Experimenting with hairstyles and products is a never-ending cycle. With all the different styling trends going in and out of style, the tools we use change with them. The tools we use for our tresses have evolved over the years. What used to take hours can now be achieved in minutes.
A salon and household favorite are flat iron straighteners. Straighteners, when used properly, can replace curling irons and countless hours of styling to give you your dream locks.
With so many different models on the market, it can be hard to find the ideal straightener for your hair type. Is ceramic better? Will titanium burn your hair? Let’s take a look at ceramic vs titanium flat iron straighteners and try to pinpoint the perfect straightener for your hair.
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Ceramic vs Titanium Flat Iron Straighteners
When browsing for a new flat iron straightener, you’ll come across two main types: ceramic and titanium flat irons. Another name that will pop up is tourmaline straighteners, but these are another variation of ceramic flat irons.
Although both serve the main purpose of straightening or curling hair, they both have different advantages and disadvantages, as well as price tags.
Ceramic Flat Iron Straighteners
Perhaps the most popular (and affordable) of the bunch, ceramic flat iron straighteners have fully ceramic plates, ceramic-coated plates, or tourmaline plates.
Plates that are entirely ceramic have great heat distribution throughout the plates and have no hotspots that could scorch your hair. They’re also very smooth so they won’t snag or pull. Ceramic plates don’t get too hot, which can be ideal for fine hair, but tedious for thicker locks.
Ceramic-coated plates have crushed-up ceramic coating a metal plate (usually aluminum) and have the same benefits as a ceramic plate, although they’re less durable because the ceramic tends to chip away with use. Once your flat iron gets worn-down and that under metal starts showing, it’s time to say goodbye.
Tourmaline plates are made out of a crushed crystalline mineral that gained recent popularity for their anti-frizz negative-ion technology. These flat irons help your hair retain its moisture and straighten your hair without damaging it. They distribute heat better than ceramic plates, which means fewer passes on your hair. It also means they’re not the best match for curly or thick hair.
All ceramic flat iron straighteners have a common advantage: they’re great for styling fine, color-treated, and easily damaged hair without packing too much heat. The only downside to them is that they’re not durable and may not work as well with thicker, curlier hair.
If you go for a ceramic-coated or tourmaline flat iron, we recommend switching it out once the coating has worn off or has been chipped because the exposed metal will snag and burn your hair.
Titanium Flat Iron Straighteners
The titanium flat iron straightener is a salon favorite for its short heat-up time, lightweight, and durability. Titanium plates earned their place in hairstylists’ hearts (and hands!) for their fast and sleek results.
Hairstylists know their way around using titanium plates with all hair types without burning their clients’ hair off, but for us, normal folk, they can be tricky to master.
Titanium flat irons heat up fast and evenly, but they go to much higher temperatures than their ceramic or tourmaline counterparts. This means they need fewer passes, but it also means that hair with even the most minimal damage can get frazzled. These straighteners work great for coarse, thick and curly hair than it does with dry, thin hair.
One thing you don’t have to worry about with titanium flat iron straighteners is their durability. They don’t chip or crack, but they do require a proper cleaning every once in a while to get rid of all the oil or product buildup.
If you have thin hair and think a titanium flat iron is your best bet, make sure to opt for temperatures below 300°F to avoid heat damage, and always use heat protection.
Does Plate Size Matter?
Flat iron straightener plates are not only made from different materials but also different sizes. While the most common sizes are 1 ¼ inch to 1 ½ inch wide plates but also come in 2-inch and 3-inch sizes. Some mini versions are even an inch big!
Choosing what size flat iron to get depends on how long your hair is and how you’ll be using your flat iron.
1 ¼ and 1 1 ½ inch-wide plates are ideal for styling short hair, fine hair, and for making tight curls or waves. These are your standard size for most types of flat irons.
2-inch and 3-inch plates provide more surface area for straightening all hair types, create looser curls and waves, and are ideal if you have long hair and want to save time.
I prefer using 2-inch ceramic plates on my medium-length hair to get it straight and sleek without having to do more passes to get every strand. But if I’m going for kinky curls, using a 1 ¼ inch plated straightener will do the trick.
Setting the Right Temperature
Some hair straighteners come with basic low, medium, and high heat settings, while others have a more detailed temperature gauge to choose from. Choosing the right temperature for your hair type will give you the best results with the least amount of damage.
Damaged, color-treated or fine hair shouldn’t be styled with a temperature above 360°F. While a higher temperature means faster styling, there’s a risk of burning your hair.
Medium or wavy hair can for 360-380°F when styling, lower temperatures might not work as well and will need more passes.
Curly, thick, or coarse hair will need high temperatures that range from 380-410°F to be styled to your heart’s content.
Remember that the type of plate will also impact the temperature you use. Ceramic and tourmaline are gentle even on high heat, while titanium flat irons are harsher and you’ll have to be careful with your heat settings.
When in doubt about which temperature is right for your hair, start at medium heat and notice how your hair responds. Don’t forget to use heat protection first!
Pro tip: Never use a straightener on wet hair. Wet hair is fragile and when sandwiched between two scorching plates, it’ll end being frizzy and will suffer later on.
Extra Features to Consider
Aside from contemplating which flat iron straightener is the perfect match, there are a few features that could be quite handy.
If you’re always traveling, you might want to consider a compact hair straightener that can be easily tucked away in your carry-on. These mini versions are also a good option for styling bangs.
Another travel-friendly feature some flat irons provide is dual-voltage. Long gone are the days of worrying about short-circuiting the entire building with your straightener, the dual-voltage makes sure your straightener is compatible with most plugs so you can style your hair safely anytime, anywhere!
How many times have you been styling your hair only to get tangled up in the wire or have to turn into a contortionist to get that perfect curl? With a swivel cord or 360° cord, you’ll get the perfect ‘do and your wrist will thank you.
What to Avoid
With all the different brands and models of flat iron straighteners out there, it can be hard to choose. However, there are a few things we recommend skipping while shopping:
Cheap straighteners may seem like a great bargain, but they’re usually a sign of cheap material that won’t last, or worse, damage your hair.
Glass or aluminum straighteners do the job and are certainly less pricey, but they come with a steep price: hair damage.
Other flat iron faux-pas that we feel the need to stress are:
Don’t do too many passes on the same section. Even on low heat, this will damage the hair shaft and cause your hair to frizz and dry.
Avoid blow-drying or straightening your hair to dry it. Air-drying your hair may be time-consuming especially with thicker hair. But trust us, the patience pays off.
Don’t skimp on using heat protection such as sprays or serums to keep your locks safe. Repeated heat-styling even on the lowest heat can still cause damage. You’ll also get the extra benefit of shiny, sleek hair.
That’s a Wrap!
Whether your hair goals are to straighten, curl, or tame those stubborn frizzy strands, there’s always a flat iron for you. Remember to pick the plate type and size that best fit your hair type and not just your envisioned hairdo.
If you’re opting for an affordable, fine-hair-friendly option, ceramic is your best bet. Tourmaline straighteners are slightly pricier but are a great middle-man whether you have fine or thick hair.
Lastly, titanium flat irons are a fast and durable option for thicker locks and tight curls, albeit a bit pricey.
We hope we ‘tamed’ any confusion you had about ceramic vs titanium flat iron straighteners. Now, what are you waiting for? Style away!