Is Your Flat Iron Too Hot?

Most of you flat irons owners turn on your iron and pump it up to the highest temperature.  This could result in major damage to your hair.  I just got the 411 on a fantastic tip to assure your locks stay healthy under the heat.  How you ask? Turn on your iron to your desired temperature.  Take a simple piece of white paper.  Clasp the iron plates on to the white paper (almost like you are straightening your hair) and hold for a few seconds.  If the paper turns a slight or darker yellow you know your iron is too hot.  Lower the temperature and try again.

Tourmaline, Titanium, Ionic what does it mean?!

flat iron

Flat iron, hair dryer, and curling iron technology terms have gone through the roof!  “This dryer has ionpialia technology” or “Get the latest in timonia torque” is what it all sounds to me.  Gibberish!  So I did a quick investigation of these hair appliance terms to help expose the true meaning!  Guess what I found – this stuff really means something and can do wonders for your hair.

What is Tourmaline and why is it important in a styling product?
Tourmaline is a precious gemstone.  When heated, it naturally releases negative ions and far-infrared heat, both of which benefit hair by reducing static and frizz to increase shine. Far-infrared heat is gentle and eliminates potential heat damage to hair.  This is definitely good!

What is Titanium and why is it important in a styling product?
Titanium is a unique metal, as strong as steel but 40% lighter!  It’s the smoothest surface available in a styling tool, retains higher heat longer and distributes temperatures consistently across surfaces.  The end result is less styling time and healthier hair.  I have been using a titianium plate flat iron and think it is definitely better than its ceramic counterpart.  Quicker styling time, higher heat, and a very smooth surface.

What is Ionic and why is it important in a styling product?
Ions close the hair cuticle and reduce the static electricity that dulls hair and causes fly-away frizzies.  During dry winter months this is key!  Ions also break water molecules into tiny, micronized clusters for deeper moisture penetration into hair, and hold the moisture longer for silkier and shinier hair.

GHD MK4 Flat Iron Review

GHD MK4 Ceramic Flat IronWith so many flat irons on the market, how do you really know which one is right for you? I’ve been testing them out to see how each one works, and why. Today I’d like to share my review of the latest wonder from GHD, the GHD MK4 1″ Ceramic Flat Iron. Touted as one of the best flat irons on the market, I absolutely loved it.

Incorporating state-of-the-art styling technology, the GHD MK4 Straightener and Styler looks very similar to a lot of flat irons out there, but that’s where the similarities end. It’s different, and really, it’s better. All of you CHI fanatics take note, if you ever try a GHD, you’ll see what I’m talking about, and if you currently use a ‘drugstore variety’ flat iron, you’ll be amazed.

The MK4 has a rounded barrel for improved curling and styling, and let me tell you, it curls as easily as it straightens, giving you the ultimate in versatility. You should know that most flat irons will produce curls, but with this iron, it was easy and the curls were nice. I chalk that up to the way this ceramic iron smoothed my strands. It took out all the texture. It didn’t just ‘flatten’, it smoothed. And curled. Major props for that.

The GHD MK4 also has advanced ceramic heaters that are designed to sense the porosity of your hair type to apply and maintain the perfect amount of heat with every glide. That’s cool. Really cool. The iron stayed hot the whole time – no damaging ‘hot spots’ like some other brands – you know who you are! But honestly, it didn’t need to stay hot so long because it straightened my hair super-fast.

The ceramic plates that promise smooth, static free glides took out all my frizz in no time. Some flat irons have been known to create static on hair – especially ones with Tourmaline – so static-free was a huge plus. This iron also had an extremely good grip of my hair while styling, which is very important when choosing a flat iron, because it usually translates into quicker styling with less passes down the same section of hair. Additionally, the ghd MK4 has great tension control, which means I didn’t have to give myself carpal tunnel squeezing the plates together super hard as I straightened each section of my hair. Minimal tension worked just fine thank you.

This iron comes nicely packaged with a step-by-step DVD included in the box which is great for you newbies, but obviously you can always catch a styling video here on our blog if you need some extra help – check out Flat Iron Styling with GHD.

This iron gets two snaps up in Z formation. Watch out competition (ahem CHI), there’s a top player in town, the GHD MK4 has arrived and it’s fabulous! I hope more people get past the pricey price point and give it a try, it really is worth it.

P.S. The ghd MK4 also has an awesome auto adjust feature for international voltages so I can style my way around the world, if I ever get to do that…

Top Five Flat Iron Styling Tips

FHI 1 inch Flat IronFlat irons are best known for creating straight styles, but you can also add body and volume, create curls and make waves as well. It just takes a little product, practice and patience. If your flat iron has a rounded style barrel (and most of them do!) you’re ready to create these must-have styles with ease. These top requested flat iron styling articles and videos to get you styling like a pro!

Straight Styles: Flat Iron Straightening Success, a step-by-step tutorial for the straightest strands around.

Adding Volume: Pump up the Volume on your Bob, transform your bob from flat to fab with these top tips.

Curly Styles: Creating Curls with a Flat Iron, yep, bouncy coils in no time.

Waves: Make Some Serious Waves with a Flat Iron, tips for making those waves you crave.

Styling Tips: Flat Iron Styling with GHD, showcases tips and tricks with a ghd flat iron and some strand supporting styling products.

Got your favorite flat iron? Get going!

-CurlyBelle

Beachy Waves with a Flat Iron

Beachy waves are always in style, but even more so for Spring 2008 when tousled, textured hair is the top tress trend. Sarah Victor presents an awesome step-by-step tutorial with a one inch flat iron and some strategically placed hair clips. If waves are what you crave, this styling video is your new BFF. Remember, it’s all in the wrist twist!

StyleBell’s Top 5 Favorite Flat Irons

People love to corner me and ask me lots of flat iron questions, and I’m always happy to answer them. Being one of the lucky few who gets to test drive almost all of the hair straighteners on the market, I have acquired a lot of street cred in the hair appliance market, and with curly hair like mine, I really put every flat iron to the test.

In the flat iron world, not all flat irons are created equally and everyone’s hair straightening needs differ based on hair type and texture – yep, we’ve written about this before in our Flat Iron Buying Guide 101.

But, if you really want to use the benchmark my friends use – “if this flat iron can straighten your curly mop, it can straighten mine!” – my top five flat iron picks would have to be:

1- GHD MK4 1-inch Flat Iron – pure Ceramic power and technology – this iron gets my hair the GHD Flat Iron mk4straightest it can be and frizz is no longer an ”issue”. It also creates really believable curls if you practice. It’s a little pricey, but I love the bells and whistles: Dual voltage, stronger cable, auto shut off ‘sleep mode’. Everyone knows I rave about the GHD MK4 iron – it’s THAT good. (Read a review)

2- Babyliss Pro Nano-Titanium 1-inch
Flat Iron – state of the art technology and a super smoothing Babyliss Flat Ironsurface to kill my curls and add lots of shine – the perfect combo! The Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium is actually longer than most flat irons and you’d think it would be hard to handle, but just the opposite, it smooths faster than ever and the shine is unbeatable. Bonus: It’s at a great price point and offers a killer 4 year warranty. Really, how can you go wrong? You can’t.

3- Maxiglide Flat Iron– Ok, I’ll start by saying this flat iron is not for everyone. It’s Maxiglide Flat Ironlarger than any flat iron you are probably used to and has these tiny detangling pins that take some getting used to. That being said, if you have thick, unruly, hard to straighten hair you know that using a flat iron will take some finesse. Once you master the Maxiglide, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. This iron gets my thick massive mop silky. Yep, silky. (Read a review)

4- FHI Platform 1-inch Flat Iron – Another iron on the pricier side, but I think the FHI 1 inch Platform Flat IronFHI Platform is worth every penny when you see the results. Sleek with a capital S and the Ceramic Tourmaline and Titanium Technology eliminates toxins in the hair and really brings out the shine. Style sighting: This iron has also been spotted backstage at a lot of fashion shows too.

5- HAI Convertable 1-1/4 inch Flat Iron – My stylist loves this iron – mainly Hai Flat Iron Convertablebecause she can straighten my hair fast and I don’t have to sit there forever! One of the best flat irons for transforming my hair from curly to super straight, the Hai Convertable manufacturers also just increased the warranty to 3 years – SWEET!

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