Do Hair Straighteners Have an "Expiration Date"?

I need really really want a new one.
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If you're like me, new beauty products are on your list of top five things that will instantly make you happy no matter what. It's similar to retail therapy in the sense that half the time you don't really need a new eyeliner, but you've had your current one for a whole month already so it's definitely time to replace it, right?

While dropping $20 on fresh makeup is easy enough, the waters get a bit murky when it comes to pricey beauty tools like flat irons—especially since the "good ones" always seem to cost upwards of $200. So when is it absolutely time to toss your straighter and how do you find one that will last the longest? Fabio Scalia of Fabio Scalia Salon is here to help.

Go for tourmaline or ceramic plates

The plates of your flat iron will determine how well it works but also how long it lasts. Fabio recommends tourmaline or ceramic plates to resist damage for those of us with butter fingers and find our hair tools (and iPhones) on the floor more than in our hands.

Choose an iron with a heat indicator

Everyone's hair type needs a different level of heat. A low heat will require several passes of the iron and creates more wear-and-tear, but if the heat is too high you can burn out your appliance and your hair. Not cute. "A good flat iron has a blinking light that tells you when the ideal temperature is reached," says Fabio. The indicator will also tell you when it's time to start hunting for a new one. If the light blinks often while in use, your iron has stopped holding heat and is on it's way out.

Fabio's point of reference for heat levels:

Fine hair: 300 degrees max

Medium to coarse hair: 350-400 degrees

Choose the right width

Decreasing the amount of stress on your appliance is the best way to ensure longevity. "It's an electrical device," says Fabio. "The more you use it the less it's going to last you." Choosing the correct width for your hair type will reduce the amount of passes required to achieve the desired look and, in turn, the strain on your iron. For fine hair, choose a width of 1" or less. For thick and curly, choose a plate around 1.5".

Read reviews from hair stylists

It goes without saying that experts know best. While Amazon reviews are truly a heavenly gift, you can never go wrong with professional advice. Peruse the blogs of top-notch salons to find their recommendations.

Fabio's recs:

T3 Single-Pass 1" Straightening & Styling Iron (Fabio uses these in his salon)

FHI Heat Platform Tourmaline Ceramic Hair Styling Iron

GHD Classic 1" Styler

But finding the right tool is only half the battle. Take proper care of your flat iron to make sure it lasts several years. Fabio recommends cleaning your plates once a week with cotton balls and nail polish remover or alcohol and folding the wire in half before wrapping it around the plates. He also warns against cheap, commercial brands. "While some of the commercial brands have had time to catch up with the technology, you get what you pay for. I wouldn't recommend spending less than $50 on your flat iron."

You've got the knowledge, now it's time to get the tools. *hair flip* Take a look at some of our under-$100 faves:

You should also check out:

You're Doing It Wrong: 7 Ways to Use Your Hair Products Like a Pro

10 Products That Will Make Your Hair Smell *So* Good

20 Must-Have Hair Tools the Pros Swear By

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