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When you see a professional stylist using a flat iron, it’s usually one of a few brands. Babyliss, CHI, or FHI. I’ve been a Babyliss fan for years, simply because I got one as a great deal, and it lasted for ages. Well, the old girl is finally starting to slow down, so I decided it was time to retire her. I ran across a great deal on the FHI Platform Tourmaline Ceramic Professional flat iron, and I couldn’t resist. I ordered the 1” model.
So, About My Hair…
This review won’t be very useful to you if you don’t know what kind of hair I’m dealing with. I have very fine, very wavy, slightly frizzy textured long hair. It’s actually closer to curly when cut above my shoulders, which is why I don’t do that. It’s also a little damaged from over bleaching… yes, I have a hair color addiction.
My point being: My hair is a mess. It’s fragile, and over-processed, and even when it’s not over-processed, it REALLY requires straightening or smoothing to style. It also doesn’t blow out well. So, I have pretty high expectations for a hair straightener. My previous investment had done well by my beleaguered locks, and I was hoping for something of similar quality.
Me without a great hair straightener: Basically cotton-candy, dandelion fluff head.
Me with a great hair straightener: Reasonably sleek and styled
FHI Platform’s Major Features
Let’s take a look at what FHI advertises, and then we’ll discuss how well they delivered.
Tourmaline is still new-ish in the styling community, in that it only became affordable (in the loosest sense of the word) to non-professional stylists in the past few years. Prices are dropping lately, however. I did have tourmaline in past straighteners.
Tourmaline is a special type of crystal which is ground to a fine powder and then embedded/inflused in the ceramic plates (I’ll get to those in a moment). The reason it’s so desirable is because it, when heated, creates negative ions. (Not unlike those fancy pink salt lamps, if you’ve ever seen one.)
Negative ions get a lot of press for being good for your health, and that’s up for debate, but what they are good for is trapping moisture in your hair. That’s not up for debate.
The reason this matters in a straightener is the fact that the internal moisture in your hair (not like, the wetness from the shower) does two things: It keeps your hair from cracking and breaking, and it allows your hair to be straightened at a lower temperature… which in turn further reduces cracking and breaking.
But tourmaline isn’t the most effective thing to make heating plates from, which is why ceramic is the go-to. I’m not going to go into this in-depth, because as far as I know practically every reputable manufacturer uses ceramic for its straighteners now. It provides even, predictable heating. I wouldn’t buy a straightening iron without them.
If you want to do more than just make your hair stick-straight with a straightening iron, beveled plates are your friend. You can do everything from put a slight, gentle curl in the bottom, to create bounce by creating a bouncy slight wave at the roots, to full-on dramatic curly styles.
“Beveled” means that the plate is curved at the edge, rather than meeting the edge of the styler at a 90 degree angle. This slight curve means that you can manipulate the straightener to create varying degrees of waves and curves. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s my favorite way to curl my hair now. Not to mention it keeps my bathroom free of yet another styling tool.
There’s one more bonus, which you might not know about if you’ve only used beveled edge stylers. Flat edge straighteners, at least, every single one I’ve ever had, tend to catch and break hair now and then.
450 degrees tends to be the top range for straighteners advertised as professional grade; if you occasionally or often need very high heat, you want a straightener that goes this high.
There are a few more minor features, but I’ll cover them in the performance review.
FHI Flat Iron Reviews
It looks good on paper, so I was excited to give it a shot. Here’s how it went:
- The heating elements are quick, certainly as fast as my Babyliss was when new, if not faster. I’ve since forgotten how long it originally took to heat up. I can say pretty confidently that it ticks the 450 degree mark, because after a deep condition nothing less will leave me with civilized locks, and this got the job done.
- The plates are excellent. I definitely notice the effect of the tourmaline, as I can use the lower heat settings most of the time, as I can with other tourmaline infused straighteners. The bevels are perfect for straightening, waving, adding body, curling… really whatever you want. And it has never caught my hair or broken it yet, as far as I can tell. The FHI website promises “effortless glide,” and it’s pretty close to the truth.
- When I started using the Platform, I admit my results were not consistent. However, I chalk this up to two things. First, I was getting used to a new product. But more importantly, it was a new product that simply performed better than my prior model, which was on its last legs. I was using too much heat, to begin with, and holding it on my hair too long.
Do I recommend the FHI Flat iron?
I can’t speak to the FHI Platform’s performance on other hair types, but given that I have some of the most fragile, breakable hair I’ve ever seen, I can say that it probably won’t damage your hair when used correctly.
I can also say that unless you have truly, unusually unruly hair, you can style it however you’d like with this tool. (And maybe even if you do.) The hardest style for me to pull off is straight and sleek, and I can do it with the FHI Platform.
Is it worth the cost? That’s really up to you. It’s mid-range for a straightener with these features, but if you need a high quality straightener to get the styles you want, the answer is yes. If you were blessed with hair that you can point a blow-dryer at and look like you just came from the salon, perhaps not.