Flat irons, hair dryers and curling irons

Jessica Wong

As the coronavirus vaccine rolls out across the country and more and more people are fully-vaccinated, there is a greater desire to travel in 2021 — and while non-essential, one travel-friendly accessory to consider grabbing is the compact flat iron or hair dryer. Equipping travel-ready staples may be especially significant […]

As the coronavirus vaccine rolls out across the country and more and more people are fully-vaccinated, there is a greater desire to travel in 2021 — and while non-essential, one travel-friendly accessory to consider grabbing is the compact flat iron or hair dryer. Equipping travel-ready staples may be especially significant this year as 89 percent of Americans polled in a December 2020 Hotels.com survey said they plan on taking more “spontaneous” trips in 2021. If you’re looking to travel as the weather warms up, then you’re likely stocking up on hand sanitizer, face masks, portable chargers, portable speakers and Lysol disinfecting wipes, too.

Some travel-friendly mini hot tools pack a similar punch to their full-sized cousins and often cost less, too. For example, a three-piece CHI Air gift set that includes a mini flat iron, curling iron and blow dryer will only set you back $90 compared to the full-sized hair straightener, which alone costs $130. Mini hot tools are readily available at beauty specialty stores like Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore. You can also order them from Shopping reader-favorite retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Target.

We found six lightweight and portable hot tools that won’t take up too much space in your suitcase, along with some options favored by celebrity hair stylists.

Hairstylist Kristen Shaw previously called the $30 BaByliss flat iron “compact, thin and perfect” for touching up your edges and part. The six-inch-long hair straightener is equipped with .5-inch-wide titanium plates that heat up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit. It also earned a 4.4-star average from more than 4,370-reviews on Amazon.

The biggest difference between Harry Josh’s travel curling iron and the full-size model is an optional marcel clip. When you remove a curling iron’s clip, it transforms into a curling wand, creating loose curls and waves rather than ringlets. Hairstylist Caile Noble previously told us he relies on the full-size ceramic curling iron because the barrel minimizes frizz, distributes heat evenly and adds shine. “You can achieve consistent curls or waves with overall less damage to each section,” he said. Harry Josh’s travel curling iron earned a 4.93-star average rating from more than 30 reviews on Dermstore.

The Drybar Baby Brush is a hybrid between a flat iron and a paddle brush. After drying your hair, run the ionic straightening brush through it to help smooth your strands and minimize flyaways. Given the device’s small size, it is conducive when you need to focus on styling your roots and bangs. Drybar’s mini straightening brush heats up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and boasts a 4.2-star average rating from more than 450 reviews on Amazon.

If you’re unsure how to curl your hair, then Melophy’s cordless iron is worth considering. After selecting from six temperatures and 11 timer settings, place your hair into the iron’s chamber and press the start button to curl your hair automatically. After a three-hour charge, Melophy’s rechargeable curling iron offers a one-hour cordless battery life. This ceramic curling iron automatically turns off after 10 minutes of non-use and earned a 4-star average rating from more than 3,400 reviews on Amazon.

Hot Tools Professional is a relatively affordable brand and popular among hair experts like Kristen Shaw, who previously told us she has been “a Hot Tools die-hard for years.” This foldable hair dryer is equipped with a concentrator nozzle to smooth your hair and a diffuser to enhance your natural curl pattern. It features two heat and two speed settings, along with a cool shot to help lock your style in place. The ionic hair dryer is best suited for those with fine-to-medium hair because it has a relatively lower wattage, according to hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor. This is the sole hot tool on our list that comes with a 7-year warranty if you shop directly through the brand.

T3, a popular hot tools brand, created a two-piece gift set featuring the T3 SinglePass Compact flat iron and T3 Featherweight Compact hair dryer in two colors: Rose and White. The flat iron has .8-inch-wide ceramic plates with a single pre-set temperature: 410 degrees Fahrenheit. As a bonus, it comes with a heat-resistant cover for added safety. T3 says the ceramic Featherweight hair dryer boasts an ergonomic design and folding cord. It features two heat and speed settings and a cool shot and includes a concentrator nozzle and travel storage bag.

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