Hair Straighteners: Buying & User Guide – Flat Iron or Brush, What is Best for Your Hair?
A hair straightener is a grooming tool designed to remove curls or kinks from your hair. There are several types of hair straightening tools and methods available. Whether your hair is curly or straight, it is the hydrogen bonds in your hair which act as the “glue” to help keep its shape. Heat is able to weaken these hydrogen bonds which then enables the hair to be temporarily restyled.
In this article, Groom+Style looks at the two most common types of hair straighteners – flat iron straighteners and hair brush straighteners.
The team explains which device is best for your hair type and requirements, as well as how to use each device effectively.
Regardless of whether you choose a flat iron or hair brush straightener, the heat can cause dryness and damage. Therefore, it is important to consider the use of a thermal protection spray and a good moisturizing conditioner to protect both your hair and scalp.
Some Background on Hair Straightening Devices
Hair straighteners date back to 1872 when Erica Feldman used the first ironing device to straighten her hair (it was nothing like the best steams irons we have available today). Over the generations, people have used chemicals and various other heating tools to straighten their hair. Some of these were successful, others weren’t, mainly due to safety issues. The design of the modern flat iron hair straightening tool, comprising a heated iron with two flat metal plates, is more than 100 years old. It was invented in 1912 by Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield. Since Lady Schofield’s first hair iron, the world has seen huge improvements in their design. These modern devices are safer on both the hair and scalp, and being electric are much easier to handle and control.
Flat Iron Straighteners
Flat iron straighteners generally work best on very thick, curly, frizzy or African-American hair. They use a much higher temperature that hair brush straighteners, and by clamping the hair tightly between the two flat plates, the heat is transferred very effectively to the hair. Excessive use of flat irons can potentially damage your hair. Unlike hair brush straighteners, flat irons cannot be used to add volume to your hair.
If you plan to travel with your flat iron straightener, then our team recommends bringing a heat-resistant storage bag with you.
The benefits of flat iron straighteners
There are several benefits of flat iron straighteners, which include:
- Effectiveness in flattening thick or curly hair
- Ease of use and efficient
- Long lasting styling results that doesn’t require daily maintenance
The drawbacks of flat iron straighteners
There are also some disadvantages to using flat iron straighteners:
- Due to the higher and more direct application of heat, excessive or carless use of these devices can potentially damage the hair and cause scalp dryness
- In some of the cheaper models, the iron plates may produce hotspots (areas on the plates that are much hotter on other areas) which can damage your hair
- The flat irons will not add volume to hair, and will make it lie extremely flat
Flat irons come in many different designs. If you are looking for a fast and effective way to occasionally straighten your hair, but have thinner or shorter hair that damages easily, a higher quality flat iron model with thinner plates may be an appropriate option.
Ceramic plates vs. titanium and tourmaline plates
Another point to consider when considering purchasing a flat iron is whether they have ceramic or titanium plates:
- Ceramic flat irons heat evenly and do not produce damaging hot spots that titanium plates may. They are cost effective and therefore suitable for home use.
- Titanium and tourmaline plates offer the highest level of heat transfer for the strongest and fastest results. This makes them more suitable for thicker hair and salon use.
How should I use a flat iron straightener?
As with hair brush straighteners, it is best to condition your hair before using a flat iron. You may also consider using thermal protection spray, due to the hotter nature of these devices. Be sure that your hair is as dry as possible before straightening – failure to do so will result in you steaming your hair and scalp.
Whilst waiting for your flat iron to heat up, separate your hair into sections. When the flat iron has reached the required temperature, clamp the plates together at the top of the section and work your way down to the tip of the hair. You may need to repeat this step several times on a section, depending on the hair thickness, to get it as straight as possible.
The Groom+Style Team has put together a great guide on flat iron straighteners to help you find the best flat iron model to meet your needs – top 5 best flat iron hair straighteners in 2016.
Hair Brush Straighteners
As mentioned, it is well known that excessive heat can damage your hair and your scalp. In fact, for some hair, water hotter than body temperature (98°F) needs to be avoided. Therefore, if you have thin hair or hair that is easily damaged, a hair brush straightener would be your first choice, as they generally use a lower level of heat than a flat iron. In addition to flattening hair, hair brush straighteners can be used to add shine to dull hair.
Hair brush straighteners come in three different styles:
- A flat de-tangling electric brush which is useful for untangling your hair and adding shine
- A rotating round barrel electric brush which adds volume to thin hair
- A double plated rectangle brush which is useful for damaged or only slightly curly hair as it does not heat itself up
The benefits of a hair brush straightener
Hair brush straighteners are popular for the following reasons:
- Suitability for thin or easily damaged hair due to low heat levels
- Absence of hot spots, which reduces the risk of accidently damaging hair
- Removal of static electricity while adding negative ions
- More manageable process, as hair is being brushed and flattened at the same time
- Adding shine to dull hair
- Quick to reach ideal temperature
- More frequent use than flat iron devices as they are safer on the hair and scalp
The drawbacks of a hair brush straightener
There are some disadvantages to using a hair brush straightener, which include:
- Inability to flatten very thick or curly hair
- Time taken to straighten and style hair is greater than flat irons
How should I use a hair brush straightener?
Hair brush straighteners work best on damp hair. Hair should be well conditioned in order to achieve long-lasting smoothness and style. Start by using the lowest temperature possible, and separate your hair out into smaller strands to make it easier to straighten. If you find that some parts aren’t straightening the way you would like, then consider raising the temperature for that section. Using this method will ensure your hair is protected from heat damage.
If you think this type of device is the best option for you, then have a read of this handy guide to the top 5 best hair brush straighteners to help you find the perfect model for you and your hair!
There are clear differences between flat iron straighteners and hair brush straighteners. Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of both, and your key needs, before making your purchase.