L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 review: How does this alternative to ceramic measure up?

The L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 might have cracked the heat styling damage conundrum

L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0
(Image credit: L’Oréal)
Woman & Home Verdict

A kind, smooth, steam-powered device that asks a little more of its user, but gives plenty back in return

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very effective smoothing

  • +

    Adds shine

  • +

    Less damage

  • +

    Great for thick hair

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Complicated set-up

  • -

    Bulky design

They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and any early adopters who wanted the best hair straighteners back in the '90s may look at the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 and remember certain less-than-smooth steam stylers of yesteryear. It’s worth pointing out that this styler has as much to do with those chunky, hair-dragging devices as a shiny new Tesla does a clapped-out banger. But they do work on the same principle – the benefits of using steam rather than direct heat to style hair. 

And what are those benefits? Steam combines the holy grail of hair-smoothing combos: it’s kind yet also very effective. In fact, compared to regular straighteners L’Oréal says the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0  causes 78% less damage, which is enough to interest anyone who regularly straightens. 

My own testing certainly seemed to back up the stats, as my hair was smooth with one pass of the styler’s ceramic plate and steam combo. It then stayed noticeably shiny afterwards and lacked that unnerving frazzled smell that too-hot irons can sometimes leave after a run over my fine, highlighted strands. 

Clearly, this is all good stuff. But, price aside, the trade-off for saving your hair from repeated dragging through scorching plates is that the SteamPod 3.0 can feel like a bit of a faff to use. From fiddly parts and instructions to an ungainly feel in the hand, this definitely requires a level of commitment from its user compared to other devices. 

That’s not to say that dedication won’t be rewarded. In fact this would be particularly gratifying and a great long-term investment for thick or textured hair, making this one of the best straighteners for curly hair, but your basic ‘pick it up and go’ straightener it is not.

Specifications

RRP: £235 Weight: Approx 600g Cord length: 2.4m Warranty: 1 year

L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 review

Technical performance

As the name suggests, the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0 is L’Oréal’s third generation steam hair styler, and anyone who tried the 2.0 will notice vast improvements here. Namely that it’s more nimble, at 14% thinner and 37% lighter than the SteamPod 2.0. It also has a built-in water cartridge, compared to the previous device’s separate compartment and boasts a rotating cord, making it much easier to flip around and create waves as well as straightforward straightening and smoothing. 

The steam itself is released from seven little chambers that run down one side of the ceramic floating plates. There’s also a little comb running along this side and two arrows indicating that these sit at the bottom of the device as you style. The idea is that your hair is exposed to the steam first, then the heat of the plates and the comb so instead of losing moisture as you straighten, your hair is filled with protective hydration and left with a pleasing shine.  

The flow of the steam is another function that has been upgraded from the 2.0 and now emits at a rate of 0.8grams per minute compared with 3.5. Wondering why less steam is a good thing? Bigger isn’t always better and this is all about control. Reducing the mist billowing out from the device ensures consistency throughout styling and, crucially, that you don’t run out of steam and have to refill midway. Because who could be doing with that?  

Consistency is clearly a theme with the design here as the ceramic plates check and self-regulate their temperature every two seconds, a nice touch that ensures the entire styling experience runs smoothly.

User experience

I’ll be completely honest and say initially, I was not sold on the L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0. On opening the box the styler looked large and felt chunky in my hand. The instructions booklet is a series of grids and images with alphabetical keys that took a while to get my head around and there was no simple quick-start guide as you might expect with a piece of tech like this. 

After blow drying with with the best hair dryer, I navigated removing the little water chamber ready to fill it up and hit my second snag - users are strictly instructed to use lime-free demineralised water in the device. I’m no H2o expert but I suspect my London local-authority water probably doesn’t fit the bill. But in the absence of a ready supply of demineralised water I went ahead and filled it from the tap anyway, noting that the warranty does not cover scaling. 

Anything that requires purchasing special accessories feels irksome to me, although subsequent investigation revealed that demineralised water is about £10 for 20 litres online, which would easily last the year. 

It was only once set up was out of the way that the SteamPod 3.0 started to reveal its charms. I pushed the on button, selected from three heats (185°C, 200°C, 210°C) and a little light flashed to let me know it was ready within about 30 seconds, joined by a satisfying hiss of steam. 

Once I had given my hair a good brush with a tangle teezer (important, as otherwise the comb teeth can get caught in any knots), it ran smoothly along my hair. And despite not being the lightest of devices, felt easy to control whether gliding straight down my locks or curling out the ends to create blow-dry style kicks.

L’Oréal Professionnel SteamPod 3.0  Results

This is the big one. The results are what make all the little niggles in the early stages of using the SteamPod worthwhile. I gave the styler one go over my frizzy, kinky air-dried strands and out the other side slid a perfectly smooth, glossy sheet of hair. No second pass necessary, no frazzling smell or feel, no flyaways. This is big news. Even being the owner of fine, relatively well-behaved hair I find a couple of goings-over necessary with your average styler. That shine was new too, and to check this wasn’t just down to the smoothing effect I ran another big-name styler down the other half of my hair. The SteamPod side was visibly glossier, with fewer flyaways. 

Would this be enough to convince me to use the SteamPod 3.0 every day? Possibly not, but a colleague with thick, curly hair that requires hardcore coaxing to style was in raptures and won’t straighten with anything else now. There’s no denying the extra effort involved in using the device, although once you’ve styled with it a few times and have the knack it probably won’t feel that way. And if you consistently straighten your hair and worry about damage, the speed, shine and reassuring softness of your hair afterwards should make it a fair trade.