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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

The Pretty Files: Heating Up – Hot Styling Tools

Hair doesn’t style itself. Sure, some days the stars align and you can brush or comb it through your locks and have everything fall in place, but more often than not you need a little bit of help getting your hair to look just the way you want it. For the curly girls that sometimes means going straight with their hair and for those with straight hair that means looking for curls. Hot tools are the most convenient way to achieve these textural transformations, but picking good tools can be a challenge. This month I help take some of the challenge out of the search and give you my top picks for hot tools that get the job done.

My own hair has been all over the board texturally for years. I had curly hair all through my childhood that was sometimes augmented with some regrettable, 1980s-style perms under the mistaken idea that it would help tame the madness. In my teens and twenties I got away from the perming, but decided I wanted straight locks and I didn’t have time for blowouts. These days I have come to terms with my wavy, crazy hair and no longer torture it with chemical treatments (that aren’t color. You can’t take color from me.) Instead, I rely on hot tools and I’ve been through tons of them. These are my top picks in three categories: curling tools, straightening tools, and dryers.


Image Credit: Emily’s Frugal Tips

Curling Tools
With curling irons you want to look for one that has an adjustable heat setting. This is important because higher heats can create tighter, longer lasting curls. Actually, adjustable heat is something you want in pretty much any heat styling tool because different levels of heat will work for different types of hair. Another feature worth looking for is an automatic shut off. This is particularly important if you are forgetful (like me). After that, it’s about what you want to do with your tool. With curling irons you want to consider the kind of curl you are looking to achieve. Larger-sized barrels create looser curls and waves while smaller-sized barrels create tighter curls. My personal favorite curling iron size is a one-inch model. I feel like it gives me the right size curl to work with. It’s tight enough for springy curls but can be manipulated to create softer waves. My top iron choice is the Hot Tools 1″ Professional Spring Iron in the 24K Gold model. It has a heat setting up to 430 F and distributes heat evenly. This iron has worked on my hair when long and over-processed as well as when shorter and healthier.

Traditional spring and clamp curling irons aren’t the only option for creating curls, however. There are also curling wands that are growing in popularity. These require a bit more dexterity, but you can do some amazing things with them. These wands do not have clips or clamps to hold your hair. You simply wind your hair around the heated barrel, though it may take some practice and a heat-protective glove for your hand to get it right. Once you do, though, they are a lot of fun. My favorite wand is the NuMe 25MM Magic Wand. The curls I get from this last for days. Not wanting to have two separate curling tools? You can use your traditional curling iron as a wand by simply wrapping your hair around the barrel without opening the clamp.

Straightening Tools
Same rules apply with flat irons (adjustable high heat, auto shut off, etc) but with flat irons I like to look for versatility. There are a lot of irons out there, some very wide, some very narrow, some with interchangeable plates. I don’t feel like I need all of that so I look for a straight forward, average sized iron. The one inch plate size works really well for straightening, but can also be used to do some curling if you have the skill (I do not, though I do have a nifty trick of how to use a flat iron to set pin curls.) I’ve owned a lot of flat irons, including some really expensive models, but my hands-down favorite has been my Remington Wet 2 Straight 1″ Flat Iron. It claims to allow you to dry your hair while straightening. I don’t really go for that, but I do like the control the iron gives me and it heats up very fast and maintains heat integrity. The under $30 price tag was very nice as well, and it’s been a durable iron for me.

Blow Dryers
Saving the most versatile and useful tool for last here, the blow dryer. You can create curls with a blow dryer. You can straighten your hair with a blow dryer. It’s a great tool. I tend to just use mine to dry my hair to speed up my styling process (or to avoid my damp hair from freezing in the cold on lazy days when I don’t want to style my hair). What I look for in a dryer is high wattage (1875 is my magic number,) at least two speed settings, and honestly I love one that either takes up very little space in my cabinet or has a cord keeper. To that end I have had the same blow dryer for at least five years, a version of the Conair Infiniti Cord Keeper (mine is blue.) It has been an absolute workhorse for me and still functions like new. It also has a removable filter that I can pop off and clean to keep the air flow going. It even fits attachments, like a diffuser which is great for drying curly or wavy hair and keeping things smooth.

There you have ’em, my top picks for the only three (or four) heat tools you need. Mix and match to create your own signature hairstyle. Now I need to figure out how I want to style my hair for the day so, until next time, stay pretty!

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One Comment on “The Pretty Files: Heating Up – Hot Styling Tools”

  1. mariana.mndz November 20, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Reblogged this on Hairstyles and Tips.

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