Steam Hair Straightener vs. Flat Iron : 3 Misconceptions Revealed

by Stephanie Sanchez
[ Veteran Hair Coach and Stylists ]

When steam hair straighteners came on the market, they villainized the regular flat iron.

Indicating you can get rid of your old hair straightener that fries your hair, and the new and improved steam straightening iron can do everything a standard flat iron can do, but better.

In this article, we will compare the steam hair straightener and the traditional flat iron, and 3 common misconceptions.

Which one is better for your hair?  Which one is better for black hair?

We want to separate fact from fiction, and then you can decide!

# 1 Steam Hair Straighteners Don’t Do Damage Like Regular Flat Irons

FACT: No matter what hair straightener you use, damage occurs with excessive heat exposure.

When you open and close your flat iron often, it lowers the plate temperature, and plates don’t heat evenly.

When that happens, we tend to make multiple passes or turn the temperature up. Doing so will expose your hair to more heat.  

Keys to Preventing Heat Damage Are:

  1. Lower heat setting to straighten your hair. 
  2. Take smaller sections.
  3. Pass over your hair more slowly.
  4. Buy a hair straightener with a digital heat control for consistent temperature. 
  5. ALWAYS use a heat protectant as a barrier between your hair and high temperatures!

Fiction: Steam straighteners only use water vapor (steam) to deliver heat. 

Partially true, but they also use heated plates to evaporate steam and lock in smoothness. Some of the best steam hair straighteners allow you to turn the steam feature off and use it as a regular hair straightener.

#2 Steam Straighteners make your hair silky smooth

FACT: There are just some things that steam straighteners can't do. Like professional keratin treatments.

Don’t take my word for it!

Here Is What Others Say About Steam Hair Straighteners

  • I  get Dominican blowouts, this product reduced the fizziness, but when I went over it with a steam straightener, it didn’t remain straight for as long. 
  • If you want a silk press look, you must do an excellent blow dry first to get rid of all the texture, particularly at your roots.
  •  Watch the arrows. If you turn your iron the right way, you will never burn yourself with the steam.
  • Steam straighteners don't work on wet hair, which is when my hair is easiest to comb through. I had to dry it beyond damp for this tool to work. In the end, it gave me a blow-dried look.
  • It definitely  leaves your hair very soft and doesn't smell burned but the look is more of a blowout if you're looking for pin-straight like a flat iron you won't get that, you'll need to use the flat iron
  • It's not the super sleek straight I would get w/ a regular flat iron, but this one gives me volume and makes my hair feel healthy
  • I can smooth out all the curls and parts that the rollers leave behind. My result is similar to a smooth blow out, feels super soft and takes only 20 minutes vs 45 minutes with a flat iron. 
  • Steam straighteners are bulky and awkward to hold. 
  • It doesn't grip your hair to apply tension, which would really help to get straighter results without increasing the temp. This is a really nice alternative to flat ironing if you don't have to have a super straight finish.

Comments from

FICTION: You can throughout your regular flat iron

Check out the best hair steamers to understand how steam affects your hair.

#3 Wet To Dry Hair Stylers Do The Same Thing As A Steam Styler

The following analogy is from my fellow stylist Ciara Regan. To understand the difference between a steam straightener vs a regular straightener on damp hair.

“It is like the difference between ironing a wet t-shirt vs using a clothes steamer. 

Adding moisture to the hair makes it easier to straighten. Like ironing a dry t-shirt the creases are hard to get out, but if you use steam it's much easier to take out the wrinkles.

Like ironing on a wet T-shirt, wet to dry stylers just don’t work as well.”

In Conclusion

Steam Straighteners need to be passed more slowly over the hair and use smaller sections than with a normal flat iron.

Steam Straighteners don’t give the same smooth finish as a traditional flat iron.

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