10 best hair straighteners 2023 — GHD, Dyson, Lunata

UPDATE: Jul. 21, 2023, 5:00 a.m. EDT This article has been updated to reflect the latest hands-on hair straightener reviews from Mashable beauty writers.

It’s time to part with your old hair straightener.

A wet-to-dry straightener (shudders) may have worked as your middle school flat iron. Your college flat iron may have gotten the job done for the past decade because it technically still works. But we have to unlearn unhealthy beauty routines all the time. Just like we’ve realized that falling asleep in makeup during our wayward youth can be a bitch to your skin to this day, blasting your locks with 400 degrees on the daily will come back to haunt you.

Bringing self-care to your hair routine means investing in the best hair straightener. Not only are hair tools a true “you get what you pay for” purchase, but they actually have an expiration date: After four years, the plates start to crack, lift, and heat unevenly, causing hot spots that can scorch one end of hair and leave the other wavy. If you’ve noticed your hair getting stuck in the wand, that it’s extra dry and scraggly, or that it’s taking longer than usual to finish a section, then your outdated flat iron may be the culprit.

This is coming from someone who grew up with hair that wasn’t afraid to break a brush like that scene in The Princess Diaries. Trust me, I can attest to the fact that finding a hair straightener that works and holds can feel impossible. I went on a quest to replace my ancient Chi hair straightener, and I learned some things along the way.

So, if you’re now on a quest to find the best hair straighteners for your hair type, you can learn from my trial and error experiences. Keep reading to learn how to straighten your hair like a pro without damaging it, plus our top picks for the best flat irons and hair straighteners.

Can you straighten hair without damaging it?

Ah, the age-old question. At the end of the day, there’s no fool-proof way to put heat on your hair without feeling the effects eventually. Heat-free methods like meticulous air-drying are thrown around as alternatives, but advising against heat completely is as realistic as abstinence-only sex ed. Luckily, there are tricks to hold off intensive heat damage while straightening your hair.

If you listen to nothing else in this article, listen to this: Don’t rely on the hottest setting to get the job done faster. Like paper, hair burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. Sure, hair won’t spontaneously combust, but regular exposure to high heat is the main cause of permanent damage. I talked to Jon Reyman, owner and master stylist at NYC salon Spoke & Weal, and learned something that I’ve definitely screwed up over the years: Extra high heat once is more damaging to hair than low heat in multiple passes.

Another line of defense comes in the form of thermal protectant sprays. Heat protectant often gets downplayed as an extra step if you have extra time (and who has extra time to get ready in the morning?), but that’s like chilling in the sun without sunscreen and saying, “Whatever, I’ll probably be fine.”

“Think of heat protectant as an oven mitt,” Reyman says. “The mitt gets hotter than your hand, but if you are holding a very hot pan, your hand is going to burn eventually. Keep high heat contact to a minimum, and never rest an iron on your hair for long.”

Creating tension from root to tip can decrease the number of passes needed to get a strand straight. Guiding the iron through the hair with a heat-resistant comb will also make the process much smoother. Several TikTok users suggest preceding each pass with a comb to smooth frizz before the heat gets to it.

woman using the dyson corrale flat iron

A Mashable reviewer testing the Dyson Corrale flat iron.
Credit: Rachel Kraus / Mashable

Can split ends be repaired?

Despite what Pantene commercials say, healthy hair is a journey requiring more than damage-friendly conditioner. Brace yourself, then Google “split ends under a microscope.” Those jagged edges are pieces of the outer layer of the cuticle that have literally snapped. At-home remedies ain’t bringing those back to life.

The American Association of Dermatology has even confirmed that you can’t 100% repair split ends. Strands can be sealed temporarily, but the only way to permanently get rid of split ends is by cutting them off.

Which plate type is best for your hair?

When heat contact is minimized, it leads to less damage, so it’s more about which straightener has consistent heat settings that can smooth your hair texture with as few strokes as possible. Plate type is less important, but this Bustle interview describes how certain plate materials may be safer on different hair textures.

  • Ceramic is the default. It provides balanced heat, smooths frizz, and creates a smooth surface for any hair type to float over without snagging. Damaged hair can catch a break from the balanced heat and lower damage potential of a ceramic flat iron. This mild intensity also keeps processed hair more vibrant over time.

  • Tourmaline is a semi-precious crystal that typically generates the most negative ions of the three. It’s an especially useful weapon against frizz or dull hair, but quickly turns damaging when too hot. It also corrodes easily and is a smarter purchase for occasional events that require really shiny hair.

  • Titanium is similar to tourmaline but is a metal with a higher heat threshold. It gets super hot and does so within seconds, and the heat stays constant throughout the barrel. If your unruly tresses have you ready to give up, the fierce conduction of titanium could do the trick. This is clutch for thick hair, but will cause more harm than good on fine hair.

“Ionic” is buzzword you may hear a lot in hair care conversations. The heated plates on many flat irons produce negative ions that attach to your positively-charged hair, ultimately minimizing static and promoting shine. Tourmaline and titanium emit negative ions at an exponentially higher rate than ceramic, but flat irons advertised as “ionic” probably still use one of these materials.

Are cordless flat irons worth it?

I have almost dropped my hot straightener on my bare feet when the cord got stuck on a bathroom cabinet knob far too many times to count. In that situation, a cordless hair straightener would be clutch. What wouldn’t be clutch is a cordless straightener dying 30 minutes into my long curly hair’s hour-long straightening process.

Short battery life is a main concern when it comes to flat irons that don’t plug in. Because they’re supplying their own power, the massive batteries in some models make them heavier in your hand.

Not all cordless straighteners succumb to these tropes, and not all heads of hair require more than half an hour to style. Plus, being able to touch up your hair without access to a plug is an undeniable plus for traveling.

What is the best hair straightener for each hair type?

After reaching out to stylists via Instagram, comparing online reviews, interviewing the owner of a salon, and watching a slew of beauty blogger reviews on YouTube and TikTok, we settled on a list of the best hair straighteners. But to make sure we were only recommending the best possible products, I also hands-on tested the top straighteners and gathered input from other Mashable beauty testers. Keep reading for my hands-on (hair-on?) hair straightener reviews and find out which beauty tool deserves a spot in your bathroom.

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