It removes every natural curve from your hair, leaving it silky-smooth and straight.
How Does A Hair Straightener Work?
To understand how hair straighteners work, you first need to know how hair works. Basically, our hair is formed by numerous molecules and bonds that keep its shape in the same position.
We have sulfur atoms, amino acids, and keratin chains teaming up into disulphide bonds to make sure our hair strands looking strong and mighty, without changing their shape.
Those disulphide bonds are, however, very troublesome when it comes to styling your hair – especially if your hair shape is something that does not seem to be of this world.
As a result, the hair straightener uses high temperatures to break those disulphide bonds. They “confuse” the hair molecules and make them change position, therefore temporarily modifying the shape of your hair.
How Is A Hair Straightener Built?
Hair straighteners are built in various shapes and sizes, depending on the result that you want to achieve. Each straightener has two plates that will receive heat that will encompass and flatten your hair.
Depending on the material, each of those plates will have a different effect on your hair.
Ceramic coated flat irons are perhaps some of the most common ones on the market – at least for those looking for the cheapest of the better options. They are good for every type of hair, but they may not work for overly-thick hair.
Since it’s only coated with ceramic, you may not get the same straightening power. As a result, you’ll have to run it over your hair strand for multiple times – which will result in damage to your hair.
These hair straighteners are mostly recommended for fine hair.
If you have normal to damaged hair, solid ceramic is definitely the best type of hair straightener. These hair straighteners will heat up faster than your regular ceramic coated ones and will keep the heat at a constant temperature.
It’s one of the most popular plate types since it delivers good results without doing too much damage to your hair.
Like ceramic coatings, Teflon is good for those who have fine hair. The coating is smooth, which ensures very low friction between the plates and your hair – delivering therefore smooth, straight hair without breaking the hair molecules.
A Teflon hair straightener is also very easy to clean, and it prevents the buildup of styling products – making it a good option if you tend to smother your hair with hairspray, wax, or mousse.
Tourmaline is great for people with dry, frizzy hair. The plates made from this type of gemstone will generate negative ions, locking the moisture in and removing the frizz.
A tourmaline hair straightener will also offer you a shiny finish – something that every lady with dry and frizzy hair is dreaming of.
Titanium flat irons are lightweight but strong. They will heat up fast and provide even heat throughout the entire plate, offering you a nice, silky finish.
Titanium plates are the “strongest of the strong,” and the heat they provide is fairly high, making it the best hair straightener for thick hair.
It will go deep into the hair molecule and successfully straighten your hair, making sure that it will stay that way for the rest of the day.
If you have dry hair, then silicone straighteners are exactly the thing for you. When your hair is already as dry and damaged as it is, the last thing you’ll want is for your hair to become even more damaged.
A silicone straightener will work similarly to a tourmaline one, protecting your hair from damage and removing the frizz from your hair. They may be fairly pricey, but according to hair straightener reviews, they are completely worth it.
You may also find straighteners made from metal and glass; however, those are the ones that you’ll want to steer clear of. These will cause friction to your hair and damage it, making you need a trim after every hair straightening session.
If you thought that a hair straightener is “just a hair straightener,” you were completely mistaken. Flat irons use various technologies, each designed for different types of hair – but all focused on its protection.
Here are the main technologies that you’ll come across when it comes to flat irons:
The ionic hair straightener will release negative ions with the purpose of dissipating the water. They charge with positive ions that cause the hair to be dry and brittle, and neutralize them. Therefore, your hair will end up looking smoother and shinier.
Ultimately, a hair straightener using ionic technology will eliminate frizz, repair damaged hair, revitalize lifeless hair and leave your hair feeling smooth and silky. Most people also use it for the fact that it can seal and smooth split ends.
This technology is fairly new on the market, and it works differently from straighteners that use traditional heat. An infrared flat iron will operate using a longer wavelength – therefore providing a deeper penetration.
With infrared technology, the hair is heated from the inside-out, therefore reducing the damage to the hair. It will stimulate the negative ions to lock the moisture within the hair and draw oils, making your hair appear healthier for a longer time.
In the technical language, “nano” means “small.” Hair straighteners using nanotechnology will have very small particles inside the plates that will dramatically increase the production of negative ions in your hair.
This will heal your damaged hair, making it look sleek and smooth.
Nanotechnology usually goes hand in hand with tourmaline and titanium, since both use natural particles to give your hair a natural boost.
Silver technology is an extension of nanotech flat irons since it uses small particles of silver within the plates. Those particles will offer minimal friction, preventing your hair from damage as it boosts your moisture retention.
When it comes to hair straighteners, size really matters. Depending on your hair, a certain sized flat iron may be the perfect tool or a complete disaster.
Small Flat Irons
Browsing through the market, you will find hair straighteners that are no bigger than an inch – maybe even smaller. These straighteners are the best option if you have short hair – a length that requires you to get as close to the scalp as possible.
These hair straighteners are great for all types of hair – regardless if it’s fine or thick, short or long. For instance, fine hair needs you to control the heat amount, which makes small plates the better option.
On the other hand, thick hair requires slow movement, which once more makes small flat irons the better option. They will prevent the hair from being exposed to excessive amounts of heat.
Large Flat Irons
Any flat iron that goes past one inch is labeled as “large.” It’s a good option if you have long hair, because the larger the flat iron, the faster you’ll be able to perform the straightening process. Large flat irons are also great for both thick and fine hair.
There are many sizes to choose from, but technically, the longer your hair, the larger the hair straightener should be. However, it all eventually boils down to your own preferences.
Choosing the right temperature for your hair type is crucial for its health. Failing to do so will lead to damage that cannot be repaired in any way, which is why you’ll need to make a careful pick.
As long as the iron is hot, it will do its job – but there will be a few kicks. If it’s too cold, you’ll be going over the same hair strands over and over with no visible progress.
On the other hand, if it’s too hot, you may end up like this lady here. You’ll need to get a temperature that is just right.
Here’s how to choose the right temperature depending on your hair type:
Fine Or Double-Processed Hair
If you have fine hair or you have recently double-processed your hair (suddenly decided that a super-blonde should be your color), then a hair straightener working with a lower temperature should be the thing you are looking for.
The safest bet for fine or bleached hair is 350 degrees, but you could probably get away with a 370-degree temperature as well. You may, however, not want to go over that mark.
The best hair straightener for fine hair will have an adjustable temperature so that you can style your hair with minimal damage.
Natural Or Textured Hair
Women with natural hair know the struggle of sitting for hours in front of the mirror, trying to tame a mane that does not want to be tamed. In the case of very curly hair, you may go as high as 420-450 degrees.
However, if your hair is not as thick and your curls are not as prominent, you’re probably safe with turning the dial at around 370-400 degrees.
The best hair straightener for curly hair is one preferably made from ceramic, with higher temperature settings.
If you have color-treated your hair, there are two reasons why you may want to tone down the heat.
The first reason is that you already damaged and disrupted the molecules of your hair by dyeing it; high temperatures won’t be helping you at all in this circumstance.
The second reason is that high temperatures will reduce the vibrancy of your color. This applies especially to redheads and blondes, whose hair colors tend to fade quickly once exposed to high temperatures.
To save your hair color – and protect your hair while you are at it – you may want to bring the temperature down 10 degrees, at around a 380 or 390 degrees.
Normal hair is the luckiest of the batch, and you can get away with a temperature of 400 degrees. If you have fine hair, you may take it down a notch to 390 degrees.
On the other hand, if your hair is thick, it won’t be a problem if you kick it up to 410 degrees.
How To Use A Hair Straightener To Straighten Your Hair
Straightening your hair with a flat iron seems like an easy deal – and in a way, it is. On the other hand, there are certain things that you need to do to ensure your hair doesn’t get damaged. Here’s how you do it:
- Prep your hair for straightening. You may want to use a moisturizing shampoo or serum that protects your hair from the heat.
- Pat your hair dry before straightening. Not only will it prevent frizz, but it will also prevent you from basically “cooking” your hair
- Plug the device in and adjust the temperature according to your hair type
- Separate your hair into sections and take one hair strand at the time
- Place the flat iron as close to your roots as possible and clamp the hair strand between the heated plates
- Run the straightener down that hair section in a fluid and steady sweep
- Apply some hairspray or a post-straightening product to make sure your hairstyle lasts
Once you are done with that strand, you may repeat with the next strand and then the next one, and so on.
How To Use The Hair Straightener To Curl Your Hair
If you thought you could only straighten your hair with a hair straightener, you were very mistaken.
While in the past you may have needed a separate curling iron to create beautiful beach waves and fancy curls, now all you need is a hair straightener. Here’s how you do it:
- Brush your hair to ensure the curls you get are smooth and untangled
- Separate your hair into sections (top and bottom). Start with the bottom
- Wrap a section of your hair around the straightener. Start by clamping it as close to the root as possible, then twist the strand towards the back, until the ends are flipped downward
- Pull it downwards and repeat on the next strand
As you can see, you don’t have to curl the entire strand around the straightener. Just circle it once around the roots and pull down. You’ll get marvelous curls in no time.
Our hair is important, which is why you can’t pick some no-name brands of flat irons. You need something that you’ll know for sure won’t ruin your hair and, most importantly, will last. Here are the top brands that everyone swears by:
As the name says, Bio Ionic hair straighteners use ionic technology.
Bio Ionic is known to have the best professional straightener that will not damage your hair since the company uses high-quality ceramic plates.
BaByliss makes all kinds of styling tools that are designed to protect your hair while offering fast results.
BaByliss hair straighteners use nanotechnology on titanium and ceramic plates. Thus, they ensure fast, smooth, and ultimate protection for your hair.
Remington hair straighteners are made of tourmaline and are designed for dry and frizzy hair. They also incorporate nanotechnology in their devices, making them the brand that makes the best straighteners for damaged hair.
There are many other good brands to try out there, but as far as most people are concerned, these are the ones that are actually worth it.
Cleaning A Flat Iron
Keeping your flat iron clean is of very great importance if you want your results to be flawless every time. A dirty hair straightener will deliver uneven heat, which may bring damage to your hair.
Preferably, you may want to clean your straightener after each use while it’s warm using a damp cloth. You may also want to clean it more thoroughly once a week with a cotton swab and some alcohol.
You must always make sure that the device is unplugged before cleaning it – no matter if you turned it off or not.
We all get burned at some point – but it doesn’t hurt to at least try to be careful.
We buy a fast hair straightener because we want to be done with everything as fast as possible – but in doing so, we slip and spend the rest of our days cursing while adding yogurt over our burn.
- Always use heat protection before straightening your hair. Not doing so may result in severely burned hair and you surely don’t want that
- Use a special heat resistant mat, to avoid burning the surface when you put the device down
- Keep the hot iron away from sources of water (such as tubs or sinks with water in them)
- Unplug the iron after you use it, no matter if you pushed the OFF button or not
- Even the best straightener will damage your hair if it’s wet, so make sure that you thoroughly dry it before straightening
Last but not least, PAY ATTENTION when you are using the straightener. Haste makes waste, and when you are messing with hot stuff, you are definitely going to get burned if you aren’t careful enough.
A hair straightener is something that is definitely irreplaceable for a woman (or, why not, for a man), which is why you need to be very careful when making the purchase.
Buy the wrong one, and instead of looking like a hot diva from the TV, you’ll look like the broom you have in your closet.
A good flat iron is something that will make your hair look silky smooth and straight at all times, and protect your hair while doing so.
If you want to find out more about how to purchase the best straightener, you may want to take a look at our buying guide. You’ll find everything you need to know: from the main features of a straightener to some suggestions of products that people loved.