You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.
Flat irons seem pretty straightforward since they require just a few passes with a steady hand to do their job, but certain things can set a good one above the rest: a range of heat settings to adjust for style and hair texture, a lightweight body, and (if you’re feeling greedy) dual-voltage flexibility for traveling abroad. To find the best tools for the job, we polled a dozen hairstylists for the models they depend on to give their clients sleek sheets of hair minus the static and the heat damage.
Best overall flat iron
Three hairstylists recommended this professional styling iron from GHD, or “Good Hair Day.” (The U.K. brand was a nearly unanimous favorite among stylists we polled about the best curling iron.) “I love GHD in general because they use a longer cord,” says celebrity hairstylist Luca Blandi, who has worked with clients such as Anne Hathaway and Kate Bosworth. He specifically loves the brand’s Platinum+ models because they’re made from a lighter material, which is a godsend “especially for hairdressers because we use them all day. It’s less strenuous on our body and hands.”
Blandi and hairstylist Nunzio Saviano both point out the intuitive heat settings on GHD tools, which max out at 365 degrees (supposedly the optimal temperature for avoiding heat damage) and spread heat evenly through the plates. Michelle Obama’s hairstylist Yene Damtew uses this flat iron on the former First Lady’s hair; she loves it because it’s sleek and lightweight, though she says all GHD irons are ideal for creating “a multitude of hairstyles and producing shape and movement for all hair textures.”
Best ultrathin one-inch titanium flat iron
If your hair is shorter or you want something more precise, hairstylist Felicia Rials of West Hollywood’s 901 Salon recommends a mini-iron or something like this thin one-inch Babyliss Pro Nano. “I mainly use a flat iron when cutting a bob. It helps me get the hair very straight so I can see what I’m cutting,” she explains. “I can also get into the root and hairline to make those baby hairs lie flat.” She loves the BaByliss because it’s superthin and lightweight but also hot enough — with 50 heat settings — to really smooth the hair.
Best 1.25-inch ceramic flat iron
The hair experts at the Serge Normant at John Frieda salons prefer this Harry Josh ceramic iron. Per stylist Joseph Maine — who frequently works with SNL actresses such as Aidy Bryant and preps Priyanka Chopra for events — the large plates accommodate all hair lengths and slide through quickly, while the curved edges work for adding bends in hair. “Its long swivel cord makes it easy to maneuver around my clients, and the temperature dial makes it easy to turn the temperature down for simple touch-ups or up for more intricate straightening,” he adds.
Stylist and colorist Jacob Schmidt likes that it heats up fast and smooths hair in just a few passes, thus minimizing heat damage. “I’ve been using it for treatments like keratin, and it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.”
Best two-inch ceramic flat iron
Should you want wider plates to cover more surface area quicker, hairstylist Benjamin Muller says this BaByliss Pro has “a shape that feels good in your hand and is easy to maneuver,” plus a heat index that makes it easy to transition for hair type and texture. He also likes the effect its ceramic body has on hair: “I feel the texture is better and more smooth.”
Best flat iron with a touchscreen
Should you want something more high-tech, celebrity and editorial hairstylist Holly Mills praises this flat iron as one “I can’t live without.” The digital touchscreen allows her to get super-precise with the temperature, down to the tenth degree. “It indicates ‘fine’, ‘medium,’ and ‘coarse’ as you raise the temperature,” she says, adding, “It’s super-sleek.”
Best flat irons for a range of hair types
Maybe you’re a stylist who wants a flat iron that will work on a range of hairstyles, or you need something with higher heat settings that will iron out coarser natural hair. Tym Wallace, a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, and Yara Shahidi, recommends the FHI Platform irons — “all of them” — because of the temperature control settings that range up to a scorching 450 degrees. “It straightens hair really well and gives the hair a bounty of shine and is versatile among hair types and styles,” he says. It’s also supposedly the flat iron Beyoncé uses.
Sabrina Szinay, a New York based–hairstylist at the Wall Group, has been using the Cloud 9 straightening iron for years. In her experience, she says, “it’s the most gentle and efficient iron in one” with mineral-infused ceramic plates for decreasing frizz. The temperature settings are a big asset, making it easy to transition from lower temps to high heat, i.e., “for fine and damaged hair to coarse and thick hair that needs more heat.”
Best dual-voltage flat irons
If you want to take your iron with you overseas, you’ll want one that’s dual voltage like this Amika styler, which resident Project Runway All Stars hair consultant Linh Nguyen recommends as a one-pass iron with 25 percent–longer plates. He notes that since it has “ion technology that helps seal the hair cuticle with negative ions” and “an infrared light beam that gets deeper into the hair to keep out frizz,” it’s ideal for smoothing hair without any flyaways or for creating a wavy, shiny look.
People who use a flat iron every day might want something more ergonomic for regular use. In that vein, Wonderland Beauty Parlor senior colorist and hairstylist Ryan Hill is emphatic about how much he likes this Croc Classic titanium iron, especially because of its shape, which he says is “ergonomic enough for me to grip firmly without feeling any heat through the handle, unlike most other irons.” This one is by far his favorite, and he has tried many over the years. It has digital temperature settings ranging from 280 to 450 degrees, “making it perfect for fragile hair as well as keratin treatments, which typically require high temperatures,” and he loves that the ceramic plates produce natural infrared that helps prevent damage and dryness. And for travelers, it’s dual voltage. “I can’t think of a single downfall to this iron, I love it that much.”
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