How to Choose the Best Flat Iron So You Don't Damage the Eff Out of Your Hair

Having a good flat iron (or hot brush, for that matter) can be life-changing, and I'm not just saying that. Whether you just want an effortless-looking style for the day or something a little more elegant, having the right tools handy, along with the right protective products, can really make or break your styling experience. There's one especially important product stylists say to never use heat without. "The number one tip I recommend to everyone across the board is to always use a heat protectant," says celebrity hairstylist Kee Taylor. "Remember that heat styling will cause moisture loss, so make sure your heat protectant is super moisturizing to combat the drying effects of the heat. Some of my favorites are the Satin Shield Serum ($40), which is great for smoothing the cuticles, and the CHI Infra Therma Protective Treatment ($17) because it's great for all hair types." 

Not only is it important to use a heat protectant, but it's also key that you choose the right flat iron for your hair type. For more on that, plus the best ones to try, keep reading below.

How to Choose the Best Flat Iron

Those with finer hair shouldn't use a ton of heat, as that could cause major damage, while those with thicker hair might need to crank up the temperature a bit to get their desired smoothness. "The most important things to keep in mind [when selecting a flat iron] are the temperature, plate material, plate shape and size, and the technology," Taylor shares. She even has a hot tip for those with curls: "[Those with curls] should look for a flat iron that reaches no more than 450°F. Otherwise, you're going to really damage your strands and curl pattern." With a little help from Taylor and a few other trusted celebrity hairstylists, I've rounded up the best flat irons for each hair type. Keep scrolling for all their picks. 

Best for Curly Hair

Best flat irons for curly hair



Pros: Features T3 Rapid HeatIQ technology, PrecisionEdge design smooths out strands easily, adds volume to your roots.

Cons: Expensive.

"This is my newest obsession. It's a ceramic heated brush that is a game changer for curly and coily hair types. It's similar to a flat iron but completely innovative because this flat heated brush has nylon bristles that line the side of the brush, and right behind the bristles, there's a heated edge (boom), so now when we straighten our hair, we can get right at the buckles around the hairline and roots and stretch them out for the smoothest, shiniest hairstyle. It lays the roots flat and straight but can also add volume to your hairstyle and allows you the easiest blowout touch-ups and soft waves ever." Bridget Brager, Celebrity Hairstylist

Customer Review: "This tool has been a game changer for me. I have extremely thick hair, takes forever to blow dry, and straight irons seem to not give me the result I want. I love this brush because it keeps my natural wavy texture—very bombshell—while smoothing and looking styled. Unlike a straightener, which gives a polished look but ends up not enhancing my natural wavy hair, this helps me with a bouncy style and is quick and easy. Because my hair is thick, the heat is actually really appreciated. I find most tools don’t work or would take way too long to accomplish anything. I also have very long hair. This is convenient to travel with or throw in an overnight or gym bag, run it through to refresh styles, or use on naturally dried hair to finish."

Pros: Wider plates are great for thick hair, HeatIQ technology delivers advanced heat precision, nine heat settings to straighten or style long, thick, or coarse hair in one pass.

Cons: Expensive.

"The T3 Single Pass X is perfect for thick, curly hair. The design uses a combination of tourmaline and ceramic plates that are a bit wider than what you find on most flat irons. So your straightening work is accomplished in a gentle way but more quickly and with less effort." Jeremy Tardo, Celebrity Hairstylist

Customer Review: "Leaves my hair full of body! The style doesn't revert either, even in high humidity that I live in Louisiana. I have fine curly hair. African/European/Indian I'm considered Creole. A little moisture would cause any style to without hairspray to end lol! But not with this!"

Pros: Designed to curl and straighten, aircraft-grade titanium floating plates ensure efficient heat transfer, instantly smooths, conditions, and adds shine in one pass.

Cons: Expensive.

"The floating plates [on this iron] ensure you're evenly heating the hair without crushing strands." Kee Taylor, Celebrity Hairstylist 

Customer Review: "I recently received my flat iron and it’s by far the best I’ve ever used! Normally I have to go over more than once, however this flat iron, [in] one stroke, does the job WELL. Worth every penny."

Pros: Budget-friendly, ceramic-coated plates help reduce heat damage, larger plates are great for thick hair.

Cons: Only heats up to 400ºF.

I used to use this flat iron religiously when I heat-styled every week. (It was a dark time.) It's honestly one of the best budget options I've ever usedit really gets the job done. It has wider plates, so it's great if you have thick, curly hair, and ceramic coating to provide even heat distribution and less damage to your locks.

Customer Review: "A lot of straighteners of this size pull your hair out, but this one pulls through hair smooth and efficiently, getting the job done fast!"

Best for Wavy Hair

Pros: Dual heater controller gives it a "two passes in one" feature for less damage and easier styling, rounded edge design provides extra grip and control.

Cons: Expensive.

This Hot Tools Pro straightener allows you to cut down on the number of passes needed to achieve a sleek, straight look. It also has a dual heater controller that allows individual customization between the left and right plates for a smoother style and less damage.

Customer Review: "It works great and flat ironed my thick hair in one pass."

Pros: Designed to be used as a curler and straightener, temperature can reach up to 465ºF, making it great for thick hair.

Cons: Expensive.

Taylor loves this flat iron for all hair types, but it works especially great for wavy hair because it delivers one of the smoothest finishes if you're going for a straight style or can make even a curly look ultra-smooth. It also adds a ton of extra shine to the hair.

Customer Review: "This will give you a SILK PRESS finish in no time!! I love it! It's heavy but performs effortlessly without hand aches from squeezing. I barely have to do anything. IT HAS A LOCK SWITCH! I have long, thick, curly, strong, coarse biracial hair (Like the movie Brave) and this iron straightens it in one pass...Ladies...I never leave reviews, but this thing has seriously changed me. I would dread washing my hair knowing that I had to flat iron afterward. This makes me happy to do my hair and cuts the time by half. Best money I've spent at Ulta."

Pros: Budget-friendly, compact size is great for traveling, great for edges and quick fixes.

Cons: Tends to be really hot to the touch.

Mini flat irons are perfect for on-the-go styling and traveling. If you just need a quick touch-up or want to create some fast beach waves, this is the tool to do it.

Customer Review: "Very compact for travel. Wish the heated portion of the barrel was maybe an inch longer but overall exactly as described. I use it every day."

Pros: Two-in-one straightening and curling iron, ceramic-coated heating plates are infused with argan oil to condition the hair, avoids pulling or damaging hair.

Cons: Lock button can be faulty.

Nition's five-in-one tourmaline ceramic flat iron is infused with argan oil to lock in extra moisture and smooth baby hairs or frizz. It's also great for those with long, thick locks because it has a longer heating plate so you can style more hair at once.

Customer Review: "I am very happy with this straightener. It feels like an extension of my hand, is light and smooth, plates warm quickly, and holds temperature during the entire styling process. The plates glide smoothly, are longer, and press evenly along each hair section. I can easily straighten or curl my medium-length hair and when I’m done just lock the plates and securely store it in the pouch."

Best for Straight Hair

Pros: Features predictive technology that helps keep hair free of damage, strong, and healthy, works great as a curler.

Cons: Expensive, only has one heat setting.

"This flat iron is great for straighter textures because it can be used to smooth the hair but is also really easy to use as a curler to add waves or curls to the hair. The smart iron's technology keeps the temperature at an ideal 365ºF, which is helpful for finer hair textures that don't require as much heat. It creates less damage during use." — Tardo

Customer Review: "I was hesitant because I have thick, medium-to-coarse hair and didn't think the 'automatic' heat would work on my hair, but it does. I would have bought one years ago if I had known it could handle my hair without 450-degree settings."

Pros: HeatBalance micro-sensors help regulate temperature and heat distribution for less damage, tourmaline ceramic plates give hair a sleek and shiny appearance.

Cons: No temperature display.

As far as more affordable options go, HSI's Ceramic Tourmaline Flat Iron is one of the best for straight hair that's either thick or thin. It has ceramic plates that use HeatBalance micro-sensors to regulate the temperature and evenly distribute heat, therefore requiring fewer passes on the hair. The heat settings go as low as 140°F and as high as 450°F, so it can work for many different types of strands.

Customer Review: "I bought this straightener in 2016 when my CHI straightener broke. I was planning on using this one until I saved up enough money for a new CHI but ended up LOVING this straightener. I use it every day, and it's still going strong with 0 issues. I can't believe it."

Pros: Features Rapid HeatIQ technology to deliver advanced heat precision, nine temperature settings, designed to smooth and straighten hair in one pass.

Cons: Expensive.

"One of my go-to flat irons is definitely the Lucea 1-Inch. It has Ceragloss ceramic plates for even heat and nine heat settings to choose from to keep your hair healthy even when styling. Plus, the Lucea has curved corners, which makes it super easy to not only straighten the hair but also to add waves and curls." — Brager

Customer Review: "Before purchasing the T3 Lucea flat iron, I was using the Paul Mitchell flat iron, which I absolutely loved… until I tried the T3 Lucea. This flat iron is amazing. I am so glad I purchased it. It does everything that it says it does and more."

Pros: Can heat up to 455℉, ceramic-titanium plates help reduce damage, travel-ready with dual voltage.

Cons: Smaller plate size may not be ideal for thick hair.

Hot Tools' versatile styler creates salon-level looks in minutes. It's great for straighter hair types that would like to create loose waves or tighter curls on a time crunch, as it rotates easily, heats up quickly, and has rounded edges for smoother results. 

Customer Review: "I recently lost a different high-end flat iron and found myself searching for a replacement on Prime Day shopping. I have been extremely happy with this flat iron. It's a great quality product and it gets really hot so watch your temperature. Lol. Works as advertised definitely and I would buy again if I list this one."

Best for Coily Hair

Best flat irons for coily hair



Pros: Can heat up to 450ºF, has beveled edges to help tame frizz and flyaways, great for thick, curly hair.

Cons: Can be really hot to the touch.

"I love this flat iron that's created by the iconic Kim Kimble. It has beveled edges, which enable you to tame frizz and flyaways close to the roots without crease lines. The heating element stays consistent and can go up to 450ºF if your coily hair needs it. I also love that the two-inch ceramic plates allow for easy, user-friendly smoothing." — Tardo

Customer Review: "Never heard about this brand until now and I was pretty impressed with this flat iron. I used the leave-in conditioner, same brand, and it left my hair really nice and soft. I was really impressed. This flat iron was effortless. Did a great job. I have thick hair and it worked great."

Pros: Infrared technology provides gentle heat on the hair for less damage, tourmaline and ceramic plates seal the hair cuticle and tame frizz.

Cons: Expensive, pulls the hair a bit.

"This is one of my favorite flat irons because the technology used in it is gentle on the hair and leaves it looking very healthy." — Taylor

Customer Review: "Flat iron works very well on my hair, especially happy with dual voltage features."

Pros: Longer plates for better contact and faster styling, heats up to 450°F, ceramic and titanium technology protects against heat damage.

Cons: Can be hot to the touch.

This titanium flat iron has extra-long floating plates for better contact and faster styling, making it a great option for tighter coils. The ceramic and titanium technology also protects against heat damage and helps control frizz.

Customer Review: "It was time to get a new straightener. After a while, they tend to start pulling hair. This one glides through like butter, as expected! Heats up really quick and the buttons are on the side so you don't turn it off as you're using it. I would purchase again."

Pros: Heats up in under one minute, heats up to 450°F, designed to straighten in one pass.

Cons: Expensive.

Designed to help preserve moisture levels, boost shine, and smooth frizz, this iron is great for coils. It's also designed to be a one-pass straightener. Now, I'll admit doing only one pass doesn't always work for those with curls, but it will at least cut down on the number of passes you'll need to style.

Customer Review: "I got this as a Christmas gift for my mom, she loved it! Warms up pretty quick and it's super smooth. Love L'ange products, 100% recommend."

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.