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Although we know about the damage that heating tools can cause our hair, we spend quite a bit (okay, too much) time applying heat to our hair. In hopes of reducing breakage while still achieving silky smooth locks, we set out on a search to find the best flat irons and hair straighteners for minimal hair damage.
The best thing to do for your hair is to use heat styling sparingly, but if you just can't give up your beloved hair straightener for days on end, make sure you pick the right product. Choosing a quality option can make all the difference, ensuring that you don’t need to make multiple passes over the hair and further increase the likelihood of damage, explains stylist Gina Rivera, founder of Phenix Salon Suites. Other important criteria? Controllable temperature settings and infrared technology, both of which will also go a long way toward keeping your strands in tip-top shape. Once you find the best flat iron or hair straightener for you, you’ll cut your routine in half and wind up with healthier hair.
Here are our recommendations for the best flat irons and hair straighteners for each hair type.
This flat iron one of the bestsellers among hair straighteners and there's no surprise why. The benefits of this flat iron are seemingly endless, but users love how easily it can straighten, flip, and curl hair, depending on your mood. The ceramic plates are equipped with special technology to minimize the amount of breakage as a result of heat damage; all you'll see is sleek and shiny strands thanks to the inclusion of tourmaline crystal ion plates.
As for temperature ranges, you can adjust between 140-450°F and take it with you when you travel to areas with 220v outlets. As a bonus, each device comes with an included glove (to protect against burns), a handy travel pouch, and a travel-size argan oil hair treatment to tame flyaways in a pinch.
If you don’t have the budget for a luxury straightener, this ceramic flat iron from Remington will do the trick. With a heat-up time of just 30 seconds and six different heat settings, this flat iron can suit every hair type. Its tangle-free fabric cord allows you to get every angle needed without any worries, and it even has digital controls to help you find the right temperature.
When you’re done styling your hair, it shuts off automatically after 60 minutes. Because it’s only one-inch wide, you can get up close to your roots without worrying about burning your skin or leaving an unsightly dented shape in your strands.
Team Byrdie has been patiently awaiting the release of this next-level hair straightener, and now it's finally here. True to the Dyson name, this flat iron features some of the coolest technology we've ever seen from 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 30 minutes, making it easier than ever to style your hair wherever you are.
The price is steep, but not necessarily a far cry from other Dyson hair tools. Still, trust us when we say that the quality is there, and so are the results. One of our editors with 3c curls put Dyson Corrale to the test and admits she's never gotten her hair to be so straight after just one pass. Associate editor Holly Rhue is also a devotee, noting that it smoothed out every last bend in her medium-thick waves in a single pass.
With short hair, whether a bob or a pixie, the most important quality to look for in a straightener is the size. While it may seem like a thick straightener gets the job done faster, it’s actually harder to use with short hair. You can get closer to the roots using a one-inch straightener without burning your scalp. This iron has 50 different settings that reach up to 450°F, allowing you to pick the heat you prefer for styling. Since you’re getting closer to your roots, the range in heat and the smaller size is a major plus.
We love the wide plates of this flat iron because it allows larger sections of hair to be worked at once, reducing the time it takes to get ultra-sleek results. And thanks to ceramic technology, even the frizziest hair can look shiny and smooth.
With thick hair, it’s important to find a flat iron that can straighten each strand without having to go over it too many times, essentially frying your hair. This iron promises to do just that. You can choose any temperature between 170 to 450°F, so you’re in control of how hot you want it. Plus, it heats up quickly, cutting your styling time way down. This also promises to eliminate frizz and static, two key concerns of thick hair.
When you have natural, coarse, or kinky-curly hair, ceramic irons are preferred to titanium because the heat typically is distributed more evenly with ceramic materials. This straightener has floating plates, which means they flex with your hair for a better grip and keep your strands in constant contact with heat. The eight-foot-long cord means finding the right place to plug your iron in will be a breeze.
This flat iron can reach 10 different heat settings that range from 265 to 445°F in just 90 seconds and automatically shuts off after an hour of use. The most important part of this straightener is infrared technology because that allows the heat to penetrate the entire strand, not just the outer layer.
Getting the super straight and sleek look with curly hair can be tough. It either takes forever or your hair never smooths out exactly right. This flat iron promises to be everything you need and more. It’s specifically designed with coarse, thick and curly hair in mind. It has five heat settings between 260 and 410°F, allowing you to customize it depending on how you want your hair styled. It also has a microchip embedded to make sure the iron stays the same temperature throughout your styling session, so you don’t have to worry about overheating your locks.
With super fine hair, you want a straightener that has lower settings because it doesn’t take much heat to get your hair to become straight. This product goes all the way down to 170°F, making it perfect for finer hair. It heats up in just 60 seconds and automatically shuts off. Because of the ceramic plates, it’s able to glide through your hair effortlessly and distribute the right amount of heat evenly throughout. You don’t have to worry about frying your hair, especially if it’s thin and more fragile.
Remington’s Anti-Frizz flat iron can calm even the frizziest hair. Built-in conditioner transfers onto your hair with every stroke to give you up to 65% less frizz for 15 hours, even in humidity. The ceramic plates allow you to glide the iron right through your hair without any snagging or tugging too. It takes just 30 seconds to properly heat up and automatically shuts off after an hour of use. Plus, it’s super affordable.
Byrdie Senior Commerce Editor Jessica Mahgerefteh is a big fan of this first-of-its-kind cordless flat iron because it's just that—cordless. "Tangled cords are the bane of my existence when I'm working with multiple hot tools at once," she says. "They're unsightly, yes, but more than that they easily intertwine and make it difficult to reach certain angles without knocking other tools off the counter. I love that I can use this flat iron virtually anywhere without worrying about my proximity to a power outlet."
But that's not all. Other perks of this flat iron include a temperature range that goes up to 450℉, snag-free titanium plates, and dual voltage so you don't have to invest in a separate tool for international travel.
Yes, this pick is on the pricier side, but well worth every penny. It’s another favorite of Rhue’s, and touts much of the same technology as the travel version—think those damage-reducing nano-ceramic and tourmaline plates—just in a larger size. The temperature settings can be adjusted from 235 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s easily customized for all hair types and textures and has extra-large ceramic heaters in each plate to further ensure completely even (read: non-damaging) heat distribution.
The best flat irons create silky hair that's ready for its closeup without frying it to a crisp. The most innovative flat iron is Dyson's Corrale Hair Straightener because it's cord-free, has flexing plates that gather each hair for more control, as well as heat control to ensure the tool never goes above your desired temperature. All of that comes at a pretty steep price, however; if you're not up for spending that much on your flat iron, reach for the HSI Professional Glider Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron. It's a solid and budget-friendly flat iron that easily straightens, flips, and curls the hair.
What to Look For in a Flat Iron
According to Rivera, this helps lock in hair’s natural moisture, further minimizing the likelihood of any heat damage.
Adjustable temperature settings
This will allow you to turn down the temperature if you have finer hair (or on areas that may be more prone to damage, like brittle ends), and also crank it up when needed for thicker textures or on areas that require extra smoothing.
Rivera says that 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.
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, says Rivera. Then, divide your hair into sections. The number of sections depends on the length and thickness of your strands; generally speaking, the thicker or coarser your hair, the more sections you’ll want to create. Run the iron over each section with a consistent speed, not letting it sit on one area for too long. Ideally, you’ll want to just make one pass over each section.
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?
Believe it, flat irons aren’t just for straightening. They can also be used to create waves and even curls. To do so, separate the hair into sections. Taking one section at a time, clamp the hair in the flat iron at mid-shaft, and wrap the rest hair, except for the very ends, gently around the flat iron, says Rivera. Gently pull downward and release.
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 were not 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.