The Best Flat Iron
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.
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.
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).
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.
February 28, 2018 – Our pick for the best titanium flat iron, the Chi Ultra, has recently been discontinued. We’re currently working on finding a replacement, so check back soon for more updates.
The 3 Best Flat Irons
Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron
Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron
Best Titanium Flat Iron
Hot Tools Digital Salon 1″ Flat Iron with Titanium Plates
Best Budget Flat Iron
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.
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.
How We Found the Best Flat Iron
There are a lot of flat irons on the market each promising to do the same thing. We started our search by compiling 132 flat irons from popular beauty websites like Sephora and Ulta, the hair-focused online retailer Folica, and the omnipresent Amazon.com. Then we dug into the details.
We only looked at 1-inch flat irons with heat settings below 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you apply heat to your hair, which is not a living thing, you’re essentially cooking it. And, just like food, it’s easy to overdo it. Short of actually searing your hair, you still run the risk of drying out each strand, which can lead to breakage and split ends over time. Every head of hair is different, and each type has an optimal flat-iron temperature. Some locks need extremely high temperatures to relax — coarse hair or those with tightly wound curls need 380 degrees or above. Others need hardly any heat at all — fine or damaged hair should be good below 300 degrees.
The Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron on our model with wavy, long, thick virgin hair.
Celebrity Status Janine Jarman is a celebrity stylist that you may remember from Bravo’s popular television series Shear Genius (she won fan favorite in season three), in addition to establishing one of LA’s leading salons, Hairroin, where we did most of our hands-on testing.
But temperature is only part of the story. Size matters too. With plates too big or too small, you’ll have to make multiple passes. This exposes your hair to high heat longer and increases the risk that you’ll do damage. According to Janine Jarman, owner and operator of acclaimed Hollywood salon, Hairroin, a 1-inch-wide plate will do for most, and if you want to use your iron for anything other than straightening, like creating curls or waves, you’ll need a 1-inch plate; anything larger won’t make the waves or curls tight enough. She also pointed out length is important too. “You need plates to be at least 3 inches long, or close to it, so you’re not spending a ton of time with small sections.”
So, we only looked at 1-inch flat irons that came with a range of temperatures. It’s at this point we said goodbye to popular brand GHD, which didn’t offer any irons with a heat setting below 300 degrees.
Agave Healing Vapor 1-1/4″ Iron, Amika 1-1/4″ Ceramic Styler, BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1-1/4″ Straightening Iron, BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Prima 3000 Styling Iron, Barbar 2300 Titanium-Ionic 1-1/2″ Flat Iron, Barbar 2600 Titanium Ionic 1-1/2″ Flat Iron, Chi Ceramic 1″ Hairstyling Iron, Chi G2 Ceramic & Titanium 1.25″ Hairstyling Iron, Chi Ultra CHI Pop Pink 1″ Hairstyling Iron, Chi Ultra CHI Red 1-1/2″ Ceramic Hairstyling Iron, Chi Ultra CHI Red 1″ Ceramic Hairstyling Iron, Conair Infiniti Pro Rainbow Titanium Flat Iron, Conair Travel Smart Thermacell Straightener, Cortex Professional Steamliner Vapor Iron, Croc 1 Classic 1-1/2″ Black Titanium Flat Iron, Croc Classic Black Titanium 1.5″ Flat Iron, Croc Premium 1-1/2″ Black Titanium Flat Iron, FHI Heat Platform Professional 1-3/4″ Styling Iron, GHD Amethyst 1″ Professional Styler with Matching Brush, GHD Black Platinum Professional Styler, GHD Classic 1″ Styling Iron, GHD Eclipse Styling Iron, GHD Electric Pink Platinum Professional Styler, GHD Gold Professional 2″ Styler, GHD Gold Professional Styling Iron, GHD Limited Edition Pastel Collection Styler, GHD Serene Pearl Platinum Professional Styler, GHD White Platinum Professional Styler, Hai Ceramic 1-1/4″ Styling Iron, Hai Classic Convertible Ceramic Flat Iron, Hai eLite Tong Ionic Iron, HairArt Tourmaline Ceramic Straightening Iron, Herstyler Superstyler Black Ceramic Super Styler Flat Iron, Hot Tools Cool Tools 1-1/4″ Vapor Flat Iron, Hot Tools NanoCeramic 1-1/4″ Digital Salon Flat Iron, Hot Tools Professional 2″ Flat Iron, John Frieda Sleek Finish 1-1/2″ Flat Iron, Keratin Complex Stealth IV Straightening Iron, NuMe Silhouette Flat Iron, Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+ Protools 1.25″ Flat Iron, PERFECTWO Professional Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Hair Straightener, Remington Pearl Pro Ceramic 1 Inch Flat Iron, Remington Salon Collection Ceramic Hair Straightener with Pearl Infused Wide Plates, Remington Thermaluxe Pro Series Wide 2″ Hairstyling Iron, Remington Wet2Straight Flat Iron with Soy Hydra Complex, Remington Wide Digital Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener, Rusk Engineering CTC Technology Professional Straight Iron, Sedu Professional 1-1/2″ Flat Iron, Sedu Revolution 1-1/2″ Styling Iron, Solano SleekHeat450 1-1/4″ Flat Iron, Solia Professional 1-1/4″ Ceramic Flat Iron, Solia SuperHot 1-1/4″ Professional Flat Iron, T3 SinglePass Compact Iron, T3 SinglePass X 1.5″ Wide Iron, Theorie SAGA II TitanSculpt 1-1/2″ Flat Iron, TYME Professional Quality Hair Curler & Straightener, VAV Mini Hair Straightener, Wazor Mini Hair Flat Iron, XARA Professional 2″ Infrared Ceramic Flat Iron, Xtava Black Silk Straightener, Xtava Goddess Flat Iron with Ceramic Tourmaline Plates, Xtava Pro-Satin Infrared Straightener
We cut flat irons with ceramic-coated plates or ones where we couldn’t confirm materials.
We knew we wanted to avoid plates with coatings in favor of solid ceramic or titanium because coatings can wear off — sometimes very quickly — exposing the metal underneath. Imagine what that can do to your hair! Beyond that, plate type also affects price. We didn’t want to pay a premium for ceramic if it was only a coating.
This is where things in our story start to get juicy.
What we found is that it’s damn-near impossible to figure out what some flat iron’s plates are made of. In the food world, it’s against the law to merely slap the word “organic” on the label and raise the price; not so in the beauty world. There are no regulations for labeling beauty tools. We found a few irons that promised us solid ceramic, but clearly were only coated. The FHI Heat Technique G3 for example, was touted as having baked ceramic plates, but when it arrived it was clearly ceramic-coated — the chips in the red “ceramic” revealed the mystery metal underneath. After paying $140, we were seeing red.
FHI Heat Technique G3 Original 1″ Styling Iron arrived damaged and clearly with ceramic-coated plates even after we were assured they were solid ceramic.
We reached out to several companies to see if we could confirm the plate material, but surprisingly not every company could guarantee what we’d actually be getting. Some didn’t return our phone calls or emails at all (we’re talking to you BaBylissPRO). Others left us with a sketchy vibe — when we got Rosa on the phone with Blow Pro, we were met with conflicting answers that didn’t inspire confidence, and was that The Price Is Right we heard in the background?
By the end of our hunt, we resolved that misleading labeling is rampant in the flat iron industry. If we couldn’t confirm plate material or didn’t hear back from companies at all, we cut them.
6th Sense FH-1 Professional Flat Iron Hair Straightener, AbsoluteHeat Pro Ion 1″ Digital Flat Iron, AmoVee Berta Ceramic Hair Straightener and Curler Iron, AmoVee Berta Professional Digital Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener, BaBylissPRO Porcelain Ceramic 1″ Straightening Iron, Bed Head Attention Grabber 1″ Tourmaline Ceramic Straightener, Brocato Vibrastrait Dual Temperature Oscillating Flat Iron, Brocato Vibrastrait Oscillating 1″ Flat Iron, Chi Escape Cordless Hair Styling Iron, Chi G2 Ceramic & Titanium 1″ Hairstyling Iron, Chi Onyx Euroshine 1″ Flat Iron, Croc Ipulse 1″ Flat Iron, EQOBA Professional Ceramic Ionic Tourmaline Flat Iron, Ferrum Professional 1″ Hair Styler, Hai 1.0 Ceramic Styling Iron, Hai 1.0 Neo Styling Iron, Hai Elite Big Heat 450 Flat Iron, Herstyler Classic Forever Ceramic Flat Iron, Hot Tools 1″ Digital Salon Flat Iron w/ CeramicTi Tourmaline, Hot Tools 1″ Salon Flat Iron-Extended Plates, HSI Professional Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron, InStyler Ionic Styler Pro Hot Brush and Ceramic Flat Iron, Inverto PRO 1″ Ceramic Tourmaline and Titanium Plates Flat Iron, Jinri Professional 1″ 3D Floating Tourmaline Ceramic Plate Flat Iron, John Frieda Sleek Finish Flat Iron, Kardashian Beauty 1″ Ceramic Hairstyling Iron, NuMe Megastar, Panasonic Nanoe Flat Iron, Remington Anti-Frizz Therapy Straightener, Remington Keratin Therapy 1″ Flat Iron, Remington S5500 Digital Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener, Remington T Studio Thermaluxe Pro Series 1″ Slim Hair Straightener, Revlon 1″ Straightener and Mini, Revlon Perfect Heat 1″ Straightener, Revlon Pro Collection 1″ Soft Feel Straightener, Sephora Collection Smooth: Ceramic Tourmaline Flat Iron, Sultra “The Seductress” 1″ Curl, Wave and Straight Iron, Theorie Quantum 1″ Flat Iron, Theorie SAGA II TitanSculpt 1″ Flat Iron, Vokai Labs Ceramic Flat Iron, Wazor Ionic Ceramic Hair Straightener
Finally, we looked at nice-to-have features.
If you’re going to invest in a high-quality flat iron, then it should come with some basic features. We made sure that all of the models we tested had at least a one-year warranty, dual voltage for traveling outside the US, and floating plates. These plates flex with you as you bend your wrist or move your head while styling, which helps limit breakage or kinks in your hair. You can tell an iron has floating plates by pressing on the side and seeing if there’s any give. If they don’t move, don’t buy.
That left us with nine flat irons we wanted to test:
- Amika Digital Titanium Glide Obliphica 1″ Styler
- Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron 1″
- Bio Ionic GoldPro Smoothing Styling Iron
- Bio Ionic OnePass Straightening Iron
- Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron
- FHI Heat Technique G3 Original 1″ Styling Iron
- Hot Tools Digital Salon 1″ Flat Iron with Titanium Plates
- Hot Tools Smart Touch Salon Flat Iron
- T3 SinglePass Luxe 1″ Straightening and Styling Iron
Note: After receiving the FHI Heat Technique G3 Original 1″ Styling Iron damaged and clearly ceramic-coated, we didn’t hands-on test it. Similarly, when we took a closer look at the Hot Tools Smart Touch Salon Flat Iron, it was identical to the other Hot Tools model, only we couldn’t see paying an extra $10 for its Tinder-esque swipe controls.
Finally, we tried each flat iron on multiple hair types.
We set up shop one afternoon at Hairroin with Jarman and her staff to test out each iron. We recruited two models to help us with testing. One woman had what Jarman calls “reverse texture” hair — aka kinky curls that had been lightened, making it prone to heat damage. Another model had slightly wavy, long, thick virgin hair. The stylists sectioned each model’s hair into 18 parts, and then tested one pass and one pass only with each iron on three heat settings: low, medium, and high. We also had at-home testers try out each iron to ensure our picks could also be used by novice stylists with the same results as the pros.
What were we looking for with all of this testing? Overall, the iron that delivered the smoothest results at the lowest temperatures for the most types of hair. But, we didn’t stop there. We also wanted to know how each felt to use. Did the hair glide through effortlessly? How easily did it style? Was it intuitive to turn on and change temperature? Was it comfortable to handle? The best flat iron should be a well-designed beauty tool that aids in your regimen and doesn’t make it a chore.
The T3 Single Pass Luxe flat iron for example was difficult to figure out. It doesn’t have a screen or temperature dial like the other flat irons we tested; instead, it uses a series of lights that reminded us of a Fitbit. It took four people reading the instructions to figure out how it worked, and even then, we didn’t really know its temperature. The trendy, rose-gold details are nice, but for $180, we expect something that is a bit more user-friendly.
We finally figured out how to turn on the T3 Single Pass Luxe, but we still couldn’t confirm the temperature.
Our Picks for the Best Flat Iron
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.”
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
“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.
Coarse or thick
Wavy or curly
Medium thick or straight
Fragile or fine
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
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