Whether you’re looking for the sleekest locks or the smoothest waves, there are plenty of straighteners on the market. From Cloud Nine’s award-winning iron to Dafni’s hair straightening brush, the competition has never been fiercer in the battle to tame the frizz and banish the flyaways.
Which devices are right for which hair types?
In general, altering the natural state of the hair (i.e straightening it) will ultimately cause permanent damage to the hair follicle if used on a regular basis over a long period of time. The permanent damage caused when using hair straighteners can be limited by reducing the amount of time spent on each section of hair (ideally heat will touch each section just once), cutting down on the frequency of use, and using a heat protection spray before styling.
We love Living Proof’s Restore Perfecting Spray, which is suitable for all hair types and can administer UV and heat protection of up to 400°C. In addition to this, a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for heat-damaged hair should be used, in order to add moister to the hair cuticle and control frizz and static.
When it comes to straighteners, slimmer plates cater best to shorter styles, and longer, wider plates cater to both thick and long hair – we’ve tested a range of products on a variety of hair types in order to work out which ones are best suited to certain tresses.
As a rule of thumb, finer hair can be ironed at a temperature of around 150°C, normal hair at around 180°C and thick, course hair (that has not been damaged) can take temperatures of up to 200°C. It goes without saying, however, that lower temperatures should be used to start styling, in order to ascertain the temperate required to achieve the desired results.
In addition to straightening hair, styling tongs are also a perfect way to curl hair. We tested all products on their ability to create sleek, straight styles as well as loose waves and tighter curls. Sleeker, straight styles were locked in with serum too (we used Aveda’s Smooth Infusion Glossing Straightener).
How we test
We tested straighteners under varying conditions, from the hurried morning rush to a longer getting-ready routine. With most offering great “all-round” options for all types of hair, we marked their ability to deliver sleek, wavy and curled styles.
What’s more, we honed in on usability for each design, making specific note of cable length, time to heat and versatility when tackling more challenging styles, including pixie cuts and fringes.
Best budget straighteners
Best for: Precision styling on the go
Key specs – Size: 14(H) x 4(W) x 11(D) cm; Weight: 0.5kg; Cable length: 1.8m; Heat settings: 1; Colour options: 3; Extras: None
Coming in at the cheapest price point of all the straighteners tested, we found that Toni & Guy’s budget-friendly Style Fix straightener was great value for money and acted as a good styling device when on the go.
With a shorter cable length and a smaller ceramic plate size than most others tested, the irons will easily fit into your handbag and were easy to heat up, use and pack away – all in under 10 minutes. Designed with tourmaline (the mineral used within many top hair straighteners to create sleek, nourished hair), the plates smoothed out most kinks when used on naturally straight hair, creating a desirable finish with added shine.
For curlier manes, the plates did tackle kinks and unwanted frizz but took a longer amount of time. Temperatures reached 210°C, making the straighteners ideal for those with fine, medium and thick hair.
While not the best for long-term use, due to the short cord length and lack of temperature options, the Toni & Guy straighteners are the ultimate purchase for those looking to refresh their style while at work or on the go.
Best for: Styling on the go
Key specs – Size: 14.5(H) x 4.6(W) x 15.24(D) cm; Weight: 0.55kg; Cable length: 2.6m; Heat settings: 1; Colour Options: 1; Extras: Heat guard, heat-proof pouch, safety stand
Consisting of a travel-sized mini iron and heat guard, this Cloud Nine device is the ideal on-the-go companion for those looking to refresh their styles with ease and minimal effort.
Having tested the “Original” straighteners from the same brand, we had high expectations for the mini irons, which didn’t disappoint. As with the Original, the irons heated to lower temperatures compared to its competitors (up to 150°C), meaning we were able to smooth kinks and frizz with minimal heat damage.
Unlike the Balmain travel iron tested (below), the Cloud Nine mini straighteners will need to be plugged into a UK power source, but its price point (less than three times its competitor) makes it an outstanding product that offers the best bang for your buck for those wanting to touch up styles while travelling from A to B.
Best for: The perfect curl
Key specs – Size: 17.4(H) x 8.7(W) x 36.4(D) cm; Weight: 0.6kg; Cable length: 3m; Heat settings: 5; Colour options: 1; Extras: Heat protection wrap
15 best curling tongs and wands
9 best hair dryers to suit different budgets
7 best hair dryers for afro hair
With its curved, polished titanium plates, the BaByliss Straight and Curl is the go-to option for those wanting to create the ultimate beachy curl from the comfort of their home.
Featuring five heat settings and a welcome 3m-long swivel cord, we found it incredibly easy (even without prior curling experience) to create loose waves in under 10 minutes. As with all straightening devices on the market, the BaByliss isn’t a great option for those looking to achieve salon-worthy results quickly before work, as the heated barrel meant a few burned fingers when using in a rush. Loose curls lasted all day (dropping in the afternoon to a wave that was just as desirable).
While the BaByliss was not one of the best straightening devices tested, we loved how achievable it was to create impressive curls, and were satisfied by the length of time the style held in place.
When it came to straightening hair, higher temperatures were required compared to other models, but the results were of a very high standard with hair appearing sleeker and stronger.
For the money, we believe the BaByliss Straight and Curl Brilliance is an incredibly versatile styling device, which sits in-between a straightening and curling product. If you have a larger household which requires a styling tong to fit all hair needs and types, this is the ideal choice.
Best mid-range straighteners
Best for: Limiting hair damage
Key specs – Size: 13.6(H) x 4.4(W) x 12.3(D) cm; Weight: 0.82kg; Cable length: 2.2m; Heat settings: 1; Colour options: 1; Extras: None
Most definitely one of the more bizarre devices we tested, the Dafni hair straightening brush has taken the US by storm and more recently made its way across to the UK to impress as the “next generation” of heat stylers.
Looking, feeling and acting like a hair brush, the straightening device features a concealed ceramic plate nestled under the rigid bristles that heat up to 365°F and leave hair looking smooth without the need for unnecessary clamping and pulling.
After washing and blow drying our hair, we put the Dafni brush to the test, pitting it against a thick mane with a slightly natural curl. While not the fastest of the stylers we tested, we found the device to be surprisingly effective.
Hair was noticeably sleeker after one round, and after a second brush over we were happy with the end result. Taking over twice the time to straighten, the brush is not optimal for those with little time to spare, but it gave us a desirable amount of bounce, shine and movement in our hair that is normally reserved for salon appointments with a professional.
We would recommend the brush for those with naturally straighter hair, as curled and frizzy manes were not tackled fully and we felt there were leftover unwanted flyaways.
Best for: Sleek styles
Key specs – Size: 25.4(H) x 7.1(W) x 11.3(D) cm; Weight: 0.46kg; Cable length: 2.7m; Heat settings: 1; Colour options: 1; Extras: Heat protection pad
Founded in 2001, GHD has become the go-to brand for straightening devices, with products sold in over 50,000 salons worldwide and a hareem of fans including Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Katy Perry.
While in recent years, other companies have started to take over in popularity, GHD still remains a classic that shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re in the market for reliability at an unbeatable price point. The Original iron is still the most popular in the range, featuring advanced ceramic plates that battled our frizzy hair quickly and efficiently with minimal effort.
We were impressed by the irons ability to tackle harder to reach areas, such as fringes and shorter styles. With its curved barrel, the plates also managed to create natural-looking, sleek waves, which lasted the majority of the day with the help of a setting spray.
A great feature that made busy mornings stress free was the heater’s “sleep mode”, meaning the device automatically turned off after 30 minutes of inactivity –perfect for those who spend a morning at work worrying they’ve burned the house down.
While the Original remains the iconic option, and therefore the most popular, heating options are limited to “on” and “off”, meaning there wasn’t the ability to tailor styling needs to cater to those with more damaged manes in need of a lighter treatment. The plates do, however, maintain an optimum styling temperature throughout use via ceramic heat technology, however this optimum heat of 185°C will be ideal for those with normal to thicker hair, as opposed to finer manes or those with damage.
£109, Ego Professional
Best for: Keeping frizz at bay
Key specs – Size: 22(H) x 6.5(W) x 10(D) cm; Weight: 0.5kg; Cable length: 2.4m; Heat settings: 1; Colour Options: 1; Extras: None
Released in 2014, the Ego Therapy iron is a “cool tool” rather than a heated straightening device. The conditioning iron is actually a non-heated appliance and is, incredibly, stone-cold throughout the duration of use.
Aiming to deliver hydration and protein to the hair follicles, we were initially sceptical but quickly found ourselves impressed by the infrared technology that left our locks feeling nourished and conditioned.
The Therapy Iron, with its magnetic ultrasonic plates, pulsates at 36,000 times a second to penetrate the hair shaft and enable the production of amino acids and essential proteins. After washing and rinsing hair, we worked the plates across our (wet) mane before blow drying to see the finished results.
Our locks were visibly smoother and sleeker, similar to the look achieved by a deep-conditioning treatment at a high-end salon. For those after sleeker styles without the aid of heat, the Ego Therapy Iron delivers nourishment on tap and is great value for money. While less of a straightener and more of a pre-styling tool, the device acts to smooth out hair and our locks were visibly straighter after drying off.
By delivering hydration and protein to the cuticle, it will rectify the years of damage caused by intensive heat damage and offers a fantastic alternative to styling tools that rely on high temperatures to achieve sleek styles.
£130 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Speedy styles
Key specs – Size: 16.7(H) x 3.1(W) x 8.2(D) cm; Weight: 0.41kg; Cable length: 2.8m; Heat settings: Variable; Colour Options: 1; Extras: 2 sectioning clips
One of the more aesthetically pleasing devices we tested, the T3 SinglePass X does exactly what it says on the tin, straightening hair faster and more effectively than any other on this list.
After initially gawking at the straightening iron’s beauty, we set it to work on the hair type that it excels on: long, thick hair. Tackling large amounts of locks in a single glide, it managed to create a smooth and shiny finish in just over five minutes, due mainly to the fact that we did not have to revisit any sections twice.
Consisting of tourmaline-infused ceramic, we found the device lightweight and easy to use.
Included in the offering were two sectioning clips, which enabled all sections of the hair to be reached without hindrance. These straighteners are not the best for shorter styles, due in part to the width of the plates, but the it’s the ultimate gadget for those with longer styles who have a limited amount of time to work through their beauty routine.
Best for: Versatility without the damage
Key specs – Size: 14.5(H) x 7.5(W) x 11.4(D) cm; Weight: 0.43kg; Cable length: 2.6m; Heat settings: 7; Colour Options: 1; Extras: Heat guard, dual adaptor, carry pouch
Having won countless beauty awards since its release, it’s clear to see why Cloud Nine’s Original iron has become a favourite among industry experts for its versatility, usability and ergonomic design.
And with many straightening irons having limited heat settings (with many offering a mere “on” and “off”), we were thoroughly impressed by the seven temperature options on offer here, ranging from under 100 degrees celsius to over 200 degrees.
Testing the lower temperatures on more damaged hair created remarkable results: hair was noticeably sleeker with added shine and bounce. Higher temperatures tackled frizz with ease, and created impressive curls that held their form throughout the day.
The irons were surprisingly easy to use too, with temperatures switched at the click of a button and reaching their desired temperature in lightning-fast time. Among all the straighteners tested, we found these to create the most shine even at lower temperatures, which is great for those in search of a way to style without creating further damage to hair.
Best high-end straighteners
£199.95, Look Fantastic
Best for: A fashion fix
Key specs – Size: 20.5(H) x 6.1(W) x 11(D) cm; Weight: 0.41kg; Cable length: Cordless; Heat settings: 3; Colour Options: 1; Extras: None
If, like us, you were unaware of Balmain’s haircare line, the cordless titanium straightening device will come as quite a surprise. Designed specifically for “travelling and backstage work”, the Parisian-born brand’s foray into the world of beauty has created a device that we were in many ways impressed with.
Offering temperatures of up to 200°C, the travel-sized straightener emitted a reasonable amount of power from a device that did not need to be plugged in to an electrical source.
With a charging time of around four hours, the titanium straighteners worked perfectly for shorter styles, with the thin plates working from root to tip with ease. The three heat settings were on the hotter side, so this product wouldn’t be suited to those looking to limit damage.
That said, for a travel-sized product that fits comfortably in your handbag, we were pleasantly surprised by the effects created. Priced towards the top-end of the market, the Balmain straightener is a luxury offering and therefore perhaps suited best to those travelling on a frequent basis and need a reliable styling device on the go.
Best for: The ultimate treat
Key specs – Size: 16.6(H) x 38.4(W) x 18.6(D) cm; Weight: 0.413kg; Cable length: 2.6m; Heat settings: 3; Colour options: 1; Extras: 7 added barrels, brushes and dryers
The hardest of all products tested to get our hands on, the Dyson Airwrap styler has become a cult classic since its release in October last year. Less of a straightening device and more of an all-round styling tool, the Airwrap has broken boundaries with its ability to smooth, create waves and hold curls without the use of extreme temperatures. Instead, the revolutionary hair styler combines incredibly powerful airflow with controlled heat – drying hair much faster than any other styler on the market and allowing precise, targeted styling that left our hair feeling luxuriously soft and voluminous.
While initially hesitant due to the products dizzying price tag, we were impressed by the gadget’s ability to curl our damp hair into nice, bouncy ringlets that managed to stay put all day without the use of setting spray.
On the whole, the styler gave us the best tousled look and we loved the idea of minimising damage to hair after years of abuse. Styling hair from damp initially felt alien but we found end results were similar to those when using other styling devices at incredibly high temperatures.
When using the Airwrap to straighten hair, we found results were optimal after just one round. Similar to the Dafni Hair Straightening Brush, the Airwrap was combed through our tresses to smooth out the cuticle and create a style that looked natural, as opposed to being poker-straight.
While the eye-watering price tag means the Airwrap will only be available to those willing to splurge, it’s still a fantastic choice for if you’re looking to cut down on regular high heat use.