As a millennial, I have lived to see some of beauty’s greatest hits when it comes to trends, from butterfly clips and frosted pink lipgloss to messy buns and, of course, the era of stick-straight hair. And as an aspiring beauty editor, I followed the trends almost religiously. I woke up every morning before school and refused to leave the house until every strand of hair was straight—I even had the double mirror to check the back. (My mom helped, too). Looking back, I cringe at the thought of the number of times I would straighten the same section of hair over and over, ultimately damaging my already-fine, soon-to-be-highlighted hair.
As I’ve gotten older and continued to educate myself in the beauty industry, I've come to one conclusion: In order to achieve your beauty goals, you have to first understand what you’re working with. For example, I now understand that I have thin, fine hair; therefore, I know a little bit of product truly goes a long way. I understand that my color-treated hair can be easily damaged, so I opt for hydrating hair masks and supplements that promote hair health and growth. I also understand how to properly use heat tools to achieve the look I want without causing permanent damage. Though avoiding heat is the greatest gift you can give your hair, I’ve realized you can’t avoid heat forever—some days, you just crave that flat-ironed look or a soft wave.
Thus, I have mastered the art of flat-ironing hair while also maintaining its health—yes, it can be done. I follow a few simple guidelines, like keeping the heat on the lowest setting, using a heat-protectant spray, and investing in flat irons that evenly distribute heat throughout the hair. And let’s be real—it can be scary to test which flat iron is best for damaged hair because it’s a major risk to your hair’s health. Fortunately, over the last decade or so, I have put in the dedication and research to prove you can indeed use a flat iron on fragile hair.
Keep scrolling to discover the best flat irons for damaged hair. Your strands will thank you later.
This flat iron has been my go-to for the last several years. Recommended by celebrity hairstylists and owners of Mark Ryan Salon Ryan Trygstad and Mark DeBolt, this flat iron monitors heat 250 times per second and does not go above 365º to ensure you can't damage your hair.
Ryan Pearl—hair genius and colorist at renowned IGK salon—recommends T3. "This one is great because the heat is evenly distributed throughout the iron, and it also has temperature settings to lower or raise the heat to the desired level," he reveals.
Though this one errs on the pricier side, your hair health is priceless, and Dyson's straightener is designed with flexing plates to gather your hair for more control so you can get the look with less heat and less breakage.
Enhanced with natural volcanic minerals that emit negative ions that penetrate water molecules deep into the hair, this flat iron will leave your hair more hydrated rather than dry and damaged.
I love this flat iron when I want to create a beach wave. Because it's only an inch, it gives me more precision in creating the shape I want, and therefore, I don't have to repeatedly go over a specific area.
If you're in the market for a travel companion, this flat iron is your answer. Expert advice: Always opt for flat irons that have customizable heat settings, like this one, so you can be in full control.
I have to be honest—I was skeptical about this one because of the price. It was too good to be true. Because this is designed with advanced copper-and-ceramic plate technology, it helps reduce over-styling through even heat distribution.
Behold the power of steam. This flat iron has an innovative stream technology that surrounds the hair with steam—though it never gets the hair wet—to style twice as fast, leaving the hair ultra smooth. The best part? The steam allows for 91% less breakage than your average heating plates.
Consider this flat iron your breath of fresh air. Because it has tiny vents spread throughout, it allows your hair to cool, protecting it from heat damage and locking in your desired style.
There is a reason this flat iron is a best seller. Equipped with micro-sensors to regulate and evenly distribute the heat, it prevents any future hair damage.
Ceramic plates are largely considered the safest for damaged hair, but the titanium plates and outer shell on this iron keep it from warping under high heat, so it won't catch or snag your hair over time.
Traveling is no excuse to let inferior products infiltrate your hair routine. This mini straightener was developed by celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess and quickly heats up to 380º for damage-free touch-ups.
The Best Heat Protectants
Repeat after me: I will not use a flat iron without a heat-protectant product. Consider heat protectants non-negotiable when it comes to using flat irons on damaged hair. Ahead, discover some of my favorite heat protectants that leave my hair sleek, shiny, and, most importantly, healthy after using flat irons.
Olaplex has become my best friend.
This is Pearl's go-to before applying heat. "I've used this all over fashion week and photo shoots to help protect the hair," says Pearl.
Here's a great option for those with curly and coily hair types. It adds shine while shielding delicate strands from heat.
"This is one of our favorites," explain Trygstad and DeBolt. "It's a great all-in-one protectant. Just remember to apply liberally to towel-dried hair," they add.
I love using this when I need to tame my frizz.
This silicone-free cream is perfect for styling all hair types. Just remember to keep the temperature under 450º. (If your hair is damaged, even lower, please!)
The latest addition to my haircare repertoire, Seen's Blow-Out Creme protects my hair and gives it volume without weighing it down, which is huge when you have fine hair.