The latest generation of flat irons can withstand even the steamiest weather and the most unfortunate of hair days—without frying hair in the process. While the styling process can be a time investment, hair straighteners can also be a financial investment, so you want to be sure you’re choosing the right one. After extensively testing factors such as maneuverability, temperature and performance, we found the Harry Josh Pro Tools Ceramic Flat Styling Iron to be the best hair straightener overall for its unparalleled straightening and smoothing power. The Chi Original Ceramic Hairstyling Iron is our best value pick because of its no-nonsense performance, versatility and ability to create sleek, silky hair with few passes.
I’ve spent years trying to tame my long, wavy, medium-thick, color-treated hair into smooth submission. As a magazine writer, I’ve tested and written about hair detanglers, smoothing shampoos, hot rollers and curling irons. I’ve interviewed—and painstakingly observed—celebrity hairstylists on countless photoshoots. To get my desired look, I’ve tried various keratin and straightening treatments, and I’ve invested in a long list of flat irons in just about every price point and material.
For this piece, I wanted shopping guidance from professionals, so I spoke with Nicole Henry, senior colorist at Warren Tricomi Salon, and Erin Bryant, master stylist and creative director of Whip Salon about what to look for in a hair straightener. “You’re going to want to find one that sets itself apart with features that will make your life easier,” says Bryant. “Maybe you’ll look for one that heats up quickly or is durable, but my favorite flat iron feature has to be a tool that has ceramic-coated plates. They help leave your hair shiny and healthy.” During my extensive research and rigorous testing, the flat irons I tried were predominantly ceramic, but I included several top-of-the-line titanium irons as well.
When rating irons, I considered four principal criteria. Two criteria—material and plate size—were noted in detail but not considered in the ultimate rating. That’s because material, whether ceramic, tourmaline titanium or some other metal, is something that is often selected based on hair type and needs (more on this in our “How To Choose A Hair Straightener” section below). Similarly, the best plate size for each individual is usually determined by hair length.
To gauge maneuverability, I measured factors such as weight, cord length and swivel. These contribute to the overall ease of use of the tool.
Another important criteria is temperature. I considered heat-up time, temperature control variability, accuracy and whether the iron has temperature memory and automatic shut-off.
For performance, I gauged if the iron works as advertised—specifically, how many passes were required and if hair smoothness lasted. I also checked for split ends and broken or dry hair, although it can be difficult to gauge right away whether a flat iron compromises hair health.
I also considered the quality of accessories and extra features. I took into account if the iron had convenient extras like a heat-resistant product sleeve, a storage pouch, a Velcro strap to keep the cord tidy, and whether it had dual voltage and can be used for international travel.
Before using each straightener, I started with freshly washed, conditioned and towel-dried hair. While my hair was wet, I first liberally spritzed a heat protectant throughout. I then blow dried my hair with a round brush so it was dry, but I didn’t take extra time to style it.
I divided my hair into six to eight sections with clips. I began straightening at the nape of my neck, clamping hair in approximately one-inch sections as close to the scalp as possible and gliding the iron downward from root to tip. I continued with each section until I reached the top of my head. I assessed how many passes each flat iron required to make my hair straight, smooth, shiny and free of frizz. I also checked how long the effects lasted, looking for frizz after six and 12 hours.
Best Overall Hair Straightener
A Standout Straightener For Reliably Smooth, Sleek Hair
Plate material: Ceramic tourmaline | Plate size: 1.25 inches x 3.5 inches | Temperature: 235 degrees to 425 degrees | Weight: 0.84 ounces | Cord length: 8 feet 10 inches | Warranty: 2 years
The Harry Josh Pro Tools Flat Iron is what hair styling dreams are made of: it has accurate, adjustable heat settings, an extremely smooth glide and thoughtful details that make it easy to execute a smooth style quickly. Its 11 digital presets range from 235 degrees to 425 degrees, which means the iron can accommodate everything from fine or color-treated hair to long, thick or curly hair. When plugged in, it reaches its mid-heat setting—325 degrees—in just 20 seconds, which is so ridiculously fast it will impress even the most impatient hot tool user. While its highest heat setting is 425 degrees (while some titanium irons reach 450 or 460 degrees), this iron produces enough heat to mold stubborn hair yet with potentially less damage.
The plates of this Harry Josh model are nano-ceramic and tourmaline, which means they have an extremely smooth glide as they pass over hair. There’s no snagging and no crimping—just a smooth, quiet “swoosh” as the iron satisfyingly slides down hair. While many standard straighteners feature 1-inch wide plates, these are 1.25 inches wide, which means they have a little extra surface area to accommodate thicker hair with fewer passes, or to allow you to include a bit more hair in the iron per pass and ultimately save time.
This iron also has floating plates. This design feature means the plates are on springs, making them flexible, responsive and grippy as you move the iron down your hair. “The closer the plates get to each other, the better you can clamp the hair for a smooth, straight finish,” says Henry. “I find you can also get tight to the scalp with this type of flat iron, and it’s really good for super curly hair.”
In practice, this iron produces heat and smoothness that can withstand seriously steamy weather. Case in point: I straightened my hair just prior to an early summer pop-up rainstorm in 98% humidity. Not only was my hair sleek after just one to two passes, it was shiny—potentially due to the ceramic heater’s infrared heat, which is intended to emit smoothing, negative ions and seal the hair cuticle.
The flexible plates allowed me to create a subtle, finished-looking flip, as opposed to dry, bristly ends reminiscent of an overused paintbrush. Because the hinge was easy to clamp near my part and the plates gripped my hair efficiently near my scalp, I didn’t get any of those wiry flyaways that typically sprout up near my roots, and my underlying poufy frizz helmet was nonexistent. My hair also felt smooth, not crispy. To be honest, it was hard to wrap my head around: This iron is, in a word, magical.
Overall, the Harry Josh Pro Tools styling iron is comfortable to hold and has a hinge with just the right amount of give not to cramp your hand. You won’t need a massive instruction booklet with this model because it’s intuitive and user-friendly. Its on-off switch and adjustable temperature control is conveniently located on the inside of the iron, so it’s not easily jostled or turned off mid-use.
From a practical standpoint, this tool also has some of the most nice-to-have extra features of all the irons I tested. It has a professional-length cord with 360-degree swivel that makes it easy to maneuver around my head while styling; the auto shut-off works in exactly 60 minutes; and it has universal voltage to make it travel-friendly. I also love that it has two key add-ons that many other irons don’t have: a heat resistant pouch for easy storing and to protect your countertop, and a hard plastic sleeve to go over the gadget and lock it in a closed position when not in use.
One small downside to this iron is that due to its slightly wider plates I had to carefully maneuver my fingers out of the way so as not to burn them when straightening the baby hairs near my temple. I also had to do a couple of extra passes on the framing layers around my face.
- Extra smooth glide
- Multiple temperature settings for a variety of hair types
- Versatile styling with floating plates
- You want the ultra-high heat of a titanium iron
- You strongly prefer a narrower 1-inch iron
Best Value Hair Straightener
An Easy-To-Use, Affordable Model That Gives Salon-Quality Results
Plate material: Ceramic | Plate size: 1 inch x 3.5 inches | Temperature: 392 degrees | Weight: 14.7 ounces | Cord length: 10 feet 11 inches | Warranty: 2 years
The Chi Original Ceramic Hairstyling Iron doesn’t have multiple temperature options, but it does have an under-30-second heat-up time and an extra-long (over 10 feet) swivel cord that gives you extra reach while styling. Most importantly, it has gloriously smooth ceramic plates with beveled edges that make it a nimble tool for creating everything from pin-straight styles to flips to add polish at the ends of hair. In short, it’s an uncomplicated workhorse that gets the job done—well.
The plates on this iron are one inch, which make them versatile enough to work well for short hair and on bangs or fine baby hair around the face, as well as on longer hair. “A one-inch plate allows for grip tight to the root regardless of hair length,” says Henry. However, the Chi may be slightly more time-consuming to use on longer hair because the plates have less surface area to cover ground on hair quickly.
It’s worth mentioning the high volume of positive reviews on this model from stylists and users alike. “I personally use the 1-inch Chi brand. It heats up fast, provides a sleek finish to the hair and is lightweight,” says Henry.
It also features ionic, far infrared technology for smoothing hair and combating frizz. “Infrared heat technology will heat your hair from the inside out, helping the hair retain moisture and shine with fewer split ends,” says Bryant. While it has a two-year warranty, many users comment that it lasts far longer, which is not the case with many ceramic irons because of their generally shorter shelf life than more durable titanium ones.
When I put this straightener to work, it heated up in just 20 seconds. I sectioned my hair into one-inch pieces, glided the iron through my hair from root to tip, and it went from frizzy to smooth and polished. Despite having just one heat setting of 392 degrees, the temperature was enough to reshape my hair in just one pass, although I did have to do two passes on the layers around my face. This was refreshing because I get a little anxious about heat damage when I have to go over the same section several times.
One downside was that while most of Chi’s other irons have an automatic shut-off, this one does not. I also didn’t love that this iron didn’t have a sound notification or digital display telling me when it had reached its single heat setting.
- Easy maneuverability
- Creating versatile styles, from completely straight to bends to waves
- You want ultra-high heat
- You prefer multiple heat settings
- You feel strongly about having auto shut-off
Best Luxury Hair Straightener
Get Impossibly Smooth, Frizz-Free Hair With This Luxe Flat Iron
Plate material: Ceramic | Plate size: 1 inch x 3.75 inches | Temperature: 365 degrees | Weight: 14.3 ounces | Cord length: 8 feet 8 inches | Warranty: 3 years
The GHD Platinum Plus Styler is like a luxury automobile: it looks and feels expensive, it effortlessly does its job and it will cause people to stare—at your gorgeous hair. The sleek white barrel grip feels comfortable and satisfying in the hand, and a wishbone-style hinge is one of the iron’s trademarks. Because of its v-shaped, continuous barrel design, it doesn’t have a hinge with a gap that could pinch the palm of your hand as can happen with some other models. It not only aligns the plates and gives you precise styling control, it makes it easy to clamp the tool close to your roots.
The straightener is forgiving on the wrist and is more lightweight compared to most of the other models I tested. It has a well-functioning swivel cord, and it comes with a nice silicone sleeve to keep the iron closed before use, for easy transport and to protect fingers during cool down. Plus, the 30-minute automatic shut-off gives peace of mind.
To use this iron, you press the button on the inside of the smart styler, and it heats to 365 degrees. “This standard setting is the ‘sweet spot’ where the heat can break down the hair just enough to mold it into shape and fight frizz without burning it or causing damage,” says Henry. “Maintaining this slightly lower temperature ensures your hair will be healthy, straight and tremendously shiny (healthy hair has natural shine that the flat iron accentuates).” In testing, it only took 20 seconds for the tool to beep and indicate it was ready.
While straightening, predictive sensors in the plates monitor heat 250 times per second to make sure the iron doesn’t overheat and potentially singe your hair. “The lower temperature also allows you to use this styler daily with beautiful results, and it offers protection for longer-lasting color because higher temperatures can dull hair color and its brightness,” says Henry.
While I was skeptical that a single temperature would be able to wrangle my frizz, this gadget worked like a pro. It has a super smooth glide with zero snag, and the slightly longer plate allowed me to include a bit more hair in the iron per pass without compromising the effectiveness, which ultimately saved me time. The floating plates are more versatile than the standard, static plates on many other irons. They compress just the right amount of hair to create smooth and straight styles or a subtle curve at my ends. This model’s beveled edges also allowed me to masterfully create waves or curls. After using this iron, my hair was exceptionally shiny and healthy-looking—I received multiple compliments—and the silky look lasted until my next wash.
- Sleek styling with minimal damage
- Color-treated or vulnerable hair
- High shine
- You prefer multiple heat settings
- You want wider plates
I tested 14 products total, and 11 didn’t make the cut. Here’s why.
- Bio Ionic One Pass Styling Iron: This ceramic iron was a close runner-up, but I preferred the wider plate on the overall winner for everyday use. This iron has an extremely smooth glide and the silicone “speed strips” helped guide my hair into the tool and straighten it after just one pass, which saved time. Another plus was the temperature memory so I didn’t have to recall the last heat setting I’d used.
- T3 Lucea ID: The Lucea ID is a consistently top-rated smart iron, and I love that it has heat personalization and a lower temperature “Refresh” feature for day-after hair. However, the buttons are fussy to press, and I used multiple passes to get my hair smooth.
- Dyson Corrale: The lightning-fast heat-up of this iron and its flexible floating plates allow for serious maneuverability while styling. But the base, charging cord and tool itself took up a lot of real estate on the counter. I didn’t love that it required 70 minutes to charge for only 30 minutes of use. And the iron, while cordless, was about six ounces heavier than most others due to its lithium-ion battery, so it felt cumbersome while straightening.
- Kristin Ess 3-in-1 Flatiron: For the price point, this titanium flat iron heats quickly. The floating plates made good contact with my hair, so it worked well straightening my waves. It fell short, though, with overall ease of use: The hinge was slightly harder to squeeze and grip, so the iron slipped while I held it. I had some close calls with nearly burning myself.
- Moroccanoil Perfectly Polished Titanium Flat Iron: This is a great titanium iron for long or thick hair because it has a longer plate, which allows for more hair coverage per pass. It’s also nice because at 1 inch wide, it works for most hair lengths. Compared to other titanium models, it had a smoother glide and was adept at straightening shorter, face-framing hair and creating flat iron waves and curls. However, when I tested the product’s heat with a digital multimeter, the measured temperature was anywhere from 30-80 degrees lower than the advertised temperature.
- BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium 1.5-Inch Flat Iron: This titanium straightener by BaByliss, a brand often used in hair salons, offers five heat settings conveniently placed on the side of the iron, and it covers a lot of ground per pass with its wider plates. But this model’s vents—which are intended to eliminate excess heat—produced a drag, and the iron left crimp marks on my hair because the edges were more straight than beveled.
- Hot Tools Pro Artist Black Gold Dual Plate Salon Flat Iron: Many salon professionals love Hot Tools, and for good reason. This dual plate iron performed extremely well with just one pass and allowed for precise heat increases of ten degrees, which was unique compared to other models. However, while the dual heater controller allows customization on the left and right plates, the buttons were teeny and difficult to press, and the two-hour auto shut-off seemed excessively long.
- Amika The Confidante Moisture Maintenance Styler: I loved the digital display and interior button size and placement, but this model snagged my hair and the hinge pinched my palm while using it.
- Remington Shine Therapy Argan Oil And Keratin 2-Inch Iron: The nine digital settings and smooth glide of this ceramic model made it a standout, but the wide paddles aren’t versatile for use on shorter hair.
- Revlon Double Straight Copper + Ceramic Dual Plate Iron: This is an easy-to-use iron straight out of the box, but despite reaching high heat it didn’t leave my hair super smooth because the floating plates were only on one side of the tool. Plus, the short, six-foot cord made the iron difficult to maneuver.
- Conair Infiniti Pro Titanium Flatiron: I didn’t love the hissing sound this ceramic iron made while on, and it left my hair with a significant amount of frizz after several passes.
There were a few brands that I considered testing, but ultimately they weren’t a good fit. The Cloud Nine Original Flat Iron was not widely available enough, and the Drybar Tiny Tress Press was too niche-y for our testing criteria. The L’Oreal Professional Steampod, which is beloved by some, had mixed reviews compared to other similar high-end straighteners.
How To Choose The Best Hair Straightener For You
The reality is that using a hair straightener can be a time-consuming extra step in your journey toward polished hair. The process requires patience, precision and even some additional upper arm and shoulder strength. You want the payoff—ideally silky, smooth, shiny hair that looks really, really good—to match the effort you’re putting in. The last thing you need is for frizz to start creeping in ten minutes after you walk out the door.
There are several factors, like materials and plate width, to consider in a flat iron. We consulted professional hairstylists who have extensive experience with these hot tools. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing the best one.
One of the first decisions to make before purchasing a hair straightener is choosing which material will work well for your hair type—specifically, which will get your hair straight and cause the least amount of damage. “Ceramic, tourmaline and titanium are all good options for flat irons,” says Henry. “The type of hair you have should determine which one is best for you.” Ceramic hair straighteners, she says, are the most common and most gentle, and therefore best for delicate or fine hair, and for color-treated or chemically-stressed hair that’s prone to damage. “Typically, ceramic irons do not get as hot as metal irons,” she says.
Tourmaline straighteners are ceramic or metal irons that are coated with the mineral for a smoother finish and better glide. “They’re great for most hair types and for people looking for smoothness and to fight frizz,” says Henry. “The coating allows the flat iron to glide through the hair without pulling or snagging.”
Lastly, titanium irons are more durable than ceramic irons and tend to get the hottest. “They’re best for coarse or thick hair and for super curly hair,” she says. In our tests we considered ceramic, ceramic tourmaline and titanium irons, and even one manganese copper alloy iron by Dyson.
Another key factor to consider is plate width. “A 1-inch plate is traditional and works best on all hair types,” says Henry. “It’s excellent for short hair or for use around the hairline or bang area. Larger plates are best for long hair and can save time, as they cover more of the section at once.”
You may want a flat iron with higher or lower temperatures depending on your hair health and texture. The best flat irons will have a range of settings, like our best overall pick from Harry Josh. “Right after highlights or a color service, your hair may be more sensitive,” says Henry. “Lower heat will be best to ensure no damage. High humidity days and [having] thick hair may require higher heat levels to keep the frizz down and get super straight results.” Also, auto shut-off is always good for peace of mind, says Henry. “Too many times we leave the house and wonder if we unplugged the iron.”
Consider nice-to-have features that will make styling your hair easier. Swivel cords and extra-long cords are a big perk to enhance ease of use as you work around your head.
Some straighteners come with heat-resistant mats or gloves, which are helpful for keeping countertops or fingers from getting singed. A storage pouch is another plus. If you travel a lot, look for an iron with universal voltage to allow you to use it abroad.
What’s The Best Way To Flat Iron Hair?
“Never straighten your hair while it’s wet because that’s when your hair is at its most fragile state,” says Bryant. And before styling, always, always apply a heat protectant first.
“I find smoothing the hair first with a blow dryer allows me to use less heat with a flat iron,” says Henry. Patience and precision are also key. “It’s best to straighten in small, 1-inch sections,” she says. “Start by placing the iron as close to the scalp as possible and gliding it through to the ends. Do not stop on any one area of the section you are ironing because holding it on there too long can cause damage or breakage. Repeat the section if necessary, remembering to keep the iron moving continuously.”
How Many Passes Can You Make On The Same Section While Straightening?
It’s better to start off using lower heat and fewer passes until you see what works best with your hair. “You should expect to pass over the hair one to four times depending on your hair type and texture,” says Bryant. “As straighteners are extremely hot, it’s best to use it on a lower setting at first to see how your hair handles it.”
Should You Always Use A Heat Protectant With A Flat Iron?
Yes; this product can be in spray, liquid, cream or oil form and is designed to protect your hair. “Heat protection is key!” says Henry. “My favorite is the new Kerastase Serum Chroma Thermique Hair Serum. This leave-in serum hydrates, protects, smoothes and softens. It provides up to 450-degree heat protection. You apply it on wet hair before you blow dry or air dry.”