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I have always battled with my straight hair, and have been desperate, for as long as I can remember, for curly hair! I remember begging my mum as an eight year-old to let me have a perm, which she thankfully refused, and I've owned four pairs of curling tongs, two sets of rollers and three sets of those funny bendy rollers! No matter how hard I try, the most I can get are uneven waves that drop out after half an hour, even if I have worked my way through a whole can of hairspray!
I've come to terms, if you like, that I will never have curly hair unless I get a perm which is as likely as Jordan wearing a woolly jumper, so I have decided to work with what I've got! Although my hair is fairly straight, I tend to get a kink from where I tuck it behind my ears. Straightening it gives me a sleeker, shiny finish which looks more 'done' than simply blow-drying it. I used to use Nicky Clarke straighteners, which were adequate but took ages to heat up and never gave me perfectly sleek hair. There's such a wide range of straighteners out there now, and the prices are steadily getting lower and lower, so I decided to treat myself!
Now, I wanted a solid ceramic pair with ionic technology, but the only one available was a really ugly set. Then I decided I wanted straighteners that are shaped like scissors, so I can lessen or increase the pressure depending on what area of hair I'm straightening. But none of the straighteners I could find incorporated all my three requirements. I had finally decided on those painfully expensive GHD straighteners when a very, very late Christmas present arrived from my auntie who lives down south - Andrew Collinge Ceramic Smooth Out Straightener.
Andrew Collinge is a well-known celebrity hairdresser, who's wife is the make-up artist Liz. He has been in the hairdressing business for 25 years, and has twice won the British Hairdresser of the Year award. Andrew was even president of the Hairdressing And Beauty Industry Authority for three years! I wouldn't say he was one of the top three hairdressing names (Vidal Sassoon, Nicky Clarke and John Frieda), but unlike other hairdressers, his hair is reasurringly ordinary (no rainbow colours or perms!) which was enough for me to have faith in Andrew and his straighteners!
These straighteners are listed in the Argos catalogue as Andrew Collinge Professional Slim Ceramic Straightener, but they are exactly the same - I know this because my auntie forgot to take off the Argos receipt stuck to the side of the box! The straightener boasts ceramic-coated (not solid ceramic) plates, high and fast heat up, an easy-grip handle and a free Andrew Collinge No Kinks Straightener. There is only one heat-setting, but as it straightens my very thick hair easily enough, it should be suitable for any type of hair.
It does look quite attractive, although the appliance is bigger than it looks in the Argos catalogue. The slim metallic blue and silver scissor-action straighteners are simple but chic - pleasing to the eye and it won't be embarrassing if you leave it lying around and your friend spots it! They're very light-weight and won't cause any arm-ache, even if you do have very thick hair and it takes ages to straighten.
They heat up incredibly quickly - although the instruction booklet recommends two minutes, it is ready to use in 30 seconds at the very most. They are very hot to touch, and as the plates wrap around, it's very easy to burn your ears, fingers or scalp, so be careful! I've burnt my ears and fingers so many times - it doesn't scar or anything, but really hurts!
As my hair is straight anyway, I don't usually bother straightening the bottom layers as it makes my hair look flat. What I normally do is take a section of hair from one of the top layers, squirt it with Lee Stafford Flat Iron Protection Mist or Boots Hair Science Volumising Leave In Conditioning Spray, then run the straighteners slowly over the hair once or twice. It's a doddle, and can't take more than 10 minutes to do my whole head!
They take a while to cool down and you're told to leave them on a heat-resistant suface to do so. Mine is currently lying on my Maths textbook and twenty minutes after turning it off, it is still very warm (not hot though). This isn't a problem for me but I do know a few people who actually carry their straighteners in their bag with them (why not just buy portable ones?!), so taking so long to cool down might be a bit of a nuisance for them.
Simple, and it works so well! It takes about fifteen minutes to do, and my hair looks really glossy, smooth and poker-straight. I have annoying broken-off, sticky-up bits of hair which I normally smooth down with wax, but the straighteners smooth them down and I don't usually need any extra product in my hair after using the straighteners. My old Nicky Clarke pair would snag my hair slightly, but the ceramic-coated plates, which are kinder to the hair than metal ones, glide through my hair smoothly and easily with no trouble at all.
Achieving salon-perfect hair is incredibly easy, and I love the compliments I get. Jennifer Aniston or Beyonce have nothing on me (no no, I'm joking!)! A sleek, swingy curtain of hair that looks beautifully healthy and natural - what more do you want? I've abandoned my dreams of curly hair; I'd much rather have straight instead! The effects last until the next time I wash my hair, every other day, which I think is very reasonable.
Of course, no heated styler is good for your hair, no matter how much they claim it conditions your hair! Putting your hair through those kind of temperatures on a regular basis does nothing for it's condition. If you want to use straighteners but are desperate to keep your hair healthy, I'd recommend going for straighteners with variable heat (use the lowest heat setting), with ionic technology if you can, but they can be very expensive. Try and opt for one that has solid ceramic plates as these are kindest to your hair, but ceramic-coated ones are still better than normal metal ones. They also distribute the heat evenly through the plates and can get to higher temperatures than ordinary metal ones.
I am very aware that my hair gets more static these days, using the straighteners fairly regularly (it is actually painful to touch your hair immediately after straightening, it is that hot!) but the condition of it doesn't seem to be too bad and I'm doing my best to minimise the damage! I use conditioner every time I wash my hair, use leave-in conditioner after straightening and between hair washes, and use an intensive treatment weekly. I leave my hair to dry naturally and try to have regular trims, so I don't feel too guilty, but do be careful.
I honestly cannot see why anyone would prefer GHD straighteners, which cost three times as much as these Andrew Collinge ones. I have tried my best friend's GHD ones, which work equally well on me. GHD straighteners do straighten my friend's very curly hair quicker than the Andrew Collinge ones, but only by ten minutes - which is nothing, seeing as it takes her an hour to straighten with GHD's anyway!
Even on my thick hair, this product works extremely well and I wouldn't be without them! It's official name is Ceramic Smooth Out Straighteners but is listed as Professional Ceramic Slim Straighteners in the Argos catalogue. They're fantastic value at 24.99 GBP, with a free straightening product (for use with blow-drying and straightening) sold for 3.99 GBP in Boots.
I have included a little picture to help you get an idea of the effect of the straighteners. The room is too dark (so you don't see how shiny my hair is!) and I'm not facing the web-cam directly (it's traumatic enough taking the bloody thing!) but you get the idea. Hope it helps you make a decision, anyway!
Pictures of Andrew Collinge Ceramic Slim Straightener
I'm not posing; I'm just trying to show you the straightness!