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The Best Flat Iron…

Our Picks for the Best Flat Iron

We were skeptical of the Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron at first blush. For one, it seemed gimmicky. Why? It vibrates. And, two, it costs $230. Yep: a vibrating flat iron that’s almost four times as much as our budget pick.

In spite of our skepticism, this iron truly delivered. It seems the vibrations actually do what the company claims: shake every hair into place so that each strand gets touched directly by the hot plates at some point. Even at the lowest temperature settings, the results were impeccable — with none of the unwanted kinks or bends that we experienced with some of the less expensive contenders. Our stylists also pointed out this iron has volcanic ash mixed into the ceramic. This releases negative ions that close your hair’s cuticles, making hair smooth and sleek and not a staticky puffball.

All of our models’ hair came out super shiny and straight in one pass. Even our at-home tester was able to create a clean, polished salon look. Engaging the vibration was simple — click the power button and tap the plates together and you’re ready to go. The low hum is subtle and not distracting, and you can hardly feel the vibration in your hand. Though we should note that even without the vibration turned on, the Bio Ionic made clean, consistent passes.

Jarman commented that the vibration of the Bio Ionic worked really well, especially at the ends where they tend to jump out with other flat irons.

It feels natural in the hand, and its matte finish provides a slight grippiness, but doesn’t pull at the hair when styling. It also sports a unique shape plate that’s curved at the tip and makes it really easy to get close to the scalp.

As a styling tool, the 10X Pro Styling Iron was hard to beat. Without the vibration, it was easy to make soft, beach waves or loose curls, and if you want tighter curls, turn on the vibration, and voila. One of our at-home testers, who had never been able to replicate these on-trend looks herself, was able to create these three styles “like magic.”

The Bio Ionic 10X Pro Styling Iron is the most expensive machine we tested, but with this tool, you get what you pay for. You can truly do with your hair whatever you desire — straight or styled — in one pass. The Bio Ionic OnePass Straightener was the only other iron that delivered consistent one-pass results from a ceramic plate. For $40 more, the 10X has details that the OnePass lacked. One, the silicone “speed stripes” on the OnePass need to be wiped down after every use, and it’s easy to imagine gunk building up in those channels if you don’t. We don’t see most people doing this chore, especially daily. Its plastic casing also didn’t feel as comfortable as the 10X, and it heated up the slowest of all of the flat irons we tested — 57 seconds to reach 400 degrees compared to 41 seconds to hit 450 degrees for the 10X. Once it heats up, the OnePass also has an annoying green light that strobes.

The Bio Ionic is the Tesla of flat irons — an elegant, high-quality machine worthy of the price. It also comes with a five-year warranty. By investing in a better-quality machine up front, you won’t have to replace your flat iron every couple of years, which you’ll likely need to do if you go with a cheaper, ceramic-coated tool.

“Ninety percent of the irons I use are ceramic, but for resistant hair that needs extra heat, titanium is the way to go,” says Jarman. If you have stubborn curls or reverse texture hair, this flat iron is a solid pick. But, remember, titanium can be harsher on delicate hair, so it isn’t quite as universal.

For nearly half the price of our top pick, the Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron is not quite as astonishingly consistent in its straightening abilities. It’s the longest of all the models we tested at nearly 5 inches and it heated up quickly — 44 seconds to reach 410 degrees. It straightened quickly on all the hair types we tested including the reverse texture hair and had similar styling results as the 10X. It can straighten and make beachy waves. Plus, its thin profile could handle tight curls as well. That thin profile gets close to the scalp, but is prone to crimping and pulls some during styling. It didn’t feel quite as perfect out of the box compared to the 10X.

Its utilitarian design reminded us of a medical thermometer, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in the details. The Ultra CHI was the only flat iron we tested that lets you clip it closed while not in use. It also comes with a silicone sleeve that helps protect the plates during storage and travel as well as a Velcro strap for wrapping up the cord. For you neat freaks out there, this is a boon.

The Chi Ultra CHI Titanium Straightening Iron was the only iron that clicked closed. It also comes with a silicone sleeve to protect the plates for travel or storage.

Color us surprised at how much we liked the Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron with Titanium Plates. It straightened hair easily, though we had to go over it with more than one pass. On reverse texture hair, if we weren’t careful to hold the iron at the exact same angle through the entire length of the strands, slight bends showed up as lines in the hair. This happened once or twice per section and was easily fixed by going back over those spots, but, as you’ll remember, that’s something you want to avoid.

Solid Ceramic?

With budget flat irons, we had the most trouble confirming plate material, particularly those claiming to have ceramic plates. If you want to spend under $100, go with titanium plates like we did or assume the iron is ceramic coated. But, if you have fine or damaged hair, invest in an iron you know is ceramic; your follicles will thank you.

Our at-home testers didn’t think it had quite the glide of the Bio Ionic GoldPro (the cheapest Bio Ionic model at $120), but they had to do fewer passes. In terms of styling, creating soft curls was easy, but tighter curls were harder. The hair clung a bit to the matte finish, which resulted in a little pulling, though not anything too uncomfortable.

The Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron has a slim profile and was easy to handle. The Amika Digital Titanium Glide Obliphica 1” Styler, by comparison, was a bit bulkier, so it was harder to get close to the scalp and didn’t handle as well while styling. For example, smooth, non-textured hair had a harder time staying in place between the plates and splayed toward the edges. The Amika also required multiple passes and crimped if we weren’t careful. For more than twice the cost of the Hot Tools, we don’t think the Amika is worth it, unless you’re a sucker for a pretty design.

The Hot Tools Digital Touch 1” Flat Iron features thicker titanium plates than the Chi, which did cause some kinks. Easily removed though, with an extra pass.

The Hot Tools heated up quickly — 33 seconds to reach 450 degrees (the Amika was the fastest at 26.5 seconds). Its power and temperature buttons are on the side, which we liked. To turn it on/off or adjust the temperature, you have to give an intentional push. The Bio Ionic GoldPro and the Amika both housed their buttons on the inside, and while you couldn’t feel much of the residual heat on the controls, you obviously have to take care when changing temperatures once they’re on.

For a sturdy, reliable iron that met all of our needs at a fraction of the cost, this is a good choice even though you might need to do two passes on your hair to get the best results.

Hair Type


Best Plate Material

Coarse or thick

380°F and above


Wavy or curly

350°F – 370°F


Medium thick or straight

330°F – 350°F



300°F – 330°F


Fragile or fine

240°F – 300°F



Lowest available setting


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