“You always want what you can’t have” is a truism originally written about hair, probably. Why is it that curly girls long for a sheet of sleek, smooth hair while the straight-haired among us spend so much time searching for the hairstyling tools, products, and techniques that might finally help our pin-straight strands hold a curl? In fact, a recent Good Housekeeping poll revealed that 36% of readers said they use heat tools at least once a week (even in a pandemic!), so it’s important to know which hairstyling tools are actually worth buying — and the right ways use them for your best-looking and healthiest hair.
That’s why each year, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tests thousands of hair tools and hair products to find the best of the best. We put hairstyling tools through a gamut of rigorous tests in-Lab, and since sometimes what works in a lab setting doesn’t translate to real-world usage, we also send hairstyling tools home with a wide range of panel of consumer testers to see how they perform from day to day. Separately, our team of beauty editors and experts constantly works with (and learns from) leading hairstylists on the best, most innovative styling tips for hair that looks as good as it feels.
Whether you’re in the market for a new flat iron, curling iron, or hair dryer or just need to, well, brush up on your skills for your best at-home hair, we’ve rounded up the best hairstyling tools and all the top tips on how to put ’em to use.
First, pick your tool
Our favorite hairstyling tools were selected based on Beauty Lab testing, first, for qualitative factors like size, weight, ease of use, comfort while using, and safety. Next, to make sure these tools can stand the test of time, we simulate years wear and tear with our Drop Tester. We also test each tool’s performance on regulated hair swatches to see how well styles last, drying and/or styling time, and ability for the resulting style to resist humidity in the Lab’s Climatology Chamber. Last but certainly not least, we factor in consumer input on ease of use, resulting hairstyle, and their likelihood to continue using the tool post-test.
After parsing through tens of thousands of data points, we think these hair tools are your best bets:
Get to styling
Here’s the truth: Even the very best tools can’t perform well if you don’t know how to use them! Since 72% of respondents in a recent GH poll said they could use some pointers on how to style their hair at home, our beauty editors gathered the most useful pointers and how-tos from GH Beauty Lab pros, celebrity hairstylists, and industry experts to help you achieve the most popular and gorgeous styles quickly and easily, no matter what kind of hair type you have: