A quality flat iron may quickly become the most useful tool in your arsenal, and it doesn't need to be expensive.
When searching for the ideal flat iron to add to your beauty tool collection, a good start is to look for something called Nano Smart technology. This is important because it plays a major role in keeping the hair healthy by sealing in moisture.
“Infrared is so beneficial being that the wavelengths are longer and can penetrate deeper into the cuticle heating the hair from the inside out, keeping your hair's own natural moisture, leaving the hair smooth (and) shiny and keeping it extremely healthy, versus other conventional styling tools that actually pull moisture out of the hair, leaving the hair dry, brittle, dull and damaged,” said hair expert and stylist Gina Rivera.
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Keeping moisture in the hair from the infrared, your curls will last longer, your color will be more vibrant, and your hair will have more volume.
Also: “Ceramic tourmaline heating plates will ensure safe, even heat through the plates, ensuring that there are not any hot spots which can create damage, (and) also sealing in the moisture for a smooth and shiny (hairdo). And it eliminates frizz,” said Rivera.
Price doesn’t always equal value
“When it comes to flat irons, I truly feel that you get what you pay for,” said Matii Salon Artistic Director Stacey Smoker. The cheaper the flat iron, the less consistent the heat through the blade and the longer the heat recovery time.
“Every time you close a flat iron on the hair, the temperature drops. The bigger the fluctuation in temperature, the more passes the user is inclined to take (and) the hotter the temp they are inclined to set the iron at,” said Smoker.
Regular and repeated exposure to high-heat temperatures causes permanent damage to the hair. It's important to select the right heat setting for your hair type.
“Invest in tools that have digital temperature that you can adjust. With internal custom heaters and temperature control, you can protect your hair by lowering the temperature and only holding your hair on the iron for a couple seconds,” said Beachwaver founder and celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa.
For example, if you have thick hair, you will want to use a higher-heat setting than someone with thin or fine hair.
“If you have color-treated hair, the cuticle is more open and the internals of your hair strands are more exposed so they actually curl easier and don't need as much heat! Adjusting the heat setting to your hair type will ensure that your curls last and the health of your hair is maintained," said Potempa.
“The temperature of the iron can determine the curl pattern on hair that tends to fall easily, as you might need a higher heat to lock in the pattern closer to the root,” she added. “The internal components of the irons also can determine the curl pattern, and that is why it is important to invest in custom, high-end tools that contain internal heaters that go the entire length of the barrel. The higher the heat, the stronger the curl will essentially be. Low heat will produce a softer finish.”
Protect your tools
When purchasing a flat iron, you want the proper voltage that is compliant and can be used around the world — very helpful if you travel abroad.
Another great feature is a 360-degree swivel cord
“That makes it easy to turn and manipulate for super-easy styling, especially if you are using your flat iron to create beach, soft, bigger curls which can be achieved with a flat iron,” said Rivera. Plus, you don't have to worry about getting tangled up in the cord as you're styling!
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The T3 SinglePass Luxe Flat Iron, $180, Nordstrom
This flat iron is a favorite of stylists because it's easy to use and gets the job done fast by straightening the hair with one pass, thanks to its SinglePass technology and tourmaline ceramic plates. Less heat on your hair equals less hair damage, making this flat iron the healthiest option.
Herstyler Colorful Mini Pink Straightener, $15, Amazon
This lightweight mini straightener is easy to use and great if you love to travel and need to take your tools with you. It's so tiny and portable that it can fit into a carry-on bag, and it heats and is ready to use in only 30 seconds. It packs serious punch, though — its 100% ceramic plates generate six times more negative ions than regular irons for less heat damage and frizz.
T3 Micro, $89, Sephora
A smaller and compact version of the SinglePass technology, “T3 Micro is the best hands-down flat iron for your hair. You can use this flat iron with both moist and dry hair. One press will get it hot in seconds. The one pass is the truth!” said celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist Daniel Koye.
Drybar Tress Press, $150, Nordstrom
A mix of titanium plates and ionic technology, this flat iron will leave hair smooth and shiny, but get the job done quickly, making it the best of all worlds.
Sexy Hair Smooth Lock Pro 1.25” Ceramic Flat Iron, $130, Amazon
This is an all-in-one ironthat works by infusing heat and moisture directly into the core of the hair cuticle. The ceramic material reduces static for frizz-free results while maintaining constant heat up to 450 degrees.
Bed Head Attention Grabber 1” Tourmaline Ceramic Straightener, $22, Amazon
This tool uses tourmaline ceramic technology with multiple heat settings to heat up to 400 degrees. It packs a lot of the punch of the big boys but at a very budget-friendly price.
Pro Beauty Tools Professional Ceramic Shine Digital Straightener, $35, Target
This flat iron can be heated up to 450 degrees and will stay hot as long as you need it, but has an auto shut-off for safety. It also has dual voltage for worldwide use.
Remington Anti Frizz Therapy 1” Straightener, $25, Target
“The Remington is the most budget-friendly, but don’t think that means it doesn’t perform. It heats up quickly and gets to the right temperature without over-drying,” said hairstylist Michelle Schwartz of B2V Salon in West Hollywood.
Rusk Engineering CTC Technology Professional Straight Iron, $100, Amazon
“The Rusk iron has been around for a long time, but is still a top contender. It gets the hair super straight, but still protects the hair with its ceramic plates,” said Schwartz.
HAI Beauty Concepts Gold Classic Convertable Flat Iron, $100, Amazon
This futuristic flat iron uses infrared energy to reduce heat damage while sealing the cuticle for flawlessly smooth and sleek styles. This also has Mineral Complex technology that generates negative ions and helps to infuse moisture deep into the hair, meaning more shine and less frizz.
Want more information on beauty tools? Check out this article on the one tool Victoria's Secret models swear by.