Flat irons are amazing. They can take your hair from frizzy to fabulous within minutes.
You can wear your new silky mane all day or night without a kink in sight for hours on end.
Many women these days prefer their hair to be smoother and straighter than it naturally is, since straight and silky hair is a lot easier to manage, style, and of course looks fabulous!
Hence why flat irons are so in demand.
Styling irons are available in a wide assortment of brands, sizes, and materials that each feature specific qualities that make them slightly different.
They usually come in 3 available materials that make up their heating plates, which are the vital parts of the straightening iron since they are responsible of achieving the straight silky mane.
These materials are either ceramic, tourmaline or titanium. But, which of these three materials are best for you and your hair? And what are their differences?
Below are the defining qualities and characteristics of each plate material to help you distinguish between the three.
Negative Ions – But first let’s touch on these negative ions that we hear so much about – just what are they? See the lady in the image above how her hair on the un-straightened side looks a bit flyaway and static? These are positive ions that our hair gives off.
Flat irons emit negative ions to neutralize these resulting in sleek and smooth hair like the side she’s doing. They also help maintain hair hydration by locking in moisture. Wonderful isn’t it? The negative ions come from the plate material and type of heating the iron utilizes.
Ok on to the plates…first a quick comparison table then more detail below.
|Ceramic - 100% Pure||Tourmaline||Titanium||Ceramic-Coated|
|- Much better than ceramic coated|
- Can take longer to heat up
- Stays hot for longer
- Even heat distribution
- Smooth so less 'snagging'
- Often mixed with Tourmaline
|- A gemstone crystal crushed & usually added to ceramic|
- Produces negative ions
- Helps with maintaining hair health & hydration
- Increases smoothness
- Can straighten with less heat
- Great heat distribution
- Pricey as high quality
|- Heats up super quickly|
- Non-porous so durable
- Can be more expensive
- Emits negative ions
|- Can chip over time
- Mixtures of different materials & metals
- Heats up quickly
- Doesn't stay as hot as pure ceramic
- More likely to get hot spots
- Range of prices, usually the cheaper straighteners
Way back in the history of flat irons, the plates were usually made up of an aluminium material. They were very good conductors and registered heat efficiently.
However, they did not prove to distribute heat evenly throughout the plate, resulting in overly hot and cool spots that did not give optimum results and created potentially damaged hair. Thus, ceramic made plates were made.
Ceramic is known to spread heat evenly, and has proven to be a lot safer for hair than their old aluminium counterparts. It achieves this through the aid of ceramic heaters that emit negative ions when heated.
These ions compensate for the positive charge that comes from static in hair, enabling them to close dry and damaged follicles. This results in smoother hair shafts that give out a silkier feel, thus significantly reducing split ends and frizz.
Ceramic plates these days are usually augmented by combining them with titanium or tourmaline to give them an extra negative ion boost. This boost results in smoother, silkier and more hydrated hair.
It is worth mentioning that there are ceramic-coated options which are generally cheaper and come with a risk of the coating chipping off over time and exposing the harsh metal underneath.
Opt for pure or 100% ceramic if you can. If not, then look out for any chipping over time.
A more recent technology than that of ceramic, tourmaline plates claim to produce more negative ions than ceramic plates. This them makes them a lot safer for your hair than ceramic or metal, since the number of negative ions determines the protection there is given to the hair cuticles.
The negative ions also allow for hair to retain its natural moisture, thus reducing frizz and static significantly.
But how exactly do these negative ions function to benefit hair? They do this by scattering excess water in the hair into smaller particles, sort of like evaporating them into mist. This evenly distributes the moisture throughout the hair and reduces static electricity, making the hair a lot less frizzy and a lot shinier and tamer.
And since tourmaline plates emit more negative ions than ceramic ones, you can expect silkier hair that lasts a lot longer than what is provided by ceramic plates.
Still, tourmaline plates may sometimes be infused with ceramic heaters to further boost their straightening results. The combination is usually done by crushing the tourmaline component into ceramic plates so that it can emit the maximum number of negative ions to greatly reduce and possibly eliminate hair damage to produce smoother, straighter, flatter and silkier hair.
Titanium is a type of metal that is a whole lot more durable and so much more lightweight than steel. Similar to ceramic, it is able to distribute heat evenly.
The difference is that it is a lot more durable than ceramic. It is noted that titanium plates do not peel, chip, or scratch as opposed to ceramic plates, making them the more durable material for hair irons.
Also, it is found that titanium produces up to 60% more negative ions than ceramic plates when heated. This allows for better, faster and more consistent heat control and heat flow.
Titanium also has the smoothest surface of all, reducing problems such as snags. They are able to retain heat a lot longer so you need not bother reheating the iron over and over again while ironing your hair.
Other Fancy Terms
Ionic Straightener – usually refers to the fact that the flat iron emits heaps of those cool negative ions that control the frizz and look after the hair.
Nano – this term simply means tiny. Very small, minute.
Infrared Heat – this type of heating means your hair is being heated up from the outside in, reducing heat exposure from the styling tool. The hair is heated gently and evenly as the longer wavelengths penetrate deeper relaxing and softening the hair follicles faster.
The infrared heat produces heaps of those groovy negative ions that lock-in moisture by drawing out oil from the hair shaft to the surface, which then traps the water inside your hair.
Result of infrared heat = super hydrated, silky smooth locks! Perfect for finer, dry, frizzy or treated hair. What more could a woman want?