04.What to look for
Most hair straighteners are tong-style. The only scissor-style model in the test was rated lowest overall, with trialists commenting on its “clumsy” and “bulky” design, which they found more awkward to use.
Most have ceramic or ceramic-coated plates (sometimes with the addition of aluminium or tourmaline), which are claimed to eliminate frizz and static in hair and leave it smooth, shiny and silky — or even “fresh”, as Philips Tresemmé claims (its ceramic plate contains antibacterial nanosilver particles). The trialists showed no preference for one type or another.
Slim to medium-width plates that are suitable for most hair types are the norm. Wider plates may speed up the styling process, particularly for those with longer hair, but they’ll make the straightener bulkier and perhaps heavier.
Some trialists remarked they sometimes switched a straightener off accidentally during use because of the position of the controls — something to check out in the shop. And trialists liked straighteners with a ‘ready to use’ indicator.
The better straighteners in the test (the top five in the table) reached the desired temperature faster than the rest. This means you won’t have to wait long before you can start styling, and the plates reach the right temperature again very quickly after passing their heat into each individual section of hair. Slower heat-up between sections makes for less efficient straightening.
Adjustable heat setting
This is useful for people with fine or damaged hair who want to use the straightener at a lower heat.
Some straighteners have a loop to hang it on a hook for storage; others come with a stand or a protective heat mat to rest it on, which may fold into a carry bag.
You’ll have to spend at least $80 to get a good straightener — the cheaper ones failed to convince our trialists.