Quick facts about straighteners
- Hair straighteners or flat irons can straighten, curl and volumise all types of hair.
- When choosing a straightener, it's important to consider your hair type.
- Hair straighteners range in cost from around $40 to $400.
Compare hair straighteners
Updated November 16th, 2019
What types are available?
There are three main types of straighteners: Titanium, ceramic and tourmaline or ionic.
Titanium straighteners heat up quickly and apply temperature evenly. They can also operate at lower temperatures while still achieving the same results, making them suitable for daily use as they'll result in less damage than other plate types. However, they are typically the most expensive type of straighteners.
Ceramic plated straighteners tend to be cheaper than titanium, but they don't transfer heat as smoothly as titanium. As a result, they may require higher operating temperatures to achieve the desired result. Using a ceramic straightener daily may cause more damage than a titanium model, However, if you don't have super thick hair and don't straighten your hair daily, ceramic is suitable for most hair types.
Tourmaline or ionic
Tourmaline plates, also known as ionic plates, react differently to heat than other plate types by becoming negatively charged. This heats the hair from the inside out and helps heat the hair more quickly and reduce frizz. Tourmaline straighteners are suitable for those with damaged hair.
How to compare straighteners
While it might be tempting to grab one of the cheapest straighteners available, shelling out a bit more typically gets you a straightener that will last longer, heat up more quickly and do less damage to your hair. For more ideas, check out our list of the best straighteners this year.
Ultimately, choosing a straightener comes down to what type of hair you have and how you plan to use it.
When choosing a straightener, consider the following key factors:
The size or width of a straightener typically ranges from 2.5cm to 6cm. The wider the plates, the faster you can straighten your hair. However, wider plates are bulkier and heavier and can damage hair by applying too much heat. If you have short hair, look for a slimmer straightener. If you have medium hair or long, fine hair, look for a straightener with a medium-range width. If you have thick, long hair, go for a wide straightener.
Straighteners with higher temperature settings can help you straighten your hair faster and more efficiently. However, high settings are also more likely to damage your hair. Look for a model with adjustable temperature settings for more flexibility. Typically, cheaper straighteners don't work as effectively on low heat settings so if you want to avoid high heat, you'll have to pay a bit more.
Wattage can give you an indication of how powerful the straightener is. However, higher wattage doesn't necessarily mean it's the best model for your hair type. If you have fine or short hair, you probably won't need the highest setting that produces the most wattage anyway.
Straighteners can have different edge shapes. Rounded edges make it easier to use the straightener to make curls or waves in your hair, while sharper edges can produce straighter hair.
Look for a straightener that shuts off automatically after a certain period of time to avoid starting a fire in case you forget to shut it off.
Make sure the controls are easy to use with one hand so that you can adjust it easily while you're using it.
A swivel cord makes it easier to use the straightener at any angle without tangling any cables.
Some straighteners come with a carry bag, stand or hanging loop for more accessible storage. Some also include a heat-protective mat that you can place the straightener on while you're using it or waiting for it to cool down.
Wet to dry
Wet-to-dry straighteners claim to dry your hair while straightening. However, they usually work best on damp hair, not wet hair. We don't recommend straightening very wet hair, even with a wet-to-dry straightener due to safety concerns.
Straighteners vs straightening brushes
Straightening brushes are another tool that can help you get silky, straight locks. Unlike a flat iron, these brushes look similar to a regular hair brush that heats up your hair while you brush it.
Check out our review of the GHD Glide Professional Hot Brush
Hair brush straighteners usually operate at a lower heat than flat irons, which makes them suitable for damaged hair. However, straightening brushes aren't as effective for thick and curly hair.
Straightening brushes have the following pros and cons:
- Low heat makes it more suitable for thin and damaged hair
- Brushes and straightens hair at the same time
- Heats up quickly
- Doesn't work effectively on very thick or curly hair
- Takes longer to straighten than a typical flat iron
- Not as effective at achieving a glass hair effect
Anyone who has experienced a hair straightener burn knows just how careful you need to be, so it's all the more important that you follow the right protocol.
When you're using hair tools that function at such a high heat, they can cause hair to dry out, crack and worst-case scenario – burn. To minimise damage, use a heat protecting product, use the lowest effective temperature on your flat iron and avoid straightening more often than necessary.
Here are three rules for using a hair straightener safely:
- Don't use a heat setting that's higher than you need.
- Don't hold it on your hair for too long.
- Don't use your straightener near water.