Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.The difference between a stellar or so-so flat iron can be life-changing — for your hair, at least. A high-quality iron (which needn't break the bank, FYI) will quickly reach the perfect temp for optimal smoothing and minimal damage, glide through sections of hair without any snagging, and create a long-lasting smoothness and shine that'll leave onlookers slack-jawed in your wake. Not too much to ask for, right?
Flat irons have come a long way from those huge Solano Sapphire contraptions with the scary teeth (remember those?). Thinner, sleeker, and way more efficient, these babies can flatten hair like never before, no matter what your budget is. To prove it, three staffers tried out three newfangled options. Read on for their full reviews!
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.Who: Katie Gowdy, Senior Fashion Sales Director
The Contender: Harry Josh Pro Tools Ceramic Styling Iron
"My hair is naturally wavy with some volume. I usually blowdry it for a bit and then tie it into a bun to achieve loose waves. I rarely use a flat iron, so I don’t have tons of experience with them. The flat irons that I’ve tried in the past have all been really damaging on my hair, so I try to avoid them as much as possible. If I want to keep my hair straight, I typically blow-dry it with a round brush."
"I was immediately impressed with how quickly the Harry Josh iron heated up. I found it really easy to use, and I loved that there were different temperature settings. For someone who normally doesn’t use a straightener (or even like them very much), I found it was very easy to get a smooth, straight look. Even with a low-temperature setting, it was really effective, and I didn’t feel that the iron was damaging my hair. I was surprised by how much I liked using it."
"This is the first flat iron I’ve used that left my hair incredibly straight, but also with a glossy finish. My hair looked shinier and healthier, yet still had volume at the top, which I really liked. I also loved that my hair stayed straight and shiny all day. I do usually prefer my hair with a bit of wave, but this would definitely be my flat iron of choice!"
Harry Josh Pro Tools Ceramic Styling Iron, $200, available at Hair Envy.
Illustrated by Ammiel MendozaWho: Marissa Rosenblum, Shopping Market Director
The Contender: DryBar Smooth Operator Flat Iron
"I recently embraced my naturally curly-wavy hair. These days, I essentially let it air-dry. But, I spent half of my life finessing my hair to pin-straight perfection, and finally ditched the heat tools last year after I grew out my bob. I used to use two different-sized irons when straightening my hair — a regular size, and then a teeny-tiny thinner size to get the kinks out at the roots, which got pretty damaging with daily use."
"This iron took about 15 seconds to heat up, which was great. Two things made it easy to handle. The grooved tip at the end doesn't get too hot, so I was able to hold the iron together with my fingertips as I was going through my hair, and the narrowness of the iron made it easy to get down to the root. While the iron didn't snag or pull at all, I did felt myself staying on my hair longer than I would have liked, and definitely got that burnt-hair smell around me."
"Compared to other straightening irons that I've tried in the past, this one faired pretty well. It was lacking a bit in the glide-ability department, but the heat level and design worked well for my fine, curly hair. The end result was an above-average straightening iron — but not quite gold stars."
DryBar Smooth Operator Flat Iron, $125, available at DryBar.
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.Who: Jessica Novak, Marketing Analytics Manager
The Contender: Conair Infiniti Pro 2X Titanium Ceramic Flat Iron
"My hair is naturally fine (but not thin) and slightly wavy. It can look a little flat sometimes, so I usually curl my hair with a Chi ceramic curling iron, or create waves with a ceramic straightener to add a little more body. I use some kind of heat on my hair every day, and I love my current straightener because I don't feel like it damages my hair, it heats up quickly, and works fast. And, it's thin, so I can use it to straighten or curl my hair."
"This flat iron heated up extremely quickly. It was ready to use inside of five minutes. Even without blowdrying, I was able to get my hair straight in under 10 minutes. It was so easy to use, and I was shocked by how quickly it straightened each section. The only drawback is that I felt a little bit like it was frying my ends — a feeling that I don't normally get with a ceramic iron."
"I tend to prefer a little more body, which is why I normally create waves instead. But, for a straight, sleek look, this is exactly what I would expect."
Conair Infiniti Pro 2X Titanium Ceramic Flat Iron, $47.99, available at Target.
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