Choosing the best flat iron or curling wand for your hair can actually be much more difficult than it seems. Besides how many different brands and settings exist, there are also different types of materials the plates and barrels can be made of. So should you use a ceramic, tourmaline, or titanium hot tool? Turns out, one isn't always strictly better than the others. What you choose will depend more on your needs and hair-type. So to find out exactly what the differences among these various hot tools are, I emailed with a couple of experts.
Nick Stenson, Matrix SoColor Celebrity Stylist, and Jenny Johnson, Senior Stylist at Blackstones Salon, both let me in on how to determine which type of flat-iron or curling-wand material is best for your hair. According to Stenson, a hot-tool coating will be effective if it produces negative ions and infrared rays. These aspects, he explains, will help styled hair have that glossy finish without causing harm to strands. "The more negative ions produced, the better the end results on the hair," Stenson adds. But for the best results possible, make sure those ions and rays are coupled with the right coating for your hair-type. Here's everything you need to know about three main types of hot tools:
According to both Stenson and Johnson, regardless of your hair-type or how damaged it is, you can use a ceramic iron. Ceramic provides the kind of protection that regular, aluminum plates don't by allowing hair to pass between plates without breaking or snagging, explains Stenson. It also has a lower potential to burn hair, adds Johnson. However, it may not always give the smoothest possible results, or be the easiest to use for extremely coarse or curly hair.
Best for: Fine and/or damaged hair
"Tourmaline is a semi-precious, crystal silicate material that is ground to create a smooth coating that naturally produces negative ions when heated," says Stenson. Because tourmaline tends to generate exponentially more negative ions than ceramic plates, this coating is perfect for those who tend to suffer from frizz, flyaways, and static. It's also great for making coarse hair shine, says Johnson. But even though tourmaline will help keep hair straighter, longer than ceramic, because it is a gemstone, it is more prone to wear and may not last as long as ceramic or titanium tools, explains Stenson.
Best for: Dull and/or frizzy hair
Although titanium is similar to tourmaline, it heats faster and more evenly, and is also the longest-lasting because it is a metal instead of a gemstone, says Stenson. Due to its even and extra-hot settings, titanium can't be beat when it comes to styling hair that is typically hard to straighten. However, Johnson warns that these higher temperatures that titanium tools reach can be damaging to hair if used improperly. She therefore does not recommend that fine hair opt for this type of hot-tool.
Best for: Coarse and/or unruly hair
Regardless of what type of tool you end up choosing though, remember to always use a heat protectant to keep your hair healthy while you style it.