BaByliss Pro Nano Nano Titanium

BaByliss Pro Nano Nano Titanium ($30)
A nano-size flatiron, a dryer with a brush attached...what will they think of next? Here, our assessment of the most innovative beauty tools to hit stores recently. 
Kate Sandoval

What it is: A mini flatiron—the plates are less than 2 1/2 inches long and 1/2-inch wide.

How it works: Just like any other flatiron, except that it heats up to 430 degrees in three seconds flat.

Why I loved it: It was especially easy to wield this superlight wand; on particularly harried mornings, I could quickly straighten the layers around my face and then put the rest of my hair in a ponytail. And it fits into a desk drawer or purse, so I'm always prepared for a frizz emergency.

Insider tip: Hold the iron at the base, with your fingers on the comfort grips. And use a comb (instead of your hand) to detangle and section your hair. Because the iron is so small, your fingers can get very close to the hot plates.
Rsession Root Control

Rsession Root Control ($180)
What it is: A heated comb that you pull through curly or textured hair to straighten and smooth it.

How it works: The ceramic rod heats up to 430 degrees; the "straightening combs" on each side of the rod detangle.

Why I loved it: You can lay the comb directly on your roots (a normal flatiron has a protective rim around the hot plates prohibiting that).

Insider tip: Point the comb tines down if you want to smooth the hair, up if you want more lift (be sure to hold the ends of your hair taut as you move the tool through).

InStyler ($119)
What it is: A rotating hot iron.

How it works: Rather than twist the barrel from your ends up, as you would a curling iron, clamp it at the top of a 2-inch section of hair (flat plate on top), then drag it down to the ends. The barrel rotates, which smooths and straightens. Pause for a few seconds when you reach the ends if you want to curl them.

Why I loved it: Instead of straightening my hair with a flatiron and then plugging in the curling iron to curl the ends, I accomplished both with one tool, in one pass. And because of the rounded barrel, my roots didn't get flattened as they would with a typical flatiron.

Insider tip: For waves, wrap a section of hair around the barrel, then clamp down and hold for five seconds. Open the clamp to release the hair (don't pull it through).
Revlon Ionic Hot Air Kit

Revlon Ionic Hot Air Kit ($25)
What it is: A 1,200-watt dryer that comes with three attachments (a nozzle and two brushes).

How it works: The concentrated nozzle directs the air down, which smooths hair as you dry it; a 1 1/2-inch round brush (shown) gives volume and curled ends; a 1-inch brush creates slightly tighter curls.

Why I loved it: Despite years of trying to give myself a professional-looking blow-out, I've never been able to get the hang of juggling a dryer in one hand and a round brush in the other. Having one hand free to section and hold my hair against the brush is a huge help.

Insider tip: Use the nozzle to get your hair mostly dry, and then switch to one of the brushes to style.

Available at drugstores

Just a suggestion: Don't use a flatiron more than two or three times a week and try to keep it on the low setting, says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. Just because some of these tools can heat up to 430 degrees doesn't mean you should use them at their hottest every morning.


Plus: Why Would You Want...a Hand-Shaped Diffuser?
This bright green claw sat on my desk for weeks, attracting the curious attention of co-workers, who thought of lots of great uses for it (back scratcher, necklace holder, door knocker). Eventually, I got curious enough to want to know if it actually worked as a hair diffuser. (If you don't know what a diffuser is, you probably don't have curly hair—it turns a blow-dryer's dense rush of air into a light breeze, which preserves curls and reduces frizz.) Most diffusers are bowl shaped; this one claims superiority because it's molded to fit against your head, so its "fingers" can reach into your hair, drying the bottom and top layers at the same time. I clamped the wacky-looking thing onto my dryer (it snapped on easily with the included adapter); the instruction pamphlet directed me to hold the diffuser on the side of my head, close to my scalp, for two minutes. (If you tilt your head, the fingers can reach in more easily.) I did the other side, then the front—with the diffuser sitting like a hat, I slowly moved it right and left for a couple of minutes. Finally, I used the hand to gently scoop up the ends of my hair, encouraging the curl. The whole process felt a little bizarre—it was like wielding a prosthetic—and took some time (about 15 minutes), but when I was done, my hair was frizz-free and perfectly wavy. Will you forgive me if I say I think it deserves a big hand?

DevaFuser; $35;