woman with her hands in her light brown hair in front of a pink background

“Hair,” as a Fleabag-era Phoebe Waller-Bridge once put it, “is everything.”

Yes, we’re using this quote four years too late, but its relevance — its practical application — remains too potent for us to ignore. A day where you hair falls a little flat or your part is just off enough can be, in a word, devastating.

Of course, you are more than your hair, but it is nice to feel like you have some control over how to make your locks look good, especially when your standard wash and dry routine decides not to yield presentable results. The key to consistency is having a styling routine you can rely on.

Obvious as that may sound, for some people, hair styling is more than using shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and creams. For the most control over your results, finding the right hair styling tools can be the difference between loving and hating doing your hair every day

What to consider when shopping for hair styling tools

Looking for a hair styling tool is a lot like going to a hair salon. We get that simile is maybe a bit too similar, but stick with us.

Say you have long, pin-straight hair. If you go to the salon with a reference photo of a person who has a textured bob with bangs, and you tell your stylist you want that cut and the only styling you’re willing to do is air drying, one of two things is going to happen. One, your stylist will say “No problem!” and you will end up with a haircut you’re unhappy with. Two, your hair stylist will tell you to get real. And in that latter scenario lies perhaps the most valuable and widely applicable hair guidance out there.

When you’re looking for hair tools, you have to consider your natural texture, how far that is from the look you’d like to achieve, and how much time, effort, and money you’re willing to put into your hair routine. If at the end of the day, you appreciate the ease of air drying your hair and only want curls every now and then, you probably won’t get your money’s worth by dropping $600 on the Dyson Airwrap. You’ll save money going for a curling iron, and occasional styling won’t make that much of a difference in your hair’s health.

If you do find yourself wanting to achieve a different texture than your own most days, hot tools can really help lock in a look for as long as possible. And though your $30 hair straightener from middle school may do the job, there are reasons worth investing more, whether that be saving some time or your hair’s health.

Is heat styling every day bad for your hair?

Simply put, no matter your hair type, the more often you use heat to style your hair, the more prone you are to damage like breakage and dryness. The case is the same whether you’re using standard hot tools or fancy Coanda air technology. Thankfully, this is not an all-or-nothing situation, and there are steps you can take to protect your hair from heated hair tools.

The first thing everyone should do before any styling sesh is to apply a heat protectant. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a drugstore bottle or if it’s a high-end serum — you need to apply some form of protectant beforehand. Otherwise, you’re basically asking for fast-tracked heat damage, which in the grand scheme of things, will likely mean you spend more money getting your hair cut frequently or you spend more time (and use more heat) to style hair that looks dry and dull already, continuing a very vicious cycle.

With all that said, some tools are better for regular heat styling than others. The Dyson Airwrap uses hot air, rather than hot metal plates, to style hair, and maxes out at 302 degrees. And even for people with textured or thick hair, it can provide lasting styles. The benefits of the lower temperatures don’t just apply to air stylers either. Having a tool that maxes out at a lower heat may seem counterintuitive for long-lasting styles, but using lower heat and having to redo some sections is actually better for your hair than ta full-on 400-degree blast.

When to invest in hair styling tech

We won’t sugarcoat it — most of the hair tools on this list aren’t the cheapest. However, it’s because they weren’t designed to simply give you perfectly straightened or effortlessly curled hair. Honestly, a lot of hair tools can do that.

Spending more, however, often means making an investment in your health’s hair, by exposing it more evenly to lower heats while producing the best possible version of the style with minimal effort. Plus, these hair styling tools are built to last, so you won’t be making an investment more than once.