With so many flat irons available, choosing the perfect flat iron for you can be overwhelming. With so many different opinions, which features really are important? And what might damage your hair?
Our ultimate buying guide will make sure you get the features you need. Check out our flat iron reviews for more information on different brands and models.
Ultimate Buying Guide for Hair Straighteners
1. Size of Plates – width
The plate width size of the flat iron you should be buying depends on how long and how thick your hair is.
If you have voluminous, long and curly hair, a wider plate is more suitable for you. The best wider flat iron plates are 1 inch to 1 ½ inch flat irons. Wider plates will allow you to do more hair in one go, speeding up the overall process. But be careful buying a flat iron that is too wide (2inch or more). It might straighten faster, but the risk of overheating your type 4 hair and damaging it is just not worth it.
If you have uber short hair, however, you might want to buy one with a narrower plate. The smallest is typically 1/2″, but there are some 3/4″ flat irons too.
The narrower the plate is, the more likely it will get to the hard to reach or hard to handle sections of your hair. So a ½ inch plated flat iron would be ideal for a pixie cut.
The best flat iron plate size also varies with the texture of your hair. Narrow plates are more suitable for fine hair. Wider plates are good for thick and coarse hair, and especially long hair as the wider plates hold more heat so it lasts all the way to the ends.
2. Heating indicator light
These Indicator lights are important for you to know if your flat iron already reached your set temperature and ready to use. Most flat irons with light indicators have red and green light beside the temperature dial. If the light indicator is still red, it means that the iron is still either heating up or cooling down to achieve the temperature you set. If the light indicator turns green, your flat iron is already at the right temperature.
3. Adjustable Temperature Range
For some reason I cannot determine, there are some flat irons that do not have a temperature control. You definitely, in my opinion, want to look for one that has this feature. Its a MUST HAVE feature for type 3 or type 4 natural hair.
You are a one of a kind woman with a unique hair type, and different hair types do require different heat temperatures. If the iron’s temperature is too low, you could need to re-iron the same section of your hair again and again. This might seem safe, since you are treating your hair with a lower heat. But in reality, doing this to your hair exposes it to the heat for longer, risking more damage and making your hair look lifeless.
If the temperature is too high, your flat iron is bound to deal instant damage to every section of your hair it touches.
So how do you know what temperature is just right for your hair type?
It’s pretty simple. Fragile and fine hair needs a low setting – around 360 degrees Fahrenheit. This setting will minimise your hair from breaking.
If you have thicker or strong hair, you will probably need a higher temperature of up to 400 degrees the effectively tame your hair.
If you know you have really sensitive hair, then consider getting a flat iron with a digital temperature read out instead of just a dial for better accuracy and control.
P.S. Always use a heat protectant before flat ironing your hair. Your hair will thank me for this tip.
4. Auto-off Function
If you are like me and can forget you turned the stove on, and leave things to burn, then auto-off is a must for any electrical appliance in your house.
Some flat irons do have an auto off feature. So when you are ironing your hair and the phone rings with your girlfriend calling for a chat, you dont have to worry about remembering to turn off the flat iron. Most have 30 mins auto shutoff, but I have had one that waited 1 hour. Personally this is too long for me.
This feature just adds a sense of security that you won’t accidentally burn your house down with your perfect flat iron.
5. Beveled Edges
Flat irons do indeed come in different shapes or profiles. You’ll see some with flat edges and some with rounded edges. You might not need to consider this if your aim is only to straighten your hair.
However, this difference will come in handy when the need to style your hair arises. The edges of a flat iron affect its versatility. Round edged irons can be a 2-in-1 hair tool. It could be a hair straightener and a curling iron at the same time!
Irons with flat edges on the other hand, have the advantage of giving your hair a slightly straighter look.
5. Cord Length/Swivel
This feature might seem irrelevant at first, but a swivel will avoid the cord of your flat iron from being tangled up when you’re moving it around your head. Likewise, a longer cord length will more convenient if your dresser is far from the outlet or you have quite long hair.
There are also some hair straighteners that are cordless. These are handy if you travel a lot and you need a styling tool that will keep up with your hustle.
6. Stands & Heat Mats
Some brands have flat irons that come with stands, or heat mats. Sometimes the soft case can double as a heat mat. This is a good bonus feature that I wish more brands offered.
If the flat iron you really like it doesn’t offer a built in stand, considering buy a separate heat mat anyway.
The important thing is to have something that will keep your flat iron from damaging your counter (believe me, its just too easy to do). GIve yourself somewhere safe place your flat iron when you’re not using it.