Ever been confused on the best straightening tool to get? Whatever the reason for that confusion, you’re not alone. Thanks to technology we have way more options on things… especially hair care and hair care accessories. With 1000’s of options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or uncertain about the best products for you, your loved ones or your clients.
Now by no means am I a professional or trying to influence people to straighten their hair. I’m simply a natural woman who has experienced the pain, success, reversion, heat damage and all the other ups and downs linked to trying to straighten my hair without chemicals. If you are going to or want to straighten your hair it’s best to do it the right way. Overall it’s definitely a journey but with the right information, the process is WAY easier. Before we proceed to the good stuff, let’s learn a bit about straighteners.
The advancements of hair care have grown tremendously over the last decade. Especially within the black culture. With the drop in perm sales, some naturals still want the sleek look without all the chemical damage. Then there are some who just want to tame an unruly wig or weave and don’t intend to use it on their real hair. In the black hair history chronicles many of us little girls started getting our hair straightened with hot combs.
A hot comb (also known as a straightening comb) is a metal comb that is used to straighten moderate or coarse hair to create a smoother hair texture. It can also be used to straighten any almost any thick hair texture but is mainly used in the black community. Back when I was younger the combs were placed on the gas stove in direct heat for several minutes before being applied to your hair. (**Sigh** I can hear my hair sizzling now) It wasn’t always the safest job (I got my ears burned a time or two) but it showed results. The stiffer you are the easier the process.
Another way, many other cultures or hair textures are more commonly accustomed to, is the original plain ceramic flat iron. Initially, there was no way to regulate what temperature the plates heated up to and you just had to wing it. Hopeful the temp on the box was indeed accurate. (Insert more hair sizzles) With this method, you had to be just as careful. Unlike the hot comb, which cools down the longer it’s off the heat, the original electric flat irons just stayed hot as long as it was plugged into a power source.
Looking back we’ve come so far in the development of flat irons and straighteners, that now in 2019 we have legitimate options for all hair types. As technology advances further the creators behind these products come up with ways to make temporarily straightening hair safe for everyone. We’ve seen and experienced the progress with our own eyes and heads. On many straightening tools now we can set and regulate the temperature, which is a huge plus. These advancements and products now give safer and more efficient options to straighten for people with afro-natural hair to people who are permed, curly, wavy, kinky, already straight and all in between.
When on the hunt for the best iron we often fall victim to the most popular hair straighteners. Now even though they gained popularity for a reason, there are other supporting factors to be mindful of before purchase. The main factor is what type of hair is the tool for and what level of “straight” are you looking to achieve. The secondary factor being what all will you use it for. The second is the most time consuming of the two. With it, you can be looking for personal use, wig and weave use, situational use or professional use. Each type of use brings its own obstacles to the hair straightener game. Be sure to ask yourself:
- What kind of hair do I have?
- What purpose will this straightener serve?
- How straight do I want to make my hair?
- Will I use this with other people?
- What textures of hair will I use this on?
- What’s my price range?
The list goes on and you can remix these questions to fit your situation. In cases where you don’t know anything but hair type, it’s best to just choose a universal straightener or method.
Now here’s the good part. Overall there are two ways or categories to straighten hair: metal or air. Within those two ways come the nine popular hair straightener types. Five types include the types of metal used and three include alternative air-based methods. Who knew there were so many ways to straighten hair?! The types of straighteners on the market include:
This particular metal is becoming the favorite amongst people who have thicker hair. Its main purpose is to easily straighten thick or coarse hair. It applies heat evenly and can even be used on multiple hair types. It has heating capabilities to get your hair bone straight or just work some kinks and curls out. This would be a more universal straightener tool.
With ceramic, it’s best used on people with delicate hair. It heats evenly and quickly even with multiple heat settings. They have good staying power and the plates last due to the material used. The biggest drawback to ceramic irons is the plates can chip over time. Thicker hair requires more passes or smaller sections.
Tourmaline flat irons are better at avoiding hair damage, static, and frizz. This type can be used on almost any hair type.
Ionic hair tools help retain moisture. It also helps to keep the cuticle layer smooth, which results in shiny, frizz-free hair. It’s similar to the tourmaline and ceramic.
This is generally the cheapest flat iron of the bunch. Probably one of the least effective metals to use too because it generally does not keep a true temperature. It often ends up damaging hair of all textures if not careful.
Wet to Dry
Is simply a hair straightener that can take wet or damp hair and not only straighten it but dry it as well. This isn’t often the best tool for naturals or people with thick hair. Often times people end up having to go back over their hair several times subjecting your hair to damage.
This is a newer tool for straightening. It’s literally a paddle brush that uses heat and air combined to achieve results. This type is becoming more popular because it allows slight detangling properties. It doesn’t provide a bone straight look for thicker and kinkier hair but it is less damaging.
With this method, it involves a blow dryer and a dryer attachment. It often results in more frizz and a less sleek look but is popular amongst black naturals. It’s often used before using a traditional flat iron in many cases and hair textures.
This is an actual product name. In a lane of its own really. The method is definitely new but because of the price not many people actually own one. It involves the use of reverse air circulation and slight heat to dry and straighten all hair types in one move.
In the end, when it comes to straightening hair it all depends on personal preference and reason. Everyone’s hair is different and results vary from one head of hair to the next in most cases. No matter what your hair type is, when the heat is involved you’re taking a risk. Abuse of any heat product results in damaged hair. Be sure to have a heat protectant at all times and use direct heat sparingly to keep your hair at its best. So whether you’re looking to go bone straight, re-straighten or just smooth some kinks and coils for a while there’s something out there just for you. Choose wisely of the 9 methods mentioned [ read additional here ] and may the odds be ever in your favor…
Enjoy an entertaining YouTube video about flat ironing hair below. This is a prime example of what you should not do when flattening black hair.