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October 8, 2010

Finding the Best Flat Iron for Your Natural Hair

The Best Flat Irons for Natural Hair
by Bri of Naturally Fierce

When I began the search to find the best flat irons for natural hair I thought it would end with one quick trip to the search engine box...Oh was I wrong. I dived the irons into a massive list - -ceramic, ionic, tourmaline, titanium, nano, and silver, only to come out with one conclusion. Flat irons all do the same thing, but the results will vary depending on the brand and how you use them. Before we get to the 'how' part, make sure your flat iron has the following:

1.) A quality grade of ceramic plates

Now be careful here! Even the high-end professional grade flat irons will advertise ceramic plates but unless they say "100% ceramic" the plates are coated with a ceramic layer. Most high-end flat irons (e.g. Chi, FHI, Babyliss, Sedu etc.) have a thicker coat unlike cheaper grocery store brands. In addition, most quality flat irons last longer. If you've ever purchased a poor quality flat iron, (like myself) you will notice the ceramic or fake coating on the plates wearing off leaving the metal exposed. Using a flat iron with exposed metal will fry your hair beyond belief. Ceramic and now tourmaline-ceramic plates are great conductors of heat so your hair will turn out silky and smooth.

**Hint: Look at the instruction manual that comes with your flat iron. By law, companies must disclose whether or not the flat iron is full ceramic or ceramic coated. 100% ceramic plates are not cheap...The cheapest I found was $239.00! Most people shy away from them because of the initial and long-term cost. Think about how many times you've dropped a flat iron or other heat styling tool??? Me, several times. If you drop a 100% ceramic flat iron it will break.

Beware of the word 'nano'...it sounds cool, but it's not!!! Nano means small, so if your flat iron says "Nano-Ceramic" you are getting a small amount of ceramic. Marketers are so tricky! Remember, price does not always determine quality.


2.) Added tourmaline or titanium

When added to a ceramic flat iron or alone, tourmaline or titanium produces more negative ions so your hair turns out shinier, silkier, and smoother.

3.) No more than 1 1/2 inch plates

Natural hair is thick and requires you to flat iron your hair in small sections for the best results. Plates to large will not smooth out your curly roots.

4.) A varied temperature setting

You may ask yourself, "Don't all flat irons come with a varied temperature setting?" The answer is surprisingly no. I found several high-end flat irons (e.g. Chi original) with only one temperature setting, on average 400 degrees. You can kiss your healthy curls good-bye if you always flat iron at that temperature! Having a varied temperature setting will allow you to see what temperature works best for you. For straight looks, you should almost never need any temperature higher than 350 degrees.

**Bonus Tip: Let your flat iron heat up. Most women will immediately test their flat iron after turning it on and if it's not hot they crank up the heat. Wait a few seconds to a minute for your flat iron to reach the proper temperature setting. Think of it as preheating an oven.

How to Flat Iron Natural Hair - 5 Steps

1.) Wait until your hair is completely dry...NEVER use a flat iron on wet hair.

2.) Depending on your hair texture, you may want to blow-dry on the low to cool setting to loosen up your curl pattern. This will help you achieve a straighter look.

3.) If possible, use the lowest heat setting on your flat iron to create your desired style.

4.) ALWAYS use a good heat protector to reduce the risk of heat damage.

5.) Flat iron sections of your hair no bigger than 1 inch. Start from the roots and work your way down to the ends. Never go over the same section more than twice.

Believe it or not that's it...Using a flat iron is not rocket science, but most forget that regardless of the brand and type of hair you have they ALL cause damage. The severity of the damage depends on the quality of the flat iron, technique, and more importantly how often you flat iron your hair.

How often do you flat iron your hair?

Are YOU using a quality flat iron? If so, which brand?

Was this information helpful to you?

33 Chime in!:

Anonymous said...

Have any of you guys had any luck with the Instyler? I have a relaxed friend who tried it and said that she'll never relax again as long as she has the Instyler. Has anyone who is completely natural or transitioning tried this thing?

CURLYNIKKI said...

check out this link:

http://www.curlynikki.com/2010/07/instyler-on-natural-hair.html

CH said...

I am giving my hair a break from heat styling, but I always look for bargains on tools.
TJ Maxx & Marshall's often have Babyliss flat irons. I can't remember the other brands.

CURLYNIKKI said...

I owned a Solia... gave it to my sister late last year. I haven't flat ironed since Feb 2007! Sometimes (not often, lol) I miss straight styles (i could leave my hair alone for a couple of weeks), but my hair was damaged so badly by excessive usage that I now have a phobia.

Anonymous said...

more often in the winter than in the summer, I'd say I flat iron my hair during the winter time every other week, and during the summer probably once or twice for the whole summer. I use a chi flat iron along with the heat protectant spray and the leave in heat protectant. I get beautiful smooth and shiny hair every time. When I first did it some people actually thought I had relaxed my hair, that's just how straight it was. But I haven't experienced any heat damage yet. So I say the chi is worth it.

Curliana said...

Thank you so much for this post! I still haven't purchased a flat iron because I refuse to buy a cheap one and I refuse to pay a million dollars for one without knowing whether it will work the way I want it to or not. I had no idea what the difference was between ceramic and tourmaline. Also I don't think I flat iron my hair enough (like once a year) to spend a million dollars on one and again, i refuse to get a cheap one and potentially damage my hair...hence, why I still don't have a flat iron.

JenellyBean said...

I tried flat ironing my hair once and my ends were rough! It was like all the kink in my hair just moved down to the ends.

After about 10 minutes the sections started to poof up.

My hair was thinner in the areas that I flat ironed, but it wasn't flat, it was full like an afro.

I decided to do a roll, tuck, and pin and I achieved the style much easier because my hair was more manageable i.e. not as thick as normal, but there was nothing straight about my hair. I was very disappointed.


www.KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks this was very helpful. I have not had my hair straight since I went natural, I am planning on waiting until my 30th birthday which is three years from now :-). I am actually loving it curly and I plan to wear it curly more than opposed to straight. I have a friend whose hair is natural as well but she gets it flat iron her hair is about BSL, she keeps it healthy by getting her hairstylist to only flat iron it about once every other week and she does not flat iron again until she goes to the hairdresser. Everyone's hair is different and some people's hair can tolerate more heat than others I completely agree with you heat no matter if applied by chemicals or flat irons is damaging so while I keep that in mind I will probably straighten once or twice a year only.

DvaAuNaturel said...

I prefer the Chi or FHI. The salon I used to go to when I was natural a few years ago used those brands and they worked fantastic. I had my own Chi and it worked perfect every time. Pricey but well worth the cost.

Anonymous said...

Check out this site its reall good : http://www.misikko.com/true-flat-iron.html

Anonymous said...

If done correctly flat ironing your hair can be helpful.The key is the quality tool you use and how you prepare your hair BEFORE and AFTER.I do feel heat gets a tough ride on natural hair blogs especially but for smoe people it works fine.I understand heat is damaging if the incorrect techniques are used.I hope we can be more balanced on heat as many people like to wear thir hair straight but the heat topic becnoes an issue. Being natural is the versatility of choosing curls or straight and still having healthy hair.

Anonymous said...

T3 is an excellent brand as well.

KANISHANASHAY. said...

I haven't flat ironed since I've been natural, but when I was relaxed, I used a Chi. I'm 4 months natural & I don't plan on flat ironing until I'm at least one year natural, but now I'm afraid! Maybe I should invest in a flat iron that allows you to change the temperature setting... We'll see.

Thomasine said...

I tried the Instyler and I hated it! The thing was too loud and I was fully relaxed at the time and it still didn't get my hair as straight as i would like. Another thing - IT WAS TOO LOUD!!! I think I already said that but I think you get the point LOL!

Anonymous said...

I flatiron once or twice a year. I use a Sedu. I'm guilty of straightening on the highest temperature. I'll keep your tip in mind for next time, though.

naturallyu said...

I have a maxiglide and I love it. I ususally iron every 3 to 4 months.

Anonymous said...

I came across this vedeos that show step my step how to coreectly do it without damage!There are three parts to this Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY65vtO8IJY

Anonymous said...

What is the best heat protectant product to use for the best results without leaving your hair greasy?

SweetC said...

Your hair looks great. I've heard some great things about this straightener. But, I was kinda freaked out at the sight of the smoke or steam. For that, I'm not too sure that I'll purchase this, however I'm still debating. I used the original CHI on my hair while transitioning and I was scared but not as scared as I was after--after finding out what damage could have been done had I not taken the time to use a heat protectant. SMH @ no temperature adjustment. I'm still looking for a good flat iron or rather the best flat iron. Currently, I am gawking at a CROC 2( 1")infrared flat iron and a FHI Pink Platform (1") flat iron. Any suggestion, please feel free to e-mail me. Thank you, for sharing your video and pictures! Take Care!

DanyelleLoves said...

I recently purchased a Power IQ tourmaline ceramic flat iron. I got it from the Sally Beauty website for $49.99 which IMO isn't bad. It's digital-- shows the temp and I flat iron on 280-300 degrees but the iron goes up to 400+ degrees. The Olive Oil Heat protection serum by ORS works great because i used too much of it once and my hair barely got straight. I plan to flat iron for the cold months.

AshleyB. said...

I LOVE THE INSTYLER. I'm natural and it gets my hair straight but I still have body. I hate flat hair. It takes some getting used to. I use curlformers to help straighten my roots and smooth my hair then use the instyler the next day. I never blowdry my hair. I use the one n only argan oil or the gvp version of silk infusion called silk remedy. Both of them can be found at Sally's Beauty Supply.

Dee said...

GREAT post Nikki, I am still contemplating on wither or not i want to risks all the time and money invested in making my hair natural and beautiful to have it straight, i have had this look all my life I know what straight hair looks like on me I am soo scared that if done my original curls wont come back that's my greatest nappy fear:-(...on the other hand, i am trying to perfect the straighten without heat method, any tips or posts on that?

LouisianaMade said...

I've tried the Instyler and it does NOTHING for my hair. I guess it doesn't work well with my texture. I use the CHI Turbo. It allows you to change the temperature settings. That along with a straightening serum by IC (its in a hot pink bottle)works really well on my hair and protects it against this Houston humidity.

Anonymous said...

If you want a professional flat iron and you are ok with spending around $140 I would highly recommend the Karmin G3 Salon Pro, it heats up to 450f with temperature control, dual voltage, tourmaline ceramic plates with rounded edges which makes it great for also curling your hair. Also has a 3 year warranty. If you are in the US you can buy from http://MyHairStylingTools.com, they are also giving away a free heat matt/carrying case and some heat serum that works really well. If you are in Canada you can buy at http://www.hairtools.ca/. If you do look at other irons make sure to stay away from irons with painted plates (colored plates) these can damage your hair.

A little about plate quality:

* Aluminum – 90’s and low quality, will stick to your hair and terrible results.

* Colored Plates – Stay away from these, they may look nice but they are for show and they are not good for your hair.

* Ceramic Plates – White or Yellowish color plate – These plates are good but they are older technology from around 2002. Many companies still use these as it is cheaper to manufacture than a tourmaline ceramic plate.
* Titanium Plates – Gun Metal Grey color – These are great plates and provide great results. These and Tourmaline Ceramic plates are about the same in quality but work different with different hair types. You would need to try both to see which one provides the best results for your hair type.
* Tourmaline Ceramic – Gun Metal Grey in color – These are currently the best plates on the market. currently I only see Karmin and Sedu using these plates. It appears all the other brands are focused on cutting costs by using the cheaper plates.

Some features you should look for:
* Variable Temperature Control (If you have thick hair make sure it heats up to at least 420F)
* Swivel Cord
* At least a 3 year warranty (most hair straighteners will die in the first year or two)
* If you travel then make sure its dual voltage

You can also check reviews at http://flatironsreviews.com to see their ranking of the top 10 flat irons. Good luck and I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Natural CocoButter from Mexico works great on hair when flat ironing.

Anonymous said...

I heard that if you flat iron you hair it'll never go back to its natural curl pattern is that true?

Anonymous said...

would you recommend In-styler or Maxi Glide?

LittleBabyBug said...

i use the FHI and it is amazing. it will not leave your curls decimated at all, and it has only one temperature setting- the kind i use has only 410 F automatic. It is hot, i'm sure, but my hair comes out like a quality press, way better than any a salon could give. i didn't start experiencing problems with heat damage until i started using a cheaper flat iron. i recommend quality!

LittleBabyBug said...

i use the FHI and it is amazing. it will not leave your curls decimated at all, and it has only one temperature setting- the kind i use has only 410 F automatic. It is hot, i'm sure, but my hair comes out like a quality press, way better than any a salon could give. i didn't start experiencing problems with heat damage until i started using a cheaper flat iron. i recommend quality!

LovelyB said...

before I knew better I owned a CHI and for the life of me couldn't figure out why my hair was breaking and splitting. HELLO no temp controls. the automatic temp is over 400deg ! I gifted to one of my (white) friends who could care less about how much heat as long as it gets her hair super straight. she loves it. the heat was way too much for my fine strands though.

now

I use the 1" FHI platform. I got it for way cheaper and with an additional discount for only ~$100 on Folica.com
it always leaves me with smooth silky hair. also it heats up really fast and evenly, I have never worried about it damaging my hair because of the quality of it and it gets my hair COMPLETELY straight on 300deg which is super important because I wear my hair both straight and curly (more often) so I can't afford heat damage or split ends, none of which I have gotten while using this.

Mary J said...

If you girls want really sleek and shiny hair that last then use a KARMIN G3 salon pro styling iron along with a heat protectant called "Pro Naturals Moroccan argan oil". The combination really hits the spot!! The Karmin is the best flat iron everrrrr it has heat settings and great plates so it's good for natural hair :D

Laura said...

Karmin is the best brand for curlies :)

Nikki said...

I just found this site looking for advice on flatirons... It made me smile. My name is Nikki, and I have lovely curly hair. :) Nice to meet you, curly Nikki. :D

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