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The amazing thing about modern flat irons is not how high you can crank the temp, but rather the type of heat and how much control you have over the heat settings. While our parents’ generation was forced to experiment with actual clothing irons, modern heat-styling technology has vastly improved. Now, we have far more control over our styling tools and the results they produce. Flat irons, in particular, are now one of the most versatile tools in your arsenal: If they have floating plates and rounded edges, they can also be used to curl or wave hair! This amount of control leads to further questions, such as how much heat is too much? With some straighteners reaching temperatures as high as 450℉, precision temperature controls have become all the more crucial. Read on for the answer to that question and more, as we are going to look at the factors that determine the ideal temperature that each individual should use when straightening their hair.
To help you better understand hair types, below is a helpful chart for identifying your hair type:
The first step to any hair care journey is understanding your roots (literally). Knowing your natural hair type is only half the battle. If your hair is processed in any way, that also affects what level of heat you should be using. This means that a natural 2B and a bleached 2B would not necessarily use the same heat setting. Which brings us to...
Once you have determined your hair type, it’s also important to understand the condition of your hair. With virgin hair, you have less to worry about when it comes to heat damage or breakage. Color treated hair, particularly bleached hair, is going to be more fragile than untreated hair when heat styling.
All of this is to say that hair that has been chemically treated in any way is more prone to heat damage and breakage. However, even if you have completely natural hair, you should take into consideration the moisture level, or lack thereof, of your hair. Those with dry, dehydrated hair and split ends will need to be more cautious when heat styling.
This means that untreated, healthy hair can technically withstand more heat than its color or chemically treated counterparts. Regardless, you should approach heat settings with caution, styling on the lowest setting that will still give you the results you want.
If you haven’t already read this post on the types of materials used for hot tool plates and barrels, we suggest that as the ultimate starting point. Even if straighteners have similar heat settings, different plate materials will produce different results. Choosing the plate material that works best for your hair and your skill is a great place to start. To sum up that post: ceramic is a great option because it is gentle yet effective for most hair types; and tourmaline ceramic is our go-to because it has the perks of traditional ceramic, with the addition of tourmaline’s frizz-reducing properties; whereas titanium provides an intense heat, making it best for professionals and hard-to-manage hair types. Most importantly, regardless of the material, always look for pure, not coated plates.
There are so many colloquialisms, including “buyer beware”, that aim to warn consumers about purchases that seem too good to be true. Having a budget is important, but flat irons should be considered an investment. It’s an investment not so much in the monetary sense, but in the sense that if you purchase a quality tool, you will be protecting your precious hair from damage.
Gone are the days when a single on/off switch was the standard for flat irons. If you are considering buying a straightener with no temperature settings, or even just ‘low’, ‘medium’, and ‘high’ settings, RUN! Nowadays, quality straighteners should have precision digital temperature displays, making it easier to maintain a safe amount of heat. Having the ability to limit and control how much heat to use when styling is super important, especially when straighteners can reach temperatures up to 450℉! The ability to control the heat when flat ironing your hair is vital to your hair’s health. Here’s an industry secret: lower quality tools require higher temperatures to get results, while a high quality iron can give you the same results at lower temperatures.
In addition to the temperature, you need to pay attention to the type of heat you’re using. Believe it or not there is a difference - flat irons can either use conventional heat or infrared heat. Conventional heat heats the hair from the outside and slowly penetrates to the core, the prolonged heat exposure leads to dry, damaged and dull hair. Unlike conventional heat, infrared heat uses your hair’s natural oils, heating the hair from the inside out, maintaining the natural moisture and shine and giving you faster, longer lasting, healthy results.
The above four factors, and overall quality of your straightener, make up the formula for figuring out the best heat setting to use. It is important for consumers to have this knowledge, so that when they use flat irons, they can do so responsibly, with their hair’s health in mind.
So, let’s combine these factors and determine the best heat setting for your hair.
If you have fine or chemically treated hair (this includes highlights), a Tourmaline Ceramic iron is recommended for your hair. Bleached, dyed, or processed hair could use the added smoothing and moisture-locking benefits of the negative ions produced by Tourmaline Ceramic plates. If you regularly color or process your hair, the less trauma you can put your hair through, the better. Make sure the plates are pure and not coated (again see this post for an in-depth explanation). Lastly, when turning your attention to the heat dial, try to keep the temperature as low as you can, so give the 300-350℉ range a try. This should give you the results you want, without exposing your hair to unnecessarily high heat.
Those with average density hair from straight to bouncy curls can use any plate material.Well-maintained, silky hair in this category can opt for a titanium iron for occasional use: It heats up quickly and will give you fabulous results. However, if you flat iron your hair every day, you’ll want to use a ceramic or Tourmaline Ceramic iron as these materials are more gentle on the hair.. Since your hair isn’t fine or chemically treated, you could get away with using a higher temperature. That said, you don’t need to crank the heat, as you can achieve desired results at a lower setting. People with hair in this category may set their heat dial to 325-400℉. This range of heat should allow you to straighten your locks with fewer passes, meaning less heat exposure.
For those with ringlets or tight coils the type of tool you buy may vary. If you have fine curly hair, you want to stick with the heat-styling suggestions for the ‘fine or chemically treated hair’ section above. Ceramic or Tourmaline Ceramic irons will be the best option, as either provides even heating and helpful smoothing. Because you have more work to do than someone with mostly straight hair, it’s safe to put the dial above 300℉, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
For those with thick and I mean THICC hair, Titanium is going to give you quick, intense heat. This is great for long-haul jobs and hair that’s not as responsive to Ceramic and Tourmaline Ceramic. Both Ceramic and Tourmaline Ceramic are more gentle on your hair and have great anti-frizz and smoothing capabilities. Either way, you have quite the undertaking ahead of you. For this reason, you can set your iron within the 350-410℉ range (but if your hair responds well to a lower setting, take advantage of that). You will know which temperature setting works best when you can achieve results in one or two passes maximum.
Curly-haired people should be especially cautious, as continuous straightening at high temperatures can cause your curls to deconstruct. It will take months to get your curls back to their original state.
As always, the answer is it depends - your natural hair texture, current state of your hair, and the quality of your tools all play a factor in the results you get. We recommend investing in high quality, NuMe flat irons to ensure you get the results you want without compromising the integrity of your hair. Test out different temperature settings until you find your ideal temperature. Start low and only gradually increase to a higher temperature until you get your desired results. If you are refreshing second day hair, use the lowest heat setting.
You may be looking at this guide and wondering why your flat irons even goes to 450℉, and even up to 500℉ as of recently, if it’s not recommended. The need for high heat came from professional treatments, such as Brazilian Blowouts, Japanese Straightening, and Keratin treatments, all requiring high heat in the application process. This once professional-grade, high heat feature then made its way to consumer products. Unfortunately, a lot of products on the market offer high heat to get results but do not have the technology to back it up - this constant exposure to high conventional heat leads to long term damage and overall dry, lackluster hair, while only giving you temporary results.
The beauty industry has come a long way since our parents’ and grandparents’ days. While the innovations can often seem overwhelming, you only need to consider four things to determine the perfect temperature setting for your heat-styling tools: Your hair type, hair condition, the plate materials, and the quality of the tool itself. Put these four factors together and you have a winning formula for gorgeous, healthy hair.
All NuMe styling tools are designed with your hair’s health in mind. Our proprietary technologies and pure plates come standard in all tools. NuMe's proprietary Far Infrared Heat & Negative Ion Conditioning Technologies work with your hair's natural oils and minerals to seal in moisture, reduce frizz, and increase shine. Far Infrared Heat gently heats hair from within, reducing dryness and long-term damage while simultaneously creating long-lasting styles. Negative Ion Conditioning Technology works with the Far Infrared Heat to condition the hair and seal the cuticle, reducing the appearance of split ends and frizz, while increasing hair's natural shine.