Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reader Question: What Is The Lesser of Two Evils, A Plug In Pressing Comb Or Regular?

While plug-in styling tools might be easier for curlies to use versus standard marcel irons and brass pressing combs, they can pose some of the same issues.

Here's why: It is harder to regulate the temperature of plug in tools because the temperatures are preset. We often think because we can't "burn" our hair like we can with regular irons that plug-in tools are safer. While this may be true, we often can't tell the damage from plug-in tools until breakage and thinning have occurred.

For example: Let's say your trusty CHI flat iron has settings of 250, 300, 350, 400 & 450. Three hundred doesn't get your hair quite straight enough, and 350 gets it semi-straight. So you up the setting to 400 to achieve a silky-straight, sleek look. However setting your temperature to 400 might be overkill for your hair texture. You may only need something slightly higher than 350, but since your only option is 400; that is what you're stuck with. 

This is what I have experienced with the CHI flat iron [so I gave it away]. I find it very hard to find a healthy temperature [that still delivers sleek, straight hair] with most plug-in styling tools.  I either ended up using a temperature that was too hot, or using a temperature that wasn't hot enough, and going over the section of hair 3-4 times [which is a recipe for heat damage].

To put it in perspective: Plug-in tools do not allow for much flexibility in gauging the temperature. Often, you may need to use a higher heat setting to get desired results because the next setting down isn't cutting it. Using temperatures not suited for your hair type usually leads to heat damage, brittle hair, excessive dryness, and thinning areas due to breakage. 

My recommendation: I always recommend using marcel tools so that you can fully control the temperature. Not only do they tend to yield sleeker, softer results, you can avoid the pitfalls of heat damage if you use them properly.

How to regulate the temperature with marcels: I know there are folks out there that will not go within 10 feet of marcel irons because they are afraid of burning their hair. The trick to safely using any thermal tool is proper regulation of temperature. I recommend everyone invest in a heat tester by Golden Supreme. I have used one for years, and I swear by it. With a heat tester, you can ensure that your tool is at the proper temperature each time you pass it through your hair. To read more about the heat tester, check out my post on it {here}. 

Edited to add: The Golden Supreme Heat tester has recommended temperature readings for damaged, chemically treated, fine, medium, long, coarse, and thick hair. 

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  1. Is there a way to know what tempature the comb should be for your hair texture other than trial and error? I was wondering if the heat tester has a scale for fine, normal, and course hair?

  2. I'm a diehard Marcel iron user. A stylist once told me that (after 7years of going to them) to use the Marcel it would be an extra $10. Needless to say that was my last visit to him until he called and told me there was no up charge. For me Marcel irons are the only way to go. I just don't get the same results from plug in flat irons.

  3. Hey MTM! I am TOTALLY in LOVE with your Blog!!
    I was looking online today and came across Carol's Daughter's new Macadamia Heat Protection Gloss, and Macadamia Weightless Shine Mist and was wondering if you have tried it.

    I know you have recommended Macadamia nut products before and was curious if these two from Carol's Daughter work.


    Keep up the good work MTM!

  4. where can i get a marcel iron? is that just a regular hot comb?


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