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Cloud Nine vs GHD straighteners: Which is best for my hair?

Two giants in the heat styling market go head to head. So, which straighteners are best for your hair?

If you straighten your hair often, you’re probably already aware of the two electrical beauty giants that dominate the straightening and heat styling market: GHD and Cloud Nine.

Launched in 2001, British brand GHD brought the innovation of ceramic-coated heating plates to salon professionals and home hairstyling around the world. The ceramic material made super-quick, heat-safe styling an achievable reality and the brand is now enjoying its 22nd year of household-name global success. Today, the brand has around half a dozen different models of GHD straightener in its range.

In 2009, one of the founders of GHD launched Cloud Nine – another innovative premium brand with a focus on hair health and safer heat styling. Cloud Nine’s products build on GHD’s original design by adding the mineral sericite to the ceramic coating on straightener plates, to seal the cuticle and leave hair soft, shiny and hydrated.

So which brand of straightener is best for you? We’ve tested both ranges to help you choose the best model for your hair type and the look you want to achieve.

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Cloud Nine Was £300 Now £249 View deal

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Winners at a glance

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Everything you need to know

How do GHD and Cloud Nine hair straighteners work?

All hair straighteners work by heating the hair using metal plates. This causes the hydrogen bonds in the hair to break (a process that also takes place when the hair is wet). The straightening tool then passes over the hair, holding it in a new, flat position.

GHD’s innovation was to coat the metal plates in ceramic, which typically heats more gently and evenly in order to minimise damage from hot spots in the plates, resulting in a shiny and glossy finish. The ceramic plates, set on “floating” springs, glide easily and evenly over the hair without snagging. As a consequence, this reduces the number of strokes required to straighten the hair, and therefore the amount of time that the hair is exposed to heat. The plates themselves feel smoother than traditional metal plates, and hair feels soft and shiny after straightening.

Cloud Nine builds on GHD’s innovation by adding the mineral sericite – a form of mica that’s also found in makeup and skincare – to the ceramic plates. Sericite further reduces friction, seals the cuticle of the hair to lock in moisture and adds shine.

What temperature do the straighteners heat up to?

All GHD hair straighteners heat up to 185ºC, which the brand says is the optimal temperature for damage-free heat styling. The premium straighteners in the range come with intelligent heat-sensing technology that monitors and adjusts the temperature of the tool as you straighten. Most Cloud Nine straighteners offer a wider range of heat settings, from 100ºC to 200ºC, so you can select a lower temperature for fine, dry or chemically damaged hair, and a higher temperature for thicker, coarser or curlier hair. We’ve noted the temperature range for each model in our reviews below.

What size heating plates are best for me?

If you want to use your straighteners to create beachy waves and straightener curls, plates of around one inch are better for curling and shaping the hair. One-inch plates make up the core of both GHD and Cloud Nine’s ranges.

If you have long, thick or curly hair, larger plates are great for getting through lots of hair more easily; but less effective at curling and styling. Both GHD and Cloud Nine offer a wide-plate straightener in each of their ranges.

Plates under an inch in width are great for precision styling on shorter hair, and also pack up neatly for travel or touching up your hairdo when you’re away from home. We’ve included GHD and Cloud Nine’s smaller-plate straighteners in our list below.

READ NEXT: The best curling wands to buy

How should I use my hair straighteners?

Whichever brand you choose, make sure your hair is clean and completely dry before you begin to style. Section the hair and spray with a heat-protective product to keep damage to a minimum (it will also help your chosen style to last longer). Start with the bottom layers of hair at the nape and behind the ears, working your way up to the crown. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, it will take around 20-30 minutes to straighten a full head of hair from dry.

To create waves and curls with your straightening iron, pass the straightener along the hair, as directed above, and then simply wrap each tress of hair around the tool rather than holding it straight while it cools – your hair will take on a curled shape instead. We’ve noted below the straighteners that are particularly good for this purpose.

How we test hair straighteners

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the best and most complete information about a product. We’ve personally tested all of the hair straighteners in the roundup below, using the tools as recommended on dry hair. Where applicable, we test the various heat settings; and where straighteners are recommended for a particular hair type or usage, we test on that hair type to ensure we’re making an accurate recommendation.

In addition, we measure the time the tool takes to heat up after being switched on and then the speed of straightening a full head of hair (noting the length and texture of hair on which we’re testing). We also evaluate the overall ease of use of the straightening tool, how it feels in the hand, and the finish and feel of the hair once it’s been straightened. We provide information on how well-straightened styles last over the course of a typical day of wear and, finally, confirm the weight and dimensions of the tool.

READ NEXT: The best hair straightening brushes to buy

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Basic straighteners

1. GHD Original

Price when reviewed: £129 | Check price at John Lewis

GHD’s original straighteners were game-changers back in 2001, and continue to be a firm favourite with both home and salon stylists for being quick, effective and straightforward to use. The current version features an improved ceramic coating that heats evenly across the tool, ensuring a healthy temperature of 185ºC is maintained while styling. The plates come with a new coating that helps them glide even more easily over the hair, minimising the number of strokes you need for a smooth and straight finish – even on hair that starts out curly or frizzy.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 185°C; Cord length: 2.7m; Auto shut-off: 30 minutes; Warranty: 2 years; Weight: 700g

2. Cloud Nine Original Iron Hair Straighteners

Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at Argos

Cloud Nine’s Original hair straightener glides easily through the hair, leaving it feeling silky, looking shiny and – most importantly – effortlessly straight. It offers six heat settings, from 100ºC to 200ºC, and the ceramic and sericite plates perform well at lower temperatures, which means less risk of damage to hair. The lightweight, curved barrel is easy to use for flicking and curling, as well as for straight styles. The unit heats up in just 20 seconds and shuts off automatically after 30 minutes for added safety.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 200°C; Cord length: 2.6m; Auto shut-off: 30 minutes; Warranty: 1 year; Weight: 440g

Winner: GHD

Cloud Nine’s Original straighteners are lighter in weight and leave hair shiny and glossy; but for an entry-level straightener it’s hard to beat the original and best. GHD’s updated Original delivers fast and healthy straightening every time – at a lower price than Cloud Nine’s basic offering.

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Wide-plate straighteners

1. GHD Max

Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at John Lewis  With its generously proportioned 1.65in ceramic-coated styling plates, the GHD Max is designed to significantly cut styling time for long and thick hair. Like other straighteners in the GHD range, it has floating plates set on tiny springs that make it easier for the tool to flexibly grip sections of hair; and the signature ceramic coating means the plates glide with ease through even long and thick hair without pulling or snagging. One pass of the tool is usually enough to straighten the hair at 185°C; the results are silky-smooth hair in half the time it might take to style with a standard 1in-plate straightener. Long, thick or curly hair will love the frizz-free results.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 185°C; Cord length: 2.7m; Auto shut-off: 30 mins; Warranty: 2 years; Weight: 830g

Check price at John Lewis

2. Cloud Nine Wide Iron

Price when reviewed: £209 | Check price at Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine’s Wide Iron is designed for thicker hair with its mineral-coated ceramic heating plates ensuring even heat distribution and minimal heat damage. Five heat settings from 100°C to 200°C allow you to choose the best temperature for your hair type and texture, and the heat control is accessed simply via a pair of buttons on the inside handle, so you can select different temperatures for thicker hair at the crown or finer hair around the face. The straightener is light in weight at just 520g, but feels strong and well built in the hand, plus the plates exert a consistent pressure on the hair, meaning even tightly coiled hair straightens well on the first pass of the tool. The results are glossy and long-lasting, with hair still straight at the end of a typical day.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 200°C; Cord length: 2.7m; Auto shut-off: 30 mins; Warranty: 1 year; Weight: 520g

Winner: GHD

Both wide-plate straighteners will make light work of straightening heavy hair, but GHD’s beautiful results mean the Max is our preference for straightening long, thick and very curly hair.

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Premium straighteners

1. Cloud Nine Iron Pro Hair Straightener

Price when reviewed: £249 | Check price at Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine’s premium straightener, the Iron Pro promises even kinder hair styling with great results at low temperatures. The big innovation here is the Revive Mode setting, which vibrates as you style and is designed to minimise friction as you draw the hair through the tool; it allows single-pass straightening at a low heat setting of 150°C. This makes the Iron Pro particularly suitable for hair that’s already been damaged or dehydrated by chemical treatments or previous heat styling. Like other straighteners in the Cloud Nine range, the Iron Pro offers a range of heat settings from 100°C to 200°C, so you can choose the best temperature for your hair type and texture. Floating plates coated with sericite-infused ceramic keep hair looking glossy and feeling soft and healthy.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 200ºC; Cord length: 3m; Auto shut-off: 30 mins; Warranty: 3 years; Weight: 470g

Check price at Cloud Nine

2. GHD Platinum Plus Styler

Price when reviewed: £229 | Check price at John Lewis 

GHD’s Platinum Plus presents a considerable design and technology upgrade over the Original straightener (above). The hinge of the tool is a much smoother “wishbone” design, which looks stylish and prevents the hair from becoming caught – and the plates, which heat up in 30 seconds, are an elegant matte black. Most importantly, the Platinum Plus uses GHD’s most advanced intelligent predictive heat technology, which measures and adjusts the temperature of the tool constantly as you style. Since the correct temperature is maintained, the plates won’t cool and you won’t have to run them through the same lock of hair more than once, reducing damage to hair. We found that the Platinum Plus straightened our curly hair in a matter of minutes and left us with noticeably shinier, healthier strands.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 185°C; Cord length: 2.7m swivel cord; Auto shut-off: 30 minutes; Warranty: 3 years; Weight: 750g

Check price at John Lewis

Winner: Cloud Nine

The Platinum Plus and the Iron Pro both promise safer, healthier heat styling with superior technology to protect delicate hair from damage. Cloud Nine’s vibrating Revive Mode and styling at ultra-low temperatures means the Iron Pro is our premium recommendation, especially if you have delicate or damaged hair.

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Cordless straighteners

1. GHD Unplugged

Price when reviewed: £299 | Check price at John Lewis

GHD’s Unplugged is very light and compact at just 300g and 22cm long – small enough to fit in a handbag for day-to-evening styling. The straightener heats up in 45 seconds, and features GHD’s familiar ceramic plates and dual-zone heat sensors to maintain a safe, consistent temperature of 185°C across the plates. We like that the Unplugged charges via a standard USB-C port, so you can top it up using any USB cable – from a wall plug adapter, or even from your laptop – and a single battery lasts 20 minutes from full charge, which takes two hours. The Unplugged arrives in a choice of stylish matte black or white, and switches itself off after three minutes if not used, to help preserve battery life.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 185°C; Cord length: N/a; Time to charge: 2 hours; Charge lasts: 20 mins; Warranty: 2 years; Weight: 300g

Check price at John Lewis

2. Cloud Nine Cordless Iron Pro Hair Straightener

Price when reviewed: £349 | Check price at Selfridges Cloud Nine’s ultra-lightweight cordless straightener at only 290g, the Iron Pro is also very compact at only 26cm long, and will easily fit into carry-on luggage or even a handbag. The styling plates are on the small side, so it does take a little longer to style a full head of hair, but this straightener is ideal for re-touching hair during the working day or for a quick fix on-the-go. We like the unique vibrating Revive Mode setting, which is designed to minimise friction as you draw the hair through the tool, reducing damage from snagging. The Cordless Iron Pro straightener takes a rapid 45 minutes to charge fully in the supplied charging dock, and one full charge lasts 30 minutes.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 170°C; Cord length: N/a; Time to charge: 45 minutes; Charge lasts: 30 mins; Warranty: 1 year; Weight: 290g

Winner: GHD

Both cordless straighteners deliver effective straightening on-the-go; the ease of GHD’s USB charger means the Unplugged just pip this one for us.

Cloud Nine vs GHD: Narrow-plate straighteners

1. Cloud Nine The Micro Iron

Price when reviewed: £79 | Check price at Cloud Nine

The 6in-long Cloud Nine Micro Iron hair straightener is perfect for styling shorter hairstyles or sections of hair. Simpler than other tools in the Cloud Nine catalogue, the Micro Iron has just one heat setting of 150°C, but the sericite-infused floating ceramic plates common to the rest of the range remain for smooth, friction-free styling. The Micro Iron straightener is super-light in weight at 250g, and ideal for styling and retouching your hairstyle on-the-go. Owing to the smaller plate size, the Micro Iron takes longer than full-sized straighteners to style a head of hair; but for shorter hair, the results are great – smooth and shiny, with a healthy feel.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 150°C; Cord length: 2.7m; Auto shut-off: 30 minutes; Warranty: 3 years; Weight: 250g

2. GHD Mini

Price when reviewed: £149 | Check price at Look Fantastic

If you’re after precision styling for your short crop, pixie cut or face-framing fringe pieces, then the half-inch plates on GHD’s Mini are just the ticket. Built with the same floating ceramic plates as the rest of the GHD range, the Mini delivers a smooth and silky finish with no snaggles, while the slim plates mean there will be no kinks or bumps at the roots when you straighten shorter hair. In addition, the rounded barrel allows you to create waves and curls, even on shorter hair. Its smaller size also makes the Mini a great corded alternative to the Unplugged as a travel styler.

Key specs – Maximum temperature: 185°C; Cord length: 2.7m; Auto shut-off: 30 minutes; Warranty: 2 years; Weight: 320g

Check price at Look Fantastic

Winner: Cloud Nine

GHD’s Mini and Cloud Nine’s Micro Iron are both small, lightweight and ideal for styling shorter hair. Priced at £50 lower than the Mini, Cloud Nine’s Micro Iron wins this one on value.

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