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Heating Tools Exposed: The Difference Between Thermal, Ionic & Ceramic Flat Irons

What is Thermal Heat?
Thermal energy is made up of a combination of potential and kinetic energy based on an object consisting of atoms, molecules, and electrons. I will spare you the details of the complexity of physics. However, the particles of the object are based on normal nodes of vibration which correlates with heat capacity.

The bad thing about thermal heat, when used on the hair, is that it burns the hair shaft from the inside out causing extreme damage. The damaged hair contains positive ions which mean the hair follicles are open which produces dry, brittle hair. When the hair is positively charged, it may be a result from chemicals, metal heated tools or static electricity.
The Basics of Ionic Technology

The word “Ionic” has been plastered all over heating and styling tools for years now, but what does it all mean? The word “Ionic” relating to the beauty industry refers to negative ions that neutralize the charge of positive ions also known for dry, brittle and damaged hair due to an open hair shaft. When the charge becomes neutralized, it produces a closed hair shaft resulting in a smoother hair texture generating negative ions. It’s similar to open pores on your skin. When washing your skin with warm or hot water, the pores remain open. However, when your skin is washed with cold water, the pores tighten or close.
Most blow dryers use Ionic technology. 

Benefits in using Ionic products:

§  Eliminates frizz

§  Reduces static

§  Leaves hair smooth & silky

§  Repairs damaged hair

§  Reduces drying time

§  Revitalizes dull lifeless hair

§  Seals and smooth’s split ends

The 411 on Ceramic Heating Tools
All ceramic flat irons produce negative charges while materials such as tourmaline and titanium greatly enhance the output of negative ions. They also use infrared heat which is the most efficient and mildest way to heat the hair.
The majority of ceramic flat irons on the market are made with aluminum or titanium which is coated with several layers of ceramic. Unfortunately, over a period of time, the ceramic coating may peel or chip exposing the metal surface which may cause damage to the hair.

Pure ceramic flat irons are much more expensive and are used by top stylists. Pure ceramic flat irons are much softer than metal reinforced ceramic. Pure ceramic is more fragile and can crack easily, however they create a luminous shine and dramatically smooth the texture of the hair. The high-end irons such as the “FHI Runway” flat iron or the lower end “Hana Elite” Flat Iron will achieve the results desired like enhancing luster, straightening the texture and diffusing heat.

Preparation for Use of Heat Styling Tools

There is not much difference in selecting a flat iron for African-American hair types vs. other ethnic groups. The only difference is the preparation, care, and attention needed prior to straightening and after styling.

Heat strips the hair of moisture so it is important to use moisturizer conditioners regularly prior to heat styling the hair. A heat protectant spray is the best protection from excessive heat. You should stay away from using oil based products, hair glossers or spray laminators while using heat which automatically singes the hair causing burnt, dry and damaged ends. It’s best to use these products as the finishing touch to styling the hair. 

From my own experience, I use to feel when I saw smoke coming out of the iron while pressing my hair that it was a sign that I was really getting my hair straight, but not realizing that while I heard my hair sizzle like bacon, it was causing more damage to my tresses.
On that note, it’s best to work on a low setting and increase the temperature gradually until you find the right temperature that works best for your hair type. It should not be more than 300-400 degrees.

It’s also best to flat iron your hair in smaller sections and use a wider plate size at least 1.5 inches and up.
While using a curling or flat iron, it’s best not to hold the iron in the hair for long periods. It does not take long for freshly shampooed and moisturized hair to curl so use good judgment when styling. It’s also not recommended to use heating tools when your hair is dirty or has too much product buildup. This will definitely cause breakage.

What is Nanotechnology?
Nano, in general, means “Small,” but in relation to a heating tool, it is used to describe the very small particles inside of a flat iron’s plate.

Tourmaline and Titanium always contains a “Nano” ceramic surface which dramatically increases negative ions which heal damaged hair producing smoother, sleeker results. Both types also distribute the heat more evenly. Tourmaline is a raw, crystallized mineral that is crushed into particles inside the plate which give hair a natural boost of shine once heated.
So understanding the terminology, you definitely do not want to purchase a flat iron that states solely, “Nano Ceramic,” because it does not have any additional properties within the ceramic surface. In result, it is not comparable to a salon quality curling or flat iron.

You definitely want a ceramic flat iron that has implanted a combination of ceramic and mineral substances.
Preferably, selecting a curling or flat iron which is labeled, “Nano Silver,” Nano Titanium” or “Nano Titanium “Oxide,” is well-worth the investment. The first two options mentioned deters bacterial growth or germs while the latter slows down chemical buildup.


  1. Anonymous10/07/2017

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you! You can go to my about Page to connect on social media or the Work With Me Page to send me an email.

  2. Nice article...Nice article. thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you! Much appreciated!

    2. good tips thanks for sharing

  3. Anonymous11/26/2017

    Hi there. I seldom supply comments but this time is an exception. Your post was really helpful,
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    1. You're welcome! Thank you so much for replying. I appreciate it. I often wonder if I'm reaching others because I rarely receive comments on my posts but it's nice to know that it has helped you. You can look forward to much more to come. Working on some product reviews as well as informative posts. Great encouragement! Thank you!

  4. When i need a curling iron for my ex gf i read a artcle on professional website before buying that is

    1. Thanks for your link recommendation. This post was informational in nature not a product review. However, my product reviews are based on my personal opinion and of personal use of the product. I do recommend potential buyers to do their own research prior to purchasing a product.


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