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Salon Hair at Home

Be out of your house in minutes with smooth, sleek hair, thanks to high-tech straightening irons.

Although my gender is often accused of it, I don't want to spend an hour getting ready in the morning. I'd rather shower, do my hair and be out of my apartment in less than twenty minutes.

So needless to say, I was excited to try out the new T3 Bespoke Labs wet or dry straightening iron -- could this be the answer to my time and unruly hair issues?

Straightening, or flat, irons use high heat to flatten and smooth the hair, and they've been around for over a century.

The best ones available today use ceramic, rather than metal, plates for more even, efficient heat distribution and a less-harsh effect on hair strands.

Dazzling Debut

If the T3 iron works for the professionals, then it should be perfect for me. And what better test than during New York City's Fashion Week?

Last month, T3 sponsored Orlando Pita, a Manhattan-based stylist who used the newly released iron to create stunning hairstyles on models showcasing the latest couture from the likes of designers Oscar de la Renta, Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam and Proenza Schouler.

For the Oscar de la Renta show on Feb. 5, Pita used the T3 iron to create an exotic twist on the classic ponytail.

"Oscar wanted a youthful, groomed finish," Pita notes; he used the iron to finish the look. "The loopy ponytail adds polished edge -- it's fresh but doesn't look like the girls could do it themselves. The ends have to be really straight to stick out," he says.

The professional stylist has more praise for the T3: "You can dial up or dial down the temperature, but it's consistent throughout the ceramic plates no matter how much you use it," Pita adds.

Straight Science

The iron uses an innovative construction called SmartPipes, which allows the ceramic plates to heat up instantly and accurately to a selected temperature (between 140° F and 410° F), and to maintain that heat consistently for reliable results.

This also helps prevent voltage spikes, which are often responsible for affecting the longevity of the iron.

The T3 iron's plates are embedded with tourmaline, a semiprecious gem that helps protect the hair cuticles from drying out. Tourmaline also generates the infrared heat of the plates, which penetrates the hair more deeply so it dries faster (and the iron can be used on wet hair).

Further, the T3 iron is not only effective but beautiful, with a row of sparkling crystals on the handles -- you won't mind leaving it out on the bathroom counter.

One caveat: even though the iron can be used on wet or dry hair, I would recommend blow-drying just for a few minutes at least to get rid of excessive moisture. (T3 also has some high-end entries in this field -- its Evolution Professional dryer ($300) has patented technology that gives a remarkably even and gentle flow of air, as well as a removable -- and cleanable -- air filter.)

T3's irons are available in two sizes: narrow, which features 1" tourmaline-infused ceramic plates, and the wide iron, with broad 1 3/4" plates.

You're not going to find T3 irons at your typical corner drugstore.

They're available at luxe beauty retailer

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Sephora as well as upscale department stores like


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and Henri Bendel (800-423-6335), or in Canada at

Holt Renfrew (866-465-8736).

I was surprised to find out that the T3 iron costs only $200 -- less than half the cost of a permanent, salon-only solution like Japanese hair straightening treatment.

It's well worth the price. My hair was smooth and straight after just one quick sweep with the T3, much more quickly (and cheaply) than a trip to the beauty salon.

I'd rather own a portable iron than have to spend the time, effort and money of getting it straightened by a stylist.

Not surprisingly, salon pros view irons a bit less enthusiastically.

Edward Tricomi, owner of high-end salon

Warren Tricomi, says, irons "are not going to replace a blow-dryer. They are however, great tools," says Tricomi, who recommends picking an iron (always ceramic-plated) based on its shape and size.

Other excellent straightening-iron options include

Solia, which has ion ceramic plates, and

Sedu, an iron produced in the U.S. that features ultra-smooth ceramic/tourmaline plates.

Or, try out the T3. According to Kent Yu, head of the Gardena, Calif.-based T3 Micro company, "T3 Bespoke Labs is the newest, most sophisticated collection of styling tools from T3 yet."

Next time I wake up late for work, I won't stress -- I'll just turn the straightening iron on, do my hair and be ready to be out of the house in minutes. High-end irons can make your life that much easier.

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