What’s Better for Your Hair? Flat Iron vs. Hot Comb

25 Comments
April 19, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Shorter

http://blazeadams247.blogspot.com

My journey to the promised land of natural hair has been a path paved with many trials and errors, shampoos, conditioners, creams and oils. As I am learning to embrace and celebrate my natural hair in all its coil-y glory, I still like to wear my hair in a sleek, straight bob every now and then.

Enter my two BFFs: Hot Comb and Flat Iron.

I wasn’t always on good terms with the hot comb, having suffered scalp burns and trauma caused by many a styling ordeal during my childhood. Over the years, as hair styling techniques advanced and electric hot combs with heat settings became available, I let the hot comb back into my life, albeit slowly. Not knowing the tricks of the trade, I’ve singed myself and my hair more times than I care to remember.

Since I began my hair transition three years ago, I found myself relying more and more on my flat iron. Not knowing what to look for or the best way to use it to get my roots super-straight made styling my hair difficult. Still, I gave it a good ol’ college try and ended up watching my hair break, strand by strand. I assumed the breakage was caused by the heat on my hair.

What I didn’t know was that the kind of flat iron I was using was making matters worse. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the collection of ceramic, “high-low” two-setting flat irons. I have black ones, blue ones, broken ones…you name it, I probably have it. According to Johnny Wright, SoftSheen-Carson artistic style director and celebrity stylist, the best flat irons are titanium-plated with variable heat settings. Wright recommends the Corioliss Baby SXE. It’s a smaller flat iron, because “it’s small enough to allow you to get as close to the hairline as possible without burning the scalp.”

Ceramic irons were once thought to be good. But if you look at the surface of a ceramic iron under a microscope, the surface was ridged like an orange peel. And that surface would cause friction on the air. The titanium-plated flat irons have a much smoother surface, and can straighten the hair in one pass, rather than the two or three passes it would take with a ceramic flat iron.

Don’t throw away that hot comb just yet. It still has its purpose. The hot comb is good for straightening hair around the perimeter of the head “to give the hair a straighter finish,” says Wright.

All this time I had it wrong. I would use the hot comb to straighten my roots, and then comb it through the hair for good measure (and torture). Then I would go over my hair with the flat iron over and over again until my hair was relatively straightened, or I got tired, whichever came first.

Wright recommends when you wash and blow-dry your hair, go ahead and set the iron on the highest setting your hair can handle. For those, like me, who flat iron their hair every day, turn down that flat iron!

Follow Kimberly Shorter on Twitter at @KimberlyWriter.

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  • Missy Renea

    I was thinking about taking the advice but now im unsure because of the fact that you are flat ironing every day and it would be silly for me to listen to someone who does not know how to care for their own hair.

  • Heavenly

    I only flat iron my hair ONCE a Month.I have never had a perm and I usually get my hair pressed with a hot comb..but I venture off to a flat iron instead. I only apply heat to my hair though once a month..that’s it. The rest of the time I wear it completely natural.No wonder your hair is breaking off so badly..you are not suppose to flat iron everyday.

  • Hanna Jackson

    a really good flat iron is the karmin g3

  • LittleBabyBug Jones

    interesting perspective. i have sworn by ceramic irons for the longest. different strokes… if flat ironing on the daily works for you then so be it. i used to do it on a wkly basis, and now it’s like once a month or so, simply because flat ironing my hair takes a while.

  • GoogleyGirl

    I’m transitioning back to natural after perming for about a year. I’ve been using a hot comb, rollers and flat iron combined to achieve my desired looks. I usually do my hair on my off days; wash, condition and wrap allowing my hair to dry in the wrap. Then I hot comb the day after and usually put it up in rollers or flat iron the following day. If I am pressed for time I blow dry and flat iron. I use moisturize my hair before I wrap and rarely add anything else to it until I wash it again.

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  • lmarie

    I have flat ironed my hair now with the BabyLiss Titanium for over a year. I don’t wrap my hair at night (I can’t do the mammy look and the scarves don’t stay on my head anyway ) and I may touch it up once or twice a week. I use a good deep conditioner at least twice a month, a T3 dryer and BioSilk to protect it from the heat. My hair is in excellent condition.

    • Womanifesto

      Are you natural or relaxed? If you’re natural, has that flat iron caused your curl pattern to loosen over time? I ask because I am newly natural, and I have that flat iron. However, I have been getting mixed reviews about titanium since it is metal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Monique-Brown/100003751415837 Monique Brown

    I personally prefer the flat iron, it works better for me, I use the Karmin G3 Salon Pro which is the best one I’ve tried, it keeps my hair smooth, shiny, frizz less and very straight. :D

  • http://twitter.com/wizkidworld Jay

    Well I came her to see which styling tool I should use and instead got a bunch of useless information I would never torture my hair with.  I honestly need to know which one is better to use. I’m going to my hair group.

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  • Jennifer Lee

    I have many qualms with this article. As everyone has mentioned, flat ironing, hot comb, curling iron whatever every day is the first sure fire way to see severe breakage and irreversible damage to your hair. Second, setting it to the highest setting your hair can handle. You can set it up to max and your hair still will handle it, but not without adverse effects. Third, to compare ceramic and titanium, is comparing apples and oranges. Ceramic is an inorganice, nonmetal that produces negative ions when heated, the titanium is the actual metal that distributes the heat. Why would you put just straight hot metal to your hair? -____-. And lastly, Wright’s recommendations are recommendation from hair hell. How do you not encourage people to use heat protectant serums or sprays before adding heat?
    The author is not a credible source and neither are her sources. Thumbs down!

  • Jennifer Lee

    I have many qualms with this article. As everyone has mentioned, flat ironing, hot comb, curling iron whatever every day is the first sure fire way to see severe breakage and irreversible damage to your hair. Second, setting it to the highest setting your hair can handle. You can set it up to max and your hair still will handle it, but not without adverse effects. Third, to compare ceramic and titanium, is comparing apples and oranges. Ceramic is an inorganice, nonmetal that produces negative ions when heated, the titanium is the actual metal that distributes the heat. Why would you put just straight hot metal to your hair? -____-. And lastly, Wright’s recommendations are recommendation from hair hell. How do you not encourage people to use heat protectant serums or sprays before adding heat?
    The author is not a credible source and neither are her sources. Thumbs down!

    • Diamond

      What serums and sprays do you use because that’s what I was reading the article for….

      • Heavenly

        The Tresseme Heat protectant is a good one to use.

    • cocoapuffy85

      OMG I so agree with you. I straighten my natural hair once a year and thats to trim it even. But even then I use a protectant serum AND a bit of shea butter to protect the hair shaft from the heat. I also use a gold-plated electric hot comb that I set no higher that 400 degrees. Hair burns at 451 degrees. Man WHO wrote this???? Flat ironing everyday????? Jeeze even straight hair textures cant take that much heat abuse.

  • Neecee401

    I’ve never heard of a black woman flat ironing their hair everyday. Even if they’re natural. A good flat iron job can last a week if you wrap it at night.

  • Neecee401

    I’ve never heard of a black woman flat ironing their hair everyday. Even if they’re natural. A good flat iron job can last a week if you wrap it at night.

  • Tai Harriss

    I’m sorry but daily (sometimes WEEKLY) heat styling is entirely too much. I didn’t see any mention of heat protection being used (and that’s a given) or the steps taken to help strengthen the hair in between straightening sessions (protein, anyone??). I can’t speak for anyone else’s hair journey or health but I know that the suggestions in this article spell disaster.

  • Tai Harriss

    I’m sorry but daily (sometimes WEEKLY) heat styling is entirely too much. I didn’t see any mention of heat protection being used (and that’s a given) or the steps taken to help strengthen the hair in between straightening sessions (protein, anyone??). I can’t speak for anyone else’s hair journey or health but I know that the suggestions in this article spell disaster.

  • Womanifesto

    Horrible article. Misleading title, and heat isn’t good to use on your hair every day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507044948 Amber Isaidit Taylor

    horrible article, and horrible advice she was/is using both smh I’m taking this out my hair group plus the title was misleading

  • Jolie

    I only use heat when I wash my hair. If I lose my style then oh well…that’s what they make bobby pins for lol

  • Chanda

    Flat iron your hair every day and you’re more likely to be bald soon. And who want to walk around smelling like burnt hair? Better wrap that hair up at night and put a scarf on it.

  • LezMiz

    You’re not supposed to flat iron your hair every day! That’s too much heat for your hair to take. Wrap your hair and do it once a week, maybe twice tops!