The world of heat styling has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, scrapping the searing temperatures of clothes irons (yes, really) or hours spent meticulously blow-drying in favour of cutting-edge tools that not only achieve perfect-looking locks but help maintain hair health.
Thanks to these advancements in technology, we no longer have to sacrifice style for strength, with a plethora of gadgets up for grabs that ensure you get the most customised solution to your particular hair needs.
But, while the development in this category is a good thing, it does make buying the right tool for you a bit of a head-scratcher.
If you’re in the market for a new straightener, curling tong or hair dryer, it’s likely that you’ve found yourself debating between two of the biggest names in the world of heated hair stylers – ghd and Cloud Nine.
Both brands make incredible products and together dominate the market. Over the years, they have launched a series of high-tech tools in an effort to one-up each other, which has lead to customers and experts debating which is best.
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From product range to price, design and temperature settings, we’ve explored the brands’ backstories and highly-coveted offerings to help make your decision on which one to invest in that little bit easier.
After bringing its original straightener design from Korea to the UK in 2001, ghd, which stands for “good hair day”, quickly became a household name.
The company was started by three entrepreneurs from Leeds including Robert Powls who, with the help of Martin Penny and Gary Douglas, bought the rights to the OG hair straightener from a South Korean inventor.
In the years that followed, ghd introduced its now-famous haircare science and innovation, with experts and stylists quickly singing the brand’s praises and sleek, poker-straight styles swiftly becoming the only way anyone wanted to wear their hair in the Noughties.
But ghd wasn’t content with simply straightening our locks and soon began making waves – quite literally – with a host of new launches, from curling tongs and hair dryers to hot brushes.
With more than 300 beauty awards to its name, it’s hardly surprising that the brand sells 2 million stylers every year, all of which are made with its “safer for hair” heat-styling technology. All of ghd’s irons maintain a consistent temperature of 185C, which the brand states is optimum for using heat on strands without compromising the health of the hair.
Despite the fierce competition between them, ghd and Cloud Nine actually have something in common: a founder.
Remember Robert Powls? Well, he’s the founder of Cloud Nine too. After leaving ghd in 2006 for a three-year semi-retirement, the entrepreneur returned to the hair business with the launch of Cloud Nine in 2009.
The brand’s premium straighteners stormed the market with a new approach, as Powls set out to create tools that offered kinder hairstyling with superior results. That’s why all of its products are created in South Korea, which Cloud Nine states is the only place in the world that has the “hair-healing” mineral sericite, which is infused in all of its stylers.
Since then, the multiple award-winning company has continued to release a series of tools, from straighteners to hair dryers and curling wands.
Ghd offers everything from hair straighteners and curling wands to hair dryers and hot brushes within its range – all of which are designed to handle different hair lengths and types.
The brand’s latest straightener is the platinum plus (£189, Johnlewis.com), which was named best buy in our round-up of the best hair straighteners. Designed with ghd’s “ultra-zone” technology, the tool recognises the thickness of your hair and adjusts the heat accordingly.
Other core straighteners are the ghd gold styler (£149, Johnlewis.com), which is made with “dual-zone technology” that helps control the optimum heat, and the one where it all started, the ghd the original IV styler (£109, Lookfantastic.com), which works at 185C.
ghd also offers stylers designed to suit specific types of hair, including the ghd mini styler (£119, Cultbeauty.co.uk) for short hair and fringes, and the ghd max styler (£179, Johnlewis.com), for curly or thick locks. Read the full review of the ghd max here.
Most recently, ghd ventured into the world of cordless styling with the launch of its very first cord-free straightener called the unplugged (£299, Lookfantastic.com). In our review of the tool, it was hailed as a “game changer” for giving you the freedom to style your locks wherever and whenever you like. The tool can be charged via USB-C cable and delivers 20 minutes of styling time.
If you’re on the hunt for other tools, ghd has got you covered. Choose from its helios hair dryer (£159, Cultbeauty.co.uk), which won in a head-to-head comparison with Dyson’s supersonic (£299.99, Very.co.uk), the curve creative curl wand (£129, Very.co.uk), which featured in our round-up of the best curling tongs, the ghd glide hot brush (£139, Johnlewis.com), which featured in our round-up the best straightening brushes, and many more.
Read the full review of the best ghd straighteners.
Cloud Nine offers a curated selection of hot tools that are designed to put you in control, with the ability to tailor your styling experience to your hair’s own needs.
The brand’s first straightener, the original iron (£159, Johnlewis.com), is designed with floating, mineral-infused ceramic plates and “kinder styling” technology, which includes the ability to choose the tool’s temperature, ranging from 100C to 200C. Cloud Nine later released a newer version of this tool, called the original iron pro (£249, Johnlewis.com), which features the brand’s unique “revive mode”, that sees the plates vibrate at 8,000 times a minute to minimise friction.
In 2017, Cloud Nine launched what it claims is the world’s first automatic hair straightener, the touch iron (£139.99, Argos.co.uk), which heats instantly from the very first stroke. The gadget featured in our round-up of the top 100 IndyBest buys, with our reviewer saying “the effects of these straighteners were long-lasting, surviving a few days of a humid holiday and even the tube during rush hour”.
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Just like ghd, Cloud Nine also offers tools designed for specific hair types, including the micro iron (£79.99, Argos.co.uk), for fine, short hair or fringe styling, and the wide iron (£159.99, Johnlewis.com), which has wider plates to deliver even heat to particularly long or thick locks.
Cloud Nine just beat ghd in the race to launching a cordless styler in early June 2021, with the release of its cordless iron pro (£349, Selfridges.com). The tool, which featured in our round-up of the best hair straighteners, has a compact design with slim plates and, because it weighs just 290g, it is genuinely portable. Our reviewer said they were “seriously impressed by this styler, which left our hair straight and silky in just one sweep”.
Just like ghd, Cloud Nine’s repertoire doesn’t stop at straighteners. Other top-rated tools in the brand’s arsenal include its waving wand (£119, Very.co.uk), texture wand (£119, Very.co.uk), airshot pro hair dryer (£199, Next.co.uk) and the O pod heated rollers (£169, Next.co.uk).
While the design of a hair straightener isn’t necessarily the be-all and end-all, the look and feel of a tool might just sway you when it comes to making your choice.
Both ghd and Cloud Nine regularly release limited-edition versions of their stylers which feature unique designs, however, their classic tools carry a distinctive look that helps set them apart.
When ghd’s straighteners first launched, they were easily recognised by their copper-coloured iron plates and sleek, matte black design but, over the years the brand’s aesthetic has evolved. Today, the majority of ghd’s tools feature black high-gloss plates that are designed to prevent snagging and come in a choice of black or white. They also have a wishbone hinge which helps give you more control and a 2.7m swivel cord.
Cloud Nine’s stylers have also undergone a makeover over the years. While many of the brand’s first launches featured a matte black body and plates, along with a similarly sleek design, its latest range is designed with a high-gloss white finish.
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The brand’s core range of straighteners are made with floating, mineral-infused ceramic plates that help to minimise drag and friction on the hair and have a 3m swivel cord.
Both ghd and Cloud Nine’s products are designed with some much-needed innovations that mean they not only deliver long-lasting results but also help to maintain hair health.
All of ghd’s stylers, even its original IV (£109, Lookfantastic.com), are heat controlled to 185C, which the brand states is proven to be the optimal temperature setting. Its most high-tech tool, the platinum plus (£189, Johnlewis.com), is described as a “smart styler” as it features ground-breaking “ultra-zone technology” that the brand says predicts the needs of your hair as you style. The plates recognise the thickness of your hair and adjust the heat accordingly, which, ghd says, means the health of your hair is never compromised. The straighteners also have an automatic sleep mode, which switches the tool off after 20 minutes of non-use.
In comparison, Cloud Nine’s straighteners come with adjustable heat settings, allowing you to vary the temperature of your styler between 100C and 200C, with seven different options to choose from. As well as having mineral-infused plates that help to minimise split ends and breakage, the brand’s original iron pro model (£249, Johnlewis.com) includes Cloud Nine’s “revive mode”, which works to minimises friction, vibrating at 8,000 times a minute at the controlled temperature of 150C, to maintain styles for longer while purporting to restore hair’s natural health.
When it comes to price, ghd and Cloud Nine straighteners are pretty comparable. However, Cloud Nine does have a lower starting price with its micro iron costing £79, while ghd’s cheapest model is its original IV, which will set you back £109.
That being said, ghd’s most advanced straightener, the platinum plus, costs £189, while Cloud Nine’s original iron pro costs £249. It is worth noting here, however, that Cloud Nine’s offering comes as part of a set, which includes a faux leather case, Love Island mirror and sustainable water bottle.
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If it’s a cordless model you’re after, Cloud Nine is also more expensive, with the cordless iron pro costing £349, compared to ghd’s unplugged, which is £299. Again, Cloud Nine’s offering does come with more accessories. While unplugged comes with a protective carry case, Cloud Nine’s straightener includes a faux leather case, charging dock, leather travel pouch, heat resistant guard, Love Island mirror and sustainable water bottle.
Ghd offers a two-year warranty on your purchase, while the platinum plus has a three-year warranty. All of Cloud Nine’s stylers come with a three-year warranty, except the cordless model, which comes with an automatic one-year warranty as standard.
The verdict: ghd vs Cloud Nine
It’s the ultimate battle of the hot tools, and a close one at that, as each of these brands has its own benefits that are worth noting before you make a buying decision. However, for us, ghd takes the top spot.
That’s not to say that Cloud Nine’s stylers are of lesser quality, but the brand certainly has a tough hill to climb to compete with the OG company that’s saved us from bad hair days since the early Noughties. Ghd’s straighteners offer a consistent temperature that makes them ideal for any hair type and takes all the thought out of caring for your locks. Plus, they have a proven track record and are known for their quality – it’s no coincidence that many find they don’t need to replace their ghds for more than a decade.
However, there are some key differences that might sway you to shop with Cloud Nine instead, and knowing your hair type will help make your choice clearer. If you prefer to maintain a level of control over the temperature you style your hair with, Cloud Nine’s adjustable heating system is sure to be a big selling point. Similarly, if add-on accessories are a must for you, then this brand might be a better option.
For the latest discounts on hair tools and other beauty products, try the links below:
Feelunique discount codes Boots discount codes Lookfantastic discount codes
For more hairstyling tips, read our guide to the best hair dryers
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