If you're looking to reduce the damage from heat styling to your hair but aren't willing to give up the sleek, straight look it creates, it's time to invest in an infrared flat iron. Flat irons are amazing styling tools to achieve stick-straight, shiny hair that blow drying alone can't achieve. Unlike traditional flat irons that can fry your hair, infrared straighteners use gentler heat that deeply penetrates hair and uses negative ions to lock in moisturize. The result is less damaged, less frizzy hair.
To learn more about infrared flat irons, read our shopping guide. We've also included our favorite products, like this time-saving hair straightener by Croc.
Considerations when choosing infrared flat irons
Titanium vs. ceramic
Infrared irons with ceramic plates heat up quickly and evenly. They are very effective at reducing frizz whether you have thin or thick hair. Titanium plates heat up quickly and are better at conducting heat, making them more effective on thicker, coarser hair.
If you have long thick hair, opt for an infrared hair with wider plates (two inches) to cut down on straightening time. For normal hair types, widely available one inch plates should do the trick. Flat irons with plates a half inch in width are great for bangs or travel.
Infrared heat is able to penetrate deep to the core of the hair cuticle making the higher heat of conventional flat irons unnecessary. However, you may still see infrared irons with high temperature ranges up to 450°. We recommend styling in the 360° to 380° range to avoid unnecessary damage, or a little higher if your hair is thick or coarse.
Temperature settings: Basic infrared flat irons have fixed settings with limited control over temperature. They might only have low, medium, and high setting options. Infrared irons with variable settings allow you to select the exact temperature in 10° to 30° increments, giving you more control over the heat.
Digital controls: Basic infrared irons have buttons or dials for power and temperature selection. More advanced flat irons may offer LCD displays or digital controls that make it easier to read the temperature and tell if the unit is hot.
Beveled edge: Flat irons that have plates with beveled edges allow for snag-proof styling. This feature also allows for styling curls or waves into the hair.
Swivel cord: For better maneuvering, select an infrared iron with a cord that can swivel 360°. This keeps the cord from getting in your way and eliminates having to switch hands mid-styling session. Also pay attention to cord length when selecting an iron that fits your needs.
Auto shutoff: This safety feature prevents fires from occurring if you've forgotten to shut off your flat iron. Units with this feature automatically turn off after 20 to 30 minutes of disuse.
Infrared flat iron prices
Infrared flat irons range in price from $20 to $180. If you straighten your hair a few times a week, a mid-priced model between $50 and $115 is a solid purchase.
Q. How is infrared heat different from conventional heat used in flat irons?
A. Infrared heat works by heating hair from the inside out rather than from the outside. This helps protect the outer cuticle that is vulnerable to damage and frizz.
Q. Can I use an infrared flat iron on wet or damp hair?
A. No, flat irons are not designed to dry your hair, but rather to straighten it using heat. It would be damaging to the hair and possibly the flat iron to use it on anything other than totally dry hair.
Infrared flat irons we recommend
Best of the best: Croc 11 2 Inch Infrared Titanium Flat Iron
Our take: A high-end infrared flat iron from a trusted brand.
What we like: Straightens hair quickly in one to two passes. Tri-plate design provides even heat and impressive smoothing power. Generates negative ions to seal in moisture.
What we dislike: Its dual voltage is a great feature, but doesn't always work.
Best bang for your buck: HSI Professional Digital Ceramic Flat Iron
Our take: An affordable infrared straightener with a plethora of features.
What we like: Digital display. Plates automatically adjust to hair's thickness. Ceramic tourmaline plates for anti-frizz. Comes with bonus accessories.
What we dislike: Variable temp setting in 20° increments — could be more precise.
Choice 3: Hot Tools Nano Ceramic Infrared Flat Iron
Our take: Versatile styling tool for straight or wavy looks.
What we like: Rounded edges can make curls or waves. Ideal straightener for thick hair. Heats up to 450°. Movable ceramic plates.
What we dislike: On the pricey side; may not be worth it for thinner hair types.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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