How to Pick Your Tool

Flatiron plates range in width. If you’re unsure which is best for your hair, opt for a one-inch plate. This size tends to work for most people.

Flatiron plates are made with a handful of different materials. Ceramic, tourmaline, a ceramic/tourmaline mix, and titanium are the most common. What’s the difference between these materials, and how does the plate material you choose affect your results?


Hair dryers use ceramic, tourmaline, and titanium materials, too. If you want to create a sleek look with your hair dryer, look for a product with similar technology in the hair dryer spac”


Many of today’s flat irons have ceramic infused into the plate. The negative ions emitted by the ceramic help create a smooth, shiny look. This might sound like magic, but there’s actually a scientific explanation behind it.

Hair naturally carries a positive electrical charge associated with its degree of “dryness.” The negative ions created by the styling tool counteract the effect of the positive ions. Think of the positive ions as “bad guys” who try to make your hair look ragged and fried. The negative ions supplied by your iron are “good guys” whose mission is to rescue your hair from the bad guys — or at least temper their ill effects somewhat.

But buyer beware: whereas some plates are pure ceramic, others are simply “coated” with ceramic. The latter is cheaper, but they’re also weaker and less durable since the ceramic coating will eventually wear off


Tourmaline is an organic, crystalline “gemstone” that has been ground up and layered onto the surface of the heating element. The gemstone layer holds heat evenly and consistently, which in turn helps you create a better style.

Because tourmaline is even closer to nature than ceramic, it’s got a lot of the good guys — negative ions, that is — working for it. Faced with a choice between ceramic and tourmaline, many people gravitate toward tourmaline because it’s naturally better for the hair.

Fortunately, manufacturers got wise to this and quickly began infusing both ceramic and tourmaline into the plates of their flat irons. The HSI Professional flat iron and the Chi Original Pro are both examples of excellent ceramic/tourmaline technology.


Titanium is an actual chemical element (symbol: Ti) that some manufacturers use as a top coat over the styling plate. Heat styling tools made of titanium are extremely powerful. They heat up fast, and their high heat is often enough to tame the most unruly of tresses with one pass.

People with “stubborn,” difficult-to-style hair appreciate the effectiveness of this material. Notably, titanium tends to cost more than other styling technologies. The titanium-plated BaByliss Pro is a powerhouse tool, but it’s also one of the more expensive tools that we have endorsed.