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CHI vs Paul Mitchell Flat Iron (2022): Which Hair Straightener Should You Get?

Amidst a dizzying array of curlers, rollers, and crimpers, there’s no doubt the flat iron rules as the staple hair styling tool; and in this arena, CHI is arguably one of the most popular names. The CHI Original 1″ Flat Iron is still a favorite among hair straightening advocates, even though the brand has since expanded its catalog. The Original flat iron is versatile, reliable, but most of all, affordable.

Meanwhile, those with deeper pockets might be willing to splurge on a Paul Mitchell Flat Iron. The brand is one of the most trusted when it comes to professional hair care. Its best-selling hair straightener, the Express Ion Smooth+ Flat Iron, comes in two sizes and even features an LCD screen. But how does it fare against CHI’s original? If you’re curious which one you should get, read our comparison of the CHI and Paul Mitchell flat irons below.

CHI vs Paul Mitchell Flat Iron Comparison Chart

BrandCHI Flat IronPaul Mitchell Flat Iron
Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Best Selling ModelCHI Original Professional 1″ Hairstyling IronPaul Mitchell Pro Tools Express Ion Smooth+
TypeCeramic flat ironCeramic flat iron
Available Sizes1″1.25″, 1.5″
ColorsProfessional blackBlack, pink
Hair TypeOily, dry, and normalAll hair types
Max Heat392°F (202°C)410ºF (210ºC)
LCD DisplayNoYes
Swivel CordYesYes
Swivel Cord Length11 ft.9 ft.
WarrantyLimited 2-year warranty1-year warranty

Brand Overview

CHI has a more varied collection of flat irons compared to Paul Mitchell.

CHI has a range of flat irons whereas Paul Mitchell keeps a more modest lineup.

Based in Houston, Texas, the CHI hair empire boasts a range of products, including shampoos, conditioners, essential oils, and styling tools. Paul Mitchell, on the other hand, is headquartered in Beverly Hills and, like CHI, is best known for selling professional hair care products and tools. Both companies were founded by hairstylists.

When it comes to flat irons, CHI has a more extensive catalog. Its online shop shows a broad collection of flat irons in almost every imaginable design. So if you’re someone who prefers a unique-looking hair styling tool, then CHI is for you. The brand’s leading flat irons include the CHI G2, the Original, and Deep Brilliance Titanium hairstyling iron.

If you’re not a fan of quirky or loud designs, however, then Paul Mitchell’s modest lineup might be to your liking. The company’s flat irons are available under two brands: Neuro and Pro Tools. Both follow a minimalist aesthetic and form that lends them a professional feel, especially if you get the black models. Nonetheless, some of the Paul Mitchell flat irons are available in more colorful finishes. Its best-selling Express Ion Smooth+, for instance, also comes in pink.


Paul Mitchell’s Express Ion Smooth+ looks sleeker than the CHI Original flat iron.

The CHI Original (left) has beige ceramic plates as opposed to the black on the Paul Mitchell (right).

The CHI Original and the Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+ are the brands’ respective best sellers. CHI’s flat iron comes in a matte black finish and sports 1-inch ceramic tourmaline plates. Paul Mitchell’s, on the other hand, uses cushioned ceramic plates. The Express Ion Smooth+ is available in two sizes — 1.25 and 1.5 inches — and comes either in glossy black or pink. Keep in mind, however, that the pink variant is only available in a 1.25-inch size.

When it comes to design, the CHI Original has a simpler form. The analog flat iron has no physical controls except for the power switch located inside the clamp. This gives the Original’s body a more seamless outline and ergonomic hold. The location of the power button also minimizes accidentally switching the flat iron on. Beside this button, you’ll find an LED light that illuminates when the flat iron is on and ready for use.

Compared to CHI’s flat iron, the Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+ has a more asymmetric profile. The clamp and handle are sleek and narrow but widens where the straightening plates begin. This gives the tool an uncanny resemblance with tongs. Images of cooking aside, the Express Ion Smooth is one of Paul Mitchell’s best-styled flat irons. Its power control buttons are neatly located in the clamp, too, while a digital LCD is integrated into one of the handles’ exterior.

Both machines come with long swivel cords for better maneuverability. The flat irons are also dual voltage for convenient travel and worldwide use.


CHI’s flat iron has fewer features compared to Paul Mitchell’s.

A closer look at the CHI flat iron’s slim profile and the Paul Mitchell’s controls and LCD.

Since it’s an analog device, the CHI Original flat iron is pretty straightforward to use. All you have to do is plug it in, turn it on, and wait for it to heat. As mentioned in the design review, an LED light will illuminate once the tool is ready for use.

CHI shares that the Original’s plates heat fast — a technology it calls flash-quick heating. The max heat setting of the CHI original is 392°F. Meanwhile, the flat iron’s tourmaline ceramic plates also produce negative ions and emit far-infrared. The former helps create a frictionless surface for smoother flat ironing, while the latter reduces static electricity as you style.

Paul Mitchell’s flat iron, however, boasts more features than the CHI Original. A look at the Express Ion Smooth+’s physical controls will already give you a hint. There is a mode button that allows users to set an auto-shutoff time or to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius scales. You also get a plus and minus button to adjust the timer or customize temperature settings. Users can view the temperature via the LCD.

Paul Mitchell’s best-selling flat iron also comes with a ceramic plate infused with Express Ion Complex. It’s a fancy term for volcanic minerals that produce negative ions and far-infrared, similar to the CHI Original. The result is even heat distribution and minimal frizz as you style.

Styling Performance

The CHI Original is better suited for those with thick and coarse hair, while the Paul Mitchell flat iron is versatile enough for all hair types.

CHI and Paul Mitchell flat irons do more than just straightening.

Given their features, it’s impressive just how good the CHI Original flat iron is. Although it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Paul Mitchell’s hair straightener, styling with it results in minimal frizz, static, and dryness. Based on reviews, there are no hotspots on the plates either. This means you get consistent and smooth styling every single time.

But because you can’t customize the temperature setting, the CHI Original is ideal for those with thick or coarse hair. Its smaller plate size is also better suited for those with medium-length hair.

The Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+, on the other hand, comes in two size models. Both offer a larger surface area that will benefit users with longer hair. Paul Mitchell’s adjustable heat settings make it the more versatile flat iron, too. Users with fragile, fine, medium, thick, and coarse hair can all use the Express Ion Smooth+.

Nonetheless, both flat irons can go beyond straightening your hair. CHI shares that the Original flat iron can be used to style flips and curls. The same can be said with the Express Ion Smooth+. Paul Mitchell’s ceramic plates come with beveled edges that make it easy to add waves, bends, and curls.


CHI’s flat iron is great for the occasional styling of thick hair. But if you need a more versatile hair straightener for everyday use, get the Paul Mitchell flat iron.

Amazon product

Flat irons are fast becoming do-it-all hair styling tools for a good reason. They’re relatively affordable and can even be used for curls, waves, and even flips. If you’re on a tight budget, however, then you can’t go wrong with the CHI Original 1-Inch flat iron. It’s a no-frills flat iron that’s great for occasional straightening and styling. Since it doesn’t come with customizable heat settings, however, we recommend the CHI flat iron for those with thick or coarse hair.

Now, if you’re ready to upgrade to a more robust tool, consider the Paul Mitchel Express Ion Smooth+. It’s a sleek-looking ceramic flat iron that boasts more advanced features, including customizable heat settings. With the Pression Ion Smooth+, you can adjust and control the temperature. This makes the flat iron great for any hair type and everyday use. Plus, if the 1.25-inch ceramic plates are too small for you, can always go big with the 1.5-inch model.


📌 Does the CHI Original 1″ Flat Iron have an LCD?

No, the CHI Original 1″ flat iron doesn’t have an LCD to display the temperature. Instead, the Original is an analog device that can heat fast up to 392°F.

📌 How long does it take for the Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+ flat iron to reach its max heat setting?

The Paul Mitchel Express Ion Smooth+ flat iron takes about 60 seconds to reach its max heat setting of 410ºF.

📌 What’s the best heat setting on the Paul Mitchell flat iron for medium hair types?

Paul Mitchell shares that a temperature range of 330-370°F (166-188°C) is best suited for medium hair types.

📌 Can I get the CHI Original flat iron in a different size?

The CHI Original model is only available in one size, which makes use of 1-inch ceramic plates. There are variants of the Original but are typically branded differently as they come with more features.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.