Best Picks / Reviewed
Best-in-class: Bio Ionic OnePass 1.5″ Nano Ceramic Straightening Iron Review
The Bio Ionic OnePass is a professional-level hair straightener that offers one of the fastest ironing experiences on the market today. Unique technologies, adjustable settings, and a seriously high-end design make this iron an enjoyable and value-packed investment. The ceramic plates heat nearly instantaneously (compared to the typical 30-90 second heat time) and, true to its name, one pass through each section of hair is all it takes to create straight and shiny hair. The Bio Ionic merges top-of-the line ionic and nano technologies to create a fast, reliable, and high-quality straightening experience worthy of our high-end pick.
- Infrared technology protects hair from damage while ionic and nano technologies create a consistent, high-quality hair treatment.
- Silicone strips are to thank for the device’s one-pass straightening ability. No more running a straightener over each section multiple times to get a satisfactory result.
- Temperature controls allow users to adjust heat up to 400 °F (205 °C).
- Heat-up time hovers around five seconds, which is well below most other units.
- The plates are 5 inches in width and provide a perfect middle-ground between efficient straightening and versatile styling options.
Best value: HSI Professional Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron Review
The HSI Professional flat iron is an affordable, versatile, and value-packed iron with the versatility to straighten hair ranging from straight to long and course to fine. The HSI’s adjustable temperature controls and mid-sized plate width make it ideal for straightening hair, taming bangs, and even creating curls.
The plates are wide enough for all hair lengths but thin enough for versatile use. This flat iron combines infrared, ionic, ceramic, and tourmaline technologies into a product that’s gentle on hair, suitable for a variety of hair types, and consistently good at delivering on its promises. Excellent customer ratings, plenty of bonus accessories, and a seriously budget-friendly price point combine to earn the HSI our best-value vote.
- The temperature can be adjusted from as low as 240 °F (115 °C) to as high as 400 °F (205 °C).
- The kit includes argan oil to keep your hair smooth and sleek (while protecting it from heat damage).
- This iron comes with a glove to protect your hand from burns and a handy carrying bag for storage and travel.
- The 1-inch plate width provides maximum styling versatility.
- It does not include an auto-off feature, so you’ll need to remember to turn it off.
Also great: xtava Pro-Satin Infrared Straightener Professional Flat Iron Review
The xtava flat iron offers a stylish design, consistent heat, and excellent customization options for great value at an affordable price. Tourmaline ceramic plates work well for all hair types, making this a safe bet for virtually everyone’s hair-straightening needs. It’s especially useful for users with longer hair due to its 2-inch-wide plates, and the device blends a variety of safety and convenience features that make this a budget-friendly buy with professional-level results.
- The xtava offers ten temperature settings ranging from a low of 265 °F (130 °C) to a high of 445 °F (230 °C).
- The wide plates allow for faster straightening and easier use with long hair.
- An auto shut-off function helps prevent fires.
- Its use of infrared technology ensures a safer and less damaging straightening experience.
- It takes about a minute and a half to heat up, which is longer than many models.
Budget choice: Remington S5500 Digital Anti Static Ceramic Hair Straightener Review
The Remington S5500 is ideal for lower-budget shoppers who still value style and features. It has everything you need for a safe, comfortable, and convenient straightening session, and its 1-inch plates allow for maximum styling options. A simple, fun, and stylish design rounds out great safety features and a convenient swivel chord that makes it simple to reach every section of hair. While it doesn’t feature higher-end infrared or nano-technologies, the plates are made of ceramic materials that work effectively for virtually every hair type.
- Its heat up time is just 30 seconds.
- The automatic shutoff feature powers down the device after one hour.
- The Remington includes a digital temperature readout.
- Adjustable temperature controls allow you to customize the heat to your hair’s needs (up to 410 °F or 210 °C).
2. Why use a flat iron?
Flat irons are a great way to tame ill-behaved hair or totally change your style with just a few minutes of work. They’re especially useful for those who:
- Have hard-to-tame fly-away hairs, unruly curls, or wavy-but-not-quite-straight hair.
- Are looking for a quick way to switch up their look.
- Want a versatile tool that can crimp, straighten, and curl depending on their mood.
3. Flat iron plate material
The plates, and the material they are made of are the most important aspect of hair straighteners. They change the shape of your hair to make it straight, curly, or crimped, by using a combination of heat and pressure. The plates generate heat that transfers to your hair when you apply pressure to it, forcing your hair to temporarily conform to the plates’ shape. This makes your hair straight, or curly depending on the motion that you make with it.
The plates can be made from several different materials. The plate material that’s right for you depends entirely on your hair type.
- Ceramic irons—Ceramic irons are some of the oldest and most reliable flat irons on the market. They get hot quickly and stay hot, and they tend to last a long time. They work by generating negative ions that smooth your hair. The wonderful thing about ceramic irons is that they work for virtually all hair types. Avoid irons that are labeled as “ceramic coated”, though; ceramic coating will break down over time and cause issues with heat consistency.
- Tourmaline irons—Tourmaline irons are a fairly new innovation, and are usually composed of ceramic base plates coated in ground-up tourmaline (a type of stone) that can smooth hair up to six times more effectively than ceramic irons. Tourmaline irons are great at maintaining a consistent heat, and they’re also more effective at low heats than most other irons.
- Titanium irons—Titanium flat irons are often lauded for their ability to maintain and distribute heat evenly and their reputation for not burning hair. Titanium irons are usually more lightweight than irons made with other materials, but they don’t work well for delicate, thin, or already-straight hair.
Which iron is right for my hair type?
If you have thick, curly, or full-bodied hair, you’re in luck: ceramic, tourmaline, and titanium irons will all work wonderfully on your hair. People with medium-bodied or wavy hair can safely choose any one of the three plate options, too. If you have especially thin, fine, or straight hair, however, you’ll want to avoid titanium irons. This is because titanium irons can reach very high levels of heat, which can damage your hair, especially if your hair is thin or fine.
Regardless of your hair’s consistency, tourmaline (or tourmaline/ceramic) irons are the most reliable option on the market for smoothing hair.
4. Flat iron technologies
Flat irons are becoming more high-tech by the year. Four terms—silver, infrared, nano, and wet-to-dry—make an appearance on nearly every straightener advertisement today. What do these terms mean, and will the technologies improve your straightening experience?
- Silver—Plates that incorporate silver are said to eliminate germs and the buildup of unsanitary microbes on your iron. This is great for the health-conscious consumer, but a regular cleaning will accomplish essentially the same thing. Therefore, it’s not necessary for those on a tighter budget.
- Infrared—Infrared technology was designed to heat hair more gradually and evenly to protect hair from damage and straighten it faster.
- Nano—If a company uses the term “nano technology”, it means that the material used to create the plates is formed into microscopic particles to generate more of the negative ions that style your hair. This results in a smoother plate and a faster styling.
- Wet to dry—New technologies are emerging that claim to work on wet hair and leave you with dry, straightened hair. These types of irons work well on dry hair and can often be used effectively on damp locks, but they typically don’t work very well for straight-out-of-the-shower hair.
In a nutshell: If you’re concerned about the cleanliness of your styling tools, look for a flat iron that uses silver in the plate. Infrared technology and nano technology are both great for those with minimal time, but infrared is especially useful for those with hair prone to damage.
5. What size plate do you need?
As you shop for a flat iron, you’ll notice that the plates typically come in two sizes: narrow and wide.
- Narrow plates (one inch in width or less) are ideal for more in-depth styling techniques like curling and crimping. They’re also better-suited to people with short to medium-length hair.
- Wide plates (over one inch in width) are ideal for longer hair, and can straighten more hair at a time.
The wider the plate, the more quickly it can straighten your hair. However, for those with a variety of styling needs—like curling one day and smoothing the next—narrow plates will provide more versatility.
6. Finding the right temperature
Different flat irons also offer different levels of heat. The amount of heat you want depends entirely on your hair type. Generally:
- Those with thick and curly hair will fair best with an iron capable of heating to at least 380° F (195° C).
- Those with medium-bodied and wavy hair will do fine with irons that can heat to 360° F (180° C).
- If your hair is especially thin, straight, or prone to damage, choose an iron that offers a heat setting under 360°F (180° C).
The hotter the iron, the quicker and more effectively it will straighten hair, but a too hot iron can damage your hair, especially if your hair is thin.
7. Available accessories
Many flat irons come with a range of tools and accessories to keep your styling sessions safe, easy, and hygienic. The tools you need will depend on your budget and lifestyle.
- Holders: Some irons come with a holder that mounts to a wall, sits on a surface, or attaches to the edge of a table. These holders help to make storage safer and more convenient.
- Carrying bags: Irons sometimes include a convenient carrying bag, which is great for those who travel often and want to keep up with their styling routine. Some bags are even heat resistant to reduce the risk of damage and fire.
- Heat–resistant mats: These allow you to place your hot iron down without risking damage or fire.
- Cleaning tools: Your iron purchase might include a cleaning kit to help you keep the straighter as effective and sanitized as the day you bought it.
- Replacement plates: Some irons come with replacement plates to help extend the lifespan of your investment.
8. Helpful features
Flat irons usually incorporate a simple and streamlined design, but many have bonus features that improve safety or give you greater control over your straightening experience.
Auto-off features use a sensor to turn off the iron when it hasn’t been used for a set amount of time. Usually, the iron will turn off after 10, 20, or 30 minutes have gone by to prevent fires.
Temperature controls allow users to turn a dial to select an exact plate temperature or to choose between low, medium, and high settings. This is particularly useful when your hair is more or less curly from one day to the next and when you need a quick touch-up rather than a full straightening treatment.
Digital readouts allow you to monitor the iron’s exact temperature without squinting at a dial. They also make it easier to tell when the iron is hot enough to use.
9. Buying Tips
There’s a lot to consider when you’re in the market for a flat iron. We’ve compiled a list of the must-have features that make an iron worthwhile, the good-to-have features that allow for maximum safety and versatility, and the great-to-have features that make a straightener worthy of best-in-show.
Must have features:
- Look for an iron made of a material that suits your hair type: ceramic and tourmaline irons work well for all hair types, while titanium ones are suitable for all but the thinnest hair.
- Choose a plate width that suits your hair type and needs. Small plates are perfect for short hair, straightening, crimping, and curling. Larger ones are better for long hair and work best for straightening.
- For most hair types, a straightener that can heat to at least 360 degrees Fahrenheit will offer the best results.
Good to have features:
- To prevent fires, look for a flat iron with an auto-off
- Cleaning tools make it easier to keep your flat iron smooth and clean for optimal effectiveness.
- Carrying bags and heat-resistant mats allow you to transport your iron worry-free and place it down without the risk of fire or heat damage.
Great to have features:
- You’ll achieve the ultimate versatility with a model that includes temperature controls; look for one that allows for adjustment up to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A digital temperature readout makes it easy to tell when your iron is ready to use.
- An iron holder allows you to store your iron more safely and conveniently.
- Choose a model that includes replacement plates to maximize the lifespan of the straightener.
There are many flat iron models out there, and it can be hard to tell which one is the best pick for your lifestyle, hair, and budget. Use the tips from this article and you’ll have no problem identifying the flat iron that will keep your hair shining, straight, and safe, no matter your hair type or budget.