The Most Important Things to Look For in a Hair Straightener

Written By Wilfredo Allen on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 11:00 AM


Straightened hair in 2010 is like teasing in 1985 or feathering in 1973: it's expected. From girls to women, and men too, sleek, smooth, straightened hair is the most popular style.

Hair styling irons are available everywhere from bargain retail stores to high end, high dollar salons. They range in price from less than $20 to more than $500 and each style has something to offer.

There are many things to consider when purchasing a hair styling iron and it's important to be aware of the benefits of each straightener. There are so many options available that it can be overwhelming to find the "right" one. Not all styling irons are the same, and inexpensive does not necessarily mean best value. Before purchasing a new hair straightener, consider the type of plates, the heat settings, the plate size and the warranty.

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The most common types of plates on a hair straightener are metal, glass, ceramic, titanium and a tourmaline ceramic blend. Metal and glass are typically used in the least expensive straighteners. Unfortunately, however, they are often painted, which can result in chipping and damaged hair. Metal and glass plates tend to take longer to heat and don't always heat evenly, leading to dry, damaged, frizzy hair.

Hair straighteners with ceramics plates are slightly more expensive than straighteners with metal or glass plates, but they are still affordable. The ceramic plates hair more evenly and produce smoother, shinier and less frizzy hair.

Titanium plated hair straighteners are very smooth and are known to heat evenly and maintain their heat. This is important for even straightening and styling and efficient results.

The most expensive variety of hair straighteners are the tourmaline and ceramic blend. These straighteners are also the highest quality and leave the hair smoother and straighter than the other varieties. One benefit of using a straightener made with tourmaline and ceramic blended plates is that it can be used on damp hair. The quality plates dry hair so quickly that the straightener and the hair will remain undamaged. Moreover, blended hair straighteners add moisture and shine while straightening and styling the hair.

The heating mechanism on a straightener often involves more than just "on" and "off." While there are varieties that have simply one switch, many newer and higher quality straighteners offer temperature settings and automatic off features.

Heat will unavoidably damage hair over time. That said, it is important to consider the best temperature for each style and length of hair; the hottest setting on a straightener is not always the most effective.

For a person with thin, short hair it may be better to use a lower setting, which will cause the least amount of stress or damage to the hair. Sometimes, a person with thick, long hair it is smartest to use a higher temperature setting, but using a hair straightener with adjustable temperature offers each user an option.

Heat maintenance refers to how effectively a straightener retains heat after being used on the hair. It is natural, and even expected for the straightener to begin to lose heat when it comes into contact with cool hair, but depending on the quality and style of plates, some straighteners increase to the desired temperature more quickly than others.

Plate size is another important, often forgotten feature of a straightener. If the straightener is intended for primarily straightening long hair, a two inch plate will be most effective. For a person more interested in styling the hair, a hair straightener with a one inch plate is best. For those who are interested in a combination of straightening or styling, or for those who share a straightener, there are even one and one half inch varieties available.

Finally, let's consider warranty. Some straighteners offer no warranty, and some offer up to three year "no-questions-asked" warranties. Once again, this typically depends on the quality and price of the hair straightener. When purchasing online, look for both warranty and return policies. When purchasing in a store or salon, the hair straightener box is the most likely place to find this information. Also consider that sometimes the warranty comes from the manufacturer and sometimes it comes from the retailer. Neither option is necessarily better, but it's important to be aware of this.

The most common and most valuable hair styling tool available today is the hair straightener. Because of the wide range of prices and quality available, every person who wants straight, smooth, sleekly styled hair can find the best straightener to meet those needs.

Blog, Updated at: 11:00 AM

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