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Flat irons are a must for anyone who wants a sleek look. However, if you use them for too long, they can damage your hair. According to stylist Gina Rivera, founder of Phenix Salon Suites, choosing a quality flat iron makes all the difference. “It ensures that you don't need to make multiple passes over the hair and further increase the likelihood of damage,” she says. However, because there are hundreds of flat irons on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. The good news? To make shopping easier for you, we headed over to The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn to conduct our own comprehensive tests.
After consulting experts for their top picks, we tested the hair straighteners in The Lab for 16 hours. The flat irons were tested on three different hair types (fine, thick/wavy, type 4 textured curls) and rated on a scale of one to five on temperature settings, ease of use, glide performance, and durability (yes, we dropped the irons on the floor to see if they would break or crack—these are an investment, after all!).
Here, the results, and the best flat irons for all your hair straightening and styling needs.
Best Overall: T3 SinglePass Luxe
No digital display
Achieving glass-like hair can take some serious time and effort—not to mention the right hot tool. This iron is the one for the job. Once the iron is set to your desired setting, an embedded microchip ensures the heat stays at the same level as you style. Our testers loved how quickly it straightened their hair: “It straightened my curls in one pass,” raved one tester. Since it worked so well on all three testers, it scored a 5/5 on straightening ability.
This flat iron heated up to its maximum temperature in just 47 seconds, and when we put the meat thermometer on the plates to test its accuracy, it read as 420 degrees Fahrenheit—only 10 degrees more than what the brand claims (which, in our eyes, is no big deal). The iron's automatic shut-off did exactly what the brand claimed and shut off at exactly one hour after it was turned on.
Design-wise, this iron’s gold and white detailing is stunning and would look beautiful on any vanity. We wanted to test its durability too—after all, this iron isn’t cheap and you’d want it to last for years. We dropped it from vanity level and nothing happened to the tool—not a chip or scratch in sight.
One complaint is that this iron doesn’t have a digital display, but honestly, it doesn’t matter to us because this iron is that good. Also, we weren’t sure how to change the temperature at first. After some research, we learned that it’s all controlled with the power button—by clicking that button, you can switch the temperature from 260 degrees to its highest setting of 410 degrees—but because that didn’t feel quite as intuitive, we gave it a score of 3/5 for ease of use.
Final Rating: 4.8 | Plate Width: 1 ½ inches | Plate Type: Ceramic plates | Voltage: Dual Voltage | Cord Length: 8 feet
What Our Editors Say
“Regardless of how confusing it is to change the heat setting, I would purchase this product. I love the idea of being able to get my hair straight in one pass, and not using 400 degrees-plus of temp.” — Eden Stuart, Associate Editor
Best Drugstore: Kristin Ess 3-in-One Flat Iron
Changing temperature is not intuitive
While there are cheaper drugstore flat irons out there, this iron is our top pick of the bunch. It’s a stylist fave, too: “Some of my favorite features are the 30-minute automatic shut-off, four temperature settings, and the 9-foot-long swivel cord that makes it comfortable to hold and use,” says Erlis Aguilar, a Covet & Mane hairstylist at East Coast Salon in Denville, NJ. In our testing, we can stand by all this: The flat iron did take 30 minutes to turn off after not being used. It also took one minute and 16 seconds to heat up to its highest temperature—which, when tested against the meat thermometer, came out to be 431 degrees compared to the brand’s claim of 440 degrees (not a game-changing difference).
This one is also great for multiple hair textures. All three of our testers agreed that it gave them a sleek and straight look after just one pass, as it received a score of 5/5 from each tester. However, just like the T3, to change the temperature you have to utilize the power button, which is a little confusing. On the bright side, after dropping this iron twice at counter-level, no damage was done.
Final Rating: 4.4 | Plate Width: 1.25 inches | Plate Type: Titanium | Voltage: Dual voltage | Cord length: 9 feet
What Our Editors Say
“This product is worth buying. It's not perfect, but it's beautiful, was effective at straightening my hair, and was fairly affordable.” — Avery Stone, Senior Commerce Editor
Best Splurge: Dyson Corrale Hair Straightener
Great for damaged hair
True to the Dyson name, this flat iron features some of the coolest technology we've ever seen in a straightener. It boasts unique flexing plates that conform to the shape of your hair to straighten it in less time and with less damage. Another perk? It can be used cordless for up to 32 minutes (don’t worry—we tested it until the battery ran out), making it easier than ever to style your hair wherever you are. The downside is that the tool is pretty heavy. One tester even compared the weight to that of her MacBook Pro. The iron comes in at 1.23 pounds to be exact, and to blame is the large battery that’s in it. For this reason, it received its lowest rating in comfort, a 4.3/5.
We’d be remiss not to mention the price, which is steep, though not necessarily a far cry from other Dyson hair tools. The device says that the iron heats up to 410 degrees. When we tested it with our meat thermometer, we read 411 degrees (pretty spot-on). With a stopwatch on, the iron takes 35 seconds to heat up to that maximum temperature and turns off automatically after five minutes of not being used—which is especially great because it preserves battery life. As far as durability goes, when we dropped this iron, there was no damage at all.
Final Rating: 4.7 | Plate Width: 1 inch | Plate Type: Copper alloy | Voltage: Dual voltage | Cord Length: 11 feet
What Our Editors Say
"The Dyson Corrale is the only straightener I'll use on my hair. It completely straightens my wavy-to-curly hair in a single pass, even without cranking the tool up to its highest heat setting. That, and the flexing plates eliminate tugging and frying, so you get hair that's twice as straight and silky with half the damage." — Holly Rhue, Senior Editor
Best Cordless: GHD Unplugged Cordless Flat Iron
Only one temperature setting
Short charging cord
For silky hair on the go, GHD’s Unplugged Cordless Flat Iron is the perfect pick. This iron (like all of the brand’s straighteners) only has one heat option: 365 degrees—which, according to the brand, is the optimum temperature for styling on every hair type. We put it to the test to confirm with our thermometer that it was actually 365 degrees, and while we measured 355 degrees Fahrenheit, it's still pretty close. All three of our testers said that this iron felt excellent on their hair and straightened multiple sections in just one pass.
The iron takes two hours to charge fully and lasts for 20 minutes until its battery dies, which leads us to the only real con we observed: the cord. We wish the cord was longer so we’d be able to use this iron while it charges. With only three feet of wire, it’s hard to utilize the iron while it's plugged in.
If you leave your iron on, GHD claims it’ll take three minutes for it to turn off to preserve battery life. We put it to the test and found that it took four minutes and 30 seconds—not a huge difference but something worth noting. As far as durability, we were worried something would happen to this iron since it’s so small, but after dropping it twice, it still looks good as new.
Final Rating: 4.3 | Plate Width: .89 inches | Plate Type: Ceramic | Voltage: Dual-voltage | Cord length: 3.16 feet
What Our Editors Say
“I loved the size and feel of this flat iron in use. I have fairly small hands, and it was super compact and easy to maneuver but still powerful enough to get the job done.” — Avery Stone, Senior Commerce Editor
Best Budget: Hot Tools Signature Series 1” Salon Digital Flat Iron
Easy to use
Feels a little flimsy
If you’re just getting started with flat ironing your hair, this Hot Tools pick is for you. It may not feel the most lavish, but at this price, it’s worth it. The tool features a digital display that’s very easy to read. It also has narrow, 1-inch plates, so if you’re new to straightening your hair, it may take you a little longer to get through your entire head—but hey, practice makes perfect!
With a heat-up time of 44 seconds and a max temperature of 440 degrees (our thermometer measured this to exactly 440 degrees, too), our testers say that this affordable iron will do the job in one pass. It also has a shut-off time of two hours. which we can also attest is also spot-on. As for durability, this inexpensive iron had zero damage when dropped.
Final Rating: 4 | Plate Width: 1 inch | Plate Type: Ceramic | Voltage: Dual voltage | Cord length: 6 feet
What Our Editors Say
“I really liked this one! It's pretty affordable and gets the job done; pretty utilitarian. It's not a gorgeous design or a sleek look, but it straightened my curly hair in one pass.” — Eden Stuart, Associate Editor
Best for Textured Hair: xtava Pro-Satin Advanced Infrared Straightener
Works on all hair types
Easy to use
Long heat-up time
Fun fact: According to celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine, ceramic irons are better for all hair types, including natural, coarse, or kinky-curly hair. The ceramic plates on this one are also floating, meaning they move with your hair for a better grip and keep hair in contact with the heat consistently. All three of our testers loved this tool, but especially our curly-haired tester: “What a game changer! Not only did it totally straighten my hair in one pass, but it left it feeling much healthier than the other flat irons did. Color me seriously impressed,” she says.
For shut-off time and durability, Xtava’s iron performed incredibly well. There was no damage done, and as the brand claims, it took one hour for the iron to shut off on its own, giving it a 5/5 for both of these attributes.
The only downfalls are that our testers found the tool to be a little bulky and not the most beautiful iron to place on a vanity. Not to mention, it does have a long heat-up time (four minutes and two seconds, to be exact). But the maximum heat measured out was great: The brand claims the plates heat up to 445 degrees and our thermometer read 440 degrees. On top of that, it touts infrared technology to heat the entire strand from the inside out, rather than just the outermost layer.
Final Rating: 4.6 | Plate Width: 2 inches | Plate Type: Tourmaline Ceramic | Voltage: Dual voltage | Cord length: 8 feet
Best for Beginners: Drybar The Tress Press Straightening Iron 1.25
Works on all hair types
Bright yellow color
Easy to use
Buttons are close to plates
If it's your first time buying a flat iron, consider Drybar’s The Tress Press Straightening Iron. Because the plates are a little bigger (1.25 inches), you can cover more ground and get your hair done faster. What's more, our testers thought it was incredibly easy to use. “It's easy to change the temperature, it heats up quickly, and the base of the iron is on a swivel so the cord doesn't tangle or bend,” says one tester.
Drybar states that the maximum temperature of this iron goes up to 450 degrees. With our testing, we were able to read 430 degrees on the meat thermometer—still very hot and effective. Plus, it only took about one minute to heat up. That being said, because this iron is so hot, one tester thought that the buttons to change the settings shouldn’t be so close to the plates. The shut-off time is accurate to what the brand claims (one hour) and the durability of this tool is amazing. We feared we’d chip some of that gorgeous yellow coloring, but dropping the tool did no such thing.
We do prefer ceramic plates on a flat iron because according to Maine, they are gentler for all hair types. But titanium plates like on this Drybar tool are "a better conductor of heat and will read hotter than ceramic, even when set at the same temperature,” says Maine.
Final Rating: 4.8 | Plate Width: 1.25 inches | Plate Type: Titanium | Voltage: Dual voltage | Cord length: 9 feet
What Our Testers Say
“This iron heats up quickly with different temperatures to choose from. It passes the one swipe test, and is super easy to use because it has a gentle glide.” — Samantha Aronson, Commerce Production Assistant
While we were skeptical about its ease of use at first, the T3 SinglePass Luxe impressed our testers the most with its straightening ability, heat settings, and durability. For those looking to splurge, look no further than the Dyson Corrale, its innovative flex plates and rapid heat up time will be sure to impress you. However, if you’re looking to save some pennies the Hot Tools Signature Series Ceramic Digital Flat Iron will get the job done for less that $50.
How We Tested
We spent two weeks researching flat irons, interviewing experts, and reading product reviews to land on the product selection. Once the team narrowed down the tools in consideration, it was time to put them all to the test. Our editor created a standardized methodology for the testers to test each iron and collected insights on each. Each flat iron was rated on a 1-5 scale for glide performance, straightening ability, and temperature settings.
Since every type of hair has a different experience with a hair straightener we had three testers with different hair try each of these flat irons. We tested on fine hair, wavy and thick, and type 4 textured curls.
Our testers took note of how smooth the glide felt and how many passes it took to get their hair straight. We utilized a meat thermometer to test the maximum heat, and used a stopwatch to time how long each iron took to heat up and shut off automatically. We also tested durability by dropping each iron twice at vanity level to see if it would break, chip, or scratch. After collecting the data, our editor assigned categories for each item and product placement within the list. All testing was conducted at The Lab in Industry City Brooklyn.
Other Options We Tested
Remington Pro 2" Flat Iron with Thermaluxe
The Remington Pro 2" Flat Iron claims to only be able to reach a temperature of 450 degrees. However, our thermometer read 473 degrees—a substantial difference. While in use this one worked in one to two passes for our fine-textured testers but for our tester with coarse hair, not so much; it actually smoked up a lot and made us a little nervous to have her continue using it.
CHI Original 1'' Ceramic Hairstyling Iron
While CHI is such a well-known brand—our testers have all used a CHI Iron at some point in their lives—we couldn’t add the Chi Original 1" Iron to our list. All three testers' feedback was that the iron took multiple runs to straighten their hair. “The plates of this product didn't line up properly, so it was difficult to straighten my hair; I had to press very hard several times to straighten wavy strands,” says one tester. Plus, there is no display screen or automatic shut-off.
Conair Double Ceramic Flat Iron
It took our fine and wavy hair testers only one or two passes to get a sleek look with the Conair Double Ceramic Flat Iron, which was good but we can’t say the same about our type 4 hair tester. It would have taken multiple passes, but we stopped after three to avoid any damage. Plus, the brand does claim that this tool has an automatic shut-off, though it wasn’t mentioned how long. We left the iron powered on for two hours and it was still on, so if it does have this feature, it takes more than two hours to activate it.
Bio Ionic OnePass Straight Iron
While using the Bio Ionic OnePass Straight Iron our testers found that, while it did straighten the hair in one or two passes, their strands felt dry and unhealthy afterward. All three testers couldn't justify spending $200 for something that made their hair feel so unhealthy.
Babyliss Nano Titanium Straightening Iron
Two of our testers reported that the Babyliss Nano Titanium Straightening Iron made their hair feel brittle and unhealthy and needed two or three run-throughs to get it straight—and, when it came time for the third tester to try the tool, it didn’t even heat up! We’re not sure exactly what happened, but we continued with the durability test, and with one vanity-level drop, a piece broke off the flat iron. For $150, we can’t say it’s worth it.
What To Look For in a Flat Iron
Flat irons come in all different sizes. One-inch plates are perhaps the most commonly found size, great for making loose waves and tight curls, that is if you're not just looking for super sleek hair. The larger the plates get (1.5 inches, 1.75 inches, or 2 inches+), the easier it will be to straighten long, curly, coarse, and thick hair in less time. If you wish to style bangs or shorter hairs, reach for a plate size that's less than one inch as it will be easier to get close to your scalp. If you're not sure which plate size is right for you, we recommend opting for one-inch plates as it's the most versatile option.
Adjustable heat settings
According to Maine, nearly any time you sandwich hair between two hot plates, it’ll straighten. “I believe heat settings are important so that you can customize the iron to your specific texture,” he says. “Damaged and highlighted textures should use a lower temperature.” If you aren’t sure what temperature is suited for your hair type, brands like GHD take the guesswork out by suggesting that 365 degrees is the optimal temperature for most hair.
Finding a tool that heats up quickly is also important, as it's a good indication that the heat will also be distributed evenly and consistently, which, you guessed it, also minimizes damage.
Flat irons are an investment and many of them come with a hefty price tag. “Flat irons are the single most-used hot tool,” says Maine. “It's important they last and are sturdy as we accidentally knock them off the counter or let them get tossed around in our luggage. A good straightener should last years.”
Ease of use
Maine believes a flat iron should glide easily throughout the hair. “You want to find one whose plates have a glossy coating or smooth ceramic,” he says. Pro tip: If you like to use yours for a variety of styling options, like waves and curls, be sure to select one with rounded edges that meet the edges of the plates.
How do you use a flat iron?
Start by making sure your hair is completely dry and combed through so that there are no tangles or snarls, then divide your hair into sections, says Rivera. Run the iron over each section with a consistent speed, not letting it sit on one area for too long.
How do you clean a flat iron?
Once it’s unplugged and (completely) cooled off, Rivera suggests wiping down the plates with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then give them another wipe down with a clean cotton pad to make sure the plates are completely dry.
How do you curl hair with a flat iron?
Taking one section of hair at a time, clamp the hair in the flat iron at mid-shaft and wrap the rest of the hair, except for the very ends, gently around the flat iron, says Rivera. Gently pull downward and release.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie’s Beauty Review Editor Angela Trakoshis has more than five years of experience in beauty journalism. She has tried and researched countless flat irons and has been personally using one since she was 12 years old. For this story, she recruited three testers with different hair types—Senior Commerce Editor Avery Stone, Associate Editor Eden Stuart, and Commerce Production Assistant Sam Aronson—to test every flat iron. Each tool was graded upon the same scale and tested one after another on different pieces of hair. She also interviewed stylists and spent hours conducting her own product research and testing the durability, heat settings, and more attributes of each iron.
Meet the Expert
- Gina Rivera is a beauty expert, stylist, and founder of Phenix Salon Suites. She's from a family with over 90 years of experience in the beauty industry.
- Erlis Aguilar is a Covet & Mane hairstylist at East Coast Salon in Denville, New Jersey. She specializes in both custom hair extensions and dimensional color.
- Joseph Maine is a celebrity hairstylist who works in both New York and Los Angeles. He has styled global campaigns for corporations, Fashion Week, red carpets, and more.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we weren’t able to find any flat irons from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.