Hair straighteners

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Which straighteners give the best results?

Whether you want to tame curly tresses or simply smooth away fuzzy flyaways, a decent pair of hair straighteners is the tool you need. But do you need to pay top dollar for the best results? We put 12 models priced between $70 and $350 to the test.

From our trial

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About our trial

10 volunteers – all experienced in using hair straighteners – trialed 12 straighteners on clean, dry, tangle-free hair.

They knew which brands they were using: we couldn’t disguise the brands because our triallists had to read the instruction manuals and safety warnings.

The triallists used the straighteners in the morning so they could see how the effect lasted through the day. All were asked to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

After using each straightener, triallists evaluated performance, immediate effect, how smoothly the straightener went through their hair, the number of passes needed to straighten a section of hair, the time taken to get the desired effect, and whether the plates were hot enough. They also rated each straightener on ease of use.

At the end of each day, they gave the straightener an overall rating. They also noted how long the result had lasted.

Next we assessed the straighteners in the lab: we measured how long their plates took to heat up from room temperature to 150°C and also to 200°C – and if they couldn’t get to 200°C in 15 minutes, we recorded the hottest temperature they could get to in that time.

We also carried out basic electrical safety tests (all the straighteners passed these).

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What to look for

Consider these features when you're choosing hair straighteners.

  • Plate size: Slim to medium-width plates are suitable for most hair types. Wider plates may speed up the styling process – particularly for those with long hair – but they make the straightener bulkier and sometimes heavier. Slimmer plates are easier to use along the hairline. They’re also ideal for shorter hair or a fringe – and they’re more versatile (they let you create soft body waves or curls).
  • Floating/cushioned plates: These allow the hair to slide more smoothly through the straightener (so they minimise “pulling” and hair damage).
  • Controls: Make sure the controls are in a convenient position. Also make sure the heat setting can’t be changed or the unit switched off accidentally while you’re using it.
  • Ready-to-use indicator: A flashing light lets you know when the straightener has reached the right temperature. Some models combine the light with an audible “beep”.
  • More than one heat setting: This suits people with fine or damaged hair who want to use the straightener at a lower heat. It’s also useful when the straightener’s going to be used by more than one person – each of you can choose a temperature that works best for your hair. Most of the straighteners in our test had more than one setting. The “Minimum/maximum temperatures” in our comparison show the temperature ranges claimed by the manufacturers: up to 170°C is usually recommended for fine or damaged hair; up to 200°C for normal healthy hair; hotter for very curly or thick hair. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the model you use.
  • Auto switch-off: This switches off the straightener after a set period. It’s an important safety feature.
  • Accessories: Some straighteners come with a carry case. Others have a protective heat-resistant mat for resting the straightener on while it’s in use. Two models in our trial came with an extra “mini” straightener.
  • Plate material: Most straighteners have ceramic or ceramic-coated plates. These are claimed to eliminate frizz and static charge in hair, so that it looks smooth and shiny. (Some plates have titanium, alumina, nano silver, silk proteins or tourmaline added for the same purpose.)

Tip: Don’t wind the power cord around your hair straightener – it can shorten the life of the cord.

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