The Best Hair Straighteners of 2018

By Jessica Teich

If you automatically think of CHI when you think of flat irons, you’re not alone: The brand has long been synonymous with straighteners. I still love the 2-inch CHI I’ve had for 14 years. As someone who's at the helm of health and beauty at Reviewed, and who also happens to have a mass of thick, curly hair that I've been taming for years, I set out to find what makes a good flat iron, and which ones are actually worth the money.

We rounded up the best flat irons on the market, narrowed the lot down to top-rated picks ranging from $15 to $250, and tested the best of the best. We loved the Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth (available at Amazon), and we were also blown away by the performance of the cheapest straightener we tried: the $15 Remington Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener. But, we were shocked that some of the most expensive and notorious brands—like CHI and GHD—performed at the bottom of the pack.

We tested for heat adjustability, value, ease of use, safety features, button placement, cord length, and much more. To learn how we tested and selected flat irons, jump to how we tested or scroll to the bottom of the article.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated January 05, 2018

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PM best overall
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Iron

Neuro smooth flat iron
  • Editors' Choice

Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Iron

best overall

The bottom line: A sturdy straightener with large plates, perfectly positioned buttons, and customizable settings.

Safety features: Customizable auto shut off

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 450º

Ready-to-use notification: Chimes when ready, and has a digital screen that displays temperature

The details: This flat iron is a standout. Its 1.25-inch plates are great for long hair since they cover more surface area at once. The plates hold hair firmly and smoothly without ever snagging, resulting in a nice, sleek style. The on/off and heat adjustment buttons are smooth and tucked inside the clamp of the iron, which keeps you from accidentally hitting them as you style. Better yet, their flat design keeps them from getting caught in your hair.

If you use a flat iron frequently, this Paul Mitchell is a great value and investment for what it offers—you'll be hard pressed to find a heat tool of this quality and caliber at a lower price.

Remington best value
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Remington Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener

Remington s5500 digital anti static ceramic hair straightener

Remington Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener

best value

The bottom line: A bargain flat iron with extra-long plates that results in a salon-quality smooth style.

Safety features: None

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 410º

Ready-to-use notification: Bars on digital screen oscillate until it's up to temperature, then remain steady

The details: This budget buy works shockingly well and results in a style that’s salon-quality shiny. The plates are almost cushiony, so you don’t need to push too hard to get a nice, smooth style without ever snagging hair. At 4.5 inches, the plates were the longest we found, so you can tackle a large swath of hair at once. The resulting style is very shiny—I was able to skip serum.

Of course, at this price, there are cons: The iron feels lightweight, plasticky, and cheaply made, which makes me wonder how long this thing would actually last. Because of the long plates, the handles get hot, too. The buttons are well-designed but positioned on the side of the iron, so it’s possible to accidentally press them during styling. The cord is a measly 6 feet long, and the notification when it’s up to temperature is tough to see. Nonetheless, it's still a great pick for the style and ease of use it offers at such a low price.

BioSilk Titanium Hair Styling Iron

Biosilk

BioSilk Titanium Hair Styling Iron

best for shine

The bottom line: A high-end flat iron that imparts serious shine.

Safety features: Auto shut off after 1 hour

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 410º

Ready-to-use notification: Bars on digital screen oscillate until it's up to temperature, then remain steady. It also has a digital screen that displays temperature.

The details: This straightener gave my hair the mirror-smooth shine that ladies with naturally straight hair have and ladies with curly hair (hi!) crave. It has a legible screen, only took 33 seconds to reach 355º, and has a nice long cord.

This iron would have snagged our top spot, but the main downfall is its buttons: They’re rubberized and raised, making them very easy to press, which isn’t ideal since they’re positioned on the side of the iron. You will likely accidentally hit them as you’re styling. If you can be careful of them, it's still a great pick for shiny locks.

Table
Credit: Reviewed / Julia MacDougall

Bio Ionic OnePass Straightening Iron

Bio ionic onepass straightening iron

Bio Ionic OnePass Straightening Iron

The bottom line: A flat iron with a strange design and silicone strips on the plates that grip hair too tightly.

Safety features: None

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 400º

Ready-to-use notification: A steady red light starts blinking when ready

The details: This iron has plates with “silicone speed strips to provide faster straightening and increased shine,” but this strange feature actually makes it feel like you’re straightening your hair in a humid room. It’s not great for smoothing curly or wavy hair because the grip is so tight from the silicone strips, but that may make it ideal for pulling tough-to-style hair pin straight.

The iron is not particularly comfortable to use, either, since there are strangely positioned finger grips that don’t align with how anyone holds a straightener. You can adjust the temperature with a wheel at the end of the iron, but it’s difficult to see once the iron is up to temperature and ready to use. The resulting style was just fine, and paired with the strange user experience, we could take or leave this iron.

CHI Ceramic Hairstyling Iron

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CHI Ceramic Hairstyling Iron

Avoid

The bottom line: This once-classic straightening iron is no longer tried-and-true.

Safety features: None

Heat settings: None; It stays at 392º

Ready-to-use notification: A small, red light goes from steady to flickering when ready

The details: If you automatically think of CHI when you hear "straighteners," you’re in good company: The brand has long been synonymous with flat irons. However, based on the performance of this cult-favorite iron, CHI is resting on its laurels rather than excelling in the present.

The flat iron only has an on/off toggle switch, no adjustable heat settings, and a very tough-to-notice notification once the iron heats up. My hair repeatedly got caught on the raised toggle switch that’s positioned inside the clamp of the iron. The resulting style was just fine—not particularly shiny or pretty. Based on this, CHI is no longer the hallmark of quality straighteners.

t3 SinglePass Luxe Straightening and Styling Iron

883349765058

t3 SinglePass Luxe Straightening and Styling Iron

Avoid

The bottom line: A beautiful flat iron that doesn't clamp well and ultimately lengthens the time it takes to style.

Safety features: Auto shut off after 1 hour

Heat settings: 5 options from low to high; No exact temperatures

Ready-to-use notification: Lights on the handle oscillate until it's up to temperature, then remain steady

The details: Although this flat iron is beautiful with a stark white finish and rose gold accents, it just doesn’t perform well. The plates don’t grip tightly and slide around a little, which made doing my hair a long process: I had to use big chunks to fit between the plates and go over each piece a few times to get it fully smooth.

It also took 1 minute and 16 seconds to heat up, which is the slowest of any iron we tested. The notification that it’s at temperature isn’t very apparent, and since you can only set the iron in vague heating increments, it's difficult to judge which setting to use. It's simply not worth the money.

GHD Platinum Styler

Ghd

GHD Platinum Styler

Avoid

The bottom line: A luxe straightener that doesn't perform well, despite bells and whistles.

Safety features: Auto shut off after 30 minutes

Heat settings: None—it stays at 360º

Ready-to-use notification: Chimes when ready

The details: GHD had me hoping for its namesake good hair day, but I was rather disappointed by this super-expensive iron. It’s truly beautiful with an innovative design and lots of bells and whistles—like a jingle when you turn the iron on and once it’s up to temperature—but that’s not enough to distract from its lackluster performance.

Its thick shape makes it uncomfortable to use, and the clamp on the iron felt loose, which made the process difficult to control—the iron kept slamming closed on my hair with very little force. There are no adjustable heat settings, which is problematic for people with fine (or thick!) hair.

The iron scraped over my hair as I tried to smooth out my curls, and pieces of my hair got caught between the plates and the plastic. To use this iron effectively, I had to brush my hair smooth and separate it into smaller chunks. Every iron above this is better-performing and less-expensive than this one.

How We Tested

Biosilk in action
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Finding a great flat iron can be a daunting task. There are thousands for sale, varying sizes and claims, and hundreds of brands. We carefully analyzed the market and narrowed our findings down to the best flat irons out there. We pitted the best against the best at all price points.

Why did I test them? I am at the helm of all things health and beauty at Reviewed. I also happen to have a ton of thick, curly hair that I've been taming since I could hold a brush. I went from being a laughing stock for having hair so big that it extended outside the frame of my middle school yearbook photo, to now having what many have called “good hair.”

My said good hair is largely thanks to a styling regime in which—unsurprisingly—a flat iron is at the center. I've had the same 2-inch CHI flat iron since I was 13 but I've also experimented with the top brands and types on the market in my both personal and professional lives. I know a thing or two about what makes a good flat iron: Heat adjustability, value, ease of use, safety features, button placement, and cord length, among others.

Heat temp
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

For this test, I ran each iron through my hair in the same way to achieve my desired style with every straightener. We graded each iron's specs, including cord length, iron weight, and total area of the plates. I also solicited input from fellow testers, beauty buffs, and novices alike: I sent friends and coworkers home to blind test the straighteners and then had them answer our scoring rubric, with questions including:

Setup: How sturdy does the straightener feel? How long does it take for the iron to heat up? Is there a notification when the flat iron is ready? Are there adjustable heat settings?

Usability: How comfortable is the iron to hold throughout styling? How easy are the buttons to decipher and use? Are there any safety features?

Results: Is your hair shiny after using the iron? How long did it take to achieve your desired style?

We ran the responses through the same scoring rubric to decipher the best—and the worst. Our biggest takeaway? Expensive models and brand name notoriety doesn't always equate to a good straightener. A better iron can be found at your drugstore for $15 than at a specialty store for $250.

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