We’ve covered what to look for in a dryer with our Blow Dryer 101 and curling irons in our Curling Iron 101 and now, Flat Irons get their turn! In addition to the construction materials and temperature settings mentioned in the other 101′s, plate size is also an important consideration when choosing the perfect flat iron for your hair. Let’s get started…
You want to choose a plate size based on the length of your hair.
SHORT HAIR Go for a smaller plate – less than 1″
MEDIUM LENGTH to SHOULDER LENGTH You will do best with 1″ to 1¼”
LONG HAIR For longer hair, you can get away with the widest plates at 1½” to 2″
Like blow dryers and curling irons, most tools come with variable heat settings.
Having the flexibility to change the temperature is definitely an advantage.
However, fixed or non-adjustable temperature flat irons can work just fine on normal, healthy hair. Not all of us have that, though.
FRAGILE, THIN HAIR
If your hair needs a gentle touch, use an iron at low temperature – as low as 250 degrees, to avoid damage.
CHEMICALLY TREATED HAIR
Chemically treated hair should be considered fragile, so the same guideline as above.
COARSE, THICK HAIR
Thick, coarse hair is stronger so you can get away with temps over 350 degrees.
Depending on your range of normal and if your hair is chemical free – you may find anywhere from 300-400 degrees works for you. It’s always better to err on the side of lower temp and turn it up, as necessary. You may find that you’ve been using too high a temperature, causing more potential damage, unnecessarily!
Regardless of your hair type – use your best judgement. If you ever feel like the iron is getting your hair too hot or smell any type of burning scent, stop using that temperature immediately! And NEVER EVER use a hot iron on wet hair. That is basically boiling your hair from the outside and will certainly cause damage.
Almost all flat irons these days contain ceramic. Generally, ceramic is combined with a strong metal such as aluminum or titanium to create the flat iron plate. Additionally, various nano technologies may be present – which means super fine particles have been infused into the plate. Titanium, silver and tourmaline are common nano technologies. Depending on your hair type and the quality of iron – the nano technology will aid in straightening, shine and preventing heat damage.
We grabbed a CHI Elite Shimmer Black 1″ Flat Iron - an iron which will work with most hair types. Elizabeth tested it on her long, normal-to-thick hair. Her hair is not chemically treated and is in average condition. She set the temp to 350 degrees and used no products to see how the flat iron did on its own. The results were impressive.
A shiny, smooth head of hair is something every woman needs now and again. Using these 101 guidelines, choose the iron that’s best for your hair. Sally Beauty has an extensive collection from to choose from.