Tell It To Me Straight
Posted On Oct 03, 2016
Love the effects of a flat iron, but don’t want to fry your hair? Read on.
By Jeanne Muchnick
There’s nothing a glass of wine and a flat iron can’t fix.” So goes a saying on a greeting card from the brand Calypso. But in reality, we’re wise enough to know that flat irons—which turn up the temperature on tresses—can lead to heat damage.
Use your iron too much, as in more than two to three times a week, and you’ll inevitably damage your hair. “It’s like leaving socks in the dryer too long,” explains Katiria Martin, a texture and color specialist at Vidov Salon in New York. “Over time it loses its elasticity and eventually breaks.” Use the wrong flat iron—one that’s not professional-grade or has scratches on the plates—and you could cause mane mayhem.
So, what do we buy to protect our locks?
Are you using it to straighten or curl? Know your purpose, advises Nuriel Abramov, co-founder and creative director of Numi & Company Salon (locations in Scarsdale and Rye, New York). Different tools bring varied levels of heat (and potential for damage).
Another big consideration: hair type. “Some textures need sealing; others need smoothing,” explains Martin. “Curly, kinky, and coarse textures will need a higher heat consistency throughout the plate as well as a stronger grip for sealing the cuticle. Straight hair, which can be easily manipulated with a round brush and blow dryer, may just need a little extra smoothing.”
Her recommendations are ceramic plates, if you have thick to coarse hair or normal to moderately damaged hair; titanium plates for thin to thick hair, normal hair, and for regular use.
You’ll want to keep safety tips and proper use in mind. If you use a flat iron to polish rather than beat the hair into a style, you won’t hurt your hair, says Nick Stenson, artistic director for Matrix. He suggests a high-grade ceramic or tourmaline iron to protect from overheating or excess damage. Shield your strands with professional products before putting heat to hair.
“Our hair can withstand a lot,” says Abramov. “But you must protect it to keep shine and moisture.”
José Eber Wet or Dry Styling Iron lets you dry your damp hair and straighten, simultaneously ($170, joseeberhair.com).
Glampalm 1-inch Pro features Healing Stone Technology, allowing for superior smoothness ($270, glampalm.com).
CHI’s G2 Ceramic and Titanium styling Iron boasts long-lasting plates for styling ease ($160, ulta.com). The CHI Smart Voyager Titanium Ceramic Cordless styling iron ($110, qvc.com) is compact enough to use in your car and ideal for summer travel.
Bio Ionic Ombré 1-inch iron, which is new to market as of April, offers variable temperatures for different hair types ($129, bioionic.com).
Use a setting of 250-300 degrees, then adjust for smoothness.
Section hair to achieve best results.
Do not use daily. Instead, opt for two to three days for straight textures, and once to twice a week for coarse textures.