Best flat irons of 2020, according to celebrity hairstylists

Hairstylists to Oscar winners and Grammy nominees unzip their pro kits and recommend the flat irons they rely on for work — starting as low as $30.
The best flat irons for your hair according to the hairstylists to Hillary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Karlie Kloss and Bella Hadid. Brands include Dyson, T3, Harry Josh, L'Or?al, Revlon and more
We consulted experts on the best ceramic, tourmaline and titanium flat irons to shop, which include brands like Dyson, T3, Harry Josh, L'Oréal, Revlon and moreKristin Ess; Dyson; Harry Josh; Revlon; L'Oreal
By Nicole Saunders

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Sure, blow dryers are useful for drying your hair and can get your strands relatively straight — and they’re easy to use at home. However, working with a round brush and blow dryer to create a salon-worthy blowout at home under quarantine isn't the easiest task. You have to get the right technique down, which can take weeks to master. Blow dryers are also clunky, heavy and can become cumbersome to hold for extended periods. That's where flat irons come into play. Hair straighteners offer versatility — with just one device, you can straighten, create beach- and S-waves and curl your hair. This also means that you can save money and space when traveling (safely and as socially distant as possible, of course).

IN THIS ARTICLE How to avoid heat damage | Ceramic vs. Tourmaline vs. Titanium flat irons | Best flat irons of 2020

Flat irons are also the secret to frizz-free, sleek straight and glossy hair due to ionization. According to Stefan Bertin, a London-based hairstylist, the process helps close the hair cuticle, giving it a sheen. However, he is quick to note that "there's no real substantial, scientific evidence of that, but I feel like there is a difference."

We spoke with seven celebrity hairstylists who work with everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Octavia Spencer and Emma Watson to find out everything you need to know before buying a flat iron in 2020.

Do flat irons damage hair?

Courtney Foster, a hair stylist and owner of New York City’s Courtney Foster Beauty, says that flat irons do not damage hair. However, if the iron's temperature is too high for your hair type, then "you run the risk of damage." Bertin agrees, adding that heat damage is "irreparable and has to be grown out." That means it's safest to start with a lower temperature and increase if necessary. He says the cuticle, or outer layer of a hair strand, can "very easily" become damaged by heat over 356 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius, "if care isn't taken to do quick passes on a low or medium temperature with a flat iron." Damaging that cuticle layer will make your hair more porous, which means it will struggle to hold on to moisture, explains Bertin. When heat is applied to hair, he notes, its moisture content begins evaporating, which causes dryness and breakage.

Although hair straighteners are safe to use, hairstylists we consulted advised against using flat irons — or any hot tool, for that matter — every day. “Even with the best heat protectants in the game, heat, whether that is from a flat iron or a hair dryer, is not something you should be exposing your hair to every day,” adds Bertin. He says those with afro-textured hair should consider flat ironing their hair at most once a week because "our hair is naturally more fragile and dry, so flat ironing any more than that is a huge no-no." Depending on the health and dryness of straighter hair types, you can get away with flat ironing more often, but Bertin advises against everyday use if you want healthy hair.

The plate size won't affect the finished product, but it will affect the speed at which you get there.

Stefan Bertin, Celebrity Hairstylist

Ceramic vs. tourmaline vs. titanium flat irons:

The three most common flat iron plates are ceramic, tourmaline and titanium. Each one will straighten hair, but different attributes make each more beneficial for certain hair textures, ranging from fine wavy hair to kinky coils.

Ceramic flat irons

Bertin says that ceramic irons are the most affordable option out of the three types of hair straighteners. They don't get as hot as titanium and tourmaline, which can be a good thing, depending on your hair’s health and texture.

  • Foster and Bertin agree that ceramic flat irons heat up "fairly quickly," provide even heat distribution, glide through the hair smoothly and leave behind a glossy sheen.
  • They also agree that those with thick, coarse hair should pass on ceramic flat irons.
  • After the ceramic-coated plates wear down or chip away, "the not-so-safe-metal" — usually aluminum — is exposed, which "can really wreck your hair."
  • Ceramic flat irons are ideal for those with dry, damaged or fine hair, says Bertin.

Tourmaline flat irons

According to the pros, tourmaline plates contain silicate and straighten the hair with less heat.

  • Tourmaline hair straighteners smooths the hair cuticle and adds moisture-locking ions to the hair. "These ions help balance out dry and damaged hair, leaving the hair silkier with no frizz or flyaways," she says.
  • Because the flat iron plates are coated with tourmaline, Bertin advises that you keep an eye out for wear and chipping to avoid potential heat damage.
  • Bertin adds that you need fewer passes to get your desired effect because the heat distribution of tourmaline is the best of the three.

Titanium flat irons

Titanium is a strong, durable metal best suited for professional salon use, says Bertin.

  • Titanium flatiron plates heat up the quickest, he says.
  • Foster adds that a titanium iron also heats evenly, which allows for fewer passes over the hair and gives "much better results than the ceramic iron."
  • Bertin adds that even if you have hair with minimal damage, from heat or chemical processing, titanium flat irons can mess up your hair.

Once you’ve determined which flat iron works best for your hair’s natural texture and fullness, where should you start looking? We consulted experts and found 11 celebrity hairstylist-approved flat irons in various price points.

Shop the 11 best flat irons of 2020

1. Dyson Corrale Hair Straightener

Foster's favorite tourmaline iron is the Dyson Corrale hair straightener. "The quality and price tag makes this flat iron like the Rolls Royce of hair tools," she says.Kristen Shaw, who helps Hillary Swank, Jodie Comer and Shailene Woodley primp for the red carpet, keeps this hair straightener in her pro kit. The cordless flat iron "will straighten your hair at the fastest speed without burning it and leaves your strands shiny." It offers 30 minutes of cord-free use, three pre-set heat seeings — 330, 365 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit — and automatically shuts off after 30 minutes.

2. BaByliss PRO Mini Nano Titanium Ionic Flat Iron

"The Babyliss almost needs no explanation, as it's compact, thin and perfect for all those trouble spots where your normal flat iron can't reach, like your temples, part or neckline," says Shaw. At just under $30, you get a powerful six-inch-long flat iron with .5-inch-wide plates that heats up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the hair straightener into your weekend bag or purse for quick touch-ups on the go.

3. ghd Classic Original IV Hair Straightener

Shaw, who also works with Chloe Sevigny and Emma Watson, keeps the ceramic flat iron on rotation. "It's one of my favorites due to its semi-rounded edges, which increase the preservation of your hair's integrity and strength, so you don't accidentally repeat creases with frequent styling, which ultimately breaks your hair," she says. The flat iron heats up in 30 seconds to one temperature setting — 365 degrees Fahrenheit— and shuts down after 30 minutes of non-use.

4. Cloud Nine Original Flat Iron

Bertin "loves" the Cloud Nine flat iron, which is available in four sizes — Micro, Touch, Original and Wide — and seven temperature settings, ranging from 212 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit — "which is really helpful to pinpoint all hair types." The ceramic plates are infused with minerals, "so you get a gorgeous, snag-free glide," he says. If you're unsure of which size hair straightener is best for you, then follow Bertin's tip: "smaller plates are better for short hair, whereas larger plates are better for longer hair. The plate size won't affect the finished product, but it will affect the speed at which you get there."

5. L'Oréal Steampod

Bertin, who works with Letitia Wright, Katy Perry and Cara Delevingne, is also a fan of the L'Oreal Steampod. The ceramic flat iron uses steam — rather than dry heat like other hair straighteners — to achieve sleek strands. "This infusion of moisture (water) conditions the hair while straightening and allows for a longer-lasting style that will stay frizz-free," he says.

6. T3 Lucea Straightening and Styling Iron

Kiki Heitkotter, hairstylist to Busy Phillips, Michelle Williams, Reese Witherspoon and Lili Reinhart, "loves" using the "versatile" hair straightener on clients. The flat iron has nine heat settings, "making it very easy to customize the amount of heat for your specific hair type, causing less damage, which is a huge bonus for our hair." Heitkotter also likes the flexible plates, which "allow the flat iron to grip the hair with even tension."

7. Kristin Ess 3-in-1 Flat Iron

"This flat iron has beveled edges, making it user-friendly and less likely to get bends and creases in the hair," says Heitkotter. With 1.25-inch titanium plates and four pre-set temperatures that heat up to 440 degrees, you can "glide (the flat iron) smoothly through your hair, giving you a shiny end result." There's also a 9-foot-long swivel cord and automatic shutoff after 30 minutes of non-use.

8. Revlon Salon Straight Copper Smooth

Caile Noble, the hairstylist to Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford and Kirsten Dunst, calls the Revlon Salon Straight Copper Smooth his "one-stop and favorite flatiron" that works for all hair types. The adjustable heat ranges from 180 to 455 degrees, which allows you to tailor the temperature to your hair texture. Remember, the coarser your hair, the higher the temperature you can get away with using. "The added attachment works wonders on thicker hair to give added control and better results while styling," he says. "And the copper plates evenly distribute heat, resulting in less damage and added frizz control. Who doesn't want that?" If you prefer larger flat iron plates, then go for the XL version that is 1.5-inches wide or the 2-inches wide option.

9. Bellami Triple Shine Original Flatiron

Ruslan Nureev, who works with Jessica Alba, Karlie Kloss, Bella Hadid and Jasmine Tookes, is "obsessed" with the Bellami Triple Shine flatiron. The hair straightener, which is available in three sizes — .5-, 1- and 1.5-inches — heats up to 430 degrees in 60 seconds. It also has graphene, black diamond and ceramic plates, which "makes the hair very shiny in one pass," he says.

10. Harry Josh Pro Tools Ceramic Flat Styling Iron

David Stanwell, hairstylist to Octavia Spencer, Camila Mendes and Troian Bellisario, "loves" the Harry Josh straightener because he can achieve "super-smooth hair and the heat stays even through each section and creates that glossy, shiny straight hair." The 1.25-inch nano-ceramic and tourmaline plates heat up evenly between 235 to 425 degrees, so you can adjust the temperature to your hair texture with ease.

11. CHI Original 1-inch Ceramic Iron

Foster's favorite ceramic iron is the one-inch version from CHI, which she calls "a nice introductory iron that is priced reasonably and provides a nice finish to the hair." The flat iron uses negative ions to add moisture and shine to your strands. It takes 30 seconds for the hair straightener to reach a pre-set temperature of 392 degrees. The ergonomic design helps make it easier to curl, wave and straighten your hair.

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