Do I really need professional tools?
Cheap hair tools can completely fry your hair off, creating irreversible damage that only time and a good haircut can mend, unless you go the Britney ’06 route.
Howeverrrr, professional tools are, well, expensive.
Do you really need to make the investment?
Here’s a guide to determine your own hair needs as well as determine where you can sidestep heavier pricetags.
(You can find links to my personal favorite selections at end of the post!)
Things TO consider:
The technology in the blowdryer will determine the pricetag. For instance, as a stylist, I want a reliable, warranty covered blowdryer with a long operating life. It needs to have a powerful motor, yet quiet (an AC motor instead of an old school DC motor), and as lightweight as possible as I’m holding it for hours. It needs an ergonomic handle, a nozzle attachment to smooth hair, and adjustable settings to accommodate various hair types. For all that, I pay top dollar.
Is that your same criteria as a regular, non-stylist civilian?
Probably not, just like I’m not looking for a Tour de France bike to ride around the block with my kids.
You DO want heat settings. You DO absoluuuutely want a nozzle. You do NOT want to pay less than $50 for a blowdryer, period. If you prefer volume and/or sleek hair, I’d recommend a dryer with a cool shot setting. If you have thick, coarse, or frizzy hair, I’d recommend shelling out a little more money. A nicer dryer for you is more worth it, and a good blow out for you is highly dependent on the dryer.
(Nicer hair dryers get HOT. With great power comes great responsibility. Don’t fry your hair off. Use the lowest setting that gets the job done, and always use the nozzle attachment so smooth your cuticle.)
Things that do NOT matter and are marketing ploys:
“Express” blow dry (the wetness/thickness of hair is going to determine your individual dry time), and ions. What? Never in my ten year career have I thought, “Wow, this client has great hair, probably because of all the negative ions in her blowdryer.” Supposedly, negative ions break up water molecules in hair, but I can assure you that I have never heard it even mentioned in the salon, with coworkers, or in classes. Ever. People would laugh if I raised my hand and asked a question about ions. Also, wattage. Don’t let that number on the box get you. It’s all about the same, unless we’re discussing travel size. Don’t be fooled into thinking a higher wattage is a reason to pay significantly more.
First of all, raise your right hand and oath with me: I will not flat iron my hair every single day. I will not leave the temperature on the highest setting. I will not sloooowly iron baby pieces of hair around my face and ask why they are ½” long next week.
Ok. Let’s proceed.
Professional flat irons are pricier because of the materials use. The heating coils inside the plates (same with most curling irons) are wavy, like an S shape, instead of linear. This is to prevent hot spots on the plates by creating an even temperature all over.
The plates should be either ceramic or tourmaline (for coarser hair), not metal.
You do NOT everrr want to go cheap on the flat iron route. If you use one, at all, period, end of sentence, invest in a nice tool. You’ll want to maneuver it through your hair differently depending on your hair type, but flat irons generally use cheap metal when you’re trying to save a buck.
Do I need to detail why you shouldn’t be touching your hair with hot, cheap metal? I will anyway.
It’s because you still want hair on your head.
Ceramic and tourmaline are smooth, so your hair doesn’t pull or snag.
I see more damage from absolutely ANYTHING from straightening hair, and cheap irons are hair suicide.
Again, this is a lesser issue of hair type, more an issue of poor material used that will likely snag your hair. That being said, above about a certain price point, I’d say most curling irons are comparable. I’d stick in the $40-60 range and consider it great!
A lot of people, including Chrissy, my hair idol from Habit Salon, use THIS BabyLiss curling iron. I tried to be a fan bc #fangirl, but the end is just too pointy for me to hang on to and tends to get hot. Apparently, it’s just me.
I’m always a fan of Hot Tools, and reaaaally love the Style Winder. I found the best price I’ve ever seen for a StyleWinder as I was linking tools, so I had to snag another one for myself! This one rotates as you curl, giving your hair the quickest, tousled waves. (1” or 1 1/14” barrel are the most commonly used sizes. If you’re unsure, stick with the 1”, and you can curl larger sections at a time to create a looser look if it’s too tight.)
Yep, a tool! Is this similar to the “but cheer is a sport” argument? Just because they’re cute doesn’t mean they don’t work hard in their category. (I didn’t ever cheer…)
I’m tossing brushes in the mix because ANY hair type will LOVE a Wet Brush…and I found a really cute selection on Tilly’s! While they’re under $10, this is another great investment. A solid brush. As a stylist, watching people rip through their hair with a crappy brush is like nails on a chalkboard. You can sell your soul for great products and pricey tools, but if you plow through your hair and break it, I mean… STAAAWP.
Just get this brush. It won’t break your hair combing it wet, it’s perfect for dry hair, and I’ve often used it to blow dry hair straight in place of a round brush.
And THAT, my friends, will help you become Becky with the good hair.
Here are affordable items you’ll love:
Here are pricier items I love and keep at the salon: