Since the beginning of time, women have had the desire to have straight hair. The main problem was determining the best way to achieve this feat. In 1872, Erica Feldman used heated rods to straighten her hair, and the hair of anyone else who would let her. When women realized that they were not bound by the hair they were born with, the flood gates were opened.
In 1909, Isaac K. Shero patented a hair straightener which was composed of two flat irons that are heated and pressed together. This is the first known "flat iron" to ever be created. But with any industry there is evolution, a desire to make a current product better. Flat irons of today can more closely be credited to Scottish heiress Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield, who refined and combined previous efforts into a hinged, two plated heated iron in 1912.
Today the most effective flat irons have ceramic heating elements. The ceramic coating on these irons is much more effective due to the ability to provide constant heat while styling. Their heat up time has been reduced to about 10 seconds.
The quality of the plates on your flat iron are a large part of the overall quality of the iron itself. Better plates straighten the hair more easily and cause less damage. It is best to get an iron with a very hard ceramic coating that is sprayed in layers and baked on; this will perform the best.
Less expensive units usually do not have ceramic heating elements and some may have a paint-like coating that gives the appearance of ceramic plating. These cheaper coatings wear off very quickly and cause more damage to the hair.
The plates on most flat irons are made of aluminum and are coated with ceramic which is where they get their name - ceramic flat irons. True ceramic irons (like the Hana Elite and the FHI Runway) will not lose their coating after many uses like many of the cheaper imitations.
All ceramic irons produce ionic, far infrared heat that helps to seal in moisture and oils while reducing static and frizz.
Why is this beneficial? Flat irons work by breaking down the hydrogen bonds found in the hair's cortex, which cause hair to bend and become curly. Once the bonds are broken, hair is prevented from holding its original, natural form, though the hydrogen bonds can re-form if exposed to moisture. Therefore with the ionic and infra red technology you are able to seal in additional moisture that is normally lost in the straightening process, resulting in less split ends and other damage that can be caused due to overheating hair too regularly.
Hair straighteners should only be used on dry hair, unless they are specially made with vents to let the moisture out. These sorts of irons are usually called wet to dry flat irons.
As usual, be careful with any heat that you add to your hair and make sure that you buy a quality product that is going to help maintain the health of your hair rather then quickly deplete it.
The flat iron has changed and is now capable of taking your hair from curly to straight in a matter of minutes. If you want to make the transformation then you will have to do your research and get the product that is going to maintain the health of your hair and give you the look that you want. My advice to you is to avoid those $10 flat irons. Spend a little more and see a big difference in the health of your hair.
Thanks to Kristen of KristenLock.com for writing this article for Misikko!