Not all straightening irons are created equal. Straightening irons (or flat irons) offer a variety of different features. To keep your hair healthy and looking its best, consider these factors when shopping for a straightening iron.
Type of plates
When purchasing a straightening iron, look for one that has ceramic (not metal) plates. Ceramic flat irons heat up quickly (in approximately 30 seconds) and they also distribute the heat evenly for smooth results. In addition, the ceramic technology creates negative ions to seal in moisture, smooth hair cuticles and reduce damage to your hair.
Look for a ceramic flat iron infused with tourmaline. Tourmaline is a crystal that is nature's largest provider of negative ions. This gem is ground up into a powder and infused into the ceramic plates. You'll often see these type of irons labeled as "Nano-Tourmaline." Nano just refers to the process where the tourmaline is micronized into particles and infused into the plates. With a nano-tourmaline straightening iron, you can get silky, straight hair with less heat. Ceramic plates infused with tourmaline produce 5-6 times more negative ions than just ceramic alone.
One of the most important features to look for when buying a straightening iron is temperature control. Using a flat iron on the highest temperature can damage fine, thin hair, while a temperature that is too low won't do the job on thick, wavy hair. Cheap straightening irons generally don't offer temperature control.
Take the size of the plates into consideration when buying a flat iron. With wider plates, you can straighten a larger section of hair than with slimmer plates. Most straightening irons come with a 1- or 1-1/2-inch plate width. However, if you have hair that is longer than shoulder length, you should consider buying a flat iron with a wider plate in order to reduce styling time. For short hair, a slim 3/4 plate width (or even slimmer) may be your best bet because it provides more control when working so closely to your scalp.
You can save time in the morning by using a wet-to-dry flat iron. This special type of straightening iron allows you to skip the step of blow drying your hair. Just towel dry your hair and then comb through before using the flat iron. A wet-to-dry straightening iron is not safe to use on sopping wet tresses, but will work wonders on damp hair.
For safety reasons, a straightening iron with automatic shut-off is essential. An iron with this feature will turn off on its own after a certain period of time not in use.
Like with a hair dryer, a long swivel cord is a must with a straightening iron. A swivel cord allows you to move the iron to different parts of your head without tangling the cord.
Whether you are shopping online, at your salon or from a beauty supply store, look for a straightening iron with a warranty. If you are using your iron every day, you need it to last. Some manufacturers only honor the warranty if the flat iron is purchased from a salon or reputable dealer.
When purchasing a straightening iron, consider the price tag, as well as the other features that we've mentioned above. If you are going to use your flat iron sporadically, you may not need the top of the line model. However, if you can't live a day without it, you'll find that it's worth the extra money to splurge on a high quality unit.
How to use your flat iron
Check out this video tutorial to learn more about how to use a straightening iron.