The best hair styling tools for Christmas – our tried and tested guide to curlers, straightening irons and hairdryers
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Thinking of treating someone – or yourself – to a new hair electrical? You’re going to be spoilt for choice. With so much competition on the market, hair brands have really been upping their game to make their launches stand out from the rest.
Any old iron? That simply won’t do right now. The beauty world is being flooded with clever hair innovations, promising to make styling easier, more eco-friendly and less damaging to your tresses than ever. I’ve been testing them all out to find out the ones that really DO make it look like you just stepped out of a salon.
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PROMISE: EASY CURLING
BaByliss Curl Styler Luxe, currently £47.99 here
If you never mastered curling with straighteners, here’s the easy version. It clamps your hair neatly in place between hot plates, while releasing cool air to set your curl.
Verdict: “It took me endless YouTube tutorials to figure out how to curl with my ghds but I’d have saved myself a lot of foot stamping if I’d had this. It holds your hair effectively, so you avoid half the section escaping as you attempt to curl it. You do have to put up with a noisy motor, but the pay-off is glossy, perfectly shaped curls. If you’ve already cracked curling the hard way you won’t need this, but if not, it’s the difference between skating solo and clinging to a penguin.”
PROMISE: NEXT-LEVEL HOT BRUSH
ghd Rise, £169 here
This brush uses all sorts of technical wizardry to remain at a constant 185, which ghd says is the optimal temperature for lasting style with minimal damage.
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Verdict: "I must admit I felt a bit underwhelmed when I clapped eyes on this. A hot brush? How Nineties! However once I got this little gadget in my hands, I discovered it was a whizz at cheating the look of something I can’t create the hard way – the big, wavy blow dry. The combination of hot brush and cool bristles meant I could very easily lift my pancake-flat roots without scorching my scalp or fingers. That job done, it was a simple matter of wrapping sections further down, then easing my hair through the brush. The final effect was a gorgeous, soft undone wave, which looked far more pro than the skill that had gone into it."
PROMISE: LOW-TEMPERATURE STYLING
Cloud Nine Original Iron Pro £249 here
These irons feature a unique “Revive Mode”, which promises perfect styling at a mere 150C. Switch it on and the iron vibrates 8,000 times a second to minimise friction and maximise effects.
Verdict: “I’ve tested plenty of straighteners but never ones that have buzzed perkily in my hand. The Revive setting could have been a gimmicky attempt at reinventing the wheel but my vibrating pal gave the most perfect bouncy curls at 150C, then easily straightened them out too. The iron is also excellent in regular, non-vibrating mode. It’s expensive but it’s undeniably great quality.”
PROMISE: BLOWDRY IN A BRUSH
Hot Tools Black Gold Volumiser Set, £129 here
This whopper of a hot brush dries as it styles, and claims to be a salon blow dry in a box. It comes with two interchangeable heads to cover different hair lengths and textures.
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Verdict: “This was a revelation. Unlike any hot air stylers I’ve ever used before, the brush really held my hair while it was drying it, giving that ‘‘taut and tugged’ sensation of a pro salon blow dry. I was left with more lift at the roots and a swishy bend in the ends. Hot Tools reckons this can do waves and curls too, and while I fear that might be beyond my skill set, I’m delighted with the one bouncy effect I did get.”
PROMISE: NEXT LEVEL BLOWDRY
Glamoriser LightSpeed Zero Hairdryer, £139.99 here
Sci-fi by name and space-age by design, this calls itself “the first mass-market ‘new generation’ 100,000 RPM dryer”. Translated into Earthling, this means a motor that’s powerful yet light and quiet.
Verdict: “Hairdryers have really upped their game since the Dyson Supersonic made everything look a century out of date. This one isn’t as quiet as Dyson’s but it’s under half the price and its power is a revelation compared to the tiny size. It’s like a teacup dog letting out a fearsome growl when all you’re expecting is a yap. I loved the dinky size, slick magnetised attachments, lightweight feel and how quickly it made my hair shiny and sleek. It’s a warp speed blow dry, basically."
PROMISE: THE FLEXIBLE FRIEND
Dyson Corrale, £399 here
If anyone was going to reinvent the iron, it was Dyson – and at nearly £400 you’d better hope it has. Looks wise this isn’t as revolutionary as the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, but peer closely and you’ll find it has unique flexible plates that bend around your hair. This promises to gather – or “corrale” – your locks so the heat penetrates evenly across the entire section. Impressively, Dyson says this halves the heat damage compared to using solid plates.
Verdict: “I liked the tech-y design of the Corrale, particularly the fact you can unhook it from the charging cradle and take it, cordless, in search of the best mirror in your house. I still don’t think anything beats my beloved ghd irons, which feel so wonderfully ergonomic in my hand, but I won’t deny the Corrale straightened and curled my hair beautifully at a lower than usual temperature. If you’re into damage prevention, you might be tempted to invest in the future of your hair.”
PROMISE: NEW TOOLS TO TRY
Dyson Airwrap, £449 here, and attachments, £30 each here
Sticking with Dyson, the brand’s other huge hair styling innovation, the Airwrap, has two new tools to add to the kit. The Airwrap’s USP is something called “the Coanda effect’, a Jedi-like force which automatically draws your hair towards the wand, like an invisible hand, and wraps it neatly around to shape it as it dries.
Verdict: “The original Airwrap launched a couple of years ago, and while madly spendy, the smoothing brush is one of my most-used gadgets. The first add-on is a pair of 20mm curling barrels (one to twist hair clockwise, one anti-clockwise). Obviously they gave a slightly tighter curl than the existing barrels, and that suited my fine hair and helped them last better. I liked it even more as it dropped a bit. There’s also a new small volumising brush that’s handy for shaping short hair and fringes.”
PROMISE: SUSTAINABLE HAIR REGIME
RÉDUIT One, £189 here, and pods, from £22.90 each here
French for ‘reduce’, RÉDUIT promises to condense your hair routine into one super-sleek gadget and make it more sustainable. You pop in tiny ‘pods’ containing highly-concentrated treatments for cleansing, shine, strength, conditioning and colour protection, which are misted on by ultrasonic technology. The device also has LEDs to stimulate hair growth and scalp health. One early adopter is Victoria Beckham, who uses it for her catwalk shows.
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Verdict: “I can’t deny RÉDUIT is a game-changer – each pod reduces product waste 20-fold and lasts up to 20 uses. The ultrasonic mist coats every strand with miniaturised, ultra-absorbable particles, and the formulas certainly work. Of course, not everyone will be willing to shell out £189 for it, especially if they’re already wedded to lots of ‘regular’ hair products, but I think it will appeal to anyone who’s been converted to skincare gadgets.”
PROMISE: MOISTURISING IRONS
Remington Hydraluxe Pro Straightener, currently £74.99 here
These irons are ready in just 15 seconds and have a special Hydracare setting that releases a fine, cooling mist as you smooth the plates through your hair. The mist is designed to moisturise and “relax” your hair, so you can style at lower temperatures and minimise damage.
Verdict: “I found the misting attachment a bit temperamental – it didn’t seem to work at first but then it sorted itself out when I’d wiped away a couple of stray water drips that might, I imagine, have affected the connection. However once I got the mist going I was impressed by how beautifully sleek it left my hair. The irons can also be used in regular, non-misting mode and they were very good that way too.”
PROMISE: TAILORED STYLING
Toni & Guy !Hello Day! Slick Straightener, £29.99 here
These irons come with three simple heat settings – Wash Day (210C), Second Day (180C) and Third Day (150C) – designed to work with your hair wash cycle.
Verdict: “I liked the chirpy look of these irons and the cute, preschool-like controls. Being realistic, I reckon most people would only use one or two settings – wash day or not, 210C would always be too hot for my hair type. However, 180C did a lovely job of smoothing and curling, while the Day Three setting served as a reminder that I don’t need as much heat when I’m just smoothing slept-on hair. Overall, cute and affordable.”
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