best in class

The 8 Very Best Flat Irons

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

Flat irons are pretty straightforward, but a few key characteristics really can make a difference in performance. A range of heat settings lets you accommodate style and hair texture. A lightweight body is more comfortable and, if you’re feeling greedy, dual-voltage flexibility makes your flat-iron travel-abroad ready. Since I’ve spent most of my time and money trying to add volume to my straight hair, to find the best tools for the job, I polled 15 hairstylists for the models they depend on to give their clients sleek sheets of hair minus the static and heat damage.

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What we’re looking for

Temperature: You’ll want to play close attention to a flat iron’s heat settings and make sure the ranges are compatible with your hair type. In general, fine or damaged hair types need flat irons that have lower temperature settings — 300 degrees and under — while very coarse or curly hair types will need a flat iron that can reach higher temperatures around 400 degrees to efficiently get hair straight (but if hair is both curly and damaged or fine, you may want to still go for a lower setting). And of course, no matter the temperature you set your iron at, applying a heat protectant before styling is a must.

Plate material: Kadeisha Placide, the manager and lead stylist at Classic Beauty Studio says that both titanium-plated flat iron and ceramic irons have their place. “Ceramic-plated irons help to eliminate frizz and make heating plates smoother, so they’re less likely to pull hair,” she explains, making it better for those with thinner hair, while a “titanium hair straightener delivers the fastest heat transfer for immediate and superior results,” if you have thick or curly hair.

Plate size: Selecting the right plate size comes down to your hair length. Those with short styles should choose a flat iron with a one-inch plate, while those with mid-length or long hair should choose a flat iron between 1.25 and two inches.

Best overall flat iron

365 degrees | Ceramic | 1 inch

Five hairstylists recommended this professional styling iron from GHD, or Good Hair Day. (The U.K. brand was a nearly unanimous favorite among stylists we polled about the best curling iron.) Celebrity hairstylist Luca Blandi, who has worked with clients such as Anne Hathaway and Kate Bosworth specifically loves the brand’s Platinum+ models because they are made from a lighter material, which is a godsend for hairdressers who use the tool all day. “It’s less strenuous on our body and hands.”

Both Blandi and hairstylist Nunzio Saviano appreciate the intuitive heat settings on GHD tools, which max out at 365 degrees and spread heat evenly through the plates. (While 365 degrees is supposedly the optimal temperature for avoiding heat damage, though those with very thick hair textures might want an iron that goes higher, which you can find on the list below). Michelle Obama’s hairstylist, Yene Damtew, uses this flat iron on the former First Lady’s hair and loves it because it’s sleek and lightweight. She notes that all GHD irons are good for creating “a multitude of hairstyles and producing shape and movement for all hair textures.” After all, it is called a styler — and celebrity stylist Hos Hounkpatin says it’s just as good for adding beach waves to hair as it is for straightening it. He recommended this iron as one of the best to straighten out natural hair for a silk press because “you don’t have to go over the hair as much with it; you can already see with one touch how smooth your hair gets with a beautiful soft shine.” Brooke Jordan, co-owner of Brooklyn-based salon the Bird House, is a fan. “Their flat irons are preset to 365 degrees, so there’s no risk in frying your hair, and they heat up in what feels like a nanosecond, and it has an automatic shutoff,” she says. According to Jordan, it works well on a wide range of hair types and always leaves hair looking “incredibly lustrous.”

Best (less-expensive) flat iron