Getting a sleek, smooth look can be difficult if your hair is naturally dry or has dried from damage. High-heat flat irons can do more harm than good. As celebrity stylist Jasmine Santiago notes, all hair is naturally dry, so applying high heat to it will suck out the moisture causing damage.
Instead, finding a flat iron that works well with dry hair to prevent further brittleness is invaluable to glossy, healthy hair. Understanding what to look for in a flat iron will prevent it from flash-burning your hair and causes it to dry out more over time.
Quick Take: Best Flat Irons for Dry Hair
Flat Iron vs Hair Straighteners
While the words flat iron and hair straighteners are used interchangeably, there is a difference. A flat iron is a very specific tool that has two blades which are usually made of ceramic or titanium. It is squeezed together and run down the hair to either create poker-straight hair or to create flat ringlets (if twisted while pulling downward). It uses high direct heat to get this effect.
The term ‘hair straightener’, however, can refer to a number of different tools. A flat iron is a type of hair straightener but is not the only tool of this sort. When you use a hair dryer and a brush to blow out the hair, creating the impression of straightness, this is also referred to as a hair straightener.
Moreover, there are a plethora of brush-style hair straighteners that either have heated plates inside the brush that straighten the hair, or they blow hot air out to straighten the hair. In fact, rollers and hot rollers can be classed as a type of straightener, as bigger versions can be used to relax very tight curls and create straighter, voluptuous hair.
Another type of hair straightener which is more permanent is chemical straightening, often referred to as chemical relaxing. This works by breaking the disulfide bonds in the hair. This is done by using an extremely potent alkaline chemical, usually strong sodium hydroxide, to straighten the hair. This dries the hair out terribly. Alternative 'no lye' solutions have been invented, but they still pose great risks to the hair as they contain strong chemicals such as lithium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide.
How Does Ironing Affect Dry Hair?
Using a flat iron can be damaging to any hair type, but dry hair is the most likely to become negatively affected. Each strand of hair has moisture inside. When you apply a flat iron to your hair, it prompts the moisture to turn from liquid to gas. This can cause this moisture to create pressure inside the hair and burst out, causing brittle, broken hair. It can also make the hair appear frizzy.
At the same time, highly-heated irons can damage the outside of the cuticle of the hair. The cuticle is there to protect the hair, keeping it soft and shiny. This allows more moisture to be evaporated, leaving their hair even more dry and brittle. Continuous conditioning will help to reduce this damage since it coats and protects the hair.
Flat Irons That Work Best For Dry Hair
Accordingly to celebrity stylist Justine Marjan, the most effective yet protective temperature to use a flat iron is 375F. This is just below the temperature that glass blowers use to mold glass without shattering it. Hair is similar to glass in this respect. Searching for a flat iron that has variable temperatures, especially ones that work at the lower end, is integral to protecting dry hair. Equally, titanium blades have quite direct, high heat which is harsh on the hair. Ceramic blades are far more kind to dry hair.
A comb in an iron can help to detangle the hair but can cause mechanical damage by pulling the hair. Usually it is better to comb your hair before straightening, as the high heat will cause the hair to stretch if it gets snagged. It could then break off.
Also try looking for tourmaline technology. It uses negative ions to straighten the hair more easily, needing less heat and providing protection. You can also look for blades that are infused with protecting components like keratin, Vitamin E, and other types of moisturizing oils.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Flat Irons For Dry Hair
RUSK Engineering CTC Technology Professional Straight Iron
Remington S9620B T|Studio Silk Ceramic Flat Iron, Hair Straightener, 2-Inch
Herstyler Colorful Seasons Ceramic Flat Iron, Dual Voltage, 1.25 Inch, Purple
Remington Pro 1" Digital Heat Flat Iron with Anti-Static Ceramic Technology, Purple, S5500
GHD Gold Styler 1 Inch - Straightener Flat Iron
Reviews of the Best Flat Irons For Dry Hair
Let’s take a look at some of the best flat irons on the market.
Featuring Ryton housing, titanium blades, and a ceramic heater, this RUSK flat iron is designed to tackle stubborn curls and cowlicks to create extremely straight hair.
- The titanium blades are made using Sol-Gel technology, making them more durable while creating much sleeker hair.
- There are five variable temperatures, including low temperatures of 300F, which is excellent for dry hair.
- The Ryton housing stops the plastic from heating too high and a memory button allows you to return to your setting immediately.
- The ceramic heater means the hair heats more evenly, without creating damaging hotspots.
- This model does not come with automatic shut off.
- The titanium blades may be a little harsh on damaged or dry hair as their create very direct heat on a small area, and provide less even distribution of heat than ceramic blades.
- The blades are wide which makes it hard to use for short hair.
- This is a little more highly priced than other options but does have a 2-year warranty.
"I would recommend this straightener to you guys. It's really fast."
With two-inch-wide floating ceramic blades that heat to highs of 455F in just 15 seconds, the Remington S9620B is designed to give salon performance at home.
- Using silk proteins and ionic technology, this flat iron protects and moisturizes dry hair, giving a sleek, silky finish.
- This model heats extremely quickly and the ceramic blades provide excellent protection for dry hair by distributing heat more evenly than titanium blades.
- The floating blades add precision and the temperature control system helps to keep a constant temperature that doesn’t damage the hair.
- This model is extremely affordable and comes with an amazing 4-year warranty.
- Customers have complained that the floating technology stops the blades from fully touching each other, making it harder to style and that the handle gets too hot to hold.
- The wide blade doesn't suit shorter hair.
"It gets hot enough for some tough curls people may have. It took about 20 minutes to do my hair and my hair is really thick. I really like it."
The Herstyler Colorful Seasons features 100% ceramic blades, variable temperature, and heats to 465F in just 25 seconds. Available in a variety of colors, it is lightweight and durable.
- The blades are 100% ceramic which is the best option for dry hair, as it prevents hotspots for even heat distribution.
- The materials are extremely durable, giving it a long lifespan, while the variable temperature settings mean it can be used for a plethora of hair types, including dry and damaged hair.
- This model is affordably priced.
- While the heat settings are variable, the dial accidentally moves when using the flat iron, meaning it can heat higher by accident and damage the hair.
- Moreover, the temperature gauge has numbers rather than temperatures, making it difficult to understand how hot it actually is.
- It only has a 1-year warranty, which questions its durability claims.
"They're great products and worth the price."
This extremely well-priced flat iron is designed to fight frizz with its anti-static technology and ceramic blades.
- The anti-static technology creates a smooth finish for all hair types, but especially dry damaged hair.
- The ceramic blades prevent hotspots for even heating while the digital display helps to keep a constant temperature.
- This model has varying temperatures and works extremely well at its low temperatures of 300F, great for dry hair.
- The floating blades can make it a little hard to do small sections at a time, which can be a problem if you have very curly hair.
- This model has no dual voltage capability, meaning it cannot be used abroad.
- The titanium coating on the blades could be a little harsh on damaged hair.
- This model comes with a fair two-year warranty.
"It's got great reviews and I'd like to reflect that as well. I have absolutely no complaints about this product"
Featuring a rounded body for versatile styling, the GHD Gold Styler has ceramic blades and a ceramic heater, for even heating technology and a sleek finish.
- This model is extremely easy to use as it is lightweight and the rounded body makes it suitable for both curling and straightening.
- The ceramic blades provide protection for dry and damaged hair, and the universal voltage means it can be used worldwide.
- Straightening is extremely quick with this model.
- Aside from being expensive, this flat iron only has one fixed temperature.
- The high fixed temperature could be damaging to dry hair.
- Customers have also complained that while it makes hair smooth at first, this sleekness does not last very long.
- For the high price, you would expect a long warranty, but it only features a two-year warranty.
"I consider it to be the best 1-inch flat iron money can buy. It heats up fast. The other reason I really love it is the type
and quality of ceramic plates"
Hair Styling and Pure Straightening
Flat irons can be a wonderfully diverse tool, even if you do have dry hair. As long as the correct steps are taken to protect your hair, you can use a flat iron for a plethora of styling outcomes. Obviously, the first way to use a flat iron is for straightening, but even this can be done through different methods.
By sectioning the hair and slowly running the flat iron from roots to tip, one section at a time, completely perpendicular to the head, you will achieve a poker-straight look. However, if you were to round the straightener as you work it down the hair, you can create a flick, either inward or outward, depending on the way you twist your wrist.
Moreover, you can curl your hair using a flat iron. First brush your hair and section it off. Take a section of hair, about an inch wide at a time. Clamp this in the flat iron. As you work the flat iron from root to tip, you need to continually twist the flat iron, so that the hair wraps around the outside of the flat iron.
Do not clamp too hard or it will get stuck. The more you twist the flat iron, the tighter the curl will be. For example, for a loose curl, clamp the hair, twist the flat iron once so the hair wraps, and then gently pull downwards; this will give one large, loose, ringlet.
Alternatively, you can create a wave with a flat iron for that beachy look. Section off the hair and take a section a little shorter than the length of the blade. Clamp this and then work this a third of the way down the hair, twisting your wrist upward and outward. At the third way point, switch to bending inward and outward for the second third, and then switch back to upward and outward for the last third. This creates a wave.
Flat irons have changed over the years to compensate for all types of hair, even dry and damaged hair. Research is key to understanding which flat iron you need to help protect it from becoming drier or being exposed to potential damage. Make sure to read the reviews from real people about how each flat iron worked with their dry hair.