Do you remember the first-generation steam straighteners on the market? Mine were Remington, released in the early 2000s and came with crimp and wave attachments. As you can imagine, my 18-year-old self was extremely excited to try out a tool that gave me those smooth, straight shiny locks that were all the rage on celebs in the Early Aughts.
It was my entry portal into the world of grown-up beauty products, and, while its plate tech has long been superseded, the use of steam in styling tools has seen a resurgence as of late, courtesy of products such as the L’Oreal Professionnel Steampod 3.0 as well as other models, like the Revamp Progloss.
How do steam straighteners work?
Generally speaking, steam straighteners use a combination of high-pressure steam (generated by a built-in water tank) and heated plates to straighten hair. What sets them apart is their claims to provide a gentler straightening experience that better respects the moisture balance of strands and, therefore, causes less damage. This is a slightly different approach to the straightening experience today's best straighteners offer, as the latter don't depend on steam and use advances in plate technology instead.
Are they better for hair than regular straighteners?
“In theory, yes, I believe so,” says renowned hairstylist and award-winning salon owner Michael Van Clarke. “A key factor in hair condition is hydration. Healthy hair is 97% protein and 3% water. Loss of the natural water content causes a breakdown in the protein structure and then results in thinner, drier, and coarser hair. This can lead to split ends and breakage. Dry heat tools take a little of this moisture when styling, so they leave the hair vulnerable.”
Stream straighteners aim to provide a less drying alternative. “The steam opens the hair follicle and allows the moisture to penetrate while straightening or curling,” explains Neil Moodie, international session artist and L’Oréal Professionnel Steampod styler. This results in less damage and a softer, glossier finish. “Steampod also smooths a lot faster, with only one or two passings needed on each section,” he adds. Its three heat settings (ranging from 356°F to 410°F) can be adjusted, depending on your hair type. This means steam straighteners could be considered the best straighteners for curly hair for those with more delicate strands.
While overall kinder to hair, this isn’t necessarily a green light to reach for the straighteners more frequently. As Michael highlights, “If you find something less damaging, using it twice as often negates the benefit.” Frequency, technique, and using heat protection products are still key hair health considerations.
See our full L'Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 review
How do steam straighteners compare with regular straighteners?
After hearing so much about the Steampod 3.0 and seeing so much buzz for it online, I was eager to try it out for myself to find out if it could give my go-to ghds a run for their money. I was also curious to see just how far the category had come since my last experience of them back in the day.
The results were really smooth, soft, and super shiny—I was extremely impressed. The choice of three temperature settings was a welcome feature. I opted for the lowest —356°F or 180°C—which was perfect for smoothing my long, wavy hair (I personally don’t think that anyone needs it to be any hotter than this), requiring on average just one glide per section.
Arrows on the body of the styler were helpful in showing which way to move its plates, and also proved particularly handy when using it to create curls and waves. The ceramic plates and 360° rotating cord were also helpful for this.
One tank lasted me two styling sessions, which was pretty good. However, refilling it proved slightly time-consuming, plus it also requires demineralized or filtered water to function at its best.
I also had mixed feelings about the integrated comb. While useful for keeping hair in place when creating waves, I did find that it snagged a few times despite having brushed my hair beforehand—but it is detachable. Size-wise, the styler was a little bulkier than regular straighteners too, which took some getting used to.
Our verdict on the L'Oreal Steampod 3.0 steam straighteners
For a smooth and high-shine finish, the Steampod 3.0 is one of the best heated stylers I’ve tried—it’s easy to see why it’s amassed so many glowing reviews online. My hair felt surprisingly soft after using it, which is a revelation considering that it usually feels parched post-straightening. It was also great at creating curls—I loved how bouncy and healthy they looked.
Having said that, I wouldn’t say the Steampod 3.0 is for everyone. If you have very short hair or consider speed and precision to be priorities during styling, slimmer and lighter traditional straighteners may be a better option (as Michael also found after trying). A further consideration is its price: at $360 on Amazon, it’s definitely one of the pricier options out there. If straighteners are your go-to tool, though, and you’re looking to minimize heat damage, the Steampod 3.0 could be worth the investment.
Camilla Parker Bowles dedicates her book club's eclectic reading list to Prince Philip
Camilla Parker Bowles has paid tribute to Prince Philip by dedicating her book club's latest reading list to him
By Emma Dooney •
Prince Harry wrote ‘deeply personal’ note to Prince Charles to ‘set things straight’ ahead of Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
It’s claimed he didn’t know what to expect upon his return to the UK
By Emma Shacklock •
You might not know what the 'clavicut' haircut is, but get prepared to see it everywhere
Prepare to see this haircut everywhere this season for its chicness and simple care
By Rylee Johnston •
Here's how to cut your own hair at home according to professional hairstylists
In a pinch? Learn how to cut your own hair with these essential tips from the pros
By Courtney Leiva •
Chrissy Teigen's favorite concealer is a beauty splurge, but you'll definitely want one for your makeup bag
Dark circles, be gone!
By Danielle Valente •
Introducing our exclusive new beauty club - woman&home Beauty Counter
Enjoy complimentary beauty products, curated for you with no subscriptions or fees
By Fiona McKim •
Time for a purchase: Lady Gaga's makeup artist made a cosmetic storage collection that's practical and adorable
We have our eyes on the brush holders
By Danielle Valente •
Viola Davis' beauty routine is the perfect form of self-care
Viola Davis shared her beauty secrets and how she used it as a form of self-care
By Rylee Johnston •
Here’s how to wash your face properly for healthier skin, according to dermatologists
Learn how to wash your face the correct way to encourage cleaner, healthier, glowing skin, no matter your skin type
By Miriam Herst-Stein •
Magnetic eyelashes: why both beginners and experts love this fun, "user-friendly" innovation, plus our best picks
Lash glue? So over. See why magnetic eyelashes, the latest trend in false eyelashes, are winning over both beginners and lash experts alike
By Courtney Leiva •