How To Pick A Flat Iron Straightener That Won’t Burn your Hair

Flat iron straighteners are one of the most popular styling tools, alongside curling irons and blow dryers. Most households will have at least one of those tools, and sadly, most people will burn their hair using them incorrectly.

Keratin, the most abundant protein on hair, is not particularly resistant to heat. In fact, even the most thick, coarse hair should never be subjected to more than 350-400F degrees. Weak, sensitised hair should stay under 300F. However, most people will set their straighteners at max temperature because they believe it will give them best results. And all they get is hair damage.

Is Your Hair Heat Damaged?

It is pretty easy to notice when you have fried your hair, even if it hasn’t technically caught fire. You will notice:

  • Split ends
  • Frizzy hair
  • Lost texture, weak curls
  • Lack of shine
  • Breakage (in some cases hair will snap when touching it with your fingers)
  • Hair that is impossible to style
  • Hair color doesn’t last
  • Hair gets brassy quickly

Does this mean you need to give up your hair straighteners? NO! You just need to use them properly.

Are Flat Irons Bad For Hair?

Flat irons are not necessarily evil. Flat irons can be used to seal treatments on your hair, and to style hair that is otherwise unmanageable. In fact, professional keratin treatments use a flat iron to seal the keratin to the hair shaft.

If you have a lot of hair, a good quality flat iron can help you achieve a variety of hairstyles, while keeping your hair healthy. However, most people choose the cheapest flat iron straightener they can find. And that ends up burning their hair.

Cheap flat irons are bad for your hair.

  • They don’t distribute heat properly
  • You need several passes to straighten a single section of hair
  • They have bad temperature control and can overheat
  • The plates lose the coating, and the hair snags and breaks
  • It takes forever to style hair, so your hair is subjected to heat damage for longer

It doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on a straightener, but don’t just buy the cheapest one you can find. A professional hair straightener will last you over a decade if you care for it properly. Think of it as an investment on the health of your hair.

How To Choose A Flat Iron Straightener

There are many different flat iron straighteners in the market and they come in a variety of sizes and materials. Some of them also have a variety of temperatures they heat up to.

Choose the right flat iron straightener based on your heat styling habits, your hair quality and your hair length.

Sale $2.80Bestseller No. 1
CROC Premium Plate Titanium Flat Iron, Black, 1.5 Inch
  • Professionalism Meets Luxury – CROC’s Premium Titanium Flat Iron provides the ultimate styling experience....
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Sale $115.38Bestseller No. 2
Croc Premium Flat Iron 1.5 Wet to Dry Titanium Plate Hair Straightener Set
  • The floating plates move with the hair, creating a smooth glide., Deluxe thumb grip, ergonomic design makes...
  • The black (proprietary blend) titanium plates lock in moisture and reduce static., Negative ions reduce and...
  • Built-in ceramic heaters enable instant heat recovery, providing consistent heat during use., Fully digital...
Sale $0.04Bestseller No. 3
HAI GOLD Convertable, Premium Professional Flat Iron - Ceramic Hair Straightener, 450F
  • UNIVERSAL TEMPERATURE CONTROL styles thick, natural, curly, fine and color-treated hair (250°F to 450°F).
  • ADVANCED TOURMALINE TECHNOLOGY provides rapid heat up, instant recovery and even heat for perfect One-Pass...
  • PRECISION 1.25 inch ceramic plates glide over your strands for easy curling, straightening and styling...

Your Heat Styling Habits

Preventing heat damage when using a hair straightener depends on a lot on your heat styling habits.

If you heat style your hair every single day you will cause heat damage. Even if you use a great heat protectant (which you should, every time) the constant use of heat will weaken your hair.

A good quality hair straightener and a protective hairstyle overnight should keep your style for at least 2 days. If your hair gets dirty or oily easily, use a dry shampoo in between. Washing your hair every day is also not ideal for the health of your hair.

If you absolutely must straighten your hair every day, consider investing in a steam flat iron such as L’Oreal Steampod. It won’t dry your hair and will keep it healthy through frequent styling.

Bestseller No. 1
Steam Hair Straightener, Black Hair Straightening Iron : Professional Ceramic Flat Iron for Hair Straightening with Digital LCD Display, Dual Voltage, 350℉ - 450℉ Salon High Heat, 1-Inch, Black
  • 【 SAVE YOUR TIME 】This Straightening Iron heats up fast and glides smoothly through hair so it gets hair...
  • 【 EASY TO USE 】This Hair Straightening Flat Iron has 6 adjustable temperature on an LCD digital display,...
  • 【 KEEP MOISTURE 】This Hair Straightener locks your hair's natural moisture under high temperature, it will...

Heat Tolerance For Hair

Most women are guilty of using a higher heat on their straighteners than their hair can manage without damage. Most people think that the hotter the better and quicker the straightening but that is not true.

Independent research has shown that 365F / 185C is the optimum temperature for heat styling.

Very thick, coarse hair may need to go up to 410F/210C with flat irons but that is the exception and not the rule. Aim for a lower temperature and your hair will not feel dry and damaged. The best hair straighteners for curly hair need a variable temperature control as you may need to adjust depending on your curl pattern and strength.

If you have synthetic hair, such as hair extensions, you should NEVER go above 320F/160C or the synthetic fibers will MELT. And if your hair is bleached, sensitive or very thin, you should try and stick to under 300F/148C. This is why a flat iron that has different temperature settings is a must.

Do not go above 420F/216C or the keratin in your hair will start to melt. And always use a heat protectant spray.

Sale $14.97Bestseller No. 1
HSI PROFESSIONAL Argan Oil Heat Protector | Protect up to 450º F from Flat Irons & Hot Blow Dry | Sulfate Free, Prevents Damage & Breakage | Made in the USA | 8oz, Packaging May Vary
  • EXTREME HAIR PROTECTANT: Protect hair from heat exposure up to 450º F. HSI's argan oil hair heat protectant...
  • LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER: This light thermal protection spray can be also used as a leave in conditioning serum....
  • PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA: Ensuring you get a premium quality high grade hair oil Infused with highly...
Bestseller No. 2
Argan Oil Hair Protector Spray - Thermal Heat Protectant For Styling Treatment Against Flat Iron & Hot Blow Dry - 100% Natural Prevents Damage Dryness Breakage & Split Ends Premium Nature
  • EXTREME HAIR PROTECTANT: Protects and Heals Your Damaged Hair From Blowdrying, Flat Ironing , Sun Damage &...
  • ALL NATURAL HEALTHY INGREDIENTS: With Premium Nature's Professional Argan Oil Spray your hair will experience...
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Sale $30.50Bestseller No. 3
Kenra Platinum Blow-Dry Spray, 6.8-Fluid Ounce
  • Dramatically decreases blow-dry time by 50%
  • Provides intense heat protection from damage and breakage
  • Lightweight formulation detangles, smoothes, and softens
Bestseller No. 4
ArtNaturals Thermal Hair Protector Spray - 8.0 Oz - Protective Spray against Flat Iron Heat - Contains 100% Organic Argan Oil Preventing Damage, Breakage & Split Ends - Made in the USA - Sulfate Free
  • Art Naturals' Thermal Shield Leave-In Conditioner protects and reconditions hair that's been blow dried, flat...
  • Natural herbal extracts re-moisturize and rehydrate, then protect against more heat.
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Bestseller No. 5
L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray, 5.7 fl. oz.
  • 3 Day Sleek, 450 Degree Heat Protection
  • Calms Frizz, Seals in Shine
  • Lightweight Heat Protectant Spray

Plates Size? Depends on How Long Is Your Hair

There are different sized straighteners suitable for different hair lengths and textures. The wider the plates the more hair that can fit in between, and the quicker the styling. So if you have long hair you should go for wider plates.

  • Hair above shoulder / Fringe styling : 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ wide
  • Shoulder lenght hair: 1″ to 2″ wide
  • Long hair below shoulder: 1 1/2″ to 2″

The exception to this is if you intend to use your flat iron to curl your hair. Smaller plates allow you to create more defined curls and waves. Also, small plates are better for detail work, such as fringes or touch ups.

There are also 3inch wide plates flat irons, for very long hair that takes forever to style. But they tend to be more difficult to find and a bit more expensive. Also the reviews are not amazing because they are big and bulky. So unless you have a ton of hair and really need them, you are better off sticking with the 2″ ones.

Sale $13.96
Wigo 3" Flat Iron 3"
  • Variable Heat Settings for All Hair Types
  • Penetrates Hair From The Inside Out for Long-Lasting Styles.

Ionic Flat Irons? Yes!

The main reason why hair gets damaged due to heat styling is the loss of moisture. Heat damaged hair is often dry, thirsty hair. This is why heat protectants and hair oils are so important if you flat iron your hair. This is why steam powered flat irons are kinder to hair than regular ones.

But too much humidity causes frizz. After ironing your hair, the hair cuticle should be sealed shut. This prevents humidity from entering your hair, destroying your style and raising the hair cuticle. In short, it prevents frizz.

Positive ions attract water and humidity AFTER styling. This is a bad thing. A plastic or aluminium flat iron straightener generates positive ions. They will make your hair frizz out in no time.

Negative ions, on the other hand, keep your hair smooth. Ceramic, tourmaline and titanium create negative ions and close the hair cuticle. If you want healthy, smooth hair, always invest in a flat iron that produces negative ions.

Sale $85.00Bestseller No. 1
HSI Professional Glider | Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron Hair Straightener | Straightens & Curls with Adjustable Temp | Incl Glove, Pouch, & Travel Size Argan Oil Hair Treatment | Packaging Varies
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Bestseller No. 2
KIPOZI Pro Flat Iron with 1 Inch Titanium Ion plates Hair Straightener Adjustable Temperature Suitable for All Hair Types Makes Hair Shiny & Silky Heats Up Fast Dual Voltage Rose Pink
  • Titanium flat iron use the advanced PTC ceramic heater and far-infrared technology can release negative ions...
  • Adjustable temperature fit all hair types: 270℉-320℉ suit for fragile hair, 330℉-380℉ for damaged...
  • 3D floating plates never pull your hair, 1 inch plate width wide enough for any hair length, a yet narrow...
Sale $102.80Bestseller No. 3
Professional Hair Straightener, Flat Iron for Hair Styling: 2 in 1 Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron for All Hair Types with Rotating Adjustable Temperature and Salon High Heat 250℉-450℉, 1 Inch, Gold
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Sale $20.00Bestseller No. 4
CHI Original 1" Flat Hair Straightening Ceramic Hairstyling Iron 1 Inch Plates
  • Professional salon model hair styling iron
  • 1" ceramic plates for easy glide
  • Versatile styling tool: Flip, Curl & Style
Sale $6.00Bestseller No. 5
BESTOPE 1 inch Hair Straightener Ceramic Ionic Flat Iron with Instant Heat Up, Dual Voltage Adjustable Temperature for All Hair Types
  • INSTANT & BALANCED HEATING: 3D floating plates with ceramic heating allow flat iron to heat up to 360 DegreeF...
  • SILKY, FRIZZ-FREE: With tourmaline technology, emits negatively-charged ions to make hair extra smooth. Taming...
  • HAIR PROTECTING: Adjustable temperature hair straightener suitable for all hair types, 270F-320F suit for...

Flat Iron Safety

Grip and weight can make all the difference between styling your hair comfortably and getting burnt.

Choose a hair straightener that you can grab comfortably and doesn’t slip. If you have very small hands, choose a smaller plate flat iron or even a travel one, because otherwise you will end up straining your wrist.

Other safety features to look for are swivel cords that won’t snag or knot, and auto-shutoff functionality when not in use.

On Counterfeit Flat Irons

Also, if you are investing in a brand that is likely to suffer from counterfeits, such as ghd, make sure you are getting an authentic flat iron. Counterfeit straighteners are not safe and can damage your hair or your property.

Check that the packaging and logos are correct and have no typos or print errors. Authentic brands invest in premium packaging, and often include a guarantee booklet or a code you can use on their website to test if it’s genuine. Once you get your flat iron, go to the brand website and check the product code.

In my experience, auction and no name sites are most likely to be selling counterfeit hair straighteners. This is because more established marketplaces like Amazon and other retailers can do more to stop fakes. They also have better return policies.

The best way to spot counterfeit straighteners is common sense. If something looks too good to be true (such as a ghd straightener 75% cheaper than the oficial version) it is likely to be a counterfeit. Don’t risk your hair or your health.

Picking Up A Flat Iron: What Are The Plates Made Off?

The plates on a flat iron are in contact with your hair. They must be smooth so the hair glides and doesn’t snag. They must also be able to heat evenly so your hair doesn’t get hot patches.

The best materials for flat irons are:

  • Ceramic
  • Ceramic Tourmaline
  • Titanium
  • Titanium Tourmaline
  • Platinum

Because they fulfil all the requirements above.

They also produce better and quicker results with less heat because the hair glides in between the plates. It doesn’t snag and it gets evenly heated so it keeps the style much quicker.

But it’s not only about the plates. Flat iron plates can have temperature sensors inside! Technologies like the tri-zone technology from ghd use 6 sensors to measure the temperature of the plates. This way the temperature is continuously adjusted to avoid hot or cold spots. The result? Quicker heat styling that won’t damage your hair.

The edges of the plates can be rounded or straight. Beveled edges leave no beds or marks on your hair even if you are less careful or on a hurry.

What about drugstore aluminium flat irons? They don’t have ceramic protection, cause positive irons and frizz and are only good if you don’t use them a lot. If you only use straighteners occasionally, and you invest in a good heat protection spray and conditioner, they are the budget option.

But if you use your straighteners often, ceramic (for lower temperatures) and titanium (for higher temperatures) are worth the investment.

Ceramic Plates

A straightener with pure 100% ceramic plates is the dream, but they don’t exist. Ceramic is too fragile to be used, so what you get is Ceramic reinforced with either Aluminum or Titanium.

Titanium reinforced ceramic hair straighteners are great for thick and coarse hair, because they heat up at higher temperatures.

Bestseller No. 1
LumaBella Keratin Dual Touch Hair Straightener
  • 1" ceramic plates infused with keratin micro-conditioners for a healthy shine
  • Heat sensor detects excessive heat and adjusts to your hair
  • Keratin micro-conditioners leave no oily residue and last the life of the styler

Ceramic tourmaline flat irons offers even more negative ions than titanium, which makes hair extra smooth. They are smooth as glass, and practically friction free. Your hair will glide like it wasn’t there. Even natural hair, which is usually more sensitive to heat styling, will just glide through this kind of plates.

Sale $99.00Bestseller No. 1
Professional Hair Straightener, Flat Iron for Hair Styling: 2 in 1 Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron for All Hair Types with Rotating Adjustable Temperature and Salon High Heat 250℉-450℉, 1 Inch, Grey
  • 【 EASY TO USE 】 FURIDEN best hair straightener's adjustable temperature is handy when you want to...
  • 【 REDUCING FRIZZ 】FURIDEN professional hair straightener with ceramic smooth plates, this flat iron will...
  • 【 DAMAGE FREE 】 FURIDEN hair straightening iron offers adjustable heat settings, MORE suitable heat to...

If you need higher temperatures, a Titanium tourmaline flat iron can achieve up to 450F which is enough for at home Keratin treatments.

Getting a great hair flat iron straightener should be an investment. At the end of the day, you are using it regularly to style your hair and look your best. Do your research, read reviews and save for the one that will work for your hair. It doesn’t need to be the most popular hair straightener brand, it just needs to work for you and your hair needs.

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