Can the £379 GHD Duet really straighten wet hair?
Can the £379 GHD Duet really straighten wet hair without turning it to straw? We put it to the test beside a string of competitors
- GHD have just released a new pair that they claim can be used directly on wet hair without causing damage, but is it true?
- READ MORE: The Remington hair straighteners shoppers are going wild for
What’s the worst thing you can do to wet hair? Attack it with your super-hot straighteners, of course. That’s the traditional wisdom we’ve all learned.
But a new breed of styling tools turns that rule on its head. GHD – maker of the cult straighteners every woman loved in the Noughties – have just released a new pair that they claim can be used directly on wet hair without causing damage, saving you precious minutes of blow-drying in the morning.
But can it be true? After all, wet hair is far more fragile than dry. That’s because your hair fibres contain tiny air gaps that can become filled with water when your hair is wet.
Too much heat turns this water into steam, which expands rapidly and forces the spaces in the hair to expand, too – eventually ‘turning the hair into a sponge-like structure that’s weak and brittle’, according to an alarming paper in the International Journal of Trichology.
So to go from wet to straight without any damage, and without using any heat protection, is quite the claim.
GHD have just released a new pair that they claim can be used directly on wet hair without causing damage, but is it true?
There are a handful of other wet-to-straight styling tools out there. Remington’s Wet 2 Straight Pro (£43, Argos) promises ‘healthy straight results — no need to blow dry’, while the Jose Eber Infrared Wet/Dry Flat Iron (£250, amazon.co.uk) says it ‘works on all hair types, wet or dry’.
And, if you’re on a budget, the Amazon Basics PTC Ceramic Wet to Dry Hair Straightener (£20.25) says that it’s ‘suitable for wet as well as dry hair’.
But at £379, the newly launched GHD Duet is much more expensive than any of the existing options (and more expensive than buying a GHD hairdryer and GHD straighteners separately). So can it justify its price?
To find out, we tested each of the four wet-hair straighteners using identical swatches of real human hair from Banbury Postiche (banburypostiche.co.uk), which provides hair samples to cosmetic companies for research.
We wet and then straightened them 15 times each, simulating the amount of heat styling you might expect over the course of six to eight weeks, if you were washing and straightening your hair two to three times a week.
Then we sent the swatches to trichologist Mark Blake (markblake.co.uk), who — without knowing which swatch related to which styler — examined them under a microscope. Here’s what we found …
Not just a lot of hot air
GHD Duet, £379, ghdhair.com
GHD claim: Hot air flow and heated styling plates work together for ‘a sleek, smooth & glossy style. Directly from wet hair, with no damage’. Pictured: GHD Duet
They claim: Hot air flow and heated styling plates work together for ‘a sleek, smooth & glossy style. Directly from wet hair, with no damage’.
Uses up to 45 per cent less energy than blow drying and straightening separately.
Our test: The new thing about this straightener is that it uses a combination of hot air – which is why it sounds like a jet engine about to take off when it first starts up – and the more traditional heated metal plates to dry and straighten hair at the same time.
The wet styling temperature is fixed at 120C for the plates and 150C for the hot air. You can also use it as a conventional straightener at the higher temperature of 185C, but only when hair is dry. (It will switch off if it detects moisture to prevent damage.)
It was easy enough to use, although the large plates are both brilliant — you can work on quite large sections of hair — and annoying — when I tried it on myself, I found it hard to properly dry and style around my hairline.
Each section of hair needed around three passes, and I wasn’t convinced that the end result was better than rough drying and then straightening.
Expert says: There’s genuinely little damage to the hair. The microscope picked up some small areas of minor damage but it’s possible that those were present in the hair sample before testing.
Verdict: 4/5. From a damage point of view, GHD won our test hands down so if you’re desperate for a wet-to-straight tool, and money’s no object, this is a no-brainer. But if you’ve already got a hairdryer and straighteners, I’m not convinced it’s worth buying this.
Infrared ‘Frizz Buster’
Jose Eber Infrared Wet/Dry Flat Iron, £250, amazon.co.uk
Jose Eber claim: Uses far infrared light technology, which eliminates frizz and adds shine while styling.’ Pictured: Jose Eber Infrared Wet/Dry Flat Iron
They claim: ‘Uses far infrared light technology, which eliminates frizz and adds shine while styling.’
Our test: You can adjust the temperature of this from 100C to a very hot 200C.
While the instruction manuals for all the stylers recommend only using the highest setting if you have thick or coarse hair, Trefor Evans, director of research at TRI Princeton, which carries out testing on hair fibres, says that in reality, most people whack a heated styler up to the highest setting so that was what we used with all of them.
It initially took three passes to get the hair dry and straight, but towards the end of the experiment, this styler only needed one pass, indicating the hair was damaged — healthy hair takes longer to dry.
Expert says: In terms of damage, this straightener was the second worst performer.
The hair felt and looked dry, and under the microscope you could see individual fibres that are a lot thinner than those in the healthier samples.
Verdict: 1/5. Although marginally better than the styler that came last, this still noticeably damaged hair, and it’s pricey, too.
Remington Wet 2 Straight Pro, £43, Argos
Remington claim: In ‘wet’ mode, a moisture sensor ‘adjusts the temperature of the plates on each pass . . . preventing damage’ while a ‘venting system quickly removes excess water’. Pictured: Remington Wet 2 Straight Pro
They claim: In ‘wet’ mode, a moisture sensor ‘adjusts the temperature of the plates on each pass . . . preventing damage’ while a ‘venting system quickly removes excess water’.
Our test: Remington launched their first Wet 2 Straight tool in 2004 so I’m curious to see how it differs from what GHD offer. As I pass them over the hair, these hiss and steam alarmingly, but the accompanying booklet says that this is ‘not harmful’.
The temperature can be adjusted from 140C to 230C, which again seems very hot. But they’ve got narrower plates, which make it easier to style hair near the roots and hairline.
Expert says: The hair sample still felt soft and looked glossy after 15 uses. And although, under the microscope, you could see some small areas of damage — or the pre-cursor to damage — this came second overall, with the hair much less damaged than either the Amazon or Jose Eber stylers.
Verdict: 4/5. I was staggered that such an inexpensive product didn’t damage hair that much. If you’re on a budget, this is a good buy, but I’d still use sparingly.
The terrible budget buy
Amazon Basics PTC Ceramic Wet to Dry Hair Straightener (£20.25, amazon.co.uk)
Amazon Basics claim it is: ‘Suitable for both wet as well as dry hair, so you can save time and straighten without using a hair dryer first.’ Pictured: Amazon Basics PTC Ceramic Wet to Dry Hair Straightener
They claim: ‘Suitable for both wet as well as dry hair, so you can save time and straighten without using a hair dryer first.’
Our test: With a manual switch and temperature dial (from 80C to 230C), these look and feel, at best, old fashioned and at worst, budget. Even before I got the results back from Mark, I was fairly sure they were seriously damaging the hair.
As well as hissing and steaming, I could smell the hair burning when I used these on the sample. And, after 15 cycles, the hair looked ruined — frazzled, especially at the ends, dried out and matte.
Expert says: Absolutely atrocious. Horrendous. Under the microscope you could see bubbles where the heat has blown holes through the hair fibre and in some cases you could see that the hair had literally been fried and exploded from within.
Verdict: 0/5. Total false economy. I wouldn’t use these on my worst enemy’s hair, let alone on my own.
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