Confession time: While we are huge fans of the whole "work what you've got" mantra, sometimes, we fall prey to that other mantra of "the grass is always greener...". And on those days, we tend to reach for beauty solutions that help us fake a bronzy glow, add on a fringe of lashes we don't have, manipulate beachy waves into stick-straight hair, or conversely, create sleek locks out of a curly mane. And hey, that's okay, too.
On that last note, we figured it was time to do a little recon on the best flat irons on the market. And with more than a few curly haired mavens in the office — who normally sport their locks in its natural state — we thought, who better to test out some of the newest options on the market? With so many versions, promises, and price points on offer, we wanted to put our favorite hair tool to the ultimate test: straightening the strands of three very different hair textures.
We had the ladies — all relative newbies to the straightening game — take three new heat tools for a test drive. From naturally thin, wavy hair to thick corkscrew curls (which we're so jealous of, by the way), we explored the entire range of kinks and waves. Read on to find out which tools passed muster.
Photo (from top to bottom): Courtesy of Remington, Amika, Sedu
Who: Gabriela Alford, senior designer
The Tool: Amika Digital Titanium Glider, $140, available at Amika.
The Tool: Amika Digital Titanium Glider, $140, available at Amika.
"My hair looks thick, but it's actually really thin and wavy. This was my first time using a flat iron since college, so I don't have a lot to compare this to, but it heated up quickly and was easy to use. It took about 10 minutes to straighten my hair, which seemed fast. My hair didn't feel overly dry or fried afterward, but it definitely didn't feel healthier. I did notice that my hair didn't catch on the flat iron, which can be a pain, and instead glided through it easily."
"In the past when I've used a flat iron, by the end of the day, it had a lot of the waves back, but with this one, my hair was still dead straight at 7 p.m."
The Result: "Apart from the really colorful design, the Amika Styler didn't seem to have anything particularly special about it, but it did the trick, and I would use it again if I wanted to look like me circa 2002."
"Ever since I graduated from a very unfortunate phase in middle school (read: failed chemical straightening), flat irons are pretty much a banned object in my bathroom cabinet. Aside from the occasional Halloween costume, my hair philosophy is: the bigger, the better. So, if you're looking for a straightener fit for a total newbie, let me go ahead and say right here this is the one for you. While it does get hotter than New York asphalt, it won't give off a foreboding smell or burn your fingers and the sensitive skin around your hairline when you get down to the flyaways (unlike some high-end, high-heat irons I've borrowed from friends). The plastic body around the actual hot iron was thick enough to provide a comfortable buffer, so I didn't feel nervous setting it down on various surfaces."
"When I do straighten my hair, I usually do it in very small sections and brush each one into a frizzy frenzy before applying heat. I thought I'd try and see if this iron could handle my hair without the brushing, which hurts and pulls out an unfortunate amount, but no dice. Still, once I actually brushed it out, each of the six sections I divided went straight in a matter of minutes. It sounds extreme, but I have never seen my hair this straight, including a time I once had it done at a salon. I never once had to hold the iron down for 10+ seconds on my kinky roots, which is usually a requirement. However, once I was finished, my hair was so straight that it actually looked a little stiff, and running my fingers through it didn't yield the usual waterfall of hair sexiness. It was almost as if I had applied hair spray, except I hadn't touched the stuff."
The Result: "The whole process took about 20 minutes, which is pretty impressive for hair like mine. Despite the fact that half the office didn't recognize me (and the other half was petting me like a zoo animal...not that I minded), I decided to wear it straight for a second day, and it stayed sleek and straight all through the next day and while I was out on the town that night. I was relieved to see myself back to normal the next day, especially because I half wondered if this magical tool had somehow permanently broken my curls' resolve. But a week or so later, I felt the call of a new hairstyle again, so I went a slightly different route: first blow-drying my wet hair into a crazed, sheep-like fro and then just quickly running through it with the new flat iron, purposely not doing a thorough job. The results were amazing! It was the perfect mix of volume and sleek straightness. So, despite its power, this iron is versatile, efficient, and time-saving — a golden trio if you ask me!"
"My hair is extremely thick and its natural texture is slightly wavy, which only becomes curlier and frizzier with New York's lovely humidity. I honestly hadn't flat ironed my hair since early college. I used to do it a good amount then and in high school but eventually became happy with my hair's natural look and just let it do its own thing. I usually just put in some leave-in conditioner after I get out of the shower. When I had used a flat iron in the past, it did the job, but was tedious as it usually just took a long amount of time to get all my hair straight, and I felt like I was damaging my hair in the process."
"This flat iron was very light and compact — much better then the bulky, old-school ones I've used in the past. As a result, it was very easy to use and heated up quickly. I also appreciated the wide range of heat you could set the iron to based on the wetness and thickness of your hair. It took me about 15 minutes to straighten my hair (with some help on the back), which is pretty impressive, as I remember it taking abut 45 minutes to straighten it in the past."
The Result: "My hair felt very soft and shiny after being straightened and stayed straight for the whole day. The only unsettling part about this iron was that it was recommended for your hair to be damp while using the straightener, and I hate the sound of my hair sizzling while I straighten it. It was like I could hear my hair dying. After I washed my hair the next morning, it did feel a little dryer and less curly then usual but went back to normal after another shower. I did like this iron and I would probably use it if I flat ironed my hair. However, I don't think I'll be doing it again, as I felt like I was back in high school and don't think the stick-straight-hair look is for me. Embrace what you have!"