Hair straighteners have proven to be quite the game-changer for those of us with non-chemically straightened Afro hair, providing the option to wear our hair straight from time-to-time without the permanence of relaxers or other chemically based hair smoothing systems. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that straighteners can be used on all Afro hair types, from tightly coiled 4c hair types, to hair that has indeed been straightened with chemicals.
Natasha John-Lewis, co-owner of My Hair Bar salon in London says, “Straightening Afro hair using straighteners can be beneficial as it helps to seal products into the hair and create more shine, as Afro hair tends to be quite low in lustre. We don’t recommend you straighten your hair more than twice a week as too much usage can result in heat damage, and you should definitely use a heat protectant prior to straightening."
We searched for the best hair straighteners that have the ability to effectively straighten all Afro hair types – curly, coily and straight – without creating damage, or creating that unwanted sizzle noise that suggests your hair is frying. We were impressed by the advanced technology inherent in many of the straighteners tested, and also the fact that many of the cheaper brands produced similar results as the more premium buys.
Cloud Nine The Wide Iron: £139, cloudninehair.com
One of the limitations of using straighteners is sometimes the narrow plates are slightly inadequate to deal with thick, voluminous Afro hair – but there was no such shortcoming with this wonder styler by Cloud Nine. As the title suggests, the plates are wider than most straighteners and is therefore ideal for those with thick or long hair.
Our tester has shoulder length, tightly coiled natural Afro hair and said it only required two passes to transform her hair to silky smooth. It took less than thirty seconds to heat up, and the heat control settings allow you to change the temperature with ease, with five to choose from that go up to 200 degrees Celsius. Our tester said that although ceramic plates are now pretty much a standard feature of hair straighteners, on this particular style they felt super smooth, and consequently made her hair feel silky as well as healthy.
Panasonic EH-HS99 Nanoe Ceramic Rose Gold Hair Straightener: £68.99, Boots
Our tester has curly Afro hair which she straightens every two weeks, but began to feel a bit concerned that use of regular heat might be taking its toll on her natural curls. She was looking for straighteners that would minimise the risk of damage and give it shine, and she felt these straighteners did both. Down to its special Nanoe technology that adds moisture to the tresses, it left our tester’s hair feeling soft and silky. The temperature settings made it versatile for different needs, and it heats up in seconds.
ghd Platinum + Professional Styler: £175, ghdhair.com
Ghd is definitely at the top of the food chain where straighteners are concerned, renowned for producing innovative products that safely straighten the hair. Although it’s been hard to keep up with the various models they have released in recent years, this particular styler is one of the brand’s most recent additions. The innovation attributed to the ghd Platinum + is the plates are integrated with sensors that recognise how thick the hair is and how quick you are styling it, and heats up accordingly.
The optimum heat for these is 185 degrees Celsius – which is lower than the 200 degrees Celsius or more that has been commonly known as the ideal temperature to straighten Afro hair. Our tester has tightly coiled Afro hair which she has been wearing in a blow-out style and was really impressed with the results.
She also loved the look of the tool, claiming its sleek black design epitomises tech innovation and luxury. What she loved most is the smoothness felt with every stroke across the hair lengths, and how that smoothness was replicated in the texture of her strands, which felt shiny and glass-like.
Glamoriser Bluetooth Smart Straightener: £79.99, Argos
These straighteners by Glamoriser tick all the boxes you’d require from a styler: quick to heat up, compact, straightens your hair quickly and leaves it feeling light and bouncy. Our tester describes her hair as medium length and natural, which she straightens on occasion. As someone who rarely uses straighteners she was really quite surprised by how far they’d come. After using these, she felt her hair looked as close to a salon finish that she could achieve herself.
Technology lies at the heart of the Smart Straightener, standout features include personalised heat settings to suit your hair type, ionic conditioning to help protect your strands, floating ceramic plates and Bluetooth compatibility which allows you to switch off your straighteners from your phone five to 20 minutes after you have finished using them. A great added bonus: the plates are quite narrow so ideal for getting closer to the root.
Remington Air Plates: £34.99, Argos
Air Plate by Remington feels weightless in comparison to its competitor brands, but this in no way diminishes its quality and high-performance. Our tester was wowed by the results, her 8-10 inches of Afro hair was straightened quickly with one pass, and didn’t revert back hours later, which is often the case when she straightens it herself.
Touted as the world’s first suspended plates, this lends to an ease of use, which will make even the most novice stylist feel confident and capable at straightening their own hair. The only downside is the on button is a little clumsy when compared to the other straighteners we tested.
BaByliss Pro Advanced Ceramic Styler: £39.99, hairtrade.com
BaByliss Pro with nano-titanium plates promises a smooth flawless finish, and it delivers. It heated rapidly up to 230 degrees Celsius without drying out our tester’s curly/wavy Afro hair. Our tester usually has to go over her hair several times to achieve the bone straight look she favours, or she has to meticulously straighten section-by-section. But the result with this styler was straight, soft and shiny hair with strands intact thanks to the smooth rounded plates as opposed to the usual cornered ones which can cause snags. The design is compact, chic and shiny – not cumbersome at all. At under £40 it is reasonably priced, without compromising on results or design.
Label.M Titanium Pro Straightener: £84.95, labelm.com
Label.M’s Pro Straightener provides ultra fast straightening due to its titanium technology. The plates transmit negative ions when hot so that your hair is frizz-free and smooth in one or two passes. Our tester has a curly/coily hair type and tends to wear her hair in braids or pressed straight. She said these straighteners were amazing for styling her ends, and enabled her to create a straight look, as well as a slightly wavy look which she often likes to do. She struggled to catch the roots of her hair though, so thinks these straighteners would be ideal for those who already have straight hair who require a quick restyle.
The Verdict: Straighteners for Afro hair
Cloud Nine Wide are the best all-round straighteners, providing super sleekness, ease of use, a wide plate that’s perfect for Afro hair and various temperature options. Close runner ups are ghd platinum + styler and Remington Air Styler, that also delivers superior straightening matched with market leading technological innovations.