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The best hair tools for smoothing, straightening or curling

The best hair tools for smoothing, straightening or curling
The new school of styling tools deliver results without the elbow grease.

Whether you simply want to enhance your natural texture or achieve total transformation, getting a desirable pro-level finish without spending hours or aching arms are the calling cards of this new batch of hair heroes.

Create sleek and shiny tresses and minimize frizz and flyaways. Take your pick from an array of high-tech heat tools for the job. 

L-R: Silver Bullet Platinum Oval Hot Air Brush; Cloud Nine The Wide Iron Pro ; ghd Unplugged cordless hair straightener; Parlux Alyon Air Ionizer Tech Hair Dryer; L’Oreal Professionnel Steampod 3.0; Ghd Glide hot brush

Silver Bullet Platinum Oval Hot Air Brush

Judging by the attention they’ve had on social media recently, you’d think blowout brushes had just been invented. In reality, the gadgets have been around for ages, but they’ve had some crucial updates, making them easier to use and less clunky and cumbersome. The handy, two-in-one tool combines the detangling ability of a brush with the power of heat and air, giving you a voluminous but smooth style, taming texture as you go. This one has a combination of nylon and tufted bristles that helps hair grab onto the brush and good airflow that smooths while you’re pulling it down each section. It comes in two different barrel sizes, the larger of which is perfect for thick and long hair. 

Cloud Nine The Wide Iron Pro 

If you straighten your hair a lot, or you have thick, long or curly hair, this tool is for you. Cloud Nine has been perfecting its irons for years and is popular with stylists for its reliable results. This new release has large, ‘floating’, mineral-infused ceramic plates that gently deal with a wider section of hair. A ‘Revive Mode’ works to further minimise friction while you make each pass by vibrating at 8,000 times a minute and working at an even temperature of 150°C to care for regularly styles or fragile hair. That being said, its digital control panel offers heat settings that range from 100-200°C so you can choose what suits your hair type. 

ghd Unplugged cordless hair straightener

We never knew we needed this in our lives until we tried it, now we find it indispensable. The cordless nature, light weight and fast heat up means it’s absolutely brilliant for a speed style, quickly smoothing the top layers of hair in a couple of minutes before you run out the door. It’s very small and comes with a heat-proof case so it packs easily and holds a charge for a couple of days or more of quick styling on a weekend getaway. It’s less useful for very thick, long or curly hair that needs more plate-size and tension to coax a smooth finish, but if you occasionally straighten short or medium length hair it’s a Godsend. 

Parlux Alyon Air Ionizer Tech Hair Dryer

For the blowout faithful, a good dryer is non negotiable. We mean one that the professionals are happy wielding, durable enough to take all the knocks and bumps and demands of a salon environment, only in your own home. A powerful motor is still absolutely key and Dyson’s Supersonic deserves an honorable mention in this category for delivering results without gale-force air or scalding heat. However, here we’re holding up Italian brand Parlux for its reliability and industry respect. Its gutsy, effective dryers have been used for decades by the pros, but are equally desirable for home use. This updated version has the balance that makes it maneuverable, special air ionizer tech that means less static in your strands and power that delivers a quick dry. A diffuser is available for defining curls.  

L’Oreal Professionnel Steampod 3.0

Heat is key to transforming the texture of hair in the short term, but also the enemy of long-term hair health. It’s why almost every hair tool innovator has been working on how to manage the issue. This straightener uses steam technology rather than extreme temperatures to smooth your strands. Just as you use a steam shot while ironing your linens, this has an integrated water tank to deliver steam as you style, detangling and encouraging a straight finish to smooth the cuticle of the hair fibre leaving hair noticeably silky and shiny.  

Ghd Glide hot brush

Frankly underrated, not enough people know about ghd’s Glide brush. More familiar may be the brand’s famous straightening tools, but if your goal is to quickly and easily tame frizz or smooth a natural wave and you prefer a slightly more voluminous look rather than a dead-straight finish, this could be the option for you. Ceramic technology uniformly heats a combination of long and
short prongs that glide through hair smoothing and slightly straightening locks as well as minimising flyaways as you use in a slow ‘brushing’ motion.

No matter which texture you start with, there’s a tool to create every trending look from soft waves to corkscrew curls 

L-R: Dyson Airwrap multi-styler; Ghd Curve Thin Wand hair curler; Mermade Hair Waver; VS Sassoon Cool Curl Brilliance; Silver Bullet Roulette Auto Curler; Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set

Dyson Airwrap multi-styler

Looks familiar, but Dyson’s wildly successful air-styler has had some key performance tweaks and the new version comes with some alluring new attachments. Two become one in a curling barrel with a rotating cool tip, which means you can now create clockwise and anti-clockwise curls and waves without the need to remove and change the attachment. The smoothing dryer takes hair from wet to damp ready for curling, or continue in smoothing mode to tuck away flyaways using the clever airflow design for a perfect blowout with a mirror finish. There’s also smoothing and round brush heads that deliver the same airflow to assist your efforts in styling and a wide tooth comb to detangle, lengthen and shape curly and coily hair is also available.

Ghd Curve Thin Wand Hair Curler

Finally a curler that works for very curly hair! Of course, it also helps create the look on straight hair, so it’s a versatile option to add to your styling kit. The wand has a 14mm barrel, much thinner than almost everything else on the market. That helps it create tight, even curls on straight or way hair as well as defined bouncy styles on naturally curly and coily locks, hair types that have previously been under-served by hot tools. To use, you simply wrap strands tightly around the barrel and hold. The style is set in as little as three three seconds at a styling temperature of 185decC said to hold curls in shape for up to 24 hours avoiding unnecessary heat damage.

Mermade Hair Waver

If it looks like a hair crimper and it acts like a hair crimper, is it a hair crimper? Well yes, but we’ve come a little way from the frizzy 80s styles of previous versions. Now these popular wave-making tools that are among the easiest hot styling tools out there, make a beachy, softly undulating texture befitting the brand name. You simply clamp and release, working from the roots to the ends before gently separating your waves with either fingers or a wide tooth comb. This version has a sizable 32mm barrel for larger waves and works well on longer hair, but smaller sizes for shorter hair are available. 

VS Sassoon Cool Curl Brilliance
This tool runs with the idea you need heat to create a curl but it won’t last well without ‘setting’ in its shape while it cools. This is why many experts pin their curls up near their heads while they cool or ‘cup’ them in their hands for a few seconds after sliding off a curling barrel. This tool uses what it calls ‘cool-air’ technology with a split-barrel design which means a single glide curls your hair in the middle as it passes over hot plates, then cools and sets the curl on the outside of the barrel. It has three temperature settings to help minimise heat damage.

Silver Bullet Roulette Auto Curler

Is it a gimmick or is it genius? If you have trouble creating tumbling curls with an iron or wand, this may just be the latter. Slot a section of hair into the gap in the barrel. With the push of a button, the heated internal ceramic barrel gently twirls the section of hair. Hold for a few seconds and release to reveal incredibly consistent, even curls in either direction with little to no skill required. As with any hair tool that has moving parts there’s the potential to tangle hair but there’s no doubt this is a clever little hair gadget!

Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set

There’s no technology involved, however we couldn’t let a curling story go by without mentioning the second most viral hair styling method of the year.  Again co-opted from techniques of times gone by, this approach requires the wrapping of your hair around a long stuffed satin tube bento over the top of your head, before securing the ends. Wait a few hours or overnight, before unfurling and in theory shake out a head full of beyond-perfect waves. In reality it takes a bit of getting the hang of wrapping – how-to videos are useful! – and you’ll need to spritz with hairspray to keep the curl, but it is a good way to avoid excess heat styling. 


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