All of the in-demand hairstyles lately seem to involve a finishing touch with a heated wand known simply as a flat iron. This cool tool took over where the fad of curling irons left off, and before that, those torturous hot rollers. Oh, how we love our heat!
So as a novice into the flat iron world, how would I choose the best one for my hair? Would I get the model my friend has and raves about? Maybe not, since her hair is long and wavy, while mine is fine and short. Different hair types equal different results. How about I pick that awesome looking leopard print one that looks so eye-catching in the store, or the pink one to match my bathroom? Oh, I’d love to, but I’m not sure those cute looks would really make a difference in how fantastic I want my hair to look after using it!
What’s a girl to do? So many choices, names that don’t make sense, various price points…I am overwhelmed! So I checked my resources, including my go-to teacher at the local beauty school, and “ironed out” the facts about this essential beauty tool of today. Here’s the scoop:
What is a flat iron used for?
It uses heat and pressure through ceramic or metal plates to smooth and straighten hair, especially curly hair. This effect is temporary, unlike permanent chemical straighteners. It’s used on dry hair so as not to damage the iron.
Plate width varies for a reason.
A 1-inch plate is considered standard and is meant for medium-length hair,
but the wider the plate, the more strands can fit in a single press. 2-inch plates are good for long hair, narrower than that for short or very fine hair.
They’re all hot (up to 450 degrees!), so how do I choose temperature controls?
Some irons have fixed temperatures while others are adjustable. There are dials or digital controls to adjust the heat to your hair type. This is because fine hair needs less heat, while thick, wiry hair needs high heat to get the job done. If damage control is an issue, or your hair texture varies, the adjustable feature means a great deal.
Safety features are important; choose what matters to you.
Because of the intense heat of these tools, quality models have an auto-off feature, a great thing to have if you leave the house for hours after styling your hair. Some come equipped with ready lights, plastic tips and stands; all designed so no one picks up the scalding hot flat iron and gets burned. Flat irons can cause serious skin burns and fires, so be careful, and choose these features accordingly.
The terminology about the types and technology is confusing, yet important. Help!
There are 4 general types on the market with different performance abilities and price ranges.
- Aluminum- the oldest and most inexpensive. They simply contain 2 aluminum plates that straighten tresses. They are dubbed “the drugstore variety” and can damage hair because they have no ceramic protection, so be sure to condition often with this type. These are best for infrequent users.
- Ceramic- preferred by many as the best value given the features. They contain smooth plates that lessen damage, allow an even heat application, and are cleaned easily. They offer fast heating and cooling times, and work best with long hair.
- Tourmaline- considered top of the line, but usually too expensive for the everyday user. They have plates that emit a negative ion and infrared heat to leave hair shiny and smooth while imparting the least damage. If paired with styling creams or sprays, the results are unlike those with any other iron.
- Nano/Nano Combo- have super-smooth surfaces that straighten super- fast. These contain microfine particles of a smoothing material infused into the plates. The results are longer lasting with much less heat damage. The combo types have extra-special features: Nano- Silver sanitizes itself; Nano-Titanium straightens 40% faster; Nano-Tourmaline protects hair from getting burned or damaged. If these features are all worth it to you, splurge!
Don’t make this an impulse buy. It’s just way too important of a beauty tool, one you’ll surely want to use often! Don’t regret the “grab and go”…do a little research and choose what’s best for you and your crowning glory. It comes down to your hair type, your budget, and what features matter to you. Happy shopping!