Which Chi for Posh Perfection?

“Ok, I took the plunge and got Posh’s haircut, but my hair is curly and I still need a flat iron. Should I use the little Chi iron or the one inch?”  – Caitlyn via telephone

Hello Caitlyn – congrats on the new ‘do, I’m sure it looks fabulous! To keep this new look in Posh perfection you still need to straighten your strands. Posh likes ’em sleek you know. But hmmm, which iron?

First, the Wee Chi. This iron has 1/2″ plates that are really meant for smoothing super short hair and for getting close to the roots. While this may be great for part of your hairstyle, it’s really just way too small to style your longer lengths.

CHI 3/4On the other hand, the Chi Original has a 1″ plate width which is great for the longer hair but it’s not really helping you out with the shorter strands is it? I’m sure you can guess where this is headed goldilocks… go for the Chi Volume 3/4″ Flat Iron

This iron is part of the Chi Original happy family, yet not too big or too small for your new style. It’s also got a rounded barrel design to help boost the body with a flick of the wrist at the ends. I’d flip the iron under if you want your hair to live up to its full Posh potential. You might also want to see our Celeb Style feature on Victoria Beckham.

Thanks for asking!

-StraightBelle

Flat Iron Buying Guide 101

Buying a Flat Iron shouldn’t be intimidating. These simple questions will help you narrow down your choices to set (and get) you straight. You might think it’s a good idea to buy the same iron your best friend has, but if your hair texture is different, your results may never be the same.

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Flat IronEveryone asks me “Which flat iron is the best?” and I always answer, “What is your hair type?” before I answer with a specific flat iron. Unless you’ve tried it firsthand, chances are the iron you are thinking of buying might not be the best one for your hair. Let’s narrow down the choices with a few key questions.

Which plate width?
Determine which plate width you need – one inch does not fit all. We have a great article on selecting a plate width for your specific hair length. Not all irons come in all sizes so this can help you narrow down your selection.

Fixed or variable temperature settings?
Flat irons come in fixed or variable temperature settings. The type that works best for you depends on your hair’s texture and your styling needs.

Is your hair thin, delicate, damaged or fine? Choose a flat iron with a variable temperature setting so you can control the heat and keep the iron from getting too hot.

Is your hair thick and hard to straighten? A fixed temperature would be a good choice for you so you can crank up the heat on those pesky pieces that just won’t straighten.

Is your hair is somewhere in between? Most likely you will be fine with either choice. My personal preference is a variable setting – I like control.

Does it create curls?
Most flat irons today will create curls, but (ahem) the curls are only as good as the user who creates them. Brush up on those curling techniques here.

Which Technology?
Ok, this is really the source of most flat iron confusion. Most flat irons on the market today have similar straightening technology, but which is best? Again, that depends on your hair type and styling needs.

Ceramic/Ionic
Almost all professional grade flat irons are Ceramic and Ionic these days. This technology is important in generating negative ions to smooth the hair cuticles. What you may not realize is NONE of the flat iron plates are 100% Ceramic. That’s a myth. All plates are infused with Ceramic (and/or other materials) to straighten and smooth the hair. I kid you not!

Industry research shows that pure Ceramic plates would be too soft to get the job done, so all manufacturers (this means CHI, T3, Maxiglide, HAI – all of them!) use Ceramic along with a much stronger, heat conducting surface such as Aluminum, Titanium, etc. to straighten the hair’s cuticles. And boy do they work.

Aluminum
Some older, lesser quality flat irons are pure Aluminum. These irons are usually referred to as the “drugstore variety” and do not contain Ceramic. This is why you notice a huge difference when you upgrade to a pricier iron – the addition of Ceramic. What’s so great about ionic activity? Click here.

So you know what Ceramic does, but what about all of those other materials you keep hearing about? Tourmaline, Nano-Titanium, Nano Silver, Nano anything? These are additional materials used in the plates to enhance the smoothness of the plate’s surface, generate additional negative ions to smooth your hair quickly, and create a snag free glide down the strands. Here’s a breakdown:

Nano
This is a process where the material, say Tourmaline, is micronized into superfine particles and infused into the plate surface. Whenever you see Nano, think teeny, tiny pieces of a smoothing material infused into the plates. Nano-Ceramic, Nano-Silver, you get the idea.

Ceramic and Nano-Ceramic
Smaller particles of Ceramic to contribute to your smoothing process. This is good for every hair type. Most flat irons with Ceramic technology provide silky, straight results but there are a variety of price points. As for most irons I’ve tried, the pricier Ceramic irons really are better. Plus the more expensive irons usually come with additional features and benefits so be sure to look into this if you are considering a Ceramic iron. (Best Buy: ghd. See also: HAI, Paul BrownCHI.)

Nano-Titanium
Super smoothing surface, great heat conduction, straightens hair up to 40% faster. Is it necessary? If your hair is hard to straighten, this is one of the best materials out there for you, newer technology but comparable to Tourmaline. If you want the latest technology you’ll like this. (Best Buy: Babyliss. See also: Hot Tools.)

Nano-Silver
A smooth surface that eliminates bacteria on the appliance creating a germ-free environment every time you use it. Great for a stylist, or germ-a-phobe. It straightens hair well, but do you have to have it? Probably not. (Best Buy: FHI Platform. See also: CHI Nano Silver.)

Nano-Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone known for its negative ion generating and smoothing properties, and is infused into the flat iron plates. This is earlier technology than Nano-Titanium and Nano-Silver. I sometimes find that Tourmaline causes static, but still a very good material for smoothing most hair types. (Best Buys: FHI, Bed Head. See also: HAI EliteT3.)

Does it come with a warranty?
The warranty is another biggie to think about. Some manufacturers will only honor a warranty if you buy the flat iron in a salon. I would consider that a fine idea if the salon in my area carried every flat iron. Truth is, they don’t. But I have noticed the irons they do carry are way more expensive than online. What gives?

If you are buying a flat iron in a store or online, look for a flat iron that has a 1 year warranty or longer – think HAI, ghd, Babyliss. We’ve all heard the rumors about a certain flat iron that breaks after only a few months. Honestly, it does. You might want to think about it. ‘Nuff said.

If you use a flat iron every day you want it to last. Make sure you select a flat iron guaranteed to survive your daily styling habits. If you use a flat iron sporadically, go for a less expensive Ceramic iron without all the technological bells and whistles.

I hope you take the time to ask yourself these simple questions, the flat iron of your dreams is waiting for you!

-StraightBelle

What’s So Great About Maxiglide? Everything!

Can you really transform your hair from frizzy to smooth with Maxiglide, the revolutionary, heat styling appliance? Yes! With a few simple tips, your strands can be sleek, smooth and damage free with this Ceramic super-straightener. Unlike the other flat irons and hair straighteners on the market, the Maxiglide has many patents for its unique design, so I decided to put it to the true test with my thick, massive mop of hard to straighten curls. And the results were unbelievable.

Maxiglide Flat IronFirst thing you’ll notice is the design – it’s very different and pretty hi-tech. The Maxiglide has over 120 detangling pins, a small water chamber for the steamburst system, a rounded edge design, ridges and grooves on the outer casing and Ceramic technology. These patented perks promise smooth, straight hair in just minutes, without blow drying the hair smooth first.

That’s good news if you’re like me and have thick, curly hair and don’t have the time or energy to get your hair super smooth before straightening. Hey, if I could blow dry my hair as straight as possible, why would I even need a Maxiglide? But I can add a little help with a straightening booster before I start styling.

Tip: Relax your hair texture with a smoothing product such as Beyond Straight Temporary Straightener. This will help soften the texture and prepare your hair for straightening. Don’t worry, your curls will come back the next time you wash your hair.

The unit is much larger than you might expect, especially if you are used to holding a 1″ flat iron. The Maxiglide has a plate surface of almost 4″, so you really have a lot of ceramic contact to smooth each section of hair, but I suggest keeping your sections small.

Tip: Take small sections. Don’t go wild with big thick chunks of hair. Styling smaller sections at a time will ensure smooth results in only 1 or 2 passes. That’s better for your hair then going over and over the same section many times.

The detangling pins are smooth and didn’t pull or snag my hair, but I did feel a little tension if the section wasn’t thoroughly combed beforehand (those tiny knots). I admit I’m a big fan of the elastic band for securing the giant pile of hair on my head at night, so I do get those little knots where my hair seems to mysteriously get caught…. Note to self: Must comb section before Maxigliding.

Tip: Comb through your section first. Taking the time to comb through each section before styling will remove any tiny tangles and alleviate snagging or pulling as you glide down your strands.

I notice the ergonomic design is comfortable for such a big iron, and the heating time is up super fast. In a few glides my section of hair is super soft and smooth. I continue following the manufacturer’s styling instructions by spritzing my ends with the burst of steam before going over my entire section of hair. The steam really helped defrizz, smooth and straighten my ends. They are usually very dry and I’m glad I didn’t have to fry them to get them straight.

Tip: Don’t steam the entire section of hair, just focus on the ends. Use the steam burst button on the last 1/4 section of your hair first, then starting at the top, smooth your way down. This will keep your ends from drying out.

While I style, I feel my hair becoming softer. The Ceramic Steamburst Technology is infusing the negative ions on my hair and creating a silky, shiny finish. My cuticles are now flat and smooth, without damage. WHEW. I am also surprised at the glossy shine.

The best part? My hair’s coarse/dry texture is gone, and there are no little tiny frizzies. Sometimes when you straighten curly hair, the curls are flattened, not straightened. But with the Maxiglide, my texture is gone with a capital “G”. My hair is definitely straight. Straighter then I’ve EVER seen it.

I should also mention that I like having the variable temperature control so you can direct the exact amount of heat you need. I don’t like to use more heat than necessary (too damaging) but obviously, I want enough heat to get the job done.

Tip: One temperature does not fit all. Fine/thin hair – use a lower temperature. Thick/coarse hair – select a higher temperature, but only as high as necessary. Don’t use more heat than necessary. Use just enough heat to straighten your hair, no more.

Bonus points: A styling dvd and Ceramic flat plate (for touch ups) are included with the Maxiglide – I just love visual aids, and the flat plate is perfect for the second day touch up. Yes, my hair was still straight after sleeping on it, even though I swore my curly texture would come back during the overnight hours.

One more great perk – the Maxiglide has protective styling channels and the body doesn’t get hot. This is great so there was no concern of burning my fingertips, or getting that crazy forehead or side of the neck burn from the iron. Ever get those? But no problems with the Maxiglide.

Silky straight hair in few passes and I don’t have to burn my skin or fry my ends? What a concept. If you have thick or curly hair that is difficult to straighten, try the Maxiglide, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results. We’re talking straight hair for once!

A++ for the Maxiglide.

-CurlyBelle

A Clean Flat Iron is a Happy Flat Iron

Do you have a flat iron? Yes. Have you ever cleaned it?

Hot Tools Iron CleanerLet me introduce you to Hot Tools Professional Styling Iron Cleaner. This little bottle is perfect for you girls addicted to your flat irons and curling irons. You know who you are! Do you just love your hair straightener? Then CLEAN IT. Taking a few extra minutes to care for your styling iron after each use helps prolong its life, and ensures it will be ready for use the next time you need it. Plus, that gummy residue on the plates can cause damage to your hair by pulling and snagging the strands, causing split ends and breakage.

Gummy residue? Damage? I’m SO not kidding. Flat irons are meant to glide….need I say more?

-CurlyBelle

My Flat Iron Plates Don’t Match Up

Question:
My flat iron plates don’t match up, is that normal? I bought the FHI Pink Flat iron and the plates don’t touch, is it supposed to be this way? – Crystal

Answer:
It’s totally normal!
We have noticed that not all of the flat irons on the market have plates that match up exactly when you close them. Many irons have plates that are up to ½” away, and some flat irons have plates that do not touch each other at all. Rest assured this is a natural occurrence with the way many flat irons are manufactured in the factories and will not interfere with the performance of your flat iron in any way.

As long as the plates of your flat iron keep contact with either side of your hair section while styling, you will achieve your desired results. In general, I always recommend a section thick enough so there is no plate to plate contact at all. This helps ensure you are not causing any potential heat damage to your hair by taking a section that is too thin, and it avoids unnecessary iron friction that can cause wear on the plates over time.

Great question, thanks Crystal!

-CurlyBelle

Flat Iron Curling Confusion No More!

Yes, creating curls with a flat iron can be tricky, but not if you watch this video. We just love YouTube… and curls! Go ahead, give it a try.

Flat Iron Styling with GHD

ghd Obedience CreamTo achieve straight, sleek locks:
Lightly mist hair with GHD Thermal Protector then use a little GHD Obedience Cream (pictured).
Open the iron and place a section of dry hair between the plates.
Ensure that the iron is as close to the root as possible before closing the plates.
Gently move the iron downward – from root to tip – in one simple gliding motion.
Repeat the process for each section of hair, gliding once from roots to ends.
GHD makes a protectant for every hair type – check them out here: GHD Thermal Protectants.
ghd Thermal Protectant Coarse HairTo achieve stunning curls:
Lightly mist hair with GHD Thermal Protectant (pictured).
Section the hair, and lightly dab some Obedience Cream to secure hold when creating each curl.
Position the iron vertically, 1 inch away from the root.
Gently close the iron with minimum tension.
Turn the iron 90° clockwise and continue to turn the iron another 90°.
For an intense, S-shaped, vertical curl, pull the iron very slowly away from the head in a continuous smooth movement.
To complete the style, repeat for all sections.
Finally, separate and dress the curls with your fingers.
ghd Pink Ceramic 1To achieve seductive, waves:
Lightly mist hair with GHD Thermal Protector.
Section the hair, and lightly rub a little GHD Smoothing Balm to eliminate frizz and secure hold while styling.
Position the iron vertically, 1 inch away from the root.
Gently close the iron with minimum tension.
Turn the iron 90° clockwise.
Pull the iron very slowly away from the head in a continuous smooth movement.
Want more? View this!
See how easy flat iron styling can be with GHD as your guide? GHD is a leader in heat-styling with professional ceramic styling irons plus GHD Thermodynamics™, a collection of heat styling products.

Visit our GHD section for more information or go directly to one of our GHD sections for product details: GHD Hair Care, GHD Hair Brushes, GHD Flat Irons.
-StraightBelle

Top Rated Best Selling Flat Irons of 2007

Here they are, StyleBell’s best selling, top rated, must-have hair straighteners of the year and why we like them! You’ll notice a few newbies on the list this year, as well as some past favorites.  

ghd MK3 Ceramic Flat IronGHD 1″ Ceramic Hair Straightener MK3 
Alias: The International Fave
Already a best-seller in the UK and Australia, the GHD MK3 flat iron has a large, loyal fan base here in the US. Even heat conduction allows for quicker heating time than a conventional flat iron, and the long lasting temperature leads to optimal, snag-free hair straightening in minutes. Just brilliant!  

Plus: GHD has expertly formulated a line of hair care and thermal protectors to accompany your heat styling endeavors for maximum hair happiness. Check out the Obedience Cream, it’s truly a must-have.

Insider Info: This iron delivers snag-free results, more than most irons I’ve seen. Great for every hair style and hair type. A little pricier than other irons, but the results are worth it. 

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Flat IronBaByliss Pro Nano-Titanium 1-1/4″ Flat Iron
Alias: The Mac Daddy of Techno
Love to take control? With the Babyliss Nano Titanium Digital flat iron, you get the superior heat conductivity coupled with the smoothest surface available in a styling tool – Titanium. No more overheating, over-drying, over-damaging your hair. Titanium rocks. Plus the super smooth snag-free surface straightens hair up to 40% faster, what’s not to love? 

Bonus: The Babyliss Pro Nano-Titanium flat iron looks as great as it performs! I love its major counter appeal and never want to put it away. It looks great on any vanity (on top of a heatproof mat, of course!) Gotta love an appliance that has style.  

Insider Info: This iron is chock full of amazing technology for the price, and includes a killer 4 year warranty. It goes toe to toe with those pricey irons, and kicks some of them to the curb. It’s newbie on my list, but the impressive results are sure to convince you.

HAI Convertable Ceramic Flat IronHAI Convertable 1-1/4″Ceramic Flat Iron 
Alias: The Multi-tasker
The HAI Convertable’s ceramic plates are unmatched for equal heat distribution and the ergonomic design makes it is easier to press, hold, mold, twirl and curl your hair. Talk about multi-tasking! People seriously love this iron, and you will too. The HAI Convertable is another one of my all time favorite straighteners. 

Plus: The HAI is just right for smoothing your hair, and for creating loose waves, perfect for those of you who like to mix it up! 

Insider Info: This is the flat iron they use at my salon, and everyone agrees, it’s awesome!

Maxiglide Flat IronMaxiglide
Alias: The Cult Favorite
Soft, shiny, straight and snag free! That’s what I keep hearing from Maxiglide users. Unique steamburst technology and ceramic detangling pins make this iron unlike all the others – in a good way. Not only does this iron get consistently high reviews on beauty sites, Maxiglide customers are very passionate about this straightener; they keep raving about it again and again. There is a reason it’s a best seller. Need I say more?  

Plus: The Maxiglide also has a slimmer, smaller version – the Miniglide. It’s the perfect traveling companion for touch ups on the go. 

Insider Info: Comb through your hair first and style small sections of hair at a time. Less potential for snagging, especially if you have very thick, textured hair. Definitely use the steam on the ends. Definitely. The Beyond Straight is awesome with the Maxiglide – I’m talking super straight. 

ghd MK4 Ceramic Flat IronGHD Ceramic Hair Styler and Hair Straightener, Flat Iron MK4
Also known as: The Innovator
With tons of media buzz, the newest arrival of the GHD family does not disappoint! Being one of the lucky few to get a sneak peek, last year, I am still in love with this iron a year later. Incorporating state-of-the-art styling technology, this heat styler curls as easily as it straightens, giving you the ultimate in versatility. Plus it auto adjust for international voltages, has a stronger cable, and a new sleep mode which turns itself off after 15 minutes. That’s one smart styler! 

Plus: Just to make sure you’ve got the styling ‘know-how’, there’s a step-by-step DVD included in the box. Watch out competition, there’s a new player in town, the GHD MK4 has arrived. 

Insider Info: This is one of the most innovative irons on the market, hands down. The technology is tops and you just cannot match the smooth glides of this iron. Pricey and totally worth every penny, it’s my favorite on the list this year.

CHI Original Ceramic Flat IronChi Original Ceramic 1″ Flat Iron
Alias: The Original
Great hairstyles are simple with the right tool; CHI proves that time and time again. With an extensive product line and many different irons to choose from, I have to agree with their loyal customers, you can’t go wrong with CHI, but the original model is always a customer favorite, and surely to be one of yours! Well known in the industry for continually creating new limited edition irons in trendy colors, CHI is great for you fashionistas out there.
 

Bonus: CHI has a killer line of hair care to keep your hair smooth with pure silk!  

Insider Info: Tons of street cred, everyone’s heard of CHI. The CHI Original narrowly beat the CHI Turbo this year, mainly due to pure customer popularity, but I personally like the Turbo a little better for my hair. Also note, some CHI Original followers have been spotted recently upgrading to other brands due to the increase in technological advancements in the past year, I’ll keep you posted. 

FHI Platform Tourmaline Flat IronFHI Platform Ceramic Tourmaline Professional 1-3/4″ Flat Iron
Middle name: Big Daddy
If you have long, thick, coarse or unruly hair, the FHI Heat Platform Professional 1-3/4” Ceramic Tourmaline ionic flat iron is your one way ticket to smooth. FHI’s Ceramic Nano-Fuzeion Technology combines Titanium, Titanium Oxide and Silver to seal in hair’s moisture and shine, while removing build-up and toxins on the hair. Plus an enormous amount of negative ions neutralize the positive ions found on coarse, dry and damaged hair. If you’ve ever set aside a few hours to straighten your thick, massive mop, you’ll be amazed at how quickly this flat iron tames your tresses.  

Plus: FHI makes an amazing heat protectant – FHI Heat Hot Sauce. It’s moisture-based, and when used with a flat iron it actually penetrates into the core of you hair to reconstruct and deeply condition from the inside out. Talk about protection.  

Insider Info: Another newbie on the list, I find this to be one of the best Tourmaline straighteners out there, and the FHI Platform beat the FHI Classic in my iron to iron showdown this year. I find that some irons with Tourmaline make my hair static-y for some reason (and that’s never a good look) but not FHI Platform. Whew! 

CHI Wet-to-Dry Flat IronCHI Wet to Dry Ceramic Flat Iron Auto-Digital Hair Straightener
Also known as: The Powerhouse
Specially designed for damp hair, the CHI wet-to-dry flat iron utilizes ceramic ionic technology to eliminate frizz while straightening and transforms hair into shiny, super-smooth locks directly out of the shower. State of the art digital technology allows you to set the precise temperature and it even has a timer with automatic shut off. Great for every hair type, the CHI wet-to-dry straightens the fullest, most unruly locks with ease.  

Plus: The CHI works just as well on dry hair, making it perfect for every primping situation. Sometimes I run late you know…  

Insider Info: The CHI Wet-to-Dry iron works best on hair that is 90%-95% dry. Not only is your hair much easier to straighten if it’s drier to start with, there is less potential for damage and frizz. Remember, hair is more vulnerable when it’s wet. Note: The T3 Wet-or-Dry flat iron was a top contender for this spot and missed by just a hair.

Hot Tools Ceramic Titanium Flat IronHot Tools 1″ Ceramic Far-Infrared Heat Flat Iron
Nickname: The Professional
A separate heating system for each heating plate ensures superior styling performance and puts the ‘hot’ in Hot Tools. Professional Soft Heat™ technology produces gentle, far infrared heat for more efficient heating, faster styling, and shinier hair, and the Ceramic and Titanium Technology provides snag-free styling as it glides smoothly down your strands. Any hair appliance that won’t snag or pull an overworked ‘do gets an A+ in my book. Thanks Hot Tools.  

Plus: This iron does a great job of smoothing those strands and adding an unbeatable shine with gentle far-infrared heat. Most irons at this price point just don’t have the technology to compare. 

Insider Info: This flat iron proves you can get great technology at a great price point! This is perfect for those of you who straighten your hair from time to time and want a quality iron without spending the big bucks.  

HAI Twig 3/8HAI Twig Flat Iron 3/8″ Ceramic Styling Iron 
Alias: The Root Smoother
Get up close and personal with those roots and transform even the shortest hair into smooth shiny locks with the HAI Twig. One use and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. The ultra-slim 3/8″ ceramic plates work wonders on bangs and those whisper-y wisps we love so much. For the best results and styling control, you should never use a plate width larger than necessary, and now you don’t have to. Now everyone can have the same results as the pros, Twig makes it so easy!  

Plus: This sleek styler features the same rapid heating element and adjustable temperature settings as the larger HAI models, making it a great choice for anyone looking to style extremely short sections in seconds.  

Insider Info: Perfect for pixies, roots, tendrils… and guys! Yes men love this one for super short hair that’s seeking some sleeking. This iron has the slimmest, teeniest plates ever but works like a smoothing fiend to get those roots straight. It’s a great second iron for those of you who need that slimmer design for styling.

FHI Technique Professinal Pink Flat IronFHI Technique Professional Pink 1″ Hair Straightener 
Middle Name: Versatility
One flat iron, with all the styling capabilities you will ever need. You can straighten, flip, and even curl your hair in seconds with this baby in our favorite shade, PINK. The Ceramic Tourmaline technology generates negative ions to help neutralize positive ions found on damaged hair, allowing the hair to lay flatter and smoother. This means shinier and healthier hair is yours with FHI, and who doesn’t love pink?  

Plus: Smooth and sleek or sexy curls, change your style as often as a celeb with this FHI Pink flat iron. And you thought flat irons were just for straight styles!  

Insider Info: It curls and straightens with ease, it’s got Ceramic and Tourmaline technology and it’s pink. What more could you ask for? 

As you can see, there are plenty of great irons that are perfect for your individual hair type and styling needs. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to use a heat protectant. All of these Ceramic, ionic styling tools get super hot and can cause dryness or damage if you aren’t careful. Using a thermal protectant on your hair before styling should always be your first priority. It will keep your hair healthy and shiny and it will enhance the styling potential of any iron you choose.