The Hair Tool That Promises To Straighten, Curl, Flip & More

Is the InStyler MAX truly a multi-tasker.
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Is the InStyler MAX truly a multi-tasker.

I’m usually very skeptical of multi-tasking hair tools because I’ve found that they’re either mediocre at everything they claim to do or are only good at achieving one style. So when I was asked to review the InStyler MAX, a hot iron that claims to smooth, curl, flip ends ,and more with the help of a handy rotating barrel, I, naturally, didn’t expect it to blow my mind. But for the love of all things beauty, I decided to play hair tool guinea pig for a few days to see how well the tool worked. Here’s how it went.

Overview Of The InStyler

The InStyler MAX looks like a flat iron/curling iron hybrid with some fancy details. The flat iron-looking side features ionic bristles and a curved black tourmaline ceramic smoothing plate, both of which are meant to help reduce frizz. The curling iron-looking side, meanwhile, looks like your typical curling wand, except for the fact that it can rotate in two directions--a feature many curling irons don’t currently have. According to its manufacturers, when you double click the InStyler to spin in the natural direction toward the end of your hair (i.e. if you’re styling the right side of your head it should spin towards the right, and vice versa), you’ll get the best results.

instyler max 1-1/4" iron

InStyler MAX with a 1 1/4” barrel

I tested out the InStyler MAX with a 1 1/4” barrel (it also comes in ¾” barrel size) on my healthy, medium straight hair, but the InStyler MAX can also work on thicker and thinner hair--just not synthetic hair. I used it at the 2nd to highest setting (the lowest is 285 degrees and the highest is at 425 degrees) with the accompanying Thermal Guard clipped to the side (to prevent accidentally burning myself) to see how well it could straighten, flip, and curl my hair.

instyler max close up

Straight Styles

using instyler max to flat iron hair

For my first time trying out the InStyler MAX, I used the tool to straighten and polish my messy, just-got-out-of-bed hair, which had a slight wave to it because I had gone to sleep the night before with damp hair. Here, the InStyler MAX works the same way as a regular flat iron, except for the rotating barrel part. Simply put a section of hair between the barrel and the flat side and press the flat side down while dragging the tool down to your ends. The flat side must always be facing out and away from your scalp (this goes for all other styles as well).

The InStyler heated up in under 30 seconds and straightened and polished my hair in one pass without creating any frizz and without pulling at my hair, an issue I’ve had with regular flat irons in the past. I made the barrel rotate in both directions to see if spinning it in the natural direction toward the end of my hair made any difference, and it didn’t. Since I have naturally straight hair, I also tested this on a friend with coarse, curly hair, and it also worked like a charm at straightening his hair.

using instyler max to add volume to hair

I also briefly tested the tool to see if it could add volume to my roots. The technique is the same: use it like a flat iron but place the InStyler closer to your scalp (but not too close that you’ll burn yourself) and leave it there for a few seconds. The InStyler did add some volume, but it also left a weird crease in my hair.

Flipped Ends

using instyler max to flip hair ends

If you have layered hair like mine, flipped ends are a MUST for showing off your ‘do. I have a few overgrown face-framing layers from my last haircut, and I used the InStyler to bring them into focus. To flip my hair toward my face, I secured a thin section of my hair in the InStyler. Then I brushed through my hair, and a few inches before I reached the ends, I flicked my wrist inward to curl my hair toward my face. I left the barrel in that position for about seven seconds before releasing the hair. To flip my hair away from my face, I did the same steps, except I flicked my wrist outward. Both times, the InStyler flipped my ends crazy fast.

Soft Loose Curls And Waves

using instyler max to curl hair

I would gladly trade my straight hair for beachy waves any time, so I was very excited to test out the curling feature of the InStyler. To curl your hair with this tool, place the rotating barrel side near your scalp and wind a thin section of your hair around the barrel starting at the root. Then press the flat side to secure your hair in place, and release after a few seconds, depending on your hair thickness. (On my medium hair, I used the InStyler for 10 seconds on each strand.) Because of the wider circumference of the barrel compared to that of other curling irons, the InStyler created very loose, soft curls even when using small sections of hair. It could also do slight waves if you used larger sections of hair. Although the curls looked pretty, they did not last very long.

The Finished Looks

hairstyles using instyler max

Top Row, from left to right: My natural, messy, bedhead hair, My hair with straightened ends. Bottom Row, from left to right: my hair with ends flipped outward and inward, my hair with soft curls

The InStyler was able to successfully straighten, flip, and softly curl my hair in under 20 minutes for each style. I was pleased with the immediate results.

Final Thoughts

Although it hasn’t completely changed my mind about multi-tasking hair tools, the InStyler MAX was very good at flipping and straightening the ends of my hair. As a curling iron, however, I found that the barrel was too wide to give me the long-lasting curls I desired. For that reason, I think the InStyler would be more helpful for someone who prefers sleeker styles as opposed to some looking for waves or curls. Since I already have mostly straight hair, I’d probably only use this once in a while to add polish to my hair, but I don’t see it replacing my curling iron anytime soon.

  • Have you tried the InStyler MAX? 
  • What other multi-tasking hair tools have you tried and liked?