Hair is one of the most noticeable features in a woman. I would know, I take care of my hair as if it was a holy relic, but I love to have fun with it as well. I have had my fair share of experience with flat irons, or hair straighteners, I wish I had someone ease me into the wide variety of models and brands. Apparently they differ on a large margin, and why shouldn’t they, hair is naturally a “thing” that nobody seems to know what to do with it. One day it is perfectly gorgeous and you’re cute, the next day, you’re a goblin with witchy hair. I digress. What this world needs is a fair, yet concise, guide to choosing the best flat iron for any hair and to do that, we have to know how the device works.
Without going into a whole scientific seminar about how hair reacts to temperature or moisture, the basic idea is this: Hair can be “shaped” when heat is applied to it by weakening or breaking the hydrogen bonds that hold hair together in its natural state. This same idea is true for when hair is wet and it’s naturally straight, roll it up in curlers, let it dry, and voila, beautiful curls.
What flat irons do is practically the same thing, when the heat of any iron is applied you’re restructuring your hair shape until moisture reconstitutes it to its natural shape again. And this is why women are forever natural enemies to humidity. Now you’re probably wondering, how does a hair straightener damage hair? Well, even if you didn’t wonder that, I’ll briefly explain it.
Over time, any heat, even prolonged exposure to sunlight, creates cracks in the protective layers of your hair which makes it extremely easy for heat and chemicals—like hair dyes, to penetrate your hair straight to the cuticles and cortex which results in damaged-looking hair and negatively charged frizzy nightmare.
There are three types of flat iron, with a tentatively fourth: ceramics, titanium, tourmaline, and an elusive mix. Each one has their own unique benefit depending on the necessity and the type of hair. I personally am a Titanium user; my hair is thick and coarse when the weather decides to betray me. Choosing the best one is purely trial and error, but I will try to narrow down what might best suit each hair shape and type.
Ceramics are the most economical and widely used of these hair straighteners, they work just as amazing as any high end flat iron, the only down side is that they’re notoriously heavy and if you’re not careful can easily break. Most brands of ceramics have an “ionic tech” which is just a fancy term of saying, the flat iron generates negative ions that will neutralize and seal positive ions setting camp in your hair cuticles, hence, fortifying beautifully sleek and straight hair. This type of iron is best used for hair that is straight, fine, or wavy/curly.
Ah, the titanium plated flat iron. This is my favorite and most precious arsenal to my hair beautification. Unlike ceramic flat irons, titanium is a little more on the expensive side, not unreasonable, but also well worth the price if you ask me. Titanium is the best material to flatten hair and give a luscious sheen to curly hair. My hair is thick, like a wolf, but once I apply this baby, it’s literally smooth and gorgeous without actually applying too much heat or risk damaging my hair. This iron is perfect for type 4 hair (“coily” coarse hair) and thick straight hair. Also, they weigh a lot less than ceramic flat irons.
Tourmaline flat irons are more on the mid-range of expensive irons, but they are marvelously pieces of ingenuity. As the name suggests, tourmaline is a crystal that is crushed into a fine powder and applied to the iron’s plates. The crystal boron silicate mineral in tourmaline helps smooth out the hair cuticle and amazingly prevents further heat damage. This flat iron is great for hair that is tightly coiled but is very fine. The beauty of tourmaline irons is that you only have to pass over each section of your hair once. Once and you’re done. That is an incredibly good benefit because it lessens the risk of further damaging your hair.
I’m aware I mentioned a “fourth” type of iron, don’t worry I’m not trying to trick you into reading my long guide. The reason I am not confidently adding it to the list is because the elusive fourth type of flat iron is a very rare breed. It’s called wet to dry flat iron. Usually it exists within the previous three flat irons already mentioned.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a complete fan for this iron, but it does deserve being mentioned of existing. And when I say “rare breed”? I mean, rare breed. Not many flat irons actually have this feature where you can style your hair while it is damp or wet. It sounds completely contradicting. Applying a heated source to a wet surface, but it is possible.
However, be warned that wet to dry irons do have a tendency to cause immense damage in the long run, so always read the indications very carefully before trying to use this type of straightener for the first time. For a better in depth look about hair straighteners I highly recommend Hair Straightener Studio, which is a compendium of all things flat iron. Brands, Models, style guide, hair guide and more.