Monday, January 9, 2012

Flat Iron Adventure Day 3

Alright. I can't believe I'm already on Day 3 of my Flat Iron Adventure. Today I'm talking flat iron plates! This ain't your mama's old flat ironing ways (yes some really used a real iron). The flat iron plate has done much evolving over the years, which can make understanding these new advances confusing. I know this first hand. I had previously been drawn to the gold plates, well because they were gold. But not all flat iron plates are made the same and it's important to understand what the plate is made of and what that means for your hair. 

Plate Material
Metal: The first flat irons were made of metal, aluminium that is. These flat irons were big and chunky. Most were covered in "gold" to disguise the metal. There still appears to be flat irons made of this material, so be aware if a flat iron doesn't at least state it's made of ceramic or ionic material. They are the most damaging type of flat iron because the aluminum plates do not have the technology to make sure the flat iron stays at an even temperature like a ceramic or tourmaline iron does. These flat irons also can have the tendency to snag the hair which leads to hair breakage. These most likely they will be cheap flat iron, you should avoid these at all costs. 
Ceramic: A ceramic flat iron combines three elements or forces: thermal, mechanical and electrical. The key component is the electrical force which occurs because the ceramic plates of the flat iron holds a continuous negative charge or negative ionic charge. This counteracts the continuous positive static charge found naturally in the hair. Due to this electrical field it makes the hair lay flat and straighten. Read more about this here. The thermal forces are found in the form of heat, which forces the protein in the hair to reconfigure and straighten as the flat iron is guided through the hair. The mechanical process of the flat iron occurs when the two plates are pressed together and guided through the hair. This process helps to re-align the cuticles of the hair all in one uniform downward direction and also restores the smoothness and add shine to the hair. Due to these forces the benefits to the hair include softer, sleeker hair, shiner hair, more evenly heated plates (with no hot spots), a reduction of static in the hair, sealed in moisture, and hair cuticles. Ceramic flat irons are great, but you need to be aware that not all ceramic flat irons are the same (hence price differences). Cheap flat irons that claim to be made of ceramic are likely to be aluminium (the worst flat iron material) and then thinly coated in ceramic which will chip over time. More expensive flat irons have a higher percentage of ceramic content and some even claim to be made of 100% ceramic. Unfortunately, there is much debate over whether this is true. Some say that ceramic is too soft of a material, because it is a nonmetal. Ceramic is actually an inorganic clay material. Therefore is too soft and would be ineffective in straightening hair. 
Tourmaline: Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone and is said to produce 6 times the negative ions than ceramic does. Therefore a tourmaline flat iron has all the benefits a ceramic one has, only tourmaline produces them at 6x better. In most cases though, tourmaline is made in combination with ceramic, which helps enhance the benefits of ceramic.
Titanium: Titanium is a lustrous, low-density, lightweight metal that comes from igneous rock and is the strongest flat iron material. So it might be good for those of us who are clumsy and accident prone to dropping our flat irons. A titanium flat iron holds up well against corrosion and heats quickly and evenly to decrease heat damage to your hair. Unlike some of the other flat iron materials mentioned, flat irons with titanium plates can be 100% solid. They can also then be coated or infused with other material (nano technology). 
Nano Technology: Nano is just a fancy word for small. In the case of nano technology for flat irons, it means  that small particles are infused into the plate of the flat iron. 
  • Nano Titanium: Nano Titanium is when small particles of titanium are added to the plates. This helps increase its strength and heat conductivity. Nano Titanium is one of the newest technologies currently. This technology helps with super smoothing, it creates great heat conduction, straightens hair fast, is good for coarse hair, adds shine, and inhibits chemical build up that can cause bad smells in hair. Nano Titanium straightens hair 40% faster than just ceramic alone. This technology would be great for people with hard to straighten hair. 
  • Nano Silver: Nano Silver is when small particles of silver are added to the plates. This technology helps  eliminate bacteria and fungus from the hair and increase volume. Nano Silver may be great if you work in a salon or the flat iron is being used on more than one person. Otherwise this technology may be unnecessary and not worth the extra money, unless you're germaphobic. 
  • Nano Tourmaline: Nano Torumaline is when small particles of tourmaline are added to the plates. Tourmaline is considered a semi-precious gemstone. So, when it is added to the flat iron is generates negative ions and increased smoothing properties, better than ceramic alone.
  • Nano Ceramic:  Nano Ceramic is when small particles of ceramic are added to the plates. This terminology is something to be careful of. If a flat iron claims to be made of ceramic and also nano ceramic, is it really possible to add more ceramic particles to ceramic?  
  • Nano Fuzeion Nano Fuzeion is the when the combination of 3 different particles of elements: Titanium, Titanium Oxide, and Silver are added to the plates. The titanium enhances the ion production of the ceramic, allowing the hair to absorb more moisture for superior condition and shine. The titanium oxide helps remove chemical pollutants and toxins which build up in your hair from normal exposure to the elements, therefore has deodorizing properties which helps keep the hair smelling fresh. The silver has the bacteria killing ability.
Far Infrared: Far infared is another recent technological advancement in flat ironing. Far-infrared heat is produced from the use of tourmaline and ceramic combined. The idea behind far infared heat or rays is that the invisible electro-magnetic waves go beyond the hair shaft and dries the hair from the inside out,
resulting in more moisture being sealed into the hair shaft and less damage being done to the hair. Heat will distribute more evenly and it also produces quicker results making hair straightening go faster and prevent less damage.

Plate Size
1" plate or less: Is ideal for thin, fine and/or short hair. Good for curling hair and making flawless waves and curves. Not good for straightening thick, coarse hair and might easily break when tangled up with thick, frizzy hair.
1"-1¼" plate: Is ideal for medium hair (length and texture). Although 1-inch plates could be used for styling, it will be difficult to maneuver the plates and the results may not be satisfactory. 
1½ plate and up: Is ideal for long and/or thick, coarse hair. Plate is thick and good for straightening hair, but may be very difficult to use to style hair. 
Need to know your hair type? Read about it here.

Plate Color
Avoid flat irons with colored plates, this is merely for show. Ceramic's true color will be around white or yellowish. Titanium and Tourmaline Ceramic will be gunmetal gray in color. 

Well, technology has come a long way! But this has helped me know what the heck I have been reading when I see words like titanium, ceramic, far infrared, and nano technology. I think I'm getting closer to finding the right flat iron or me! I have a couple more things I still need to check out, so stay with me!

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