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Flat Irons 101: How to Get Smooth, Sleek, Straight Hair

The hair care services industry includes 86,000 establishments just in the U.S. alone. These are the salons that American women frequent to straighten and blow out their hair with an estimated average of two visits every week. The combined annual revenues of these establishments are upwards of $20 billion.1* Needless to say, hair care is a very big industry.

Those of us looking to get the salon treatment for less, use many at-home styling methods. Women with kinks and curls know the smell of burnt hair all too well, and come to accept living with less-than-healthy hair, in many cases, for many years.

Luckily, some very innovative companies are changing the way heating tools transform hair from spiral to sleek, and back to spiral againwhile maintaining the overall health of your head and hair.

Flat irons or hair straighteners can be used to keep hair silky, create pin-straight hair, or even define waves and curls.* The key is to find a flat iron that can achieve the style you want while still being able to work with the natural texture of your hair.

This means the flat iron that you choose must give you options within a protective and comprehensive design. A superb flat iron will do all (or most) of the following:

  •  Enhance Shine
  • Straighten
  • Smooth
  •  Promote silkiness
  • Texturize

The Hot (Plate) Debate: a Good Flat Iron VS. a Great Flat Iron

Your first step to having smooth hair using a flat iron is finding the right one for the length and texture of your hair:

Bad Flat Iron:*

  • Exposed metal plates
  • Glass, plastic, or aluminum plates
  • 3 or less heat settings

Good Flat Iron:*

  • Plates with ceramic coating
  • 3 or more heat settings

Great Flat Iron:*

  • Solid ceramic plates
  • Super slim plates
  • Tourmaline coating
  • Heat setting dial with low-to-high temperature range

Why are ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline the best features to look for in a flat iron?


Positive ions can have a negative effect on your hair. Elements like ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline cancel out positive ions with negative ions. This helps keep hair shiny and works to smooth and straighten in less time than flat irons made with other materials like aluminum and plastic.*

Looking into how each material reacts with hair cuticles, we determined that a tourmaline flat iron is best to be used at home. This will help get professional results while maximizing hair health benefits. A universally useful tourmaline flat iron will work for every single head, keeping in mind that no two follicles are alike.

Straight to the Point

We've pinpointed flat iron quality with three simple criteria. To successfully straighten or style your hair at home using a flat iron, be sure to look for:

  • Different heat settings (more than 3 or on a dial)
  • Tourmaline plates
  • Thin plates that are at least 1-inch in width

If your hair is very long and thick you may need to look for a flat iron that is bigger than one inch in width. Again, a quality flat iron that is one inch in width should work to smooth hair and enhance silkiness and shine.

Never straighten your hair on the highest heat setting on the flat iron. Make sure to use a tool that has varying heat settings. This tip goes for any hair thinness or thickness. No matter the flat iron, refrain from turning the heat on full blast.

It's important to lock moisture into the cuticle before ironing. Use protective products and never use the flat iron on wet hair. Straightening wet hair boils the hair cuticle, and can cause discomfort and undesired results. A flat iron that efficiently transforms positive ions to negative ions will do most of the work.


Based on our own extensive research, the metrics provided by our Smarter Reviews Ranking System, and consideration of numerous reviews by Smarter Shoppers just like you, we've compiled a list of what we've found to be the top five products in 
this category, on the market today.