The Source Interviews Ellin LaVar

1. What's the difference between Ionic, Ceramic and Infra Red? Tourmaline? Nano Fuzeion (FHI heat)? Wet to dry flat irons? What do each promise to do?  

Tourmaline is silicate (a precious stone). Ceramic is clay. Infra red is supposed to heat the hair from the inside out. Ionic is the technology of creating positive and negative ions in the hair to smooth the cuticle. Wet-to dry irons are to be used on wet hair. The steam produced from the water evaporating is how your hair is straightened. 

They all promise to make your hair softer, silkier and shinier. All have the potential to do that because of their heating capabilities and not the technology. The Nano Fuzeion says it kills bacteria and viruses. However, any heat will do the same. 

The Ionic, Tourmaline, Ceramic or Infra red technology does not smooth the cuticle. The heat from the iron, products you use and condition of your hair are what will determine the smoothness of your hair. Infra red technology does not heat the hair from the inside out. Heat penetrates into the hair from the outside. No tool can improve the HEALTH of your hair as most claim. 

2. Is your hair softer? Does it dry faster? Is there less breakage? 

Your hair is softer from the heat of the tool and the products are used on the hair. 

The more heat you have the faster your hair dries. The thinner your hair is the faster it dries. Excessive heat and frequent use of heat will cause breakage. Also, improper use of heating tools will cause breakage. (i.e., having temperature to high, holding in one place too long and over use of hot tools.) 

3. Are they keeping to their promise? 

As far as making hair silkier, shinier and smoother. Yes. However, they do not make your hair healthier or less damaged. Any heat applied to the hair has the potential to be damaging. The health of your hair is determined by how you care for your hair, what products and chemicals you apply to your hair and your overall physical health within your body. 

4. Is there that big of a difference in what they do to justify the price hike between these tools? Is it worth spending the money? 

I do not believe that there is a very big difference in the irons. The price difference is not justified. The price is a marketing tool. People believe the more expensive the tool the better it is. A higher price will give you more features, color, heat settings, smoother plates and comfort. Only you can justify spending the money. 

5. What was wrong with the tried and true $30 metal spring curling iron, anyway?  

There is nothing wrong with the spring curling iron. The spring was developed for consumers who do not know how to use the traditional irons. 

6. Should hair type be considered when purchasing new hair tools like blowdryers, curling irons and flat irons? 

Yes. 

7. What are the top brands and/or tools? What do these products feature? 

Top brands: FHI, Chi and GHI. They all work on all hair types. They all feature high heat settings, ceramic plates, color choices and different sizes. 

8. Home styling appliances now range from low to salon-level heat. Is that good, bad for the average user? What do you recommend? 

When choosing a styling appliance, the average user needs to consider their personal needs. Hair texture will determine how much heat you need and what size plate. The shorter your hair is the smaller the width of the plate you need. The coarser your hair is the more heat you will need. Any flat ion can smooth out hair. Take smaller sections of hair to achieve a straighter outcome. 

9. CHI started this craze, are they still in the game? FHI? Why Babyliss over Ted Gibson? 

CHI and FHI are very much still in the game. I use FHI myself because of the variety of sizes and heat settings. I also use Babybliss because it is affordable and easy to find. Ted Gibson is cost prohibitive and not readily available for the average user. 

10. What do IONS do for your hair that renders the old dryers obsolete?  Why does Black hair need Ionic care? What exactly does it do? Cut drying time? Shinier? Less breakage? Can you beak it down in a few sentences? What's the practical science here? 

The premise behind the ION technology is, hair carries a positive ion charge. When heated, negative ions are produced. The reaction of the positive and negative ions are believed to cancel each other out and cause the cuticle of the hair to become smoother. However, there is no scientific proof that this is true. The roughness of hair is due to protein breakdown not ions. The heat and pressure from the hot tools presses the cuticle down and the products you use hold the cuticle in place temporarily. Just like starching a shirt. 

11. What should you look for when buying blow dryers, curling irons and flat irons? 

When buying all hot tools, you should look for heat temperature, a comfortable grip, weight and affordability. 

12. Is it about finding the tool with the highest heat levels or temperature control? 

Temperature control is the most important. You won't need as much heat if your hair is already straight. You want the flexibility. 

13. What is your favorite brand of blowdryer? Your favorite curling iron? Your favorite flat iron? And what makes them better then the rest that are available out there? 

My favorite blow dryer is the FHI Nano, because it is light weight, has temperature control and a variety of speed settings. Babybliss is my favorite curling irons because of the variety of sizes and heat settings. FHI is my favorite flatiron because of the variety of heat settings, comfort and sizes. I like these tools because they are sturdy, I can use them in any country and they last along time. 

14. Where can you buy it and what's the price point? 

FHI can be purchased online and at high end beauty supply stores. The price point is about 200 dollars. Babybliss can be purchased at CVS, Walmart and online. Price point is about 50 dollars.

15. If the product can't be purchased at the drugstore, is there an equivalent? What's the best that you've purchased over the counter? 

If you can't purchase at a drugstore, you can usually get your hot tools online. Babybliss is the best I have purchased over the counter. 

16. Please grade the following products using this key: Must Have (for great products that work for all), Use Only When... (for products that only work best on certain hair types or hair days), Pass (for those products that are just hype). Also please provide one sentence for why you feel this way for each. 

The Products are as follows: 

Babyliss – Must have. Can be used by everyone, can be found easily and affordable. 

Hot Tools – Must have. Variety of sizes and affordable. 

T3 – Pass. Does what every other hot appliance can do. 

FHI – Only When. Best if you are a professional or very good with hair. 

Chi – Pass. Does what every other hot appliance can do. 

Helen of Troy – Pass. Just like every other hot appliance out there. 

Solano – Only When. Best if you use your tools a lot and can afford the price. 

ProSilk – Only When. If you like comfort and style. 

ConAir Ionic – Must Have. They are affordable and get the job done. 

Gold n' Hot – Must Have. They have variety of sizes and affordable. 

InStyler – Pass. It is to bulky and does not straighten most textures of hair. 

17. Are we simply frying our hair? Is heat good or bad? 

Frying your hair comes from the over use of heat. Using heat in moderation is not bad for your hair. 

18. Any quick and smart styling techniques (3 steps or less) with these tools? 

To get the best results when flat ironing your hair; smooth hair out with a heat protectant and blow dryer first to relax most of your wave or curl. Take thin sections of hair and start at the back. Apply heat from roots to ends, going down the shaft slowly, thus allowing heat to penetrate. 

19. What's a big no no when it comes to styling tresses with these tools? And the most common mistakes?

The biggest no no is setting your hot tool temperature too high. 

The most common mistake is turning your hot tool on and walking away for a while and then coming back and applying it directly to your hair. You should test the temperature first by pressing a piece of tissue between the plates. If it turns brown it is too hot. Cool it down a little buy pressing a damp towel between plates before apply to your hair. 

20. If I'm thinking of purchasing new equipment, but not sure how to start, what are the best sites that offer help?

I think the best sites for people to got to for help would be sites that offer real reviews by consumers like ConsumerSearch.com and Consumerreports.org.