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We tried 4 high-end cordless straighteners: which came out top?
September 10th 2021 / 0 comment
From Dyson to GHD, Babyliss to Cloud Nine, all the top hair brands are launching wire-free irons. Are they worth the investment? We put them to the test
Anyone who’s ever left home with a perfectly straight head of hair and arrived at the office with kinks and curls will be pleased to know that today's portable cordless straighteners offer hair touch-ups direct from your handbag or gym kit. From GHD’s Unplugged to Cloud Nine’s Cordless Iron, these on-the-go hair perfectors can be a handy rescue for weather-worn hair or post-gym frizz.
Even Victoria Beckham is a fan; the hair team at her spring/ summer 2022 fashion show at London Fashion Week used the GHD Unplugged cordless straightener for the natural undone and tousled look, with Victoria herself saying: "I'm actually totally obsessed with it. I use mine all the time."
As well as being VB approved, cordless straighteners are a useful travel companion too. We’ve all been in hotels where the plug socket is miles from the mirror – not a problem when you can walk around with your straighteners. Plus, if the only mirror is in the hotel bathroom (very annoying) you can style in there even when there's no socket in sight. Some cordless straighteners even have a flight safe mode. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations say that battery-operated hair tools (so that includes cordless straighteners) can only be carried on a plane if the heaters are isolated from the battery. In flight mode, the battery is disconnected to meet these requirements.
Cordless straighteners aren't a straight swap for a plug-in version when it comes to performance. What they bring to the table in portability and convenience, they can lack in battery life and plate size. GHD’s Unplugged stays hot for 20 minutes, while Dyson, Cloud Nine and Babyliss have a 30-minute charge – not an issue if you’re just touching up your hair, but worth considering if you’re straightening from scratch. If you need more time, some of them can be used while on charge, but not all.
Weight is also something to consider. While Dyson performed like a plug-in straightener, we found it too large and heavy to be slung in our bag. It's a trade-off between weight/size and performance.
Convenience comes at a price too; those we tested started from £200.
We tried out the best cordless straighteners for weight, battery life and power to see which ones we rated.
Best for in your handbag: GHD Unplugged Cordless Hair Straighteners, £299
The spec: Temperature: 185°C (single setting). Full charge time: 2 hours, heat-up time 20 seconds. Battery life: 20 minutes. Weight: 300g
These are the smallest (22cm) of cordless straighteners that we tested, with a matte body that is easy to grip. Small but mighty with the power you’d expect from GHD irons, they make light work of areas of frizz or kinks. They are short enough to fit in your handbag and live inside a smart pencil-case style zip-up bag that keeps them clean. Their small size makes them ideal for intricate areas such as baby hairs and fringes. They turn off after three minutes of inactivity so there’s never the fear that you’re going to burn the house down or run out of battery when if you forget to switch them off. You can use them while they are USB-C charging and even plug them into your laptop for an emergency power blast at work (though your laptop battery may not thank you).
Things to consider: Because the plates are so small compared to traditional GHDs and other portable straighteners we've tried, we’d only use these for neatening up already straightened hair rather than from scratch. They are hot enough to curl the hair, but adding beach waves to a whole head of hair with the tiny plates was a challenge. The 20 minutes of power was not long enough to straighten or wave a full head of long hair, but the battery indicator gave us plenty of warning.
The bottom line: With plug-in GHDs starting from £109, these are quite the investment but they are sure to please brand-loyal GHD fans. The mini size means they're perfect for handbags, useful post-gym or pre-drinks top-ups, though not for styling a full head of hair.
Best for full-head styling: Dyson Corrale Straighteners, £399.99
The spec: Temperature: 3 settings, 165, 180, 210°C. Full charge time: 90% charged in 70 minutes. Battery life: up to 30 minutes. Weight: 561g
The Dyson Corrale is a full-performance straightener that happens to be cord-free. Indeed, it's the most powerful of the ones we tested, with large plates that made our hair straight and shiny with one swipe down the length. They can be used when they're charging with the charging cable but they also have a smart dock that gives them a power boost while you are styling. They come with a chic velvet bag, that also doubles up as a heatproof mat and if we were going on holiday and needed an iron capable of taming our whole mane, these are perfect. As you'd expect with Dyson, a whole lot of thinking went into the tech, read more in our full Dyson Corrale review. They have a flight mode to make them safe to be packed into your cabin luggage. They have the hottest temperature option of the irons we tried, but have been designed to cause minimal damage, as with all Dyson hair tools.
Things to consider: These are heavier than the other cordless straighteners we tried, to the point we wouldn't want to carry them around with us in our bag. Size wise they're the same length as traditional plug-ins, so bigger than you'd want to tote around. It feels like the cordless element is an added extra rather than the main focus.
The bottom line: Hugely impressive performance straighteners that can be cordless when needed (ie. on holiday when the socket isn't near the mirror) rather than something you'd carry in your gym bag or for touching up your hair at the end of the day.
Best for ultra-glossy hair: Babyliss 9000 Cordless Straightener, £200
The spec: Temperature: 160, 180, 200°C. Full charge time: Three hours for 30 minutes use. Battery life: up to 30 minutes. Weight: 456g
In high-shine black and rose gold, these are the prettiest of the cordless straighteners we tested. Even the travel-ready bag is beautiful. The iron sits in your hand nicely, with curved edges that make it comfortable to hold. The tool heats up in seconds and has floating ceramic plates, meaning they didn't drag or pull on our hair, leaving it shiny and silky smooth. The plates are comparable to a plug-in straightener in length and the whole tool is about the size of a pair of traditional irons. They have a traffic light style battery indicator, which was handy to glance at while we were styling. These have a variety of temperature settings, from lower ones to minimise damage to a hotter option for setting curls.
Things to consider: They're a little noisy, making chirping sounds when you switch them on and to signify they're heated, which alerted the entire office to the fact that we were straightening our hair (so no discreet deskside hair touch-ups with these). They can't be used when they're plugged in, but we found them a bit large for a handbag but okay for a gym bag or rucksack.
The bottom line: They make hair ultra-shiny and straight in a short space of time and are easy to manouvre for good beach waves, but they are noisy. The battery life is 30 minutes, but the high temperate and bigger size means you should be able to do a full head of styling in this time.
Best for minimal damage: Cloud Nine Cordless Iron Pro Hair Straightener, £349
The spec: Temperature: 160, 170°C. Full charge time: 45 minutes. Battery life: 30 minutes. Weight: 290g
You might have spotted the Love Island contestants strutting about the villa with these this summer and given Laura Whitmore told us she was seriously impressed with the girls' hairstyling prowess, we're not surprised at the variety of looks they created with these, from mermaid waves to poker-straight styles. They're the lightest we tried (about the same weight as an iPhone) so are great for on the go. There's a setting that makes the plates vibrate which minimises friction and thus limits damage. The plates are petite so we found it easy to create nifty curls but it did take a while to straighten a whole head of hair from scratch. They come with a smart leather case, a roll bag, and a travel pouch.
Things to consider: These charge in a snazzy white dock (it looks a bit like a spaceship) so can't be used when they're on charge, plus the lower temperature means they're not ideal for poker straight hair, or setting curls. Because they are so small, we'd use these to touch up already styled hair, making them very costly for an iron that is really only for style maintenance.
The bottom line: If you're looking for ultra-light straighteners, these are highly compact and are efficient at creating curls, waves and straight hair, though best saved for touching up hair rather than styling from scratch.
The verdict: cordless straighteners
Keeping in mind the performance of the straightener when it's cord-free, the Dyson Corrale comes out on top. Yes, it's the most expensive and it's the heaviest but the price reflects the straightening powers it has. It's the one that offers the same styling capabilities as a plug-in straightener and while it's not handbag friendly it is great for using in busy gym changing rooms and can be taken on holiday.