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Styling Tools 101: Hot Tools and When to Upgrade

Alicia Boal

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Styling your hair with the correct hot tools is just as important as having a great haircut. There are many products on the market and at many price points, which could make things a bit confusing and overwhelming. But don’t worry—there are perfect hot tools for everyone. Let’s talk about the ins and outs of hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons, wands and more.

Hair Dryers

hot tools hairdryer at hair cutteryhot tools sam villa hairdryer at hair cutteryhot tools babyliss pro hairdryer at hair cuttery

The most obvious hot tool is a hairdryer. Most people have one no matter their hair type, length, etc., while some use it daily and others rarely. When you set out to buy a hair dryer, you may realize there is a large variety, each offering different benefits, so you need to think about the importance your hair dryer will play in your hair styling routine.

A good hair dryer can get a bit pricey, but spending the extra money will get you a dryer that lasts longer, dries hair faster and leaves hair smoother. You’ll notice many hair dryers say ionic which means they produce negatively charged ions that break down water molecules, thus speeding up drying time. These ions also leave the hair smoother, helping to eliminate frizz.

Another type you may have seen is ceramic. Like an ionic dryer, different features help speed up drying time but these use infrared heat that is gentler on the hair. Now combine these two concepts and you’d find a tourmaline hair dryer. Tourmaline is a precious metal and gets quite costly, but can dry hair up to 40 times faster and maximizes the negative ion output which seals down the cuticle layer of your hair, leaving it super smooth.

Other factors to consider are the hair dryers’ wattage, weight, and attachments.

  • The wattage determines how hot the dryer will get—the higher the wattage, the hotter it gets. A typical at-home dryer will range around 1400-1800 watts. If your hair is fine and fragile, don’t use the hottest setting as it might be too hot and create unnecessary stress; opt for the warm setting. If your hair is thick and coarse, that higher setting is better suited for you. Whatever your hair type, that mysterious cool-shot button is a good finisher as it helps smooth down the cuticle for less frizz.
  • If your hair is thick or really long and drying takes an immense effort, finding a lightweight hair dryer will be very important to you. Your arms and shoulders will thank you!
  • Many hair dryers will include a concentrator which helps direct the airflow and is especially helpful for a great blowout. However, if your hair is wavy or curly, a diffuser will be important to you. Some dryers come with several attachments, while others none, so keep that in mind.

One of our favorites is Hot Tools Ionic Lightweight Dryer. This dryer is ionic so will cut down on drying time and frizz, is lightweight for ease of use, has a long cord and comes with two accessories (a concentrator and pik). Its wattage is 1875 which will give that heat and power but does have adjustable heat settings. All these amazing features for about $50.

Flat Irons

Now that we’ve talked about the much-needed hair dryer, let’s look at other hot tools that can really make a style. There are flat irons, curling irons, wands, and smoothing brushes. Hair dryers are perfect for blowout styles, smooth and sleek styles, and curly diffused styles, but when you’re looking for more than that, you may reach for another styling aid.

First, let’s look at flat irons. Flat irons have two flat panels that you press together to clamp the hair and move the iron in a downward motion to smooth dry hair. Depending on the degree of straightening you’re looking for, there are different heat settings and ways to section the hair. Some people like to blow out their hair and get it quite smooth then quickly glide the flat iron over the top sections for a polished look, while others like to take small sections and really work the iron to gain an ultra-sleek, smooth look. There are also ways to curl with a flat iron by holding it at an angle when you move downward along the hair shaft.

It doesn’t matter if your hair is naturally curly or straight, a flat iron might be a tool you feel is a must-have. Ceramic and tourmaline infused flat irons give hair extra shine so it’s worth spending a little extra for this feature.

We recommend Hot Tools Digital 1” Ceramic Flat Iron. It has all the perks of a professional tool but at an affordable price. The plates are ceramic to give you that nice shine, the cord is 8 feet so you can have ease of movement and it reaches 440 degrees to give you the straight style you desire.

hot tools flat irons at hair cuttery

Curling Irons

hot tools curling iron at hair cuttery

Curling irons have many uses. Depending on the size of the barrel, you can create tight curls or loose curls; you can clamp the hair and wind up to create a ribbon-shaped curl or hold it like a wand to create an S-shaped curl; you can create a set to gain much volume but not a lot of curl; and so on and so forth. Really, it can range all over the spectrum with the amount of curl and what you can do with the iron.

Many curling irons will have an adjustable temperature setting so they can be tailored to your hair type and the amount of curl you’re hoping to achieve. In addition to many sized barrels, there are options like metal, ceramic, tourmaline and gold plated. Metal and gold plated are designed to heat up fast and distribute that heat evenly while creating long-lasting curls; ceramic and tourmaline barrels leave a shinier finish. Try Hot Tools Classic Gold Curling Irons in 1” or 1 ¼” that with their 24K gold plated barrels will provide you with long-lasting curls for perfect hair all day.

Tool Maintenance & When to replace

When using hot tools there is much care that needs to be taken. First, you don’t want to burn your scalp or fingers so be mindful and wear a heat-resistant glove. Second, you don’t want to fry your hair. Before using any hot tool, apply a heat protectant to your hair. Also, if your hot tool has an adjustable temperature setting, set it to a temperature suitable for your hair. These two things will leave your hair in a much healthier state.

As for the tools themselves, like curling irons, wands, and flat irons, over time they can develop build-up from products that you put in your hair. To avoid this, clean the plates and barrels with a damp cloth on a regular basis. Do this when the tool is cool and unplugged. Do not submerge the tool in water and be sure to read any maintenance instruction that comes with it. For a hair dryer, make sure you remove the filter on a regular basis and clean it off. If this filter (at the back end of the dryer) becomes too full, the dryer will not be able to properly intake air.

With this sort of thing, the more money you invest in a quality product, the more you’ll get out of it and save in the long run. It is said a quality hair dryer lasts an average of 800 hours and curling irons and flat irons about 1000 hours, which could be several years depending on the amount of use and how carefully it has been handled. A few signs to watch for that would indicate it’s time for new tools are:

  • A frayed cord. One important factor is how you store these items. The cord should not be wrapped around tightly because it could begin to fray.
  • Chipped or cracked plates and barrels. If they chip, they could begin pulling at the hair causing stress and breakage. Also, if the hot tool was coated in ceramic or something of the like and it has started to wear away, it’s time for a new one.
  • Funny smells or noises. This means things could be going wrong with the electrical elements so it’s best to say goodbye and upgrade!

Next time you’re with your Hair Cuttery Stylist, talk with them about what hot tools they recommend for what look you’re trying to achieve. Or Shop Online Now and have your new hot tools delivered right to your door! It’s fun to wear different looks so play around with tools but always remember to protect your hair and not use excessive heat.

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