Staff tested: Styling tools
We tried the best new styling tools, just in time for holiday party season
L'Oréal Professionnel Steam Pod
This shine-boosting ceramic iron uses a continuous pressurized release of steam to straighten and smooth hair with minimal damage.
I sometimes flat iron my naturally straight, but frizz-prone, hair for an extra-polished look. To use this fancy tool, I filled the oval steam generator "pod" with water. Once heated, the steam was sent through a tube to the attached iron. I took sections of hair and closed the iron over them; they slipped through the plates (which have an attached comb) with ease, each section becoming pin-straight in just a single pass. That evening I walked home in the rain, sans umbrella; the next morning my hair was straight, and nearly frizz-free. -Jennifer Masseau, Associate Editor
Conair You Wave Ultra
This ceramic styler has a triple-barrel design to press hair into soft waves. It boasts a 30-second heat-up time, as well as frizz and static reduction.
I wasn't sure how well this tool would work for me; my hair is fine and straight and doesn't hold curls well. I began by dividing my hair into three segments (upper, middle, lower), then pressed sections of each segment between the barrels for 10 seconds. You use this like a flat iron, starting near the roots and working down. My hair turned out just like the photo on the box showing nice soft waves-how often does that actually happen? And it held well: My hair was still wavy the next morning after I'd slept on it. -Melissa Greer, Content Producer
Moroccanoil Professional Series Hair Dryer
This 1800-watt dryer has three heat settings, two fan speeds and a "cool shot" button to set a style. Nano ion technology promises to eliminate frizz.
Compared to my tired old blow-dryer, this was incredible. I used the highest fan and heat settings to quick-dry my thick, wavy shoulder-length hair all over in literally two minutes. Then, I worked with a round boar-bristle brush to pull my long bangs straight. Best part: Blasting my bangs with the cool-shot button gave them shine and locked in straightness, though I still had to run serum through my hair afterwards to fully eliminate frizz. -Rhonda Rovan, Beauty Editor
Solutions Mini Hair Straightener
This travel-size iron reaches "professional heat levels" and comes with a heat-resistant pouch for safe transport.
I'm skeptical about mini straighteners because they usually don't heat up enough for my liking. That wasn't the case with this product: The ceramic plates heated well, and quickly. I use a regular-sized straightener on a daily basis to smooth out my wavy hair, but I'll keep this mini one on hand for quick touch-ups at the office or while travelling, since it's a great compact size. -Joana Lourenço,, Associate Editor
Kevin.Murphy Screen Siren Kit
This boxed set conveniently includes tools and step-by-step instructions to create polished waves.
I love the glamour of Old Hollywood, but I've never been able to achieve that wavy- hair look-until I tried this kit. Skipping the box's instructions, I instead watched Kevin Murphy's YouTube tutorial. I washed my hair, applied the volumizing lotion, blow-dried, used my curling iron, and finished with rollers. When my hair cooled, I removed the rollers, separated the strands with the comb and used the clips to define the waves, finishing with hairspray. Yes, it was a long process, but it worked. -Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor
($48; includes Anti.Gravity volumizing lotion [150 mL], eight curlers, six pin clips and a comb)
Rowenta Beauty Curl Active
Press a button and its barrel revolves, automatically wrapping hair around it for "effortless" styling. It heats to 400°F.
My hair is very fine and fairly straight, so I was eager to try out this curling iron. I found the illustrated instructions for using the automatic rotation to be a bit complicated, but I eventually mastered it. I separated my hair into one-inch sections and worked my way from back to front, snapping the ends of each strand into the iron and winding them up with a press of the button-easy! The result was amazing: I had lots of soft curls with great body. They loosened a bit over the course of the day, but a spritz of hairspray should fix that next time. I love this look for an evening out. -Josephine Woertman, Acting Art Director
Remington T-Studio Ceramic Collection Heated Clip Setters
These foam-coated metal rollers heat from the inside, and the clips also heat up-so hair gets the curl treatment from both inside the roller and out.
I've only ever used Velcro rollers, and that was years ago. After washing and drying my hair one Saturday in prep for a friend's dinner party, I plugged this unit in, and the rollers were hot in just 90 seconds. There are two sizes in the box and I tried the large rollers; the instructions said they'd give waves instead of tighter curls. I rolled pieces of hair around them, then snapped a pink clip on each to hold it in place. I didn't do such a neat job, but no matter-once I unwound them, the result was nice, and my hair felt light and bouncy all evening. -Bonnie Munday, Editor-in-Chief