Straighteners are their own category of styling tools, and flat iron is actually just a type of straightener. Flat irons, hot combs, and hot brushes all fall under the category of straighteners (AKA, heat styling tools that make your life a thousand times easier when you want a smooth mane). Now that we’ve cleared that up let’s break down the differences.
Flat irons are probably the most well-known type of straightener. The invention of the flat iron was a victory for unruly haired women across the world. We’ve come along way in terms of the hair safety of flat irons too. Now, they come with built-in, hair-healthy technology like ion boosters and far infrared heat. It’s all about the plates also. For example, our best selling straightener, the Megastar, features pure tourmaline ceramic floating plates, which are not only better for your hair in terms of long-term use and preventing damage but also help to enhance shine and lock in moisture. Tourmaline is safe for all hair types, so a solid choice for someone with fine or damaged locks. For coarser, thicker hair, titanium plates like what’s in our Style Setter straightener are another safe but effective option (titanium heats up faster and can reach higher temps), as are pure stone ceramic plates like you’ll find with our Silhouette straightener.
The type of flat iron you need will depend on your hair’s texture and your unique hair care regimen. For example, if you want to use a flat iron every day, tourmaline ceramic is a safe bet. If you want something more powerful that packs a punch for a once or twice a week straightening, titanium can really deliver.
Also referred to as hot air brushes, hot brushes are essentially a brush-dryer in one, or a brush-straightener in one. Hot brushes can actually dry your hair in the same way that a hairdryer and a round bristle brush would, or they can straighten already dry hair in the same way a flat iron would. It’s basically either a round brush attached to a dryer, or a paddle brush with ceramic plate heating technology built-in. Bottom line: both involve less work on your end.
If you’re overwhelmed with all the choices out there and can’t figure out which one’s right for you, Allure ranked the best selling hot brushes on Amazon here. Depending on your hair texture, hot brushes can be a game-changer in terms of saving time and energy on creating a smooth blow-out outside of the salon.
Hot combs are essentially electric combs that gently straighten really coarse hair. Similar to hot brushes, they can be purchased as a tool that also features flat plate, so it’s sort of half flat iron, half heated ceramic comb, or just as a comb (usually ceramic or gold plated) that heats up to pretty high temps relatively quickly. Either version should be used on dry hair only. The hot comb offers more precision in terms of getting hair sleeker at the roots (always a tricky area for straightening). Depending on your natural texture and how much you detangle your hair prior to using the tool, the positioning of the comb’s teeth is something to consider when weighing your options. There are some extensively reviewed hot combs available at Walmart and on Amazon.
It’s best to pair any heat styling straightener with a heat-protective spray on your strands prior to use. Also, the less time you work the tool over a section of hair, the better. If you do happen to be skilled with a blow dryer and a round bristle brush, it’s possible to get hair relatively smooth with a well-sectioned out blow dry using a salon-quality dryer like our Bold Hair Dryer.
We hope that clears up any confusion around the lingo for hair straightening tools! In this day and age, when it comes to straightening, you’ve got lots of options. For more hair inspo, follow us at @NuMeHair on Instagram. Sign up for our NuMe Rewards & Loyalty Program to earn points so that you'll be on your way to achieving gifts, products, tools, and even tickets to exclusive NuMe events! Looking for more hair inspo? Check it out here!
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By Mary Patterson Broome