How to Choose a Flat Iron for Different Types of Hair

by HSI Professional | Dec 26 2016

Everyone wants sleek shiny hair – the kind that comes with a salon visit, but how do you keep the look going on a daily basis? Obviously, you cannot visit the salon every day, but what you can do is to invest in a salon-quality flat iron and arm yourself with as much knowledge of how your stylist does what she does with her magic salon appliances.

Hair Types

First, you must identify your unique hair type and match your hair products accordingly. You may be surprised to learn there are more hair types than you might know. So, what are the most common names for hair types? If I ask you what category your hair falls into, you would probably say curly, straight, wavy or a few others, but let’s expand this categorization to narrow this question further before we choose what type of flat iron and styling products you need to make your hair salon fab. Along with the description of the aforementioned hair types, hair type can be broken down further. For example, you might have curly hair, but is it fine, frizzy or thick?

Sub-Hair Categories

HSI Flat Iron

There are four hair types. Type one is naturally straight hair with no curves and can be somewhat oily due to said lack of curves to prevent the oil from reaching the hair’s ends, but this also adds shine so stripping oil out should be done in moderation. Each hair type is further broken down into three different kinds.

For example, type one is subcategorized into type 1a – perfectly straight, will not hold curl, 1b – mixed hair types of straight and slightly bent, and 1c - beachy hair with natural waves. The typing continues with type two – naturally wavy – with 2a, 2b, and 2c. Type three is made up of S-shaped strands, which form ringlets and likewise has 3a, 3b, and 3c. Mixed race hair usually falls into this category. Type four consists of tightly coiled tresses and does not form ringlets.

African American hair is generally type four. And again, is divided into 4a, 4b, and 4c. It is definitely worth your time to pin down your particular type so you can match your products and appliances to your specific hair type for the best results. This info is easily found through Google or another search engine.

Appliance Types

Flat irons for hair are obviously used to “iron” or straighten the hair shaft. In the “old days” women wore their hair long and stick straight (think Cher), but straighteners or flat irons were still in the future and girls would actually iron their hair with the clothes iron and ironing board. When choosing a flat iron, consider the following: plate size, temperature, and plate material.

Flat Iron for Different Types of HairHeat styling and chemical treatments can be very damaging to your hair; therefore, it is extremely important to educate yourself on what type of appliance is the best for your hair type. The most common plate size for the flat iron is one inch. Larger plates will work more quickly than smaller ones and are ideal for longer and coarser hair types. It gets the job done quickly which helps protect the hair from too much heat. However, the smaller plate is good for very short hair or if you plan on using your iron to curl your hair. As you know, heat can be very damaging to your hair, so an iron should have a wide range of temperatures and you should begin with the lowest setting and work your way up to find the perfect temp for your hair. Thin fine hair needs a lower setting to avoid damage, while thick hair does better with a higher temp allowing the best result with fewer passes. Flat irons come in a variety of different materials to choose from, each with its own merits.

Ceramic plates heat up swiftly and uniformly without any hot (or cold) spots but beware of irons that are “ceramic coated,” because the coating will wear off in time. Tourmaline is a term you may have heard in relation to flat irons, but what is it? Tourmaline is a mineral that is used to coat the plates and it releases negative ions, which gives the hair an overall smooth appearance. It also helps with frizz as well. Titanium plates heat faster than the other types and yield the best results.

It requires a larger investment in the beginning, but it will be worth the extra cost and last much longer for a better value in the end. Now that you are properly prepared and armed with your newly acquired hair info, it’s time to get out there and get the right iron for your hair type.


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