I'm Obsessed With Protecting My Fine, Damaged Hair—These Flat Irons Pass My Test
As a millennial, I have lived to see some of beauty's greatest hits when it comes to trends, from butterfly clips and frosted pink lipgloss to messy buns and, of course, the era of stick-straight hair. And as an aspiring beauty editor, I followed the trends almost religiously. I woke up every morning before school and refused to leave the house until every strand of hair was straight—I even had a double mirror to check the back. (My mom helped, too). Looking back, I cringe at the number of times I would straighten the same section of hair, ultimately damaging my already fine, soon-to-be-highlighted hair.
As I've gotten older and continued to educate myself in the beauty industry, I've come to one conclusion: In order to achieve your beauty goals, you have to first understand what you're working with. For example, I now understand I have thin and fine hair, which means a little product goes a long way. I understand that my color-treated hair can be easily damaged, so I opt for hydrating hair masks and supplements that promote hair health and growth. I also understand how to properly use heat tools to achieve the look I want without causing permanent damage. Though avoiding heat is the greatest gift you can give your hair, I've realized you can't avoid heat forever—some days, you crave that flat-ironed look or a soft wave.
How to Use a Flat Iron While Minimizing Hair Damage
I have mastered the art of flat-ironing hair while maintaining its health—yes, it can be done. I follow a few simple guidelines:
1. Keep the heat on the lowest setting
2. Always use a heat-protectant spray
3. Invest in flat irons that evenly distribute heat throughout the hair
And let's be real—it can be scary to test which flat iron is best for damaged hair because it's a major risk to your hair's health. Fortunately, over the last decade or so, I have put in the dedication and research to prove you can indeed use a flat iron on fragile hair.
Keep scrolling to discover the best flat irons for damaged hair. Your strands will thank you later.
GHD Platinum+ Hair Straightener Ceramic Flat Iron
This flat iron has been my go-to for the last several years. Recommended by celebrity hairstylists Ryan Trygstad and Mark DeBolt, who own Mark Ryan Salon, this flat iron monitors heat 250 times per second and does not go above 365º to ensure you can't damage your hair.
Customer review: "Love it! I was able to achieve salon[-quality] silky hair without the heat style smell. It seemingly truly self-regulates the temperature needed for your hair without you having to make any adjustments. Plug it and use [it]. That's it."
T3 Lucea Id 1-Inch Smart Flat Iron With Touch Interface
Ryan Pearl, hair genius and colorist at renowned IGK salon, recommends T3. "This one is great because the heat is evenly distributed throughout the iron, and it also has temperature settings to lower or raise the heat to the desired level," he reveals.
Customer review: "I absolutely love this straightener! So easy to use for curling or straightening my hair (I have long wavy/frizzy hair) and heats up so quickly. I would definitely recommend it to anyone."
Dyson Corrale Straightener
Though this one errs on the pricier side, your hair health is priceless, and Dyson's straightener is designed with flexing plates to gather your hair for more control so you can get the look with less heat and less breakage.
Customer review: "I bought this as a treat for myself after falling in love with the dryer. I love that I can use this with or without the cord and how quickly it heats up. My hair looks amazing after using it."
Bio Ionic 10x Pro Straightening & Styling Iron
Enhanced with natural volcanic minerals that emit negative ions that penetrate water molecules deep into the hair, this flat iron will leave your hair more hydrated rather than dry and damaged.
Customer review: "Best straightener I have ever purchased! The instant heat is the best when you need to freshen up your hair in a pinch. Will not buy anything else!"
Amika The Conductor 1 Inch Precision Geranium Flat Iron
I love this flat iron when I want to create a beach wave. Because it's only an inch, it gives me more precision in creating the shape I want, and therefore, I don't have to repeatedly go over a specific area.
Customer review: "I've owned this for two years and have had absolutely no issues. Heats [up] quickly, plates don't peel & still look great, and it doesn't snag my hair. I have no complaints!"
Harry Josh Pro Tools Ceramic Flat Styling Iron
If you're in the market for a travel companion, this flat iron is your answer. Expert advice: Always opt for flat irons with customizable heat settings, like this one, so you can be in complete control.
Customer review: "Best flat iron I have ever used. Very smooth. My hair doesn't catch on anything. Heats up very quickly as well. I would definitely recommend [it]."
Revlon Salon Straightener Copper + Ceramic Flat Iron
I have to be honest—I was skeptical about this one because of the price. It was too good to be true. Because this is designed with advanced copper-and-ceramic plate technology, it helps reduce over-styling through even heat distribution.
Customer review: "I bought the 1.5" flat iron to reduce the passes and therefore heat on my shoulder length hair. I especially like the comb attachment to keep all the hair smooth as it glides down the length. So far, I am very pleased, especially at the reasonable price."
L'Oréal Steampod Flat Iron & Styler
Behold the power of steam. This flat iron has an innovative stream technology that surrounds the hair with steam—though it never gets the hair wet—to style twice as fast, leaving the hair ultra smooth. The best part? The steam allows for 91% less breakage than your average heating plates.
Customer review: "I was blown away at the salon quality hairstyle I achieved after using this product one time. Not only was the whole process super fast, my hair was also sleek and shiny. I cannot recommend it enough."
L'Ange Le Duo
Consider this flat iron your breath of fresh air. Because it has tiny vents spread throughout, it allows your hair to cool, protecting it from heat damage and locking in your desired style.
Customer review: "I love the airflow styler. It is lightweight and performs very well for straightening as well as curling hair. Very happy with [my] purchase, and I would purchase it again if the occasion arose."
HSI Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron Hair Straightener
There is a reason this flat iron is a best seller. Equipped with micro-sensors to regulate and evenly distribute the heat, it prevents any future hair damage.
Customer review: "I've had this flat iron for eight years, and it's still giving everything I need it to give. Paired with their Argan oil, my hair feels like silk every single time I use it."
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Prima Ionic Straightener
Ceramic plates are largely considered the safest for damaged hair, but the titanium plates and outer shell on this iron keep it from warping under high heat, so it won't catch or snag your hair over time.
Customer review: "I loved how it was easy to use. It comes with gloves that help with handling the hair and the flat iron itself. No snagging my hair, leaves the hair feeling hydrated [but] not burnt. Would definitely buy other products from this brand."
Kristin Ess Defining + Detailing Mini Flat Iron With Travel Bag
Traveling is no excuse to let inferior products infiltrate your hair routine. Developed by celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess, this mini straightener quickly heats up to 380º for damage-free touch-ups.
Customer review: "This is perfect for traveling and even just for getting [the] annoying little baby hair to touch up. I'm so happy with this purchase and would recommend [it] to anyone. It's not too small. It's a really good size."
The Best Heat Protectants to Use With a Flat Iron
Repeat after me: I will not use a flat iron without a heat-protectant product. Consider heat protectants non-negotiable when it comes to using flat irons on damaged hair. Ahead, discover some of my favorite heat protectants that leave my hair sleek, shiny, and, most importantly, healthy after using flat irons.
This is Pearl's go-to before applying heat. "I've used this all over fashion week and photo shoots to help protect the hair," says Pearl.
Here's a great option for those with curly and coily hair types. It adds shine while shielding delicate strands from heat.
"This is one of our favorites," explain Trygstad and DeBolt. "It's a great all-in-one protectant. Just remember to apply liberally to towel-dried hair," they add.
I love using this when I need to tame my frizz.
This silicone-free cream is perfect for styling all hair types. Just remember to keep the temperature under 450º. (If your hair is damaged, even lower, please!)
The latest addition to my haircare repertoire, Seen's Blow-Out Creme protects my hair and gives it volume without weighing it down, which is huge when you have fine hair.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
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