No time? My pick for the best flat iron for curly hair is the Karmin G3 Salon Professional Ceramic 1” Flat Iron.
If you have natural curls, you know that getting smooth, straight hair can be a real challenge. (Not to mention time-consuming.) It can be quite the process, but it’s so worth it to be able to run your fingers through your mane or toss it back with a flip of your head.
Getting that look requires some heavy duty styling tools, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best flat iron for your curly hair.
We’ll be reviewing the following flat irons in this article:
- Karmin G3 Salon Professional Ceramic 1” Flat Iron
- Bio Ionic OnePass Nano-Ceramic Straightening Iron
- ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance Styler
- BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium-Plated Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron
- CHI G2 Ceramic and Titanium Hairstyling Iron
Best Straighteners For Curly Hair
My pick for the all-around best flat iron for curly hair is the Karmin G3 Ceramic 1” Flat Iron. It works well on almost all curly hair types (including natural hair) and comes with a wide range of heat settings.
One of the main benefits of this salon-grade straightener is it’s 100% solid tourmaline ceramic plates.
Because the majority of ceramic flat irons on the market are ceramic-coated, the plates degrade over time as the coating wears or chips off with use. This exposes the metal underneath and creates uneven hotspots that can burn sections of your hair. Solid ceramic or tourmaline-infused ceramic doesn’t have this problem, protecting your strands from potential heat damage.
The Karmin G3 plates are ultra smooth, but at the same time grip well and glides against hair easily without pulling or snagging. Several users also report the straightener making their hair feel healthier and softer too.
Adjustable heat settings allow you to set the temperature as low as 250°F to as high as 460°F, so it’s safe and effective on all hair types from super fine to very coarse. It also has a flash quick heat up so it’s ready for use in less than 30 seconds.
The other features I really like about this iron are that you can use it internationally since it’s dual-voltage, comes with a very nice roll out carrying-case/heat mat, and is lightweight enough to not make your arms cramp after styling.
My main critique of the Karmin G3 Flat Iron is that it doesn’t work quite as well on very coarse or thick hair. It can take a couple or more passes for more stubborn hair textures to get a pin-straight look.
- Solid tourmaline ceramic plates protects fragile hair and distributes heat evenly
- Floating plates ensure hair is securely gripped while pressing evenly
- Comes with a heat mat and carrying case
- Dual voltage for use in any country
- Adjustable heat settings from 250°F to 460°F
- Not as effective on coarse or thick hair
- Analog (non-digital) heat dial for temperature control
For frizzy, dry hair, the Bio Ionic OnePass Nano Ceramic Straightening Iron creates smooth, sleek, healthy looking hair. It uses nano-ionic technology, which breaks water molecules down into tiny particles to hydrate your hair while you style.
This straightener is good if you have trouble keeping your hair securely pressed between the plates with other flat irons.
The unique thing about the Bio Ionic OnePass are the silicone strips built into one plate that help grip and secure your strands while you press and straighten. You might think it would snag hair, but it actually does the opposite! The extra grip helps keep your hair in order and allows it to straighten more evenly in one pass.
The control dial has 5 marked heat settings from 240°F to 400°F, which provides enough heat for most hair types without burning or melting. It also has a nice ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold and easy to handle.
As the name implies, you should be able to straighten your hair in one pass. In reality, if you have super curly or kinky hair, you may need a couple passes or more to get bone straight locks. It helps if you blow dry and straighten with a brush first before finishing with the OnePass for a completely sleek finish.
The straightener comes in both a 1” and 1 ½” width. Try the 1 ½” to save time if you have long hair – it has an additional silicone strip on the second plate for even better grip and straightening efficiency.
All flat irons require regular wipe downs to prevent product build up, but you’ll need to pay a little more attention to cleaning the strips on the Bio Ionic OnePass. Wipe it down with a clean cloth after each use to keep it product-free.
- Nano ionic technology hydrates hair by breaking water molecules into tiny particles for better absorption
- Ceramic plates provide even heat and reduce damage
- Silicone strips grip hair without snagging
- Effective at straightening very curly, thick hair
- Contoured ergonomic exterior is comfortable to hold
- Silicone strips accumulate build up if not cleaned regularly
- May require more than one pass for some hair types
While it’s always advisable to get a flat iron with adjustable heat settings, there is one straightener that works like a charm but doesn’t have variable heat settings.
The ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance Styler is one of the newest premium straighteners that takes all of the guesswork out of the picture. It’s the first smart flat iron – you don’t set the temperature because it uses predictive technology to dynamically adjust the heat for your hair and styling speed as you straighten.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how it works, but ghd (which stands for Good Hair Day) built sensors into the plates that monitor the temperature of the plates as well as your hair. The sensors make constant adjustments to ensure the heat stays at a consistent 365°F so it doesn’t fry or burn your strands.
If you’re skeptical about this, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many others have doubted that an auto temperature controlled flat iron would straighten their hair well without ruining it.
But it does straighten like a pro, even on very curly hair, which is great because it simplifies the whole process. Several users whose ends feel dry and brittle after straightening with other flat irons report that the ghd Platinum+ leaves their hair feeling soft, supple, and healthy.
The iron itself is shaped like a wishbone, with one continuous panel that curves around to form the V-shape. There’s just a power button and a small speaker that beeps to let you know when it’s been powered on as well as when it’s ready for use.
Aside from it’s simple controls, the Platinum+ Styler can save you a ton of time too. It heats up in less than 30 seconds and straightens very efficiently so you don’t have to do many passes.
It also shuts down automatically after 30 minutes of non-use.
Hair glides smoothly through the floating ceramic plates, and the rounded housing makes it easy to create waves and flips too.
If you straighten often on the highest setting, you may want to consider the Platinum+ Styler to reduce the amount of damage you’re doing to your hair. The even, consistent temperature that the Platinum+ is able to maintain straightens more effectively than flat irons that get to a higher temperature, giving you better results with lower heat.
Lastly, make sure you don’t confuse the new Platinum+ smart styler with ghd’s older Platinum model (which does not use predictive smart technology and had issues with electrical faults). There are a lot of complaints about the Platinum short circuiting and dying an early death being attributed to the Platinum+, which does not have the same problem.
- Smart sensor technology in the plates monitors heat and your hair, adjusting as necessary to prevent damage
- Makes hair feel silky and soft
- Rounded edges are good for creating waves and flips
- Safe for colored hair
- Auto shut-off feature after 30 min of non-use
- 3-year warranty
- The auto temperature setting (365°F) may be inadequate for some hair types
Babyliss PRO is a well-known brand for quality straighteners and curlers. It’s hard to go wrong with any of their flat irons, but the Nano Titanium-Plated Ultra-Thin is particularly good for those with coarse, thick, or just plain stubborn curls that don’t like to be straightened.
This baby gets super hot – up to 450°F – and you do need to be careful because the outer housing also gets hot behind the plates. Keep that in mind while using (or to be safe, wear a protective glove).
The Ultra Thin is nice because it’s very lightweight (1 lb.) so you don’t end up with sore arms after straightening your hair. The thin casing is great for getting close to your roots as well as between and around sections of hair if you do a couple mini-passes near your scalp before pulling through the full length of your strands.
Another nice feature is that it has longer plates than other flat irons (5” vs. ~4” or less on standard straighteners). The extended length can process larger sections of hair at a time, making it more efficient. Some people find the extended plates unwieldy, though.
- Slim, lightweight design is easy to hold and less tiring to use for extended periods of time
- Nano Titanium plates heat quickly, provide enough heat, and glide across hair smoothly without snagging
- Thinness allows you to get close to your scalp
- 50 adjustable heat settings up to 450°F
- Outer housing gets hot while heated
- On/Off button placement not ideal – can easily turn it off while using
Another giant in the hair care industry, CHI has been around for at least a couple decades and is well-known for their ceramic straightening irons. Their G2 flat iron combines both ceramic and titanium in the plates, which provides superior heat retention and straightening capabilities.
CHI’s G2 gives you the choice of custom heat settings or pre-set options. The power and digital controls are on the inside of the iron, which is nice so you don’t accidentally change the heat setting as I often do with straighteners that have a control dial on the side.
There’s a wide range of temperature settings too – from as low as 180°F up to a max of 425°F in 5° increments.
Alternatively, you can also use the Mode (“M”) button, which cycles through 3 color-coded temperatures – blue (370°F) for fine/thin hair, green (395°F) for medium, and red (425°F) for coarse/thick.
The floating plates have rounded edges, which give you a secure, smooth glide without any pulling. The mixture of ceramic and titanium plates don’t lose heat between passes like some flat irons do. You can also easily create pretty curls or waves with it.
It’s available in both the 1” or the 1 ¼” widths, which is useful for straightening faster if you have long hair. Several users were surprised at how much time they saved using the G2 Ceramic and Titanium Flat Iron, some cutting their styling time in half or more!
One feature that gets mixed reviews is it’s really long, 11-ft. cord. Some love it for the freedom it gives them to plug it into an outlet that’s far from their mirror while others complain that the length gets in the way and is annoying to store.
- Digital temperature controls allow for custom or pre-set heat settings (with color-coded display)
- Ceramic and titanium plates provide even heat distribution, fast heat-up and good durability
- Custom heat settings in 5° increments from 180°F to 425°F
- Comes with a thermal mat to protect countertops
- Dual-voltage 110V-240V for international use
- No auto shut-off
- Some users have experienced inconsistent heat
Why Curly Hair Needs Special Care When It Comes to Straightening
Straightening curly hair requires more care and attention than wavy or straighter hair. That’s because curly hair is drier and more prone to breaking than straight hair, so it requires additional care to keep it healthy and intact.
Despite it’s more voluminous look, curls are more fragile than straight or wavy hair. It has less water content and natural oils, which make it more dry and frizzy.
An important fact about curly hair that shouldn’t be overlooked is that it’s more porous than straight hair. What this means is the cuticle layer is raised or open, exposing the shaft to the elements, versus straight hair’s flattened or closed cuticle, which does not allow moisture or heat to pass through as easily.
Because of it’s high porosity, curly hair is able to absorb water quickly (why it frizzes in humid conditions), but it also loses moisture just as quickly. Since heat is drying, straightening curls dries hair out even more.
Not to mention, each individual strand varies in diameter because of all the bends in the shaft, which means there’s more potential for breakage when applying heat.
Curly Hair Types
No discussion about curly hair would be complete without acknowledging the fact that there are multiple curl types and patterns.
We won’t go into great detail about each one here, but it is good to mention that all hair types are usually classified into 4 groups, with curls making up groups 3 and 4:
Type 1: Straight Hair – no natural bends
Type 2: Wavy Hair – tousled, loose S-shaped waves
Type 3: Curly Hair – loose to tight and springy S-shape curl that bends back towards itself
Type 4: Kinky/Coily Hair – very tightly coiled S or Z-shape curl
Within each group there are subgroups (A-C) that further classify the type of hair you have.
On top of all the variations, you can also have more than one specific type on your head. Suffice it to say, not all hair types – even for one person – are the same!
Flat Iron Buying Guide for Curly Hair
Since everyone’s curl pattern is different, it’s important to know your curl and hair type (fine, medium, or coarse). This will help you determine which flat iron will work best for you.
What to look for:
1. Plate Material
For fine, chemically-treated, or damaged Type 3 curls: look for ceramic or tourmaline ceramic plates. Ceramic distributes heat evenly and produces negative ions, which smooths frizz and helps protect against damage. It’s also very smooth and glides well against hair.
An even better combination is a tourmaline-infused ceramic straightener. Tourmaline is a crystal that gets ground into a fine powder and added into the plate. It generates even more negative ions than ceramic alone, creating shine so your hair looks smooth and healthy.
Added bonus if you can get a flat iron that produces far-infrared heat, which is less damaging because it heats the hair shaft from the inside out.
For coarse, thick Type 4 hair: you’ll need higher heat to straighten your locks, so look for an iron that can get to at least 430°F. Titanium plates heat up quickly and are more effective at transferring heat to hair.
If used properly, a titanium flat iron keeps damage to a minimum by straightening hair more effectively with fewer passes. They are also anti-corrosive, making titanium flat irons a good investment if you plan to straighten often.
2. Temperature Control
Always look for adjustable heat settings that you can set to the appropriate temperature for your hair. If you have fine or weak hair, you’ll want a straightener that can be set to under 300°F.
Conversely, if you have very coarse or resistant strands, you’ll want an appliance that can get up to around 430°F. Even if you have healthy, thick hair, don’t turn up the heat to the max temperature if it goes any higher that as human hair burns at 450°F.
Other Features to Look For
Aside from plate material and variable heat settings, the following are also good to consider:
- floating plates to ensure a secure clamp on your strands as you pull them through
- auto shut-off after a period of time if you’re forgetful
- dual-voltage if you plan on travelling internationally with your hair straightener
- plate width – 1” – 1 ½” plates are great for most styling, but if you have short hair or want to straighten near your roots, you’ll need a narrower plate
Don’t Skimp on Quality
If you plan on straightening often, it’s important to pick a high quality flat iron that will both effectively straighten your hair while reducing the amount of heat applied.
I can’t stress this enough – your natural curls are beautiful and precious. Unfortunately, they are also more susceptible to damage and breakage when styling with heat.
With lower quality irons, you may find yourself doing multiple passes to get your hair straight. While you might not see any damage right away, the cumulative stress and damage will eventually dry out, fry, or break your strands.
How to Prep Curly Hair for Straightening
Just as important as using the right flat iron is properly prepping your hair for straightening.
First, you’ll want to wash your hair with a frizz-control shampoo and conditioner to help tame the frizzies. (If your hair is very dry, use a deep conditioner.)
After shampooing, rinse your hair with lukewarm or cool water and then apply conditioner to your hair, especially around your ends. Don’t use conditioner on your scalp.
After you’re done showering, towel dry your hair with a microfiber cloth or an old t-shirt instead of a cotton towel. It’s gentler on your hair and won’t pull on your curls.
Lastly, evenly apply a heat protectant to all of your strands and let dry (either naturally or blowing it out) before straightening.
Should You Blow Dry or Natural Dry Before Straightening?
It depends. If you have relaxed, damaged, or very fine hair, it’s better not to subject your hair to any more heat than necessary. If you don’t have super curly hair, allowing it to dry naturally will keep it healthier.
If you still need to blow dry, air dry about 75% of the way before using a hair dryer.
For kinky or coily hair, blow dry using a round brush, straightening and smoothing your curls out so your strands are semi-straight before flat ironing.
Flat Iron Do’s and Don’ts
Ok, now that you’ve got properly prepped hair, let’s go over a few do’s and don’ts when using your straightener:
- Use small sections of hair to ensure that each strand gets enough heat to straighten in one or two passes. It might seem like it will take longer this way, but it will actually save you time because you won’t need to do the same section over and over again. (This saves your hair too.)
- Make sure hair is completely dry before straightening. If your strands are still wet or damp, the heat from the flat iron will cook them!
- Practice straightening with a cool iron first so you get the hang of it before applying heat (especially with a new straightener).
- Use hair spray or any other product other than heat protectant before straightening. You don’t want to create stickiness and product build up on the plates.
- Straighten everyday. Try to keep your straightened locks for a few days before washing (use a dry shampoo to keep your scalp from getting greasy).
- Start with high heat. If you’re not sure what temperature setting is best for your hair, always start with a lower setting (under 300°F if you have fine or damaged hair, or 350°F for medium hair). Work your way up incrementally if the heat isn’t enough to straighten your hair.
For my money, the Karmin G3 is truly a girl’s best friend for straightening curly hair. It’s got the best combination of plate materials, grip, and adjustable heat settings to give you smooth, sleek hair with as little effort and damage as possible. It’s great for travel too being dual-voltage, lightweight, and easy to pack with it’s carrying case + rollout heat mat.
The Karmin G3 also comes with a 3-year warranty, so you’re covered if there are any manufacturer defects.
That being said, any of the flat irons above are excellent, so just make sure you get the one that fits your hair best.