Natural hair is everywhere these days, from the runway to the silver screen. But sometimes you just want to go straight. Blow-dryers are helpful, but for incredibly sleek hair, you’re going to need a flat iron. The Cut rounded up the best options for every hair type and budget.
If Your Hair Is Damaged
GHD’s “styler” is permanently set to 365 degrees Fahrenheit, which the company says is the highest temperature hair can tolerate before it becomes damaged. As a person who went from a dark brunette to blonde highlights, I can vouch for its straightening power on processed hair. And though I don’t typically think of “comfort” as a flat iron necessity, the springy hinge that connects the two plates really did make it easier to clamp and glide the tool down my hair with minimal effort.
For Control Freaks
The Sedu’s ceramic plates not only straighten hair, but they seal the hair’s cuticle to stop frizziness before it starts. It’s one of the hottest flat irons — its maximum temperature caps at 450 degrees — but its adjustable temperature is handy when I want to precisely control the level of heat I put on my hair.
The Beautiful One
T3’s white and rose gold flat iron seems too pretty to reliably function, but hey, sometimes miracles happen. There are four temperature settings ranging from 260 to 410 degrees, and the tool heats up in about a minute. Its ceramic plates are infused with tourmaline, a mineral said to make hair extra smooth because it emits negatively-charged ions. There’s no scientific evidence to support this, but my unscientific bathroom study found that this flat iron does indeed make my hair look shinier.
If You Travel a Lot
A lot of travel flat irons are so small that they seem like they’ll only work on tiny doll hairs, but Babybliss’s Mini Straightener doesn’t skimp on heat. It can reach up to 430 degrees in a few minutes, and its half-inch ceramic plates won’t take up too much space in your bag. Even if you don’t travel a ton, it’s a great tool for bangs, too.
The One Beyoncé Uses
FHI’s rounded edge allows you to easily curl or add waves without much effort. It’s almost as small as a travel flat iron, and I love that it straightens even the poofiest sections with just a single pass. But don’t just take my word for it, listen to Beyoncé (via InStyle): “I’m crazy about it! I can’t live without my flatiron! It takes me about an hour to do my hair, and the only time I don’t is when I’m on vacation.” (Picture younger Beyoncé, doing her own hair on vacation).
If You Have Fine Hair
The two strips of silicone atop Bio Ionic’s flat iron plates seem silly, but they serve an important purpose. By buffering the outer edge of the plates, they reduce your chances of hair snags. They also force you to glide the flat iron more slowly through your hair (they are called speed strips, after all). While the slower technique maximizes shininess and smoothness, the speed strips can become a bit of an obstacle if your hair is thick.
If You Have Thick Hair
Xtava’s two inch-wide plates are massive, making them perfect for people with thick or coarse hair. Aside from the plates, everything else about this flat iron is fairly standard. You can use it at a temperature range in between 265 and 445 degrees Fahrenheit, the plates are made with tourmaline and ceramic, and it takes less than two minutes for the tool to fully heat.
The $18 One
The structure of this flat iron feels flimsier than the premium ones, but it smooths my hair just as well. This is great option if you straighten your hair infrequently. And although a few Amazon reviews note that the plasticlike smell of this tool is a little off-putting, I didn’t think it was worse than any other heating tool.
The One Everyone on Amazon Loves
Nearly 33,000 people gave this flat iron a five-star review on Amazon. If they factored price into that rating, then I agree. For less than $60 it’s pretty spectacular, but it doesn’t beat the fancier ones in terms of performance. The temperature automatically drops after 15 minutes of use. And while it’s easy to adjust that, it is also slightly inconvenient.
Plus Two More The Cut Approves Of
Compared to the fancy flatirons, this one is a great value. And Target reviewers agree – it has almost 200 five-star reviews. It’s called a “3-in-1” iron because the iron has curved plates, so you can use it to create smooth waves, curls, and sleek, straight styles. It heats up quickly, and has a long (9 feet) cord so you can maneuver with dexterity. And don’t worry about having to rush home because you can’t remember if you shut off the flatiron — there’s an automatic shut-off. Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess also has some great videos showing you how to use it at home.
Reviewers love this flatiron created by celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh for its overall ease. At 1.25 inches, the plates are slightly wider, making it faster to straighten your whole head. The plates are also curved with a nice grip, so you can pull hair through without it slipping or gripping too tightly to create a weird kink. The reviews online are all five stars, praising it was being “an absolute favorite” and “expensive but worth it.” This is just one of the very same tools used to create Gisele Bundchen’s signature beachy waves.
This article was originally published February 9, 2018. It has been updated throughout. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.