Flat irons, or hair straighteners, are one of the most commonly found hair styling tools on the market. They are somewhat similar to curling irons but have some major differences. Flat Irons range in quality, and prices can be anywhere from $25 for a cheap model to over $200 for professional models like the BaByliss Pro, designed to stand up to everyday use in a salon environment.
There are different lengths, widths, temperature settings, brands, colors, and cord lengths. However, the most defining feature of flat irons is arguable the type of material used to create the heating surface.
The most popular materials, by far, are ceramic and titanium. These two materials are different in almost all ways but one- they’re both excellent heat conductors. This is important because a hair straightener’s reliability is almost completely dependent on how quickly and efficiently heat is conducted through the system.
In today’s article, we’re going to take a detailed look at the question of Titanium Vs Ceramic Flat Iron. Which is best, and what’s the difference?
First, though, let’s start off with a bit of design history, so you have some context to go along with the products.
A Brief History of Hair Straightening
Since the dawn of early civilization, humans have been finding creative new ways to style their hair. Archaeological findings have discovered that both women and men have been styling their hair and beards. From ancient stone carvings depicting nobles with curled hair to depictions and paintings in the Egyptian pyramids, it’s evident that hairstyle was one of the most important aspects of any culture.
Some cultures treated their hair as art (like the ancient Egyptians and Mayans); some tried to grow their hair out as long as they could (in Native American tradition). Renaissance-era Europe saw artists and nobles curling their hair with primitive curling irons and wearing wigs if they didn’t have the patience for curling.
Today, nothing has changed.
A person’s hairstyle is more important than ever, and the only thing that has changed is the tools that we use to manipulate and style our hair.
One of the first examples of an early hair straightening device was the hot comb. This simple device was created in the late-1800s by Parisian nobleman Francois Marcel Grateau and revolutionized French hairstyles. Later, the hot comb was popularized in African-American culture by Madame C. J. Walker, who promoted the use of the comb to straighten the thick, tight curls in African hair types.
Now we have more modern tools like automatic curling irons.
Inventing The Modern Hair Flat Iron
Once electricity came around, it changed the game forever. Hairstylists no longer had to rely on fire and dangerous processes to straighten hair. Instead, they could use heat coils to rapidly heat an iron straightening surface.
Although iron is no longer used in today’s hair straighteners, the tool still bears its original name- the flat iron. Iron was used at first because it was one of the most abundant metals on the market. In addition to this, iron is one of the most conductive heavy metals in existence.
Iron had one critical drawback, though- it would get too hot.
As you can imagine, this created a lot of problems. If you didn’t know what you were doing and have superior control over the flat iron, it was all too easy to burn your hair and damage it beyond repair! Hence why hair straightening was regarded as a professional service up until our modern-day flat iron was invented.
Once manufacturers developed a way to use ceramic and titanium as a heating surface, it changed the game forever. Both materials were conductive enough to straighten hair but wouldn’t overheat and burn hair. Suddenly, what was once a professional service became something that the everyday woman could do as part of their morning routine!
How Flat Irons Work
Before we get into the technical differences between ceramic and titanium heating plates, let’s take a brief look at how flat irons are able to straighten your hair and why certain features are more important than others.
Breaking Hydrogen Bonds
Flat irons work by breaking Hydrogen bonds in your hair. As hydrogen in the natural atmosphere bonds to your hair, it causes it to change shape. For example, the reason why your hair gets frizzy in humid weather is due to all of the moisture in the air.
Since water is made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen, there’s an increased presence of hydrogen in the air, which gives your hair a mind of its own and adds layers of volume to your hair as the hydrogen molecules push apart from each other.
There are two things that can change this: heat and water.
When you hop in the shower and get your hair wet, all of the water rearranges the hydrogen bonds, which is why even the curliest hair looks straight before you have a chance to dry it. However, as soon as your hair dries, it will begin to retake its natural shape and form if you don’t do anything else to change it.
This is where the heat comes in.
Your hair has three layers:
- The Cuticle (outermost layer)
- The Cortex (large middle layer)
- The Medulla (central core)
Water mainly affects the Hydrogen bonds in the hair’s cuticle, which is the thinnest layer of your hair. However, your hair’s natural shape is stored in the cortex, which is the largest portion of a strand of hair.
The heat applied with a hair straightening iron is able to penetrate through the cuticle and into the cortex to change the shape of the hair itself- at least temporarily.
Of course, there are risks associated with over-using hair straighteners or using them at scorching temperatures. The thinner your hair is, the lower temperature you should be using if you want to ensure that your hair doesn’t sustain lasting damage.
As long as you’re careful, give your hair a break from time to time, and use protective sprays to prevent heat damage, you shouldn’t have any reason to worry! Just keep in mind that your hair can become greasy if you use too much heat protectant.
The Flat Iron District
Aside from the titanium vs. ceramic flat irons question, a couple of other important features will also play a role in how effective your flat iron is, regardless of which material you end up going choosing.
Heating Plate Size
You could have the most technologically advanced heating plat material in the world, but if the plate size is too small or too large, it wouldn’t matter.
When it comes to straighteners, most plates range anywhere between 1-inch-thick and 2-inches-thick. 1-inch straighteners are the most common, and if you have medium-length hair, this will be your best option. 1.5 to 2-inch-thick heating plates should be reserved for those who have long, thick hair with multiple layers.
If you have hair that’s naturally very curly, you’re likely going to need a flat iron that can heat up to higher temperatures in order to break through your hair’s natural programming. Most hair straighteners on the market can heat up to around 425 to 450-Degrees Fahrenheit, but some are limited to 380 to 400-Degrees.
Lower temperatures are perfect if you have thin or straight hair, but you should definitely be on the lookout for a flat iron that will give you the most possibilities.
Titanium vs Ceramic Flat Iron
Although both materials are durable, high-quality options, there are some pros and cons that accompany each different type of heating surface. Generally speaking, ceramic flat irons tend to be a little bit more expensive than titanium flat irons (although, ironically, they tend to be more fragile).
Ceramic flat irons typically have excellent heat distribution, which allows you to quickly run through locks of hair and gives you a smooth flow. Keep in mind that flat irons don’t just straighten, they can also curl hair as well!
Titanium flat irons, while not quite as smooth, have the advantage of giving your hair more shine.
Since it’s a little bit more common, we’ll start by looking at the pros and cons of titanium flat irons and show you some of our favorite models. After that, we’ll move on to the pros and cons of ceramic flat irons and also show you some of our favorite models in that category as well.
Pros and Cons of Titanium Flat Irons
Titanium has grown in popularity as a hair straightening tool mainly due to the fact that it’s corrosion-resistant. The old-fashioned iron hair straighteners’ biggest problem is that they would constantly rust and would need to be cleaned consistently.
At first, you may not think that corrosion would be a big issue when it comes to a hair straightener. However, keep in mind that the best time to straighten your hair is when it’s partially wet. Unfortunately, when iron, water, and heat mix- they rust.
In addition to water, most people use hair chemicals and heat, protecting liquids on their hair during the process of straightening their hair. This can add to the problem even more!
Titanium is the perfect alternative because it’s 100% corrosion-proof, so you can use it on wet hair or with different liquid hair products, and be rest assured that you’ll never run into a problem!
Titanium is also a very resilient metal and holds up well to accidental drops. Ceramic flat irons tend to crack in half the second they’re dropped.
Another great reason to select a titanium flat iron is that the material is negatively-charged. If you think back to chemistry class, then you’ll also remember that your hair is positively-charged. This means that as you run your hair through the heating tongs, the titanium will discharge your hair as the positive ions jump to the metal.
The result is that your hair looks bright and shiny for a few hours, which can make for a truly stunning look if you’ve got a hot date or you’re going out partying.
The one drawback of titanium is it’s not quite as good as ceramic is at heat distribution. Although this is largely dependent on the brand and the quality of titanium, cheaper titanium flat irons can often have some spots that are hotter or colder than others, leading to an uneven heating surface. This, in turn, means that you may have to run your hair through the tongs more than once.
- Titanium is corrosion-resistant.
- Titanium is durable and drop-proof.
- Titanium is negatively-charged and gives your hair a shiny finish.
- Titanium isn’t the best at providing even heat distribution.
Our Top Picks For Titanium Flat Irons
Now, let’s take a look at some of the top-selling titanium flat irons on the market. If you want to see more, you can see our FHI Tourmaline Flat iron Review, our BaByLiss Pro Flat Iron Review, and our look at the Best Flat Irons for African American hair types.
If you’re in the market for a titanium hair straightener with a wide heating plate, then you can’t go wrong with KIPOZI’s 1.75-inch professional series flat iron. This small, affordable flat iron is packed full of innovative features that offer salon-grade quality for a price that won’t break the bank.
The large heating plate is perfect for those who have long, thick, or curly hair types. The powerful panels are able to tackle even the toughest hair with ease. KIPOZI only uses high-grade titanium as well, so you’ll never have to worry about those uneven hot spots that tend to plague some of the cheaper brands on the market.
The feature that we like most about this flat iron is that it has fully-adjustable digital temperature control. The range goes from 170 to 450-Degrees, giving it a broader range than most of the other products on the market. So, whether you have thin, damaged hair or you’re working with thick, healthy hair, you’ll be able to select the perfect temperature setting!
As a little bit of icing on the cake, you’ll even be given a free velvet storage bag to keep it safe when you’re not using it.
- Features a wide 1.75-inch titanium heating plate.
- Fully adjustable digital temperature display with a range from 170 to 450-Degrees Fahrenheit.
- Features precision-molded plates for a tangle-free experience.
- Auto-shutoff safety feature turns the straightener off after an hour if the sensor doesn’t detect use.
- It comes with an 8-foot-long cord, so you’ll never have to struggle to find an outlet.
- Built-in dual-voltage adaptability for use overseas.
- Comes with a reusable box and a free velvet storage bag.
If you’re a sucker for elegance, then you’ll love VANESSA’s luxury titanium hair straightener. Like the KIPOZI we reviewed above, it features a seamless digital temperature display, so you’ll never have to do any guesswork.
One of the most innovative features of this particular model is that it utilizes a special silver-infused titanium alloy that not only gives the heating plates a mirror-like finish but also adds to the ionizing effect of the titanium, giving your hair an ultra-shiny finish.
VANESSA’s flat iron can also double as a curling iron! Although not quite as effective as a traditional curling iron, the rounded paddles allow you to wrap your hair around them to create perfectly-rounded, bouncy curls.
Last but not least, this flat iron heats up to its maximum temperature in just 15-seconds! While the difference between a 30-second heating time and a 15-second heating time may seem negligible, it speaks volumes about the science behind VANESSA’s ultra-efficient heating coil system.
The one drawback of this product compared to the KIPOZI model we just reviewed is that it doesn’t offer the same options for temperature control. While they both feature a maximum temperature of 450-Degrees, this model’s minimum temperature is 265-Degrees, whereas KIPOZI’s goes as low as 170-Degrees.
- Features 11 temperature settings ranging from 265 to 450-Degrees.
- Digital LCD temperature display.
- It can double as a curling iron.
- Heats up in 15-seconds.
- Dual-voltage compatibility for universal use.
- Silver-infused titanium provides added shine.
- Features a modern, elegant design.
- THE WORLD'S LONGEST PLATE -- The Nano...
- DURABLE AND HANDY -- VANESSA...
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Pros and Cons of Ceramic Flat Irons
The use of ceramic in flat irons is becoming increasingly more common. Ceramic is made from a non-metallic substance such as clay. This clay has incredibly high heat resistance, and once you put it in a kiln (a large extra-hot oven) for an extended period of time, it hardens into ceramic, which can then be used to make toilets, tooth fillings, and hair straighteners!
Ceramic has grown in popularity as a flat iron heating surface for two key reasons- it’s 100% corrosion-resistant, and it has near-perfect heat distribution.
Since it’s not metal, you’ll never have to worry about rust build-up or chemical stains from using different hair products. This means that the surface will remain clean and smooth for years.
The key advantage that ceramic has over titanium is that it’s better for heat distribution. As the material is uniform and doesn’t have the same air pockets that certain lower grades of titanium have, the entire heating plate will heat to the same temperature. This means that you’ll be able to straighten your hair faster, and you won’t have to perform multiple passes as you would with some of the cheaper titanium flat irons.
The only drawback to ceramic is that it breaks easily. This means that you’ll need to be extra careful not to drop your straightener, as even a short drop can crack the fragile plates in half and damage the heating coils. You may still be able to use it, but it won’t function as smoothly.
- Ceramic provides uniform heat distribution.
- Ceramic is 100% corrosion-resistant.
- Ceramic straightens hair faster than titanium.
- Ceramic doesn’t give your hair that extra shine.
- Ceramic breaks easily when dropped.
Our Top Picks For Ceramic Flat Irons
Now that you’ve had a chance to look at some of the top titanium hair straighteners on the market let’s take a look at the best ceramic flat irons on Amazon! You can also take a look at our Sultra the Bombshell Flat Iron Review.
The Infrarose Styler by the Skin Research Institute is easily one of the most high-tech flat irons on the market. If the beautiful aesthetics don’t sell you, then it’s other features will certainly grab your attention.
A unique feature of this model is its built-in red light therapy beam. The beam is positioned in between the quad-plates and provides a regenerative effect on your hair, which helps to limit the damage that high temperatures can cause your hair.
The plates have a ceramic base but are also infused with tourmaline- a negatively-charged crystal. This combination means that even though the Infrarose Styler is a ceramic flat iron, it’s able to give you the same beautiful sheen that a titanium flat iron can!
- 1-inch wide heating plates.
- Built-in red light therapy beam for healthier hair.
- Tourmaline-infused ceramic plates provide an ionizing effect.
- Includes a travel-friendly box for easy transportation.
- Features a 360-degree swiveling cord.
- Digital temperature control with a range of 210 to 450-Degrees.
- Industry-leading 1 year warranty on parts and 60-day money-back guarantee.
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If you’re on a budget and you don’t need all of the extra bells and whistles, then REVLON’s Perfect Straight ceramic flat iron provides a quality product at a price point that won’t break the bank.
It’s simple, lightweight, and easy-to-hold so you can style for hours without your arm getting tired. It doesn’t have digital temperature control, but it does feature ten variable temperatures ranging from 230-Degrees all the way up to 455-Degrees (5 degrees higher than most flat irons).
The best feature about this lowkey hair straightener is that the edges are slightly rounded so you can even create some waves or light curls if you’re trying to change your look up a little!
- Available with 1-inch or 1.5-inch heating plates.
- Affordable price point.
- Ten temperature settings ranging from 230 to 455-Degrees.
- Lightweight, easy-to-hold design.
- Rounded paddles so you can create waves and light curls.
- 1 inches XL Advanced Ionic Tourmaline...
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By now, you should be an expert on flat irons! From the history of hair straighteners to the difference in titanium vs ceramic flat iron, you’re armed with all the information that you need to make the best choice for your hair.
Whether you’ve got thin hair, thick hair, or you’re somewhere in between, at least one of these straighteners is perfect for you. So go ahead, treat yourself to some new hairstyling tools and go be fabulous!