Flat irons, curling irons, smoothing brushes, irons that dry your hair, irons that suck your hair up and make a curl pop out - let's face it, there's a lot of options out there. And I'm sure you've even thought to yourself from time to time if the $200 iron is really that much better than the $20 iron. Well, I'm here to set the record straight (or curly)!
The first thing we have to consider with our irons is what heats it up on the inside. There's the size, location, and material to consider. The best irons use ceramic heating elements that are distributed either by long rods or a brick lay pattern of smaller rods throughout the length of the iron. Ceramic holds heat evenly, and then by distributing these rods or coils throughout the iron you get even heat from end to end. This reduces the tendency for "hot spots" on the iron thus reducing the risk of burning your hair.
Ceramic, Tourmaline, or Titanium?
Our second factor to consider is what material the plates of the flat iron or barrel of the curling iron is made of. The answer is simply, it depends on your hair. As long as you're choosing one of these three materials you'll be pretty safe, but read on to really hone in on what will work best for your hair.
- Ceramic is a pretty decent choice for those on a budget given its even heating properties, however it also is more porous than tourmaline or titanium so for those with extra frizzy hair, or extra fine hair, you might struggle.
- Tourmaline is less porous, and is a silicate semi-precious gemstone that produces negative ions when heated. This makes it an ideal choice for anyone who has really frizzy hair texture.
- Titanium is similar to tourmaline, but it heats up much quicker. Although it's great if you're in a hurry, if your hair is extra fine, I'd steer clear of titanium plates.
And finally we come down to the temperature setting. I get asked all.the.time what the best temperature is for flat irons and curling irons. For fine hair, stick between 300ºF-325ºF, medium textured hair up to 375ºF, and coarse hair up to 400ºF. If your hair's been highlighted, permed, or chemically treated in any way, turn the heat down! Also turn down the heat around your face, as these are the most fragile hairs on our head. And always make sure you're using a product on your hair that is a heat protectant. I'll also note here that the majority of heat protection products on the market don't protect hair over 400ºF, although there are a few exceptions (which will note on their label). Also of mention is that not all products are heat protecting. A silicone based oil for example, while great for finishing, will likely burn your hair because it sits on top of the cuticle as opposed to absorbing into the hair. Same can be said of many hairsprays - the alcohol in them will only dry your hair out faster if used prior to using an iron, so save these for the end!
I hope this little lesson in heat styling has helped you in your quest for perfect hair! If there's anything I missed, leave your question in the comments and I'll be sure to get back to you!