When you’re shopping for straightening irons, you will probably realize there are a ton of different size options. The question is which one is best for you, and that can be tough to settle on when you’re new to this. I have had irons of just about every size, and there are different reasons for every width.
Width isn’t the only thing that can vary on a flat iron, some irons even have longer plates as well. However, if the iron is too long it can be hard to control which makes it way easier to burn yourself. While long plates help if you have a lot of hair to straighten, I personally think shorter plates are easier to control (and safer).
Hair straighteners most often come in 1 inch plate sizes like the BaBylissPro Porcelain Plate in Ceramic. It’s fairly standard, and it can be used on just about every kind of hair (long or short). While it’s not ideal for every situation, it should be suitable if you need an all-purpose hair straightener.
There are straighteners that come in sizes smaller than 1 inch, and they’re best for short hair as well as hair that require you to get very close to the scalp. This works for both thick and fine short hair.
Short, fine hair requires you to be able to control the amount of heat you are putting on it, so smaller plates are better. Thick hair that’s short often requires slow movement and consistent heat which can be better controlled with small plates.
Plates that range from 0.5 inch to 0.75 inch are considered small, and these are generally used for precision. Small irons (like the CHI Air Expert I reviewed here) mean straightening small sections, and problem hair often responds better to that while holding the style for longer.
Small and standard hair straighteners are also better for styling purposes if you want to use the iron for anything other than straightening. While it’s possible to use larger straighteners for curling, adding body and other quirky tricks, unless your hair is very long you won’t get much action out of a large iron. For tight or medium curls, waves, twists and other styles, you do need a straightener that is 1 inch or smaller.
The longer the hair the faster you’ll be able to straighten with a large bodied iron, but remember the heat is often the most important thing. It may take up extra time to straighten long hair with a small iron, but the right heat setting will keep your hair straight longer than the wrong one on a big iron.
Anything larger than a one-inch plate is considered a large iron, and larger plates are great for thick or fine hair that’s very long. Irons can be found in 1.25 Inch, 1.5 inch, 1.75 inch as well as 2 inch and even 2.5 inch models. Of course, the size you pick is also a matter of preference.
Grip and Weight
One of the bigger issues to watch for with your iron as the plates get larger is weight. Heavy can be difficult to use for too long, but too light can also be a problem. Lightweight irons can be easy to break.
Another thing many people don’t think about is what the grip is like. If you can’t comfortably hold a hair straightener, you aren’t going to want to use it when the time comes to get pretty. If you have small hands like I do, you need a straightener with a smaller grip which either means buying a small plate size or an iron with a handle that is smaller than the large plates. The one that has a great grip size for me is the Turboion Rbb Croc Classic.
If your hands are larger, a tiny iron might make it too easy to wrap your hand around too much when you’re using it, and then you can burn yourself. That’s not only uncomfortable but it’s dangerous (something else to think about before buying one).
Consider The Specs
Before buying a hair straightener, make sure you know what you need. The longer the hair the bigger the iron you can get away with, but styling is harder. If you want an all-purpose tool a 1-inch is the way to go. If you just want to straighten super long hair, the bigger the iron the better. For bobs and other short cuts, small means precision.