Thanks to technology advances in hot styling tools, you don't have to be a professional stylist (or book pricey treatments at the salon) to achieve straight, sleek hair worthy of its own Pantene commercial. Flat irons have come a long way since you first picked one up at the local drugstore back in your middle school days, which means there are a lot of different settings and sizes to work through before you find you straightener soulmate. To help ensure you choose one of the the best professional flat irons the first time around, hairstylist to the stars, Justine Marjan, breaks down everything you need to know, ahead.
Ceramic Vs. Titanium Flatirons:
The two main types of flat irons you'll see are ceramic and titanium, and both are suitable for all hair types — it just comes down to preference. Ceramic irons tend to be a tiny bit more expensive, and they ensure both plates heat up evenly and gently, which is great when it comes to damage control. But you also need to be more careful with ceramic irons, as dropping them can cause the plates to crack. Titanium plates, on the other hand, are more durable, but also heat up faster, which means you need to be more cautious about your temperature settings and how long you're apply the plates to your hair.
No matter what type of iron you choose, Marjan says that if you're looking for versatility, keep an eye out for rounded edges. "You can create both curls and waves in addition to straightening," she explains about why she prefers this style. Even more importantly, she says to look for an iron no larger than 1-inch inch wide to be able to effectively straighten smaller sections of hair.
Why Heat Settings Matter:
When it comes to heat settings, in the past, you've probably heard that the higher the temperature, the smoother your hair will be. According to Marjan, not only is that untrue, but using an iron that's too hot can make your hair look worse. "It's actually a myth that the hotter the iron, the better it works. If an iron is too hot, it can actually blow out the cuticle layer of the hair, causing frizz, breakage, and color-fading," she explains, adding that it can even cause your hairstyle to fall out faster. According to ghd, the optimum temperature to straighten hair is 365 degrees Fahrenheit, but if your hair is coarse or really curly, you can crank it up to as high as 400 degrees (just don't forget to use a heat protectant spray first).
A Pro Tip For Styling:
Once you're ready to start styling, part of Marjan's secret to smoother hair is the type of brush she uses. "I like to use a boar bristle brush as I run the iron through the hair. This helps to detangle as well as add shine," she says. While straightening, always make sure your hair is completely dry and separate it into smaller, workable sections. "Make sure your sections are thin enough to see through," Marjan offers as a guideline, adding that there's no hard and fast rule because "the actual depth per section will depend on the density of your hair." And don't forget to pay attention to how you use the flat iron, says Marjan. "Take your time and keep the iron in motion as it's pressed against the hair to prevent creases and crimps from forming," she says. Straightening your hair slowly and in smaller sections also ensures you won't have to run the iron through your hair as many times (which means less damage in the long run).
Ahead, you'll find three of the best professional flat irons on Amazon to amp up your heat-styling game.