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It's totally understandable that you'd get confused about flat iron materials. Copper, aluminum, tourmaline, ceramic, what does it all mean? It seems like every week there's a new technology that's supposed to be better than the last. Take a deep breath; these terms are easily explained and understood.
If you want to know what the hype is about with tourmaline and ceramic straighteners, you should know a little something about what flat irons were like before these materials took the spotlight. In the beginning, flat irons were made with aluminum and sometimes copper plates. Sure, metal conducts heat, but these two materials didn't heat up evenly, which meant you had to pass over hair sections over and over to get them straight. Plus, they have positive ions that dry out hair and leave it without shine and luster.
Like flat irons themselves, ceramic plates were first available only to professionals who paid hundreds of dollars for them. After a while the average consumer (that's you, girl) could buy one too. Ceramic heated evenly, so straightening took less time, and it produced negative ions that heated hair from the inside out, leaving a little bit of shine on its path. Ceramic was a pretty good addition to flat irons, but technology marches on and a new material called tourmaline has been added to the mix.
Think of tourmaline as an improvement to ceramic. In fact, the best irons are a combination of the two materials. Tourmaline is actually a crystal mineral that has all kinds of benefits. It's ground up into teeny tiny pieces and used to coat flat iron plates. What's the result? More negative ions than ceramic and faster, even, heating. So, more shine and a quicker result. Plus, tourmaline has an ultra smooth surface, unlike ceramic. That's better for your hair. Tiny little grooves and bumps in ceramic can pull at hair, but tourmaline does no such thing.
Between ceramic, tourmaline or a combination of the two what do you buy? Any are going to do the trick. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. A combination tourmaline and ceramic flat iron is more expensive and the results are better looking and better for your hair, so if you can afford it, spring for one. If not, a ceramic iron without tourmaline -- or tourmaline without ceramic -- will work well on hair that's naturally straight to mildly wavy. Flat irons with adjustable temperature will give you more control and are always a good bet. Heat, no matter how it's distributed, does damage to your hair, so if you've got straight locks, a lower setting should be used. If you're a curly Sue, you might have to go up to a few hundred degrees Fahrenheit to get the results you want. Always use a heat protective spray before you blow dry or flat iron.