Ghd max hair straightener review – does the extra-wide tool really cut styling time in half?

Read a curly-haired beauty editor's honest take on the ghd Max hair straightener – with before and after pictures

The ghd max hair straightener pictures in a marble counter with a gold bracelet beside
(Image credit: Future/ghd)
Woman & Home Verdict

A great, wider-than-usual straightener that cuts down styling time in long and curly hair for super sleek styles. It won't make sense for every hair type – but if you love the results of straightening your hair and find the process a time-consuming chore, this will suit you nicely.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Wider-than-standard plates

  • +

    30 second heating time

  • +

    Switches off after 30 minutes

  • +

    Can be used to create beach waves

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    May not make a huge difference to you if your hair is short or very fine

For over two decades, ghd has been as synonymous with hair straighteners as Kleenex is with soft tissues. Springing onto the scene in the early noughties, when poker straight hair à la Jennifer Aniston was all the rage, tools like the ghd Max and ghd Gold have since been coveted by everyone from the industry’s top hairdressers to at-home styling novices.

Specifications

Weight: About 800g

Cord length: 2.7m swivel

Warranty: 2 years

RRP: $249 / £199

I can vividly remember the excitement of getting my first, very best ghd straighteners as a birthday gift. After both my mum and I used them nearly every day for years – they spent more time in her room than mine – it’s safe to say that they are knackered, frayed cable and all. And yet, I’ve kept hold of them as some kind of relic of my beauty journey.

Anyway, I digress. There are many more excellent hot tool brands on the market now compared to when ghd first took over, and I’ve since gone on to test many other models in my years as a beauty journalist. But ghd straighteners are still widely considered the go-to for creating sleek styles.

And now, along with the recently-revamped ghd Original IV styler and the newer ghd Platinum+, the wider ghd Max hair straightener has been given a modern day makeover. Here’s how I got on testing it out. 

W&H beauty editor's ghd Max hair straightener review

ghd Max Hair Straighener design

ghd Max hair straightener

(Image credit: ghd)

Probably the most notable design feature of the Max styler – and really its USP – is that the hot plates are much larger compared with other ghd straighteners and indeed lots of competitor tools. At 1.65 inches wide, they’re about 70% bigger than those on the brand’s Original IV Styler. On a techier note, they also feature dual-zone technology and patented heating to monitor and maintain the 185°C styling temperature that ghd famously hails as the optimum for healthier styling (though you'll still need to use the best heat protection for hair).

Practically-speaking the edges of the plates are curved which makes creating styles with movement all the easier, as well as nailing that classic poker-straight look. Master the art of how to curl hair with a straightener and this styler also gives you the power to create tumbling loose beach waves. The swivel cord is also really handy when styling and straightening harder-to-reach areas, such as sections at the back of your head or the nape of the neck, and allows you a bit more flexibility while you flat iron.

How well does the ghd Max hair straightener perform?

Freelance beauty editor Lucy before and after using the ghd Max Styler

Lucy before (L) and after (R) using the ghd Max hair straightener

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

When I’m testing the best hair straighteners I’d say the two main factors I’m thinking about are: how long it takes to straighten all of my hair, and how many times I have to go over a section to get it to be perfectly straight (which in turn contributes to the first point). Other pluses include how seamless the straightening process is with said tool and how shiny and soft my hair is when I finish.

Although on the scale my actual strands aren’t that thick, I have quite a lot of hair. It’s long and, pattern-wise, falls in loose curls, so styling it can take about an hour if I want a truly poker straight finish. After heating up in 30 seconds, the wide plates definitely delivered on their promise of cutting this time down, with the whole straightening session clocking in at 35 minutes on the dot. These straighteners didn’t snag once and by the end, my hair was sleek and frizz-free, still felt soft, and definitely looked shiny with a nice amount of movement.

The straightening session was definitely quicker than what other 'standard size' tools can achieve, no question. It is worth mentioning that, for dead-straight sleekness, I had to go over each section at least twice with the Max Styler after I’d brushed through – though this is the case for most flat irons I try, and I'm still very happy with the results.

Does the ghd Max come with any attachments?

ghd Max Styler

(Image credit: ghd)

The only add-on that comes in the box with the ghd Max hair straightener is a handy guard to close and cover the styler, which is useful for storage generally or for those times you need to travel with your straighteners and they’re still a little warm.

Other than that, what you see is pretty much what you get with the ghd Max Styler. It’s the straightener and straightener only, although it does come with that ghd signature safety net that we all know and love – automatic shut-off after 30 minutes. So there'll be no panicking that you’ve left it on when you’re halfway to work.

What's not good about the styler?

As I already mentioned the Max Styler can be used to create very loose waves with a beachy feel, but if you want your tool to create a bouncier or slightly tighter curl then a narrower and more-traditional straightener is probably better placed to do so. 

It’s also worth noting that this particular styler doesn’t feature the best of the brand’s cutting-edge technology: the more expensive Platinum+ features predictive tech that adjusts to your hair's thickness and your styling speed for a truly tailored tool.

ghd Max hair straightener review: the W&H verdict

Overall, if sleek hair is your end goal then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the ghd Max Hair Straightener. This is a brand you can truly trust and one that's really earned its cult status over the years. As promised, the wide plates of the Max Styler did make lighter work of straightening so I'm confident you’ll appreciate the time-saving design – it wasn't far off half as long as it takes me to style with other straightener models.

Of course, anyone with longer, thicker, or tighter curls is likely to find that styling their whole head takes longer than it did for me. But all in all, these are up there with the best straighteners for curly hair. I'll be using them again, which is as good an endorsement as any from a beauty editor with unlimited access to hair tools!

Lucy Abbersteen
Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week. During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists.