Although it is commonly known for its straightening capabilities, the hair straightener actually can be used to attain a surprisingly diverse range of styles, from sleek, straight hair to bouncy, curly locks. But achieving the right look depends on knowing which hair straightener is right for your hair type and the style you want to achieve.
A Short Hair-story
Hair straighteners have come a long way since their conception in the late nineteenth century. It was in 1872 that Erica Feldman first used heated metal rods to straighten and style hair. By an odd coincidence, in the same year, the Parisian Marcel Grateau invented the curling iron. Skip forward almost forty years, and Isaac K. Shero had contrived the brilliant idea of using two flattened clothing irons for flattening hair. It wasn’t until Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield of Scotland in 1912, however, that the modern conception of the hair straightener came into being. Her tool utilized two metal plates that could be clamped together while holding a pair of handles, essentially the same form that hair straighteners have today.
For almost a century after Lady Schofield’s invention though, many women continued to use clothes irons to straighten their hair (think of the hair damage!). Hair straighteners were in use, but only in salons. The hair straighteners that are common nowadays didn’t become commercially available until the 1990s, and thank goodness they did. It’s hard to imagine the damage that the hair of our precursors had to suffer because of clothing irons.
Setting the Record Straight
The straighteners of today, also known as flat irons, have science behind them. Basically, they all work the same way by modifying the hydrogen bonds in your hair. And before you get freaked out by the sound of that, just remember, getting your hair wet also temporarily alters the hydrogen bonds in your hair.
But the vast selection of straighteners available nowadays makes buying one that’s right for you a bit more of a complicated process. The kind of straightener that will work best for you will depend on your hair type and the style you want to achieve. Whether you have naturally thick, curly hair or delicate, straight hair can be a determining factor in the types of plate material you should look for and the brands that will best suit your needs. Other considerations, such as whether you want the straightener to heat up quickly or if you want to make sure the heated plate puts out a consistent heat layer (instead of producing hot spots) can also be significant in the decision-making process. In addition, the plate material of various hair straighteners can differ widely—from ceramic, to titanium, to tourmaline—and that will affect how they emanate heat and interact with your hair. Other factors that can differentiate straighteners are features like “negative ionizing” or “wet-to-dry” capabilities.
Hair-Tips and Guides
Because there is such a huge selection of hair straighteners out there, I thought it would be helpful to give my fellow ladies a run-down of the available options by providing reviews that compare different straighteners, overviews of the different brands, and guides on how to achieve certain looks using a straightener. Basically I want to be here to help you with proper hair tools, care and treatment, from your roots to the tips of your hair. Enjoy!