As hair tool technology continues to improve, we've come to expect a lot from our flat irons: They should straighten hair in a single pass, leave it lustrous and smooth, and even have the ability to create beachy waves. No matter what your styling goals are, the best hair straighteners and flat irons will provide even heat distribution to better maintain your hair's health, and almost always, will come with customizable temperature settings. "It's super important to use a tool that doesn't overheat or fluctuate temperatures because you're applying heat directly to your hair," says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, who spoke to Bustle for this article. Professional hairstylists also recommend floating plates that don't cause the hair to snag as you straighten, while the type of plate (e.g. ceramic versus titanium) is largely based on personal preference. When deciding between a ceramic or titanium flat iron, consider your hair's texture and current state. Ceramic straighteners heat hair from the inside out and are therefore typically less harsh, while titanium plates heat from the outside, and tend to reach higher temperatures, which can be more damaging.
But just as important as your tool of choice is how you use it — and perhaps even more importantly, how you prep your hair. "Take small sections, and pass the iron through the hair in a slow motion," advises Mane Addicts stylist Irinel de León on how to get hair as sleek and straight as possible. Each of the professionals Bustle spoke with also named a heat protectant as a must-have product when using a flat iron because any form of heat styling can be damaging to your hair (yes, even your blow dryer). "Always use a heat protectant before, whether it's a leave-in conditioner with heat protection on damp hair or a spray protectant right before styling," Mane Addicts hairstylist Brittany Sullivan tells Bustle. "It will truly keep your hair healthier, longer," says Fitzsimons, who loves the TIGI Copyright Heat Protection Spray. "For curlier hair types, I also recommend using a leave-in conditioner to boost moisture from the start because the styling process can be extra drying," he adds.
Ahead, you'll find 10 of the best hair straighteners and flat irons, including the go-to tools used by professionals.
1. The Overall Best
Multiple hairstylists named this as one of their most-used straighteners because of its unmatched features, which include ceramic-coated floating plates, universal voltage for international use, and an automatic sleep mode that switches the straightener off once it's been inactive for 30 minutes. "I love that it heats up quickly and stays consistent with its temperature," says Fitzsimons of the GHD 1" Platinum Styler's unique ultra-zone technology, which monitors the heat 250 times per second to ensure the whole plate is heated. Because the flat iron uses predictive technology, it’s pre-set to 365 degrees Fahrenheit to allow for safer styling, according to the brand.
2. Best Under $20
It's not a secret that hot styling tools are often an investment. But if you're working within a budget, or you don't use a flat iron often enough to justify a higher price tag, there are still options that include professional-approved features. The Conair Double Ceramic Flat Iron uses double ceramic-coated plates to ensure even heat and a shiny finish. The smooth edges of the floating plates allow you to straighten or curl your hair, and there are five temperature settings to choose from (410 degrees Fahrenheit being the highest temperature). At just $20, it’s a steal.
3. Best Under $50
At just a slightly higher price point, the HOT Tools Pro Signature flat iron features tourmaline ceramic plates that help eliminate unwanted frizz, thanks to the moisture-locking negative ions tourmaline produces when heated. This is another option with smooth edges that can be used to create curls and waves in addition to a straight finish, and it has custom heat settings reaching up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The flat iron also comes with a storage pouch and heat-resistant glove if you're prone to burning your fingers when straightening.
4. Best For Shine
When Laura Polko is styling sleek (and even wavy) hair for celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Lucy Hale, and the D'Amelio sisters, the T3 Lucea is her iron of choice. "It has the beveled edges and floating plates, so it's more of a styling tool," she tells Bustle of the T3's versatility. "The plates are curved so you can do a flat iron bend or get curls like you would with a curling iron because you can move the plates smoothly," adds Polko, who notes that she prefers to use a flat iron to create waves on short to medium-length hair only (think shoulder-length and shorter).
For straight styles, Polko credits the T3's CeraGloss ceramic plates with keeping hair smooth and adding extra shine. But to get a really glossy finish, she'll spray hair with Aquage Beyond Shine Spray before straightening. "It gives you shine without the grease that an oil can sometimes give you," she says of the smoothing spray, which also helps protect against heat damage.
5. Best Straightener Kit
If you're looking to add some pro-level styling tools to your kit, the NITION Platinum Professional Styler has everything you need. The styling tool, which can be used for both straightening and curling, is made of ceramic-coated floating plates that are infused with argan oil to seal in moisture. Instead of using a button to adjust the temperature, the tool uses a rotating feature at the bottom that raises the temperature when turned clockwise (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and lowers it when turned counterclockwise (down to 265 degrees Fahrenheit). It comes with a compact carrying pouch for travel, a heat-resistant glove to protect your hand while styling, a small comb, and two styling clips to help section your hair as you straighten (or curl).
6. Best Wide Plate Straightener
While the size of the flat iron plate doesn't have any impact on your hair's finish, it can help determine how fast you get there. If you have thicker hair, the NuMe Megastar features 1.75-inch-wide floating plates that let you straighten larger sections of hair with ease. The beveled plates give you more versatility when it comes to styling options, and it uses far-infrared technology to help protect the hair cuticle by heating hair from the inside out. It heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and has an auto-off feature for safety, as well as dual voltage for worldwide use (with an adapter, but without an electricity converter).
7. Best Mini Straightener
Sullivan calls this mini straightening iron her "secret weapon" for smoothing hard-to-reach areas. "It's amazing for tiny strands along the neck and hairline, as well as for perfecting along a center or side part," she says, adding that the BaBylissPro mini iron gets bonus points for its compact size, which makes it easy to travel with. The 6-inch-long straightener features 1-inch titanium plates that are coated with ceramic, and it can reach temperatures as high as 440 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Best For Long Hair
For longer hair lengths, Amika's The Confidante styler has 1.25-inch-wide plates that are 4 inches long so you can grab more hair as you straighten. Even if your hair is long, the floating plates ensure the straightener glides from root to tip without snagging, and you can set the temperature anywhere between 170 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your hair type. The styler also has dual voltage for international travel and shuts off after 60 minutes, so you never have to worry about remembering if you unplugged it before you left the house.
9. Best Straightener With Vibrating Plates
One of León's current favorites, the Bio Ionic 10x Styling Iron has 1-inch, sonic vibrating plates to get a polished finish, faster. "The vibrating plates help smooth the hair so you get an even pass each time," she says of the unique technology that prevents the hair from pulling. Some other highlights: The styler heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, shuts off after 60 minutes, and has a tapered, rounded tip that lets you better reach the hair at the hairline. "It also features an extra-long 9-foot cord for easy styling," León adds.
10. Honorable Mention
Almost all of the flat irons on this list allow you to customize the temperature, but the CHI G2 makes it easier to know which setting is right for you with its color-coded system. Temperatures below 370 degrees Fahrenheit (recommended for fine or fragile hair) will show up as blue on the LCD screen, temperatures between 375 and 395 degrees (recommended for wavy hair) will show up as green, and temperatures between 400 and 425 degrees (recommended for thick hair) will light up in red. Additionally, the flat iron has titanium-infused ceramic floating plates, dual voltage technology, and an auto-off function after 60 minutes. CHI hair tools are known for lasting forever, too — and at just $75 for such a high-quality straightener, it’s a pretty great value.
Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and creator of Andrew Fitzsimons x Primark Hair Collection
Irinel de León, Mane Addicts stylist and Ouidad brand ambassador
Laura Polko, celebrity hairstylist and Aquage brand ambassador
Brittany Sullivan, Mane Addicts stylist