A good flat iron doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the best cheap flat irons work just as well — if not better — than their (much) pricier counterparts. With that said, the key to finding a solid straightener for under $50 is knowing what to look for and what to avoid.
The biggest make-or-break feature in a flat iron, regardless of price, is the material of its plates. Over the years, there's been plenty of advances in technology that have made certain plate materials (like ceramic, for example) cheaper and more accessible to consumers — but that doesn't mean every cheap straightener is made of these materials. To determine which plate material is best for you, look to your hair type. If you have curly or thick hair, you might prefer a titanium iron; Titanium transfers heat to the hair faster, which makes it easier to straighten coarse textures. Alternatively, if you have fine or thin hair, you should look for plates made of or coated in ceramic. Ceramic is notoriously gentle on all hair types and produces even heating that won't snag or damage your hair with hot spots.
Another feature that's important to look for when choosing a cheap flat iron, and one that will protect your hair from damage, is temperature control. A wide range of temperatures and easy-to-use controls makes a straightener more versatile and safer for you hair. Ultimately, the best cheap flat iron really depends on your hair type and your needs. If you're not sure where to start, try one of the five options below, all of which are budget-friendly and perfect for maintaining healthy hair.