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The 8 Very Best Flat Irons

Including the ones Beyoncé and Michelle Obama depend on for sleek hair.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

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.

Best overall flat iron | Best (less expensive) flat iron | Best flat iron for short hair | Best flat irons for a range of hair types | Best flat iron for frizz | Best cordless flat iron | Best flat iron for travel | Best ergonomic flat iron 

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

235–425 degrees | Ceramic | 1.25 inches

The hair experts at the Serge Normant at John Frieda salons prefer this Harry Josh ceramic iron. Per stylist Joseph Maine — who frequently works with SNL actress Aidy Bryant and preps Priyanka Chopra for events — the larger plates accommodate all hair lengths and slide through quickly, while the curved edges work for adding bends in hair. “Its long swivel cord makes it easy to maneuver around my clients, and the temperature dial makes it easy to turn the temperature down for simple touch-ups or up for more intricate straightening,” he adds.

Stylist and colorist Jacob Schmidt likes that it heats up fast and smooths hair in just a few passes, minimizing heat damage. He’s even used it for keratin treatments and finds that it  gets the job done “quickly and efficiently.”

Best flat iron for short hair

240–450 degrees | Titanium | 1 inch

If your hair is shorter or you want something more precise, hairstylist Felicia Rials of West Hollywood’s 901 Salon recommends a mini-iron — specifically, this thin one-inch BaByliss Pro Nano. “I mainly use a flat iron when cutting a bob. It helps me get the hair very straight so I can see what I’m cutting,” she explains. “I can also get into the root and hairline to make those baby hairs lie flat.” She loves the BaByliss because it’s superthin and lightweight but also hot enough — with 50 heat settings — to really smooth the hair. The heat settings make it a great option for straightening naturally curly hair too.  Kadeisha Placide, the manager and lead stylist at Classic Beauty Studio notes that the flat iron can get up to 450 degrees, “which really allows the hair to become as straight as possible and leaves a great luster.” Mika English, who recommended this flat iron for a silk press, thinks a titanium-plated flat iron is a better option for curly, textured hair than a ceramic-plated one because the metal plates heat more evenly than the clay-based ones. No matter what type of iron you choose, using it with a heat protectant is always recommended. Placide likes using Design Essentials Agave & Lavender Weightless Thermal Protectant Serum during each thermal service.

Best flat irons for a range of hair types

140–450 degrees | Ceramic | 1.25 inches

Maybe you’re a stylist who wants a flat iron that will work on a range of hairstyles, or you need something with higher heat settings that will iron out coarser natural hair. Tym Wallace, a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, and Yara Shahidi, recommends the FHI Platform irons because of the temperature control settings that go from 140 to 450 degrees. “It straightens hair really well and gives the hair a bounty of shine and is versatile among hair types and styles,” he says. (We also hear it’s the flat iron Beyoncé uses.)

Best flat iron for frizz

170–450 degrees | Ceramic | 1.5 inches 

This flat iron also gets up to 450 degrees like the FHI above, and Latanya Williams, a stylist with mobile hair salon Yeluchi, recommended this to us when we asked her how to achieve a salon-quality silk press at home, explaining that ionic technology puts this a step above plain ceramic flat irons. Instead of just heating up, ionic tools generate negative ions which keeps the cuticle smooth, which in turn “helps with frizz and locks in moisture, which is ideal,” she explains. This one has 24-karat gold ceramic plates that she says help with even heat distribution, and it also has digital temperature controls and auto shutoff. Plus, she adds, “It hydrates hair and can be used to create curls and waves.”

Best cordless flat iron

330, 365, and 410 degrees | Manganese copper plates | 1 inch

If you’re straightening your hair often and willing to invest, Huber recommends Dyson. “The Corrale is getting rave reviews,” she says. The cordless straightener has intelligent heat control and adjusts its temperature depending on the length, thickness, and texture of your hair. What also sets the Dyson apart from the other flat irons on this list is the use of flexible copper plates that shape and gather hair, allowing you to style with less heat and pressure on the hair strand. When I interviewed vintage Claude Home founder and at-home hair straightening novice Maggie Holladay, she praised the Corrale as a great option for beginners or those who aren’t great at styling at home. “I’m so bad at doing my hair. But with this, I can almost make it look like somebody other than me did it,” she notes, adding that she finds it to be significantly less damaging compared to other straighteners she’s used.

Best flat iron for travel

170–450 degrees | Ceramic | 1.25 inches

If you want to take your iron with you overseas, you’ll want one that’s dual voltage like this Amika styler, which resident Project Runway All Stars hair consultant Linh Nguyen recommends as a one-pass iron with 25 percent longer plates. He notes that since it has “ion technology that helps seal the hair cuticle with negative ions” and “an infrared light beam that gets deeper into the hair to keep out frizz,” it’s ideal for smoothing hair without any flyaways or for creating a wavy, shiny look. Cassadi Currier, stylist and extension specialist at Pembley Joon, says she’s always looking for ionic technology when shopping for hot tools for the same reasons. She adds that sealing the hair’s cuticles gives you “the shiniest hair possible.” She says this flat iron has a lot of other cool features too, including a smart shutoff. In addition to using a heat protectant — her favorite is the Kevin Murphy Young Again serum — she recommends starting with a lower temperature and working your way up to determine how much heat you will really need.

Best ergonomic flat iron

280–450 degrees | Ceramic | 1.5 inches

People who use a flat iron every day might want something more ergonomic for regular use. In that vein, Wonderland Beauty Parlor senior colorist and hairstylist Ryan Hill is emphatic about how much he likes this Croc Classic titanium iron — especially because of its shape, which he says is “ergonomic enough for me to grip firmly without feeling any heat through the handle, unlike most other irons.” This one is by far his favorite, and he has tried many over the years. It has digital temperature settings ranging from 280 to 450 degrees, “making it perfect for fragile hair as well as keratin treatments, which typically require high temperatures,” and he loves that the ceramic plates produce natural infrared that helps prevent damage and dryness. And for travelers, it’s dual voltage. “I can’t think of a single downfall to this iron,” he says. “I love it that much.”

Some more hair-styling tools we've written about

Our experts

Luca Blandi, celebrity hairstylist
Cassadi Currier, stylist and extension specialist at Pembley Joon
Yene Damtew, hairstylist
Mika English, stylist
Ryan Hill, Wonderland Beauty Parlor senior colorist and hairstylist
Hos Hounkpatin, celebrity stylist
•Brooke Jordan, co-owner of Brooklyn-based salon the Bird House
Joseph Maine, hairstylist
Linh Nguyen, Project Runway All Stars hair consultant
Kadeisha Placide, the manager and lead stylist at Classic Beauty Studio
Felicia Rials, hairstylist at West Hollywood’s 901 Salon
Nunzio Saviano, hairstylist
Jacob Schmidt, stylist and colorist
Tym Wallace, celebrity hairstylist
•Latanya Williams, a stylist with mobile hair salon Yeluch

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The 8 Very Best Flat Irons