Ceramic hair straighteners: are they bad for your hair?

Are ceramic hair straighteners safe? We do a deep dive on this popular straightener classification and whether or not they're worth the buzz

ceramic hair straighteners main image of a woman using a flat iron
(Image credit: Future/Getty Images)

Whether you're using ceramic hair straighteners or not, we all know that heat styling, in any form, will definitely accrue some damage over time. It is, however, one of the most efficient ways to get our locks sleek and shiny, so for better or worse, we're still reaching for the best hair straighteners every time we're craving for a smooth, straight look. 

However, over the years, most flat irons have developed how they work, such as the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0, offering us materials and technologies that all claim to reduce the damage on our locks. And, while titanium, tourmaline, and ceramic hair straighteners all have their pros and cons, the latter option seems to be one of the most popular on the market.

That said, we investigated whether ceramic hair straighteners are bad for your hair, how they work, and how they measure up against their competitors so that you can be sure to choose the right straighteners for you.

What are ceramic hair straighteners and how do they work?

Ceramic hair straighteners are styling irons that use plates made from the non-metallic, inorganic material. They’ve become a popular choice for home styling, as not only are they less expensive than some alternatives, but they make for smooth styling, thanks to their glossy finish. Ceramic plates are also well known for their even heat distribution, which stops hot spots from damaging the hair shaft during styling.

“Ceramic plates are used to ensure the heat is evenly distributed across the entire plate,” explains Ricky Walters, director of Salon64. “This even distribution of heat means that you don’t need to use such a high temperature when styling, making for a better option for your hair’s health and condition. Ceramic plates also help to capture the hair’s moisture and prevent leaving your hair feeling too dried out or dehydrated after use.”

Another plus of ceramic plates is that,  like the best hair dryers, they can produce negative ions, which neutralize the hair’s naturally positive charge, to smooth cuticles, tame frizz and flyaways, and leave a smoother finish. 

However, when opting for a ceramic hair straightener, just be sure that the plates are fully ceramic, as some tools use aluminum plates that are merely coated with a ceramic layer. This can take away from some of the advantages of using ceramic, especially when it comes to the even heat distribution.

“The ceramic plating can chip, exposing aluminum, which can catch, split, and damage the hair,” adds Craig Taylor, creative director of Hari’s.

What are the alternatives to ceramic hair straighteners?

“If not using ceramic hair straighteners, your other main material is titanium,” explains Ricky. “This is a tougher, far more durable material and therefore should certainly last you a long time.”

The reliable alternative can reach higher temperatures in a quicker timeframe than ceramic plates, giving longer-lasting results and fast styling.

“These irons tend to be much more heavy-duty, so are perhaps better for thicker, more stubborn hair,” adds Ricky.

Those with fine or fragile hair would probably be better suited to ceramic plates, as titanium may be a bit overwhelming for that hair type. But for those looking for the best straighteners for curly hair, it’s definitely a good option.

Are ceramic straighteners better than the competition?

“The claims are that ceramic hair straighteners are more efficient and more kind, especially to fine, fragile hair,” says Craig. “However, anything infused with tourmaline would be my choice of straightener.”

Tourmaline is a crystal that hair-tool manufacturers grind into a fine powder, which is infused into the plates—whether ceramic or titanium—of a straightening iron.

“This makes for a more premium iron and helps prevent damage, overheating and static on the hair,” explains Ricky. “Hair tool brand Cloud Nine is a huge advocate for "healthy" hair straighteners, so infuses healing minerals into all of its ceramic straightening irons.”

“I firmly believe that it's not the surface that makes the difference in how well stylers perform and how kind they are to the hair—it’s the temperature they operate effectively at,” says Craig. “Tourmaline can distribute heat more evenly and can smooth hair at a lower heat, owing to it having the smoothest surface. So, for me, the best solution is to use a flat iron with tourmaline-infused plates and turn the heat down to under 356°F (180ºC).”

But, unfortunately for all of us heat-styling addicts out there, no matter whether plates are infused with the healing mineral or not, daily use will always still lead to some hair damage.

“Try to use hair tools sparingly,” advises Ricky. “Even the best ceramic irons still create a fair amount of heat, so I’d try not to use them every day.”

The verdict: are ceramic hair straighteners bad for hair?

So, like any tool that exposes your hair to heat, ceramic straighteners can, of course, cause damage. However, the same can be said for the best hair straightener brushes on the market, or pretty much any mechanical or heat-styling tool out there as well.

But, if like many of us, you can’t get through the week without reaching for your flat iron at least a handful of times, then we’d at least go for something that has mineral-infused plates to try to minimize the amount of heat needed to style your hair.

Of course, we’d say to stop using straighteners altogether would be a way forward when it comes to healthy hair, but that’s a challenge for another day.

woman&home thanks Ricky Walters of Salon64 and Craig Taylor of Hari's Hairdressers for their time and expertise.