What do you need to look for in a straightener?
Buying a good straightener for your hair type can be more complicated than it looks. With all the new kinds of flat irons ranging from the dirt cheap to the ridiculously expensive, which one should you buy? Choosing a flat iron is not a decision that should be taken lightly. A cheap iron may work just as well as an expensive one in straightening the hair but they may do unseen and irreparable damage to your hair.
Flat irons have a variety of features on them and it is just a question of choosing one with the most important features necessary for both getting the smooth results you want as well as keeping your hair healthy.
Here are some good features to look out for in flat irons along with their benefits.
- Ceramic (not ceramic plated) – Ceramic flat irons glide through the hair without snagging. They also generally heat up in about 30 seconds as they are controlled by a thermostat therefore they maintain a constan temperature for even results. The heating element also creates negative ions that seal in the moisture into the hair
- Tourmaline – This is a semi-precious crystal that is nature’s largest provider of negative ions. The tourmaline is ground down into a powder then infused into the ceramic plates of a flat iron hence tourmaline flat irons produce up to 6 times more negative ions than ceramic plates alone. This gives the hair a shinier, silkier finish with less heat.
- Steam – Similar to using a steam iron on your clothes to get rid of wrinkles, steam straighteners have steam vents that straighten your hair more effectively while releasing steam to prevent your hair from over-drying during the straightening process.
- Temperature control – This is one of the most important things to look out for when purchasing a flat iron. Different hair textures can cope with different levels of direct heat. Black hair, whether natural or relaxed and regardless of how course or tough looking it is, is the most fragile of all. Intense heat will give smooth results but is very likely to cause heat damage hence compromising the curl pattern and health of your hair. If your hair is freshly deep conditioned and a heat protectant are applied beforehand, you will be surprised at how little heat you need to get perfect results! Always use a temperature controlled flat iron.
- Long swivel cord – A flat iron with a long swivel cord is necessary as you will need to move the iron in different directions to straighten different parts of your head. It stops the cord from tangling as you straighten.
- Size – The truth is with enough practice, a slim flat iron will get your hair as smooth as a large one. Still, with a larger iron, you can straighten larger sections of hair than the slim one but this shouldn’t be the determining factor is choosing a flat iron.
- Curved smooth edges – Curved edges on a flat iron is a great feature for creating curls and flicks hence negating the need for a curling wand or curling iron afterwards.
- Comb attachment – The comb-chase method is the best way to get silky hair in a single pass. If you don’t know what it is, here’s a quick explanation: you take a small section of hair and run a fine tooth comb or brush down the section using one hand while ‘chasing’ with the flat iron held in the other hand. This requires an ambidextrous feat that many of us may not be able to achieve so an option is to find a flat iron that comes with a comb attachment or one that has a comb already embedded into the plates. This makes one pass styling more achievable for most of us.
This article will give you more indepth advice on the terms relating to flat irons like tourmaline, ceramic, ionic etc. As with anything else, price will be a fairly good indicator on the quality of the flat iron. Be prepared to invest a reasonable amount of money and the flat iron will last you years and the health of your hair will thrive!
Originally posted 2010-02-14 04:18:17.