Monday, October 29, 2018

Your Guide to Hot Tools

Hot tools can be confusing. There are so many options out there and the price points vary dramatically. Sometimes it's hard to know why a hot tools may be good quality or bad. Is it really worth the price? So this is my guide for you! I am going to go over a break down of what makes hot tools unique and what to look for when choosing a high quality one.

My favorite affordable hair brand for tools is Hot Tools. They have great quality items that will last you a long time for anywhere from $35-$70. Most of their curling irons are around $50. If you watch at Ulta Beauty, you can often find these curling irons on sale for $10 off, as well as use most of the 20% off coupons that Ulta puts out on them. However there are other higher quality brands that are more expensive but they have all of the top notch options, like Babyliss and T3. But brand isn't everything! For example, one of my die-hard favorite flat irons out there is my Chi G2 Ceramic & Titanium 1" Hairstyling Iron. It's AMAZING. But Chi's biggest seller? Their $89.99 fashionable and cute flat irons - and those are some of my least favorite on the market. So it's not as much about brand as it is the actual makeup of the tool.

When choosing the right tool, it's about material. You need to have the right tool for your hair type. Typically, when choosing a curling iron you are going to encounter three words, titanium, ceramic and tourmaline.  Let me break down each one for you here.

CERAMIC PLATES are typically gentler on the hair and more smoothing. They heat up evenly which means you need fewer passes with a flat iron and you will get more consistent curl with a rod iron. They tend to be more cost effective than other options, and I personally recommend them for hair types that are damaged or porous. Babyliss Pro is an excellent option for hot tools as well, and you can see their ceramic curling iron pictured on the left.

 TITANIUM PLATES are lightweight and powerful. They are super effective and conductive, and they work faster than other options. They can also be a little harsher on your hair. I typically use these on super coarse hair and healthy hair. You can see the Hot Tools brand Radiant Blue Titanium Curling Iron to the right.

TOURMALINE PLATES are actually only infused with tourmaline. Tourmaline is a precious mineral that is crushed into a powder and baked into the plates during manufacturing. It amps up the gentleness and safety of using a hot tool a lot, and allows your hair to retain moisture best. Ceramic Tourmaline plates are the gentlest plates, but are best for fragile and fine hair that holds style well. Titanium tourmaline plates are a dynamite combination, because the strength of titanium is present, with the conditioning elements of tourmaline. Most of my tools are a tourmaline-titanium combination. You can see a Ceramic Tourmaline Hot Tools Marcel Curling Iron pictured on the left.

Here's the thing though, everyone's hair is different. There is no one-size fits all. That is why MOST of my tools are tourmaline-titanium, not all of them. So play around with it. Have you been using ceramic? Is it not working? Try tourmaline-titanium, does that not work? Switch to titanium. It takes trial and error but it is worth it. Try borrowing friend's tools, or purchasing from a store like Ulta, that has a great return policy.


This is SO important. It might even be more important than the material. And it's something that almost no one takes into consideration when buying a styling iron. Hair that is damaged, bleached, lightened, or porous should never use a tool over 350 degrees, and even that's high. Someone with coarse but very healthy hair may need to reach up to 425 degrees, but it is rare. But this isn't about getting a tool that is hot enough. It's about control. Can you truly control the temperature of your tool?

 SINGLE HEAT SETTING GAUGES are super popular. These are on many affordable flat irons and curling wands, and are what's used on the cutesy Chi Flat Irons I mentioned earlier. You can see a picture of what that looks like to the left. These flat irons are NOT GOOD. Run! Run people! Why? So these heat up to 350 degrees typically. But that's it. Is your hair porous? 350. Is it breaking off a lot recently? 350! Has it been resistant and in need of extra help? 350. You have NO control. None. And over time the heating plate will begin to cause the iron to not heat up correctly, resulting in an iron that's not hot enough, or worse - one that is to hot! It's simply not worth it.

MINIMAL SETTING GAUGES are also very common on lower end models, but can sometimes be spotted even on high end options. For example you will see it on this Sam Villa Flat Iron pictured to the right.The Sam Villa iron pictured has a spinning dial gauge, but none-the less the principal is the same. You have a high, medium and low option. This also does not stay true to temperature over time, but does give you a little more control than a single setting. The Sam Villa tools have a setting labeled Color Treated, which Sam feels is the perfect temperature for those with Colored hair, but not always.

DIAL GAUGES are most common of curling irons, and are seen on the tourmaline and titanium plated hot tools irons pictured above. To the left we have a picture of a Hot Tools Flat Iron. Dial Gauges are usually circular and have multiple temperature settings that are not just "high, medium, low" but the actual temperature in Fahrenheit. You have more control because you have 20+ options and can turn the dial just a touch to get a slightly lower setting. Typically over time these are known to loose heat, resulting in you turning the dial to 450, in order to get your iron to heat up to 350.

DIGITAL GAUGES are the last option. They typically have a range of 250-450 and you can go anywhere in between. Digital gauges are characterized by a screen as well as arrow buttons. Sometimes the gauges are sensitive enough to allow you to g up and down in temperature by 1 degree at a time, but most jump by 5 degrees, and some by 10. You can see a picture of a digital gauge on my holy grail flat iron that I mentioned earlier, the Chi G2 Ceramic & Titanium flat iron.These give you the most control. This is because not only do they have more temperature settings, but they heat up true to temperature longer. Most of them stop heating up entirely as opposed to not heating up as well.


A really good way to know hoe high quality your styling tool will be, is the warranty. Many consumer brands (like Revlon and Conair) don't have warranties on any of their irons. But pro brands like Chi, Babyliss and Sam Villa usually do. Most warranties exist because they make a consumer more likely to purchase your product, and a company typically puts a warranty on the product that is about half as long as the brand expects their item to last. If a manufacturer knows their flat iron only lasts a year, they would never put a 1 year warranty on it, because the likelihood that the implement will need replacement is higher. But a 4 month warranty should be fine. If an iron doesn't have a 1- 2 year warranty on it it won't last.

For example the Chi G2 Flat Iron I have mentioned has a 2 year warranty, but the their cheaper model that is more popular has no warranty (and sometimes has a 6 month warranty). Their cheaper model has a single heat setting gauge and ceramic plates (as opposed to ceramic and titanium). But they are more popular because Chi makes them in all kinds of colors as well as deigns and they often come with gifts like clips, bags or a brush.

Hopefully this guide has you feeling more prepared to make your next hot tool purchase.

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Thank you for reading and then commenting on my post! I appreciate your support and I hope my blog has been helpful to you! Let me know if you have any beauty related questions or products you'd like reviewed by sending me a message using the contact form on the right (which can not be seen on mobile devices).
-Angela ♥