Most of us have coveted our neighbor’s silky and straight or cute and curly hair, wondering how they get it to look so perfect. Chances are, they use a flat iron almost daily to achieve a sleek, shiny, healthier-feeling mane. When you pair a great straightener with a heat protectant and maybe some coconut oil, it’ll give you that salon look at home for much less money. Keep scrolling for our favorite flat irons that will help you achieve a full, frizz-free style.
Why purchase a flat iron?
With the right flat iron, you can turn frizzy, air-dried hair into straight or curly hair without damaging it. A flat iron’s ceramic, titanium, or tourmaline plates will apply enough heat and pressure to safely smooth unwanted kinks and waves. Plus, you can use your straightener to add extra volume to thin, flat hair with a couple of fast, easy techniques—another reason to ditch the extra-dry, damaging heat of a blow dryer.
What should you consider when purchasing a flat iron?
- Hair Length and Thickness: Whether your hair is thick enough to fill a scrunchy in one twist or thin and lacking volume, there’s a flat iron for each hair type, texture, and length. For thick manes, choose a straightener with wide titanium plates. For fine textures, find a model with ceramic or tourmaline plates. Short hair? Shorter plates. Extra-long plates are for extra-long hair.
- Your Desired Style: If you want the option to go straight, wavy, or curly, keep an eye out for flat irons with rounded tips; they’ll save you a lot of trouble when curling or creating beachy waves. If you simply want to straighten your hair, titanium plates are the best choice.
- Heat Options: It’s important your straightener offers a safe, effective heat range for your specific hair type. Fine hair requires lower heat, around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, to avoid totally frying dry ends and ruining healthy hair shafts. Thick, coarse textures need up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively straighten or curl in one go.
What makes a quality flat iron?
Straightening irons are one of those products that get better with the price. The more a brand charges, typically, the more temperature options, styling features, and accessories it’ll include. But that’s not to say you can’t find a good straightener for less than $50, especially if you’re just looking to smooth and style shorter hair; you’ll easily find one within your budget. As long as the tool has heat options, comes with ceramic, titanium, or tourmaline plates, and isn’t constructed of light, cheap plastic, it’s a safe bet.
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HSI Professional Glider Ceramic-Tourmaline Flat Iron
This super popular flat iron regulates heat distribution and leaves a silky finish on your hair.
Pros: This is a fantastic (and rare) example of a quality straightener for less. The HSI Professional Glider is a round-tip, ceramic flat iron that uses small sensors to regulate temperature and heat distribution (140-450 degrees Fahrenheit), giving you salon results with fewer passes through even the frizziest or coarsest hair. And its tourmaline-crystal-ionized plates will give your finished style an extra-silky shine, as it allows smaller water molecules to penetrate and soften hair. With inch-wide plates, it’s an ideal tool for straightening shorter hair and bangs. Take this flat iron on vacation—it’ll plug in wherever you go with worldwide, dual-voltage compatibility and a 360-degree swivel cord.
Cons: This model is slow to reach its maximum and minimum temperature levels. You may also need to add medium pressure to the flat iron’s body, pressing together its plates for extra-straight or curly looks.
Bottom Line: This is a gem of a product at a great price; plus, it comes with super helpful accessories, like a heat glove and argan oil. It features tourmaline-infused plates, which produce negative ions to help your hair better absorb water. It can help hydrate damaged or dry hair. You’ll spend less time straightening or curling your hair while preventing damage. Plus, it’s totally travel-friendly and won’t take up a bunch of room in your suitcase.
Conair Double-Ceramic 1-inch Flat Iron
The long, floating plates on this hair tool provide faster, less-damaging styling.
Pros: Double the ceramic coating, double the style. This Conair flat iron gently produces beautifully straight hair and loose, beachy waves fast and without the frizz that comes with ocean air. Its extra-long plates, ideal for lengthy hair, come with five digital heat settings up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, which is an important feature of a quality straightener. It only requires 30 to 60 seconds to reach its highest heat, making it super convenient for busy lifestyles. And Conair has been around since the 1950s, proving itself as a trusted brand.
Cons: Though its lower-end temperature may be safe on some fine hair, experts recommend sticking with temperatures below 180 degrees Fahrenheit, making this Conair model safer for thicker textures.
Bottom Line: This is a basic model with not-so-basic features at a budget-friendly cost. It’s not every day you find a digital flat iron with 30-second heat time at this price. Plus, it’s Conair, so you know it has street cred in the beauty industry. As long as you’re conscious of its higher temperature range, you’ll have an effective, sleek, lightweight tool.
BaBylissPRO Nano Ultra-thin Titanium Straightening Iron
A lighter, longer, and hotter tool for easy straightening.
Pros: Lightweight and easy to maneuver, this is a hot iron built for speed and comfort. Its extra-long, 2-inch-wide titanium plates heat and straighten more hair per pass, reducing your ready time and avoiding tired arms and hands; it takes as little as one swipe per strand to straighten or curl. Corrosion-resistant titanium ensures high heat levels with 50 settings up to 450 degrees for smooth, silky styling of the coarsest, thickest hair. The BaBylissPRO Nano is also used and loved by salon owners all over—an extra confidence boost!
Cons: It doesn’t include a digital temperature screen like other equally pricey brands but a basic dial with numbers 1 to 50 in increments of 5. It may leave you guessing as to exactly how hot you’re running, so if you have fine hair, set it between 1 and 10, and it should work just fine.
Bottom Line: This flat iron is one of our more expensive favorites, and there’s a reason for that—it’s longer, wider, and smoother than a lot of competing, less-pricey models. BaBylissPRO Nano is loved by many who will pay its higher price for the promise of soft, frizz-free styling, whether you’re going from straight to curly or the other way around.
CHI Original 1-inch Ceramic Flat Iron
Get more volume and less damage with this flat iron.
Pros: Here’s another popular, wallet-friendly brand among beauty enthusiasts and salons—CHI. This slim, quick-heating, ceramic flat iron is ergonomically designed to comfortably create volume in flat, dull hair. Smooth, 1-inch plates won’t pull or snag precious hair, a painful problem with a lot of cheaply made irons, and its slim build lets you curl your hair at the root for a more voluminous look. Its dual-voltage feature and 11-foot swivel cord make for convenient travel. CHI straighteners also have a fantastic lifespan and can last for 8 to 10 years.
Cons: This flat iron only reaches 392 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t a reason to worry if you have finer hair; it’ll work great. If your hair is coarse and super thick, it will take a few passes over each strand to get the effect you would with a higher-temp straightener right off the bat.
Bottom Line: This flat iron is a favorite for many, and there’s a reason why. It’s a reliable brand known for high-quality straightening and curling, especially if you have thinner hair; otherwise, you’ll simply add a few minutes to your hair routine. And it won’t snag and pull. For the price and how silky your hair will feel, it’s an excellent option.
Bcway Large 2.16-inch Professional Flat Iron
This flat iron with wide plates styles more hair at a time.
Pros: The strong titanium plates on this Bcway flat iron provide excellent coverage for longer, thicker hair and five adjustable temperatures for the perfect amount of heat (between 248 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit) for most hair types. It heats up in 30 seconds and evenly distributes heat throughout, making hair smoother faster. Plus, it turns off after 60 minutes, which is an awesome safety feature for such an affordable straightener. Maybe best of all, it features a hair-care mode to help lock in moisture after applying your favorite hair mask—another rare find in a less-costly flat iron.
Cons: Curling your hair with 2-inch plates, as opposed to slimmer, 1-inch flat irons, can be difficult, and you’ll probably want to look up a tutorial video first. It just takes some getting used to!
Bottom Line: This flat iron is a super affordable option with a bunch of bells and whistles. For the same price as a basic plastic straightener with a simple temperature dial, you get an efficient temperature range, more hair coverage, fast heating, a unique hair-care mode, and an auto-off option to put your mind at ease.
Over time, heat applied to our heads can result in a dry, damaged mane, but with products like these flat irons, you’ll ensure a healthy, effective way to straighten and curl, using a proven tool that maintains safe heat levels.