The Wall Street Journal April 11, 2024

The Wall Street Journal


The 8 Best Hair Straighteners, According to Professional Stylists


Haircare experts say these flat irons ensure the smoothest strands

Whether you straighten your hair daily or stray from your natural curls only occasionally, the best flat irons are as notable for what they don’t do (burn, parch, snag, dull or dent hair) as they are for what they do. A great styler should leave you with such a sleek shine that your mane becomes a de facto mirror for onlookers, according to stylist and grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness, of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.” 

According to top stylists, here are the models you should consider adding to your arsenal of hair tools to maximize smoothness while minimizing damage.

Versatile choice

Platinum+ Styler - 1" Flat Iron

“I like the versatility of being able to use this as a straightener or for waves,” says Austin, Texas-based Van Ness, who also created their own haircare brand, JVN Hair. The tool also has a no-brainer element: There’s only one heat setting. At 365 degrees Fahrenheit, the plates are both hot enough to get the job done, but not so hot that they’ll scorch your hair, according to the brand. For the straightest, glossiest results, Van Ness recommends using a continuous, downward gliding motion—not just with the flat iron itself but also with a heat-resistant comb. 

Battery-powered convenience

Corrale™ Hair Straightener / Styler

This cordless hair straightener can run on battery power for 30 minutes—a trait that comes in particularly handy when Van Ness is on set. “It’s nice to touch hair up without a cord in the way,” he explains). The Corrale is also prized among pros for its flexing plates made from micro-hinged manganese copper engineered to apply heat evenly to each strand, so you can avoid multiple passes, according to Dyson. And while the main point of the flexing plates is to reduce heat damage, a helpful bonus is that they don’t leave dents at the ends of your hair.

Extra endurance

Cordless Styling Iron and Charging Base Bundle

For anyone whose straightening regime is a serious time commitment, this celebrity stylist go-to provides up to 45 minutes of untethered power, even on the highest of the three settings (425 degrees Fahrenheit). “I love this cordless flatiron and use nothing else,” says stylist and Burgeon haircare brand founder Laini Reeves, who works with Emily Blunt and Michelle Rodriguez, among others. “It heats up fast and is hot enough to do its job, but doesn’t damage the hair.” If your straightening sessions go long, you can buy a separate backup battery to pop into the tool’s dual-chamber charging base.

Most customizable temperature

Lava 2.0 Hairstyling Iron

The same head of hair can have different needs at different times, especially if you’re someone who likes to experiment with color, extensions or texture-altering processes. At its most chemically enhanced, your hair may do best on the lowest straightening iron setting. But once there’s enough natural regrowth (and perhaps enough cute bob imagery flooding the internet, again, that you can’t resist a big chop), you may want to start turning up the heat. Wherever you are on your hair journey, one of this styler’s 31 temperature settings—which range from 180 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit—will likely suit the occasion. (Compare that with the three to five settings most straighteners have.) “I like to keep this iron on a shoot since I never know who might be in my chair that day—main talent, extras, guest stars, etc.,” says the Los Angeles-based stylist Devontaé Washington, who has worked with Ciara, Kim Kardashian and Victoria Monét. “This variety allows me to adjust the heat to fit their hair type, level of damage (chemically treated, bleached, colored) and density.”

Thick hair pick

Lucea Professional Flat Iron, 1.5-inch

For Brooklyn-based stylist and TSD Hair founder Takisha Sturdivant-Drew—who has created stunningly sleek (and for that matter, stunningly textured) looks for Kerry Washington, Ariana DeBose and Jasmin Savoy—the T3 Lucea 1.5-inch Flat Iron is a go-to. “It straightens thick, long or coarse hair in one pass,” she says, adding that the key is to work in small sections and go all the way from the roots to the ends. Spending a few extra minutes in the short term may ultimately save you time in the long term: While every head of hair is different, Sturdivant-Drew finds that the results of properly flat-ironed hair can easily last a week.

Short hair pro

Nano Titanium Prima Styling Iron

When you’re working with short hair or need something slim for maximum maneuverability, this 1-inch model from Babyliss is the way to go, says stylist Raven Hurtado of Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “It’s my favorite for smoothing out baby hairs around the hairline—and I can also get close to the roots,” she explains. It has five LED heat settings, maxing out at 465 degrees, and its plates also generate negative ions to decrease frizz and static.  

Quick styler 

Chronos Flat Iron

For the perpetually rushed, the latest flatiron from GHD promises an accelerated styling session—up to three times faster than you may be used to—thanks largely to new motion sensor technology that “continuously adapts to your styling movements, adjusting power for precise heat monitoring at the optimum temperature,” according to the brand. Many stylists are fans of the Chronos’ sped-up sessions, and not only because of the timesaving factor. Clyde Haygood, who has worked with Katy Perry, Erika Jayne and members of the Kardashian clan, loves the tool’s “softer, rounder edge that lets you do multiple styles,” citing the curls, waves and body he can create while smoothing out frizz and flyaways. Melissa DeZarate, a grooming pro whose clients have included Kumail Nanjiani, Kenan Thompson and Jeremy Allen White, adds that the smoothing plates don’t leave any trace—“not the tiniest crinkle.” The plates offer blending “so seamless,” she finds, that this has become the iron she uses not just for work, but also on herself.

Vented option

The Sunny Styler

Clearly, when stylists go into hot tool design, it’s with their own needs—and those of other pros—in mind. So when Trademark Beauty, co-founded by celebrity stylist Joseph Maine, introduced this innovative addition to the category, the love from fellow stylists was almost instant. “I like the versatility of this iron,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of the celebrated eponymous salon in New York City. “It allows for sleek styles, [and] can easily create body and waves.” Stephanie Angelone, master stylist at New York’s RPZL Hair Extension & Blowout Bar, adds, “the most standout feature is the vents alongside the plates and the back of the iron that cool your hair during styling to reduce damage, increase shine and lock in the style.”