The Best Flat Iron

Manage your mane without frying it
The 30-Second Review

The best flat irons straighten and style your hair at the lowest temperature with the fewest passes. The surest way to do this: high-quality plate materials. We culled a list of the top 1-inch models with either titanium or solid ceramic plates, and tested them on multiple hair types both in a salon and at home to arrive at our top picks.

Best Overall

For $230, this flat iron’s solid ceramic plates are gentle for all hair types. It vibrates to give each strand of hair time under the heat, which results in truly one-pass straightening.

It’s also a versatile styling tool that can create curls and on-trend waves for a salon-polished look. Novice and professional stylist approved.

Best Titanium Flat Iron

Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron
Titanium plates aren’t as gentle as ceramic, so we don’t recommend them for fine or damaged hair. For coarse or textured hair, though, Chi’s extra-long plates heat up quickly and are super light ($120).

Best Budget Flat Iron

Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Salon Flat Iron with Titanium Plates
This $60 flat iron may take an extra pass or two, but it beat out some models at twice the price.

The 3 Best Flat Irons

Where once flat irons were used to just straighten hair, now they’ve become an all-up hair styling powerhouse that can also curl and create beachy waves. But, if you’re not careful, they can also really damage your hair. The key to the perfect coif: Find an iron that straightens your type of hair at the lowest possible heat setting with the fewest passes. Sounds complicated? What it really comes down to is plate material — ceramic and titanium are best. Ceramic plates deliver a very gentle, far-infrared heat that locks moisture into your hair while emitting negative ions. Those little ions close the hair’s cuticles, working to smooth strands and cut frizz. Titanium plates are a favorite of professional stylists and it’s not hard to understand why — they’re super smooth, heat up fast, and are lightweight.

Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron Whether you're straightening or styling, it does it all with just one pass.

The Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron landed our best overall spot easily, though we didn’t expect it to. What seemed gimmicky at first (it vibrates), turned into straight-up awe. Our at-home testers and professional stylists both agreed, this ceramic flat iron hands-down straightens and styles beautifully for all types of hair right out of the box — well worth the $230.

For coarse or textured hair, the Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron won’t lead you astray. (Titanium plates are too harsh to use on thin or damaged hair.) The $120 iron performed similarly to the Bio Ionic 10X, just not as astonishingly well. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it to avoid any unwanted crimps.

Don’t want to spend over $100 on a flat iron? The Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron with Titanium Plates ($60) beat out two popular brands that were twice the price. But you’ll have to take an extra pass or two compared to our other top picks — and more passes means potentially more damage.

Our Picks for the Best Flat Iron

Best Overall

Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron The easiest to create a clean, salon-polished look. Great for all hair types.

We were skeptical of the Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron at first blush. For one, it seemed gimmicky. Why? It vibrates. And, two, it costs $230. Yep: a vibrating flat iron that’s almost four times as much as our budget pick.

In spite of our skepticism, this iron truly delivered. It seems the vibrations actually do what the company claims: shake every hair into place so that each strand gets touched directly by the hot plates at some point. Even at the lowest temperature settings, the results were impeccable — with none of the unwanted kinks or bends that we experienced with some of the less expensive contenders. Our stylists also pointed out this iron has volcanic ash mixed into the ceramic. This releases negative ions that close your hair’s cuticles, making hair smooth and sleek and not a staticky puffball.

All of our models’ hair came out super shiny and straight in one pass. Even our at-home tester was able to create a clean, polished salon look. Engaging the vibration was simple — click the power button and tap the plates together and you’re ready to go. The low hum is subtle and not distracting, and you can hardly feel the vibration in your hand. Though we should note that even without the vibration turned on, the Bio Ionic made clean, consistent passes.

Jarman commented that the vibration of the Bio Ionic worked really well, especially at the ends where they tend to jump out with other flat irons.

It feels natural in the hand, and its matte finish provides a slight grippiness, but doesn’t pull at the hair when styling. It also sports a unique shape plate that’s curved at the tip and makes it really easy to get close to the scalp.

As a styling tool, the 10X Pro Styling Iron was hard to beat. Without the vibration, it was easy to make soft, beach waves or loose curls, and if you want tighter curls, turn on the vibration, and voila. One of our at-home testers, who had never been able to replicate these on-trend looks herself, was able to create these three styles “like magic.”

Bio Ionic OnePass Straightening Iron An honorable mention: Great one-pass results, but you'll have to wipe down after each use.

The Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron is the most expensive machine we tested, but with this tool, you get what you pay for. You can truly do with your hair whatever you desire — straight or styled — in one pass. The Bio Ionic OnePass Straightener was the only other iron that delivered consistent one-pass results from a ceramic plate. For $40 more, the 10X has details that the OnePass lacked. One, the silicone “speed stripes” on the OnePass need to be wiped down after every use, and it’s easy to imagine gunk building up in those channels if you don’t. We don’t see most people doing this chore, especially daily. Its plastic casing also didn’t feel as comfortable as the 10X, and it heated up the slowest of all of the flat irons we tested — 57 seconds to reach 400 degrees compared to 41 seconds to hit 450 degrees for the 10X. Once it heats up, the OnePass also has an annoying green light that strobes.

The Bio Ionic is the Tesla of flat irons — an elegant, high-quality machine worthy of the price. It also comes with a five-year warranty. By investing in a better-quality machine up front, you won’t have to replace your flat iron every couple of years, which you’ll likely need to do if you go with a cheaper, ceramic-coated tool.

Best Titanium Flat Iron

Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron These titanium plates offer great results for stubborn curls and reverse texture.

“Ninety percent of the irons I use are ceramic, but for resistant hair that needs extra heat, titanium is the way to go,” says Jarman. If you have stubborn curls or reverse texture hair, this flat iron is a solid pick. But, remember, titanium can be harsher on delicate hair, so it isn’t quite as universal.

For nearly half the price of our top pick, the Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron is not quite as astonishingly consistent in its straightening abilities. It’s the longest of all the models we tested at nearly 5 inches and it heated up quickly — 44 seconds to reach 410 degrees. It straightened quickly on all the hair types we tested including the reverse texture hair and had similar styling results as the 10X. It can straighten and make beachy waves. Plus, its thin profile could handle tight curls as well. That thin profile gets close to the scalp, but is prone to crimping and pulls some during styling. It didn’t feel quite as perfect out of the box compared to the 10X.

Its utilitarian design reminded us of a medical thermometer, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in the details. The Ultra CHI was the only flat iron we tested that lets you clip it closed while not in use. It also comes with a silicone sleeve that helps protect the plates during storage and travel as well as a Velcro strap for wrapping up the cord. For you neat freaks out there, this is a boon.

The Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron was the only iron that clicked closed. It also comes with a silicone sleeve to protect the plates for travel or storage.

Best Budget Flat Iron

Color us surprised at how much we liked the Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron with Titanium Plates. It straightened hair easily, though we had to go over it with more than one pass. On reverse texture hair, if we weren’t careful to hold the iron at the exact same angle through the entire length of the strands, slight bends showed up as lines in the hair. This happened once or twice per section and was easily fixed by going back over those spots, but, as you’ll remember, that’s something you want to avoid.

Solid Ceramic? With budget flat irons, we had the most trouble confirming plate material, particularly those claiming to have ceramic plates. If you want to spend under $100, go with titanium plates like we did or assume the iron is ceramic coated. But, if you have fine or damaged hair, invest in an iron you know is ceramic; your follicles will thank you.

Our at-home testers didn’t think it had quite the glide of the Bio Ionic GoldPro (the cheapest Bio Ionic model at $120), but they had to do fewer passes. In terms of styling, creating soft curls was easy, but tighter curls were harder. The hair clung a bit to the matte finish, which resulted in a little pulling, though not anything too uncomfortable.

The Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron has a slim profile and was easy to handle. The Amika Digital Titanium Glide Obliphica 1” Styler, by comparison, was a bit bulkier, so it was harder to get close to the scalp and didn’t handle as well while styling. For example, smooth, non-textured hair had a harder time staying in place between the plates and splayed toward the edges. The Amika also required multiple passes and crimped if we weren’t careful. For more than twice the cost of the Hot Tools, we don’t think the Amika is worth it, unless you’re a sucker for a pretty design.

The Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron features thicker titanium plates than the Chi, which did cause some kinks. Easily removed though, with an extra pass.

The Hot Tools heated up quickly — 33 seconds to reach 450 degrees (the Amika was the fastest at 26.5 seconds). Its power and temperature buttons are on the side, which we liked. To turn it on/off or adjust the temperature, you have to give an intentional push. The Bio Ionic GoldPro and the Amika both housed their buttons on the inside, and while you couldn’t feel much of the residual heat on the controls, you obviously have to take care when changing temperatures once they’re on.

For a sturdy, reliable iron that met all of our needs at a fraction of the cost, this is a good choice even though you might need to do two passes on your hair to get the best results.

Hair Type
Temperature
Best Plate Material

Coarse or thick

380°F and above
Titanium

Wavy or curly

350°F – 370°F
Titanium

Medium thick or straight

330°F – 350°F
Titanium/Ceramic

Thin

300°F – 330°F
Ceramic

Fragile or fine

240°F – 300°F
Ceramic

Synthetic

Lowest available setting
Ceramic

Did You Know?

Pro tip: Use a heat protectant.

Heat protectants — the ones worth using — contain ingredients that coat hair and slow down heat induction. Jarman says, “Blow dry your hair properly; use a heat protectant product; and with the right iron, you should not have to make a bunch of passes to get the results you want. Even more important: if you must use an inferior iron, heat protectant should be your best friend.” She recommends Oribe Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray.

It’s important to section your hair.

There’s no use in cramming a bunch of hair between two hot plates if not all of it will actually get ironed. Making small sections is annoying, sure, but if you try to iron too much at once, it won’t work and you’ll end up going back over the hair multiple times anyway, and you know by now that’s no good.

Flat ironing is a one-handed job.

According to Jarman, you should NEVER have to use both hands to clamp the iron down on your hair. Such a technique not only risks burning your fingers on the plate end, but also can pull at your hair and break it. High-quality, modern irons are designed to clamp together from the handle end only, so if you find that your iron requires pressure on both ends, it’s time to upgrade.

The Best Flat Irons: Summed Up