Hair dryers are amazing tools, but blow drying alone can’t make your hair as smooth and straight as a flat iron can. A good flat iron can make it look like you have a completely different head of hair, taking your locks from curly or wavy to pin straight. Whether you have wavy hair, coarse hair, kinky hair, frizzy hair, or flyways, flat ironing can make that hair look longer, shinier, smoother, and sleeker.
Choosing the right flat iron can be tough though. Factors like temperature, heat-up time, durability, and especially hair type all come into play. There are several different types of flat irons available. Do you need an ionic flat iron? Maybe you want a flat iron you can use on wet hair or dry hair? Before you decide on a straightener, you should know the difference between the common types of flat irons. Otherwise, you could end up buying an overpriced device, or something that’s not right for your hair type.
Types of flat irons
- Ceramic flat irons– They have ceramic plates that allow for even heat distribution. One problem with ceramic is that over time, the ceramic coating can start to peel off, which effectively takes away the smoothing effect of the ceramic. Oftentimes, a flat iron will be both ceramic and tourmaline, or ceramic and ionic. Flat irons can be more than one type. Ceramic only flat irons are good for those with wavy hair or moderately curly hair. If you have kinky hair or frizzy hair, a ceramic iron will straighten your hair, but it may not leave your hair as smooth and sleek as some of the other types of flat irons.
- Ionic flat irons– Ionic technology traps moisture into hair to make it shinier and silkier. The technology is similar to NASA’s research on nanomaterials. Ionic flat irons are good for many hair types — frizzy hair, dry hair, curly hair, coarse hair, or wavy hair. You can use ionic flat irons on fine hair, as long as you don’t turn the heat up too high. Those with fine or brittle hair should be careful not to turn the temperature up too high with any type of flat iron.
- Tourmaline flat irons– These irons have ground tourmaline dust applied to their plates. Tourmaline flat irons produce negative ions, and they also require less heat to straighten hair. Tourmaline flat irons also work well on most hair types.
- Titanium flat irons– These flat irons have similar benefits to tourmaline, only they have additional perks. They produce negative ions, don’t require as much heat, and they heat up extremely quickly. Some heat up in a mere few seconds. Good titanium flat irons can cost more though. Titanium flat irons work well to straighten almost all hair types.
- Wet to dry flat irons– These flat irons contain venting systems that allow you to use them on damp or wet hair. This allows people with certain hair types to straighten their hair in one step. These irons work especially well on wavy hair. However, if you have curly, coarse, or frizzy hair, wet to dry irons will probably make your hair somewhat straight, but it may not be smooth and sleek. You’ll likely need to go back over it with another flat iron to make it completely smooth and frizz-free.
We tested more than 40 flat irons across each of these categories. We based our analysis on performance factors like ease of use, features, straightening time, and how straightening holds up in humidity and different weather conditions. We also considered price, durability, customer service, and warranty information. Here are our picks for the best flat irons for every type of hair.
Best flat iron
For a titanium flat iron, this particular one is extremely well-priced. It has a digital LCD display, a 360 degree no-tangle swivel cord, and it heats up quickly (in 30 seconds). The 2.5-meter cord is long enough to let you wander around the bathroom while you style your hair.
The temperature goes as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but it has default temperature settings for different hair types. Another cool feature is the on and off switch is on the interior of the flat iron, so you don’t accidentally turn it off with your thumb while your using it. The 1.75-inch plates are made of nano-titanium, and they beautifully straighten hair. After using this flat iron, hair is shiny, soft, and smooth. When your straighten with this iron, your hair also tends to do well in humid conditions.
What’s not to like? Well, this flat iron tends to have a bit of difficulty getting right up on the roots, but that can be an issue with almost any flat iron that’s this size (or larger).
Best flat iron for wavy or moderately curly hair
One of the most annoying things about straightening hair is having to go over a section of hair repeatedly to get your desired results. After waiting for your hair to dry (or blow drying), sectioning, applying heat protection, and going through the whole straightening prep routine, who feels like flat ironing the same section of hair two or three times?
The Bio Ionic one pass flat iron really does straighten in a single pass. Now, you can’t exactly straighten huge, thick chunks of hair in one pass, but it does make small sections (about two inches wide) perfectly straight in one drag through your locks. This ionic flat iron straightens really quickly because it has silicone strips that help it glide through each section. The one-inch version lets you get right up to the roots. Plus, it has a swivel cord, and that’s always helpful.
There are a few negatives about the Bio Ionic though. The silicone strips tend to collect oil and hair products. You have to regularly clean this flat iron to keep it in optimal condition. Another potential negative is that it only heats to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and some people prefer a higher temperature when straightening their hair. However, this flat iron does the job for wavy or moderately curly hair.
Best flat iron for kinky, frizzy, or coarse hair
This two-inch wide ceramic flat iron has an infrared strip, and it heats up to 445 degrees Fahrenheit. The wide plates, design, and high temperature make this flat iron ideal for quickly straightening kinky, coarse, or frizzy hair. Other hair types can use this straightener, as it has lower temperature settings. But, this flat iron is perfect for those who want to reduce volume or get smooth, flat, and pin straight hair. This flat iron works best on the highest temperature settings, so it’s a good idea to apply heat protection to your hair beforehand.
The Xtava iron is very reasonably priced, and it has some of the features you’d see in more expensive flat irons like an eight-foot swivel cord and a 60-second auto shut off function. It heats up in 90 seconds time. The one major drawback to the Xtava iron is that it tends to produce a strange, burning chemical smell. This smell can transfer to hair, and it is made worse when the iron is on higher heat settings.
Best flat iron for fine hair
If you have fine hair, or static and flyaways are an issue, this flat iron might be perfect for you. It has ceramic plates with titanium protection coating, which helps to reduce static, flyaways, and frizz. Its heat settings go from 310 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a curved design so you can use it to straighten or curl your hair. You can use it to lift roots too. This is the best flat iron for adding volume.
With digital controls, turbo boost, auto shut off, and a 30-second heat up time, you get a lot out of this one-inch flat iron for a small price. The downsides? It sometimes has a chemical smell, which can transfer onto your hair. It also isn’t made as well as a $200 flat iron. But, for $20, you’ll be incredibly happy with it.