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!

NY Times Article: Brazilian Keratin Treatments

This article was featured online in the Fashion & Style Section of The New York Times in  July, 2007:

AFTER 14 years of relentless highlighting, bleaching and chemical straightening, Deborah Epstein, 32, a law student from Forest Hills, Queens, had ruined her unruly brown curls. Dull, brittle and difficult to style, her hair was so fragile a ponytail holder could snap it off. 

Moreover, all it took was a molecule of moisture and her hair frizzed. And no amount of expensive products, deep-conditioning treatments and weekly salon blowouts could tame her mane.

But in April, Ms. Epstein tried the Brazilian Keratin Treatment at the nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset, N.Y. The results were so spectacular, she wept.

“I got very emotional,” she said. “It was mind-boggling how beautiful my hair looked: straight, shiny, sleek and more important, healthy. I have no products in my life now. I wash my hair, air-dry it and then the last 10 minutes, I blow it and it’s pin-straight.”

Such a gushing testimonial is not unusual, stylists say. “For a woman who had a thorn bush for hair and now it’s like silk, well, we’re talking revolution,” said Mark Garrison, who offers the treatment at his salon in New York.

Originating in Brazil, where it is usually called escova progressiva (progressive blow-dry), the treatment has been trickling here for a few years but has become widely available only in the last six months.

While it appears that no major American hair or beauty companies are now selling it, a cottage industry of hairdressers has emerged, importing products from Brazil or creating their own formulations.

So far, the brands include Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Brazilian Hair Straightening and Brazilian Blowout. “Right now, it’s blowing everything away,” said Meryle Nemeth, the nuBest stylist who administered Ms. Epstein’s treatment, one of about 500 she’s done since February, when it became available at the salon. “I’ve never seen anything take off like this as far as relaxing hair. Everyone wants it for summer, for affairs, for weddings. I’m talking all ages, 12-year-olds to 70-year-olds.”

Sarah Brown, the beauty editor of Vogue, said the treatment is perfect for those with tumbleweed hair who are trying to simplify their lives. “For people who can’t master a salon blowout at home or go get a weekly blowout, a treatment like this is seriously liberating,” she said.

Technically, it is neither a relaxer nor a straightener, both of which use caustic chemicals to change the texture of the hair. The Japanese straightening method, also known as thermal conditioning, has fallen out of favor because many users reported extensive damage, particularly when the process was repeated. The Brazilian is also different because it can be used on most hair types, even the previously color treated, without causing harm, proponents say.

The multistep treatment takes 1 ½ to 4 hours, and costs $150 to $600, depending on the length and thickness of the hair. A stylist applies a solution made with active keratin, a protein akin to a component of human hair.

Using a 450-degree iron, the hairdresser seals the formula onto the outer layer of the cuticle. The formula adheres to the cuticle’s inherently rough edges. Thus, it is said, it traps moisture, hydrating the hair, and adds a glossy veneer.

The results last six weeks to a few months, depending upon how frequently the hair is washed.

There are risks. There’s the hot iron. And the formula often contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that can irritate the eyes and lungs if the fumes are inhaled. A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, however, said that the agency has no restrictions on the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics.

Uncurliness comes with a caveat. Emily Dougherty, the beauty editor at Elle, warned: “You need to do due diligence and challenge your stylist. Ask questions about where this chemical cocktail is coming from.”

And keep in mind, just because something is called Brazilian doesn’t mean it is always beautiful.

Credits: New York Times, Curls Split! Ringlets Be Gone!
By: ELIZABETH HAYT
Published: July 19, 2007

For more information on Brazilian Keratin Treatments, see our article: Brazilian Keratin Treatments 411.

Celebrity Hairstyles: Straight and Sleek

This slideshow features a bevy of celebrity beauties and their sleek, straight locks. A-listers across Hollywood know that super smooth, shiny hair is always in style if you’re armed with a few minutes and a flat iron! This short clip features some of the smoothest hair styles around – Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Hayden Panettiere, Beyonce, Kate Walsh and more!

Take Your Hair Beyond Straight

Beyond Straight Temporary StraightenerIf you have curly hair, you realize that going straight isn’t a few quick swipes with your flat iron. No, for you it’s an entire lengthy process of sectioning and blow drying to try to straighten your hair before you even turn your flat iron on. Why not get a little help with a straightening glaze designed to unwind, uncoil and detangle those tresses?

If you want to straighten and smooth your style sleeker than you ever thought possible, try Beyond Straight Temporary Hair Straightener by Maxius Beauty. Straight from the makers of the Maxiglide flat iron, this non-chemical temporary smoothing glaze straightens strands with ease – even those unruly, shall we say overly coiled curls?

This aptly named super-styler not only relaxes curls, it also provides a thermal protection barrier from heat styling appliances (ahem, Maxiglide) and eliminates frizz and fly-aways. It contains a natural blend of Matricaria, Kiwi, and Henna Extract to hydrate and condition your hair, and added Vitamins A and E, Wheat Protein and Panthenol to build volume and thickness while softening and straightening your hair.

How to use it: On wet hair, pour a little bit into your hands and distribute throughout your hair with your fingers. I’d suggest adding a little more and lightly coating your ends – this is where you get those teeny tiny knots that sometimes cause snagging while styling. Beyond straight detangles and conditions, which we know is a must for curly hair that always needs lots of both.

After applying, fire up your blow dryer and show those curls and frizz who’s really in charge. You’ll notice your hair is more manageable, and super straight in no time with less effort. If straightening your hair usually takes you forever, you’ll love this stuff. It will help create a smooth canvas of hair that’s ready for your flat iron. And when you use your flat iron, you’ll notice smoother glides and less passes down the section. Less passes means less time, less energy, less damaging heat to your hair. All good things.

Hard to straighten hair has just met its match, push the limits of your own hair straightening with Beyond Straight.

-CurlyBelle

(who could actually pass for StraightBelle after Beyond Straight!)

Brazilian Keratin Treatment FAQ

Still thinking of going for the Brazilian Keratin Treatment? All in all, it’s a toxic treatment in my book, but here are some FAQ’s you might find helpful when considering your options.

Is it approved by the FDA? No. No way. You should really stop reading right now. That sentence sums up the entire article, but if you are still interested, keep reading.

A Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) can be used on every hair type whether natural or chemically enhanced. This includes virgin hair, color-treated hair, Japanese straightened hair, relaxed hair, permed hair, highlighted hair, gray hair. The results will last longer on ‘non-virgin’ (translation: porous/damaged) hair. Sure, so your hair can soak up more of the toxic chemicals. Who wouldn’t want that? Me!

It is not a relaxer, it’s a chemical treatment (with Formaldehyde with a capital “F”) that straightens your hair. Read more about the dangerous risks of a BKT treatment here.

If you are coloring your hair, you should color your hair first, then get the BKT. If you want to color your hair after a BKT, you must wait at least two weeks. Assuming you don’t have any issues from breathing in all of those toxic fumes and have a Doctor’s appointment instead.

If you’re cutting your hair, wait until after the treatment. Sure, why not sit around having more hair straightened to cut it off right after? Great idea.

It can be done on anyone over six years of age. Assuming they know all the risks of getting a chemical treatment that is loaded with potential risks (including cancer) due to the toxic Formaldehyde fumes. I’m sure kids like that…NOT!

While getting the BKT you should wear a mask and keep your eyes closed during the entire blow drying session due to the large amounts of (potentially toxic) Formaldehyde fumes. Great huh? A MASK. Why are you even still reading this?

After the treatment you must wait 4 full days before doing anything to your hair. This includes washing, wetting, using any type of hair products, wearing a ponytail, headband, etc. Nothing can be done to the hair until after 4 days – this will allow the hair to ‘set’. I’m sure you’ll smell nice and Formaldehyde-y by then, people at work will love you. And best of luck taking a shower and not getting your hair wet without tying it up, pulling it back or twisting it.

If for some reason your hair does get wet you must blow dry it immediately. This of course will subject you to more toxic Formaldehyde fumes. Toxic bonus!

After your 4 day ‘sentence’ feel free to treat your hair as you normally would. Wash it, wet it, go swimming, go nuts with the ponytails, whatever floats your boat. At least you’ll be washing off the Formaldehyde.

Your BKT will last anywhere from 2 to 4 months depending on your hair type. Like I mentioned above, it works longer on ‘non-virgin’ hair. But I’ll bet the potential dangers will last way longer than that.

After your BKT make sure you wash with a Sodium Chloride free shampoo. Sure, they’ll smother and cover you in Formaldehyde but stay far away from the Sodium Chloride – that’ll keep you safe…NOT.

The best part? Aside from the fabulous danger your putting yourself in, of course, the entire treatment must be done again after the 2-4 month time frame. No touch ups. The whole entire process. YAY, more Formaldehyde.

I find this You Tube video frightening…and I’m sure the stylist doesn’t know that she should be wearing a mask as well.

Still thinking of getting a Brazilian Keratin Treatment? Me neither.

-CurlyBelle