to choose the right straightener for your
have evolved still further and many come with rounded and shaped
barrels. These are often called Stylers, because not only do
they straighten hair, they will also create curls and flicks.
so much choice when it comes to looking for a new
straightener… where do you start?
why are the nation’s favourite hair styling tools called
by different names, straighteners, stylers and irons?
So good they named them three times?
The original name was a flat iron, which was then abbreviated
to iron. The name dates back to the time when some women
actually used a household iron in their determined pursuit
of poker straight hair. It’s hard to believe, but straighteners
as we know and love them today, have only been around
To avoid confusion with the household ‘iron’ appliance,
the name straightener became a more generally accepted
wouldn’t use a hot iron on a silk blouse,
Damaged hair is often the result of using too much heat. Top
hairdressers assess your hair type, thickness and condition,
before selecting the right temperature setting for straighteners
and wands. After all, you wouldn’t consider ironing a silk blouse
on a high temperature for fear of the damage it would do, neither
would you expect your iron to have just one temperature setting!
Similarly, your hair is sensitive to the amount of heat you
apply, too much will dry it out, making it brittle and likely
to break so that the ends don’t lie flat. This then results
in more over-straightening and your hair never gets a chance
So what’s the answer?
Most of the popular brands have now ‘stepped up to the plate’
and developed straighteners with fully adjustable/ variable
temperature controls. Everyone’s hair is different, but with
a variable temperature straightener, you can easily find the
optimum setting for your hair.
Start with a low heat, especially if you have thin hair or have
already noticed some damage. Pass the straightener over your
hair a couple of times and check the results, then slowly turn
up the heat setting until you reach the temperature required
to straighten your hair. Once you’ve found it, stick to it,
don’t use more heat than you need and you’ll soon notice a difference
in the condition of your hair.
Remember more heat doesn’t equal faster straightening - to speed
up your daily straightening ritual, consider buying straighteners
with wide plates as they will work through more hair with each
pass. Invest in a brand that has a fast heat up and is thermostatically
controlled, so it stays at a constant temperature while you
are using it. The table below gives an idea which heat range
and plate size could suit your hair.
Shoulders: 1 - 1½"
Shoulder Length: 1 - 2"
Below Shoulders: 1 - 1½"
Shoulders: ½ - 1¼"
Shoulder Length: 1 - 1½"
Below Shoulders: 1¼ - 2"
(Finer hair = Lower temperature)
on length Type
(Use lowest setting for most damaged)
are the best straighteners for your hair type?
There is a lot of choice when it comes to choosing your next
straightener and it’s important that you buy the correct pair
for your own hair type and styling needs.
Below we guide you through the options to make the best selection
and feel totally happy with your straightener/ styler.
There is a lot of jargon bandied about when it comes to describing
the features of the latest hair tools, here’s some helpful hints
to explain the lingo!
Plate Size: The size of the plates determines how much
hair can be treated in any one pass of the straightener. Larger
plates gives you a faster action, which reduces the time needed
to perform the straightening. Wide plates are ideal for thick
and long hair. Smaller plates can be useful if you prefer using
your stylers for curling and flicking or for fringes and shorter
Ceramic Plates: Maintain temperature more accurately
and distribute heat evenly. Smoother and kinder to your hair.
They also heat up more quickly.
Titanium Plates: Maintains optimum performance as plates
don’t absorb styling/ heat defence products you use. Accurate
temperature control, distributes heat evenly.
Tourmaline Plates: A semi-precious gemstone that produces
six times more negative ions than ceramic. It’s often infused
into ceramic plates to produce an even straighter, shinier finish.
Ionic Plates: Uses negative ions to neutralise positive
ions on the hair. In other words it eliminates static and frizz.
Helps to keep moisture in the hair, making it less flyaway.
Nano Plates: An advanced smoothing and styling technology
infused into the plates. Usually works with another technology
such as Nano Titanium or Nano Silver (silver eliminates bacteria
on the plates and your hair).
Floating Plates: These give the hair tension for a smoother
pass. Reduces pulling, tugging and avoids any unsightly creases
Adjustable Temperature Control: Allows you to choose
the right temperature setting for your hair and maintains it
while in use. Different straighteners have varying ranges. Lower
temperatures are recommended for fine hair or hair that is in
poor condition. Thick, curly hair will require high heat settings.
Rapid Heat: Reaches correct temperature in seconds and
maintains it, reducing the time it takes to straighten your
hair. Cheaper straighteners can take up to 5 minutes to reach
the desired operating temperature.
FAR/ Infra red heat: Penetrates the hair, heating from
the inside out, giving a smoother finish. Seals moisture in
the hair preventing drying out due to heat from the appliance.
Reduces surface damage to hair and speeds up whole process.
Universal voltage: Dual voltage stylers can be used around
the world, so they are ideal for travelling.
to use your straightener properly
- Shampoo the hair and condition it as normal. Using hot
water can cause the natural oils to be stripped away and
the hair cuticle to be too porous, resulting in dry hair
and more frizz. So try and wash your hair separately from
when you take a shower and use warm water not hot, then
if you can stand it, a final rinse with cool water will
help the hair cuticles to lie flat and make the whole straightening
process easier and faster.
- Towel dry gently and then apply a heat protection product
to hair. The amount you need will depend on type and length
of your hair.
- Spread the thermal defence product in your palms and
rub into hair, smoothing along its length.
- Use a hair dryer and paddle brush and start drying the
hair, encouraging straightness by brushing through the hair
as you dry. Set the hairdryers temperature to medium until
hair is completely dry.
- With medium or long hair use clips to separate hair so
that you can concentrate on one section at a time.
- Start with the lower layers and with a small section
of hair use your straightener down the length in a swift
- Repeat this step on the next section and continue using
small sections right round the head. When the underneath
sections are done, move on to the upper ones, this will
ensure the layers lie nicely on top of each other.
- Always run the straightener from top, down the hairs
length and continue until straightener runs off the hair
at the end and hair falls away. Do not stop at any point
and try to keep the sweep even, consistent and at a reasonable
- Once the majority of hair has been straightened finish
the style by blending at the ends. With no clips run the
straightener close to the ends and off the ends of the hair.
This will stop separation that might occur when using sectioning
- You should be left with sleek, shiny, frizz free, straight
hair which should last.
From Sam Villa,
founding partner of the Sam Villa® brand and
Education Artistic Director for Redken 5th Avenue.
“Ever see someone flat iron a section of hair over and over
until it’s smooth? There’s no reason to do that, it takes more
time, muscle memory and compromises hair,” says Sam Villa, “Let
the heat, compression and tension work for YOU.”
Heat: Pass is the movement of a thermal tool through
a section. The slower the pass, the more heat applied, the faster
the pass, the less heat.
Compression: The closer hands are positioned to the iron
plates, the more intense the compression, the farther the hands,
the less compression.
Tension: The more hair needs to be reshaped or manipulated,
the more tension is needed, regardless of whether or not it
is being straightened or texturized.
(The latest floating plates adapt and follow the hair closely
and make it easier to obtain the right amount of tension).
“The cuticle on fine hair is already closed, so it needs less
compression, heat and tension and the cuticle on coarse hair
is more open, so it needs more to manipulate.
If the proper compression is not used on the respective hair
type, you will not get predictable results, and that’s why people
go over sections multiples time.”