Is the New Instyler Max Better Than a Flat Iron?


I have a confession – I really don’t like straightening my natural hair. While I enjoy the look and flipping my hair around, it’s too much stress for me. The total process takes around four hours, and almost every time I take the plunge, it rains the next day. It’s like the humidity gods won’t let me be great. But when I was asked to review the new Instyler Max, I jumped at the chance. I had always wanted to try the Instyler, but questioned whether it would work on my thick, fairly coarse hair. I didn’t even have success with flat ironing until I discovered comb chasing, which is effective but very tedious (in my opinion).

When my Instyler Max arrived, I was so excited that I tested it out on my curly hair, and was pleasantly surprised that the pieces got pretty straight! I shared a quick test video and the difference between  my curly kinks and my “instyled” hair were clear. Maybe we had a winner?

Fast forward to two weeks later and I finally (sorta) wanted to straighten my hair. I cleansed and deep conditioned, then blew my hair out using Phytokeratin Thermal Protectant Spray. When it was time to use the Instyler Max, I put the thermal guard on, made sure the iron was rotating in the correct direction (the iron needs to go with your hair, not against it, to be effective and this one switches directions), and got to work.

Some observations…the Instyler Max definitely smoothed out my ends, which is great, but I tried different sizes for pieces of my hair and different speeds on running the tool through my hair (the directions indicate that you need to go slowly), and didn’t see much volume reduction. And this is totally my personal preference, so take it or leave it, but I don’t like to spend hours on my hair and it ends up looking more like a blow out. I didn’t think it looked bad at all (actually, I gave myself a high five for Izzy’s thickness), but I ended up going over my hair again with my Sedu while comb chasing. Also, I found the Instyler Max awkward to use on my right side, which is something I was hoping to alleviate (comb chasing is also awkward).

Then, like clockwork and because the universe apparently hates my hair straight, it rained the next day, so my straight hair got a bit frizzy. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give the Instyler Max another go, consciously concentrating on some tips and tricks from my video comments. So I went suuuuuuuuuuuuuper slow the entire time (seriously, so slow I could have fallen asleep mid-strand) on one-inch pieces of hair. The results were definitely more impressive, but at the same time, I was refreshing my hair more than totally straightening it and I did increase the temperature to 425 degrees. Also, not sure if it’s just me, but I tend to get straighter hair when it’s a little dirty (but not too dirty). Here it is halfway finished (pay no mind to the burn on my forehead, totally my fault):


My final thoughts? I’m not sure I would put the Instyler Max in a category where I’m blown away with it vs. my flat iron, especially due to the awkward positioning that is my main annoyance with comb chasing, but I like it. I also have to remember that my hair likes to be bigger and I’m not rocking that Brazilian hair I so often see on TV, so I can’t compare the two. I was also pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the Instyler Max on my hair, especially because I feared my hair would get absolutely gnarled in it. Would I replace my flat iron with an Instyler Max? For refreshing – definitely. The noise didn’t bother me one bit and it was nice to have a free hand while straightening. And while I’m not 100% sure of the “less damage” claim, I’d prefer to not “crush” my hair with my iron if I can help it. But for initial (rare) straightening, I think I’m sticking with my Sedu. After I finished flat ironing, I left my hair in a bun for a bit to add some texture and it turned out like this:


If you have shorter hair or have issues with hitting your roots, I definitely recommend trying the smaller size of the Instyler Max.

Have you tried the Instyler Max?

**This review is also posted on Black Girl with Long Hair.

3 thoughts on “Is the New Instyler Max Better Than a Flat Iron?

  1. Mimi says:

    your hair looks absolutely fab! I haven’t seen this product over here in Nigeria tho but I like the results. Looking at my hair straightener alone wears me down.

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