This is a sort of long review, feel free to skip down to the pros/cons list at the bottom if you get bored.
I’m the type of girl who can’t live without her flatiron. I use it on a pretty much daily basis and may have come to take my beloved Chi for granted. That won’t happen again. I was horrified to find out that I couldn’t take my Chi to Europe, after reading numerous accounts of people’s Chi being fried and destroyed when used overseas, even with the proper adapters and voltage converters. I of course didn’t want to destroy it on the first day, go with wavy, frizzy hair for a month, then have to shell out almost $200 on my arrival back home. Immediately after I read these stories (which was less than a week before I was leaving), I started looking for a nice quality dual voltage flat iron that I could use in Europe and when I got back home. I was on a budget and wanted to avoid spending over $50, so that ruled out the impressive T3 I found on Sephora’s website. No luck in Ulta, but after browsing reviews on MakeupAlley, it looked like Conair had some decent models, and many of the reviews raved about how they found such an amazing flatiron at Wal-mart, of all places!
While picking up some other toiletry items for the trip, I browsed Wal-mart’s selection of Conair flatirons, looking for those keywords “dual voltage” on the packaging. I found several models but none seemed to be the exact one I had read reviews about on MakeupAlley. Thinking (mistakenly) that if a couple Conair models had gotten such rave reviews that they all must be pretty decent, I picked up the Conair 1” model. It had no other special name, although the packaging had those flatiron keywords “professional, ceramic, tourmaline”. I thought I had gotten a pretty good deal for $27 and went home to try it out. The packaging claimed it went up to 395 degrees, and the iron had 3 settings (high, med, low). I turned it on and adjusted it to high, waiting for the red and green blinking lights (indicating it was heating up) to turn to just green (indicating it was hot, I did think this was a nice feature). Once it was hot, I started sectioning and flatironing my hair. Immediately I could feel that the clamp wasn’t as strong as that I got with my Chi, I almost felt the need to squeeze down as hard as I could as I moved the flatiron through my hair, but this didn’t help much. I also noticed that it took about 2-5 slow passes over a section of hair to get it as straight at I’m used to, my Chi usually does this in 1-2 straight passes. After ironing a few sections of hair, I noticed it seemed to not be straightening anymore, and perplexed, I glanced down at the iron. Those stupid red and green blinking lights were back, apparently the Conair couldn’t hold its heat for more than 4 sections of my hair. I waited for the solid green again and proceeded with styling. It continued to lose heat every few hair sections and I had to wait for it to get hot again.
I heard that because Europe is a higher voltage (220v where I am, America is a standard of 120v), the flat iron would get hotter when I came over here and therefore would straighten better. I held my breath the first time I ran it through my hair, the day after I arrived in France. Exact same problems it had back home, and I couldn’t tell any heat difference. This morning I timed how long it took to do my hair. Our apartments here in France have no air conditioning, and getting hot and sweaty in my sleep is one of the biggest contributors to my wavy morning hair. I woke up with what I think would be moderate waviness, compared to what I’ve seen my hair like before. With going over my hair several times super-slowly, and having to wait every couple minutes for my flatiron to heat up again, it took about 18 minutes to complete the job. I’m still not totally satisfied with the straightness of some of the pieces in front, but it’ll do. Now 18 minutes may not seem like a lot for those of you who take a long time to do their hair, and granted, I do have a lot of thick hair. But at home using my Chi, I could have completed this look in under 10 minutes and had better results. I didn’t even bother doing the back here because it’s too hard to get a good angle for seeing and it didn’t feel too wavy when I ran my hands through it. Huge lesson learned in planning ahead and doing your research in ample time. If I had looked sooner, I may have been able to order a higher quality dual voltage iron without having to pay up the butt for shipping.
Pros: Dual voltage, 3 heat settings, plates claim to be 25% longer than average.
Cons: Doesn’t get very hot, weak clamp, must stop every few minutes while flatiron heats up again.
Conclusion: Unless you have very thin or fine hair with just a slight wave that is easy to straighten, skip this one and go for the good stuff. I’m glad Wal-Mart has a 90 day return policy; this thing’s going right back as soon as I get home.