When Sephora announced its top-selling products of the year in December, all the usual suspects in the beauty world were present: Fenty Beauty, Too Faced, and Urban Decay. There was a shocking inclusion, though: The Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush ($120).
As a curly girl and a beauty editor, I’ve truthfully never thought much of thermal hair brushes. They claim to straighten even the curliest locks in half the time of a traditional flat iron. It just doesn’t seem feasible.
But the reviews don’t lie: This heated brush has 20k “loves” on Sephora and an average 4.5 star rating. It promises shiny, frizz-free results in a single stroke, and uses ceramic bristles with nylon cool-tips to uniformly heat hair in one pass. Big claims.
This Amika hair brush took the title of top-seller at Sephora despite being up against top brands like T3 and Dyson. I had to try it out. Truthfully, I expected a frizzy, half-straightened result (like my early-model Conair flat irons—yikes). Here’s what actually happened.
From curly to straight in 17 minutes
My first go-round with the brush, I styled my hair straight. Once I turned it on, it reached 350º in just over 30 seconds, which beat the preheat time of our favorite flat iron. It makes a high-pitched clicking sound when it’s on and smells strongly of, well, a hot appliance. In accordance with the directions, I amped the temperature up to 390º for my hair type (it’s adjustable up to 450ºF) and got to work.
I sectioned my hair and carefully passed through each section until it was super straight, taking care to comb out any cowlicks and weird parts. Just 17 minutes later and I was completely done. My hair was nice and sleek, with plenty body left at the roots.
Amika’s straightening brush vs. our favorite flat iron
On my second go-round with the brush, I decided to pit it against our favorite flat iron. It was only then that I truly became a believer in this Amika brush. It took me nearly twice as long to straighten my hair with a traditional flat iron. The brush also left my hair with a lot more movement and lift at the roots, which kept the style from looking what I call 7th-grade-flat.
Of course, the heated brush has its limitations and drawbacks.
Effectiveness: This heated brush does get hair smooth in a snap, but not like a flat iron does. A straightener neatly presses my hair into a smooth sheet, root to tip, but the Amika brush left my ends fuzzy and a little frayed-looking, despite many passes.
Style longevity: When I use a straightener, I can go quite a few days without touching up my style. (Yes I can go four days between washes; what of it?) After using the Amika heated brush, I had to go in and fix my hair a few times in the following days. Since the cool-tip bristles mean that the brush can’t get right to the hair's root, weird cowlicks popped up overnight. The tradeoff is all the movement and body you get.
Versatility: I use my flat iron to tame flyaways, create waves and curls, and tame curly styles, but a heated hair brush has pretty much one function: Straighten. You need to brush your hair prior to using the heated brush, which makes the tool great for anyone who loves a fully straight look, but not for someone like me who prefers to go curly most of the time.
I am a skeptic no longer: Amika’s Polished Perfection brush actually works wonderfully. It gets hair straight in half the time of a traditional iron. Claim validated. Well done, Amika. However, whether or not it can replace your straightening iron depends totally on what you use your iron for.
If you simply use it to traditionally straighten your hair, then yes, the Amika brush can replace a flat iron—and do the job in half the time. If you’re like me and use your flat iron to fine-tune curly styles, tame flyaways, and create waves, then don’t trash your straightener just yet. But there’s no doubt that the Amika brush is a great way to achieve a nice, sleek style when you’re pinched for time.