Which plug adapter will I need to bring for using hair straighteners in South Africa?

South African power outlet

Will my hair straighteners work in South Africa?

First check your hair straighteners can work in South Africa:

  • If your hair straighteners can run using 230 volts or can support dual voltage (how to check) then you will only need to bring an appropriate power adapter listed on this page if the plug on your hair straighteners won't fit in the outlet.

If not then:

  • Use a power converter (or voltage transformer) - this will enable you to use your existing hair straighteners and other applicances with a 230 volt South African power outlet, however this is noticeably heavier and more expensive than dedicated travel hair straighteners. A voltage transformer will change the voltage but won't change the actual physical shape of the plug on your hair straighteners to fit in the wall outlet used in South Africa, therefore please check that the voltage transformer has a power adapter for South Africa otherwise you will also need to bring a seperate power adapter. Also worth noting that your own personal hair straighteners might not be suitable for travelling and you risk potential damage in transit. [11] [AD]
Warning: If your hair straighteners won't handle 230 volts you run the potential risk of an electrical fire hazard, blowing a fuse or damage to your hair straighteners. Prior to using your hair straighteners in South Africa please read the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

Using hair straighteners in South Africa

Will my hair straighteners work in South Africa?

That will depend on if your hair straighteners is designed to operate using the 230 volt power outlets used in South Africa:

South Africa power outlets and plug sockets

What frequency is used in a South African power outlet?

The frequency from a South African power outlet is 50Hz. [12]

What is the mains voltage in South Africa?

Power outlets in South Africa are 230 volts.

Which plug adapter will you need when using hair straighteners in South Africa?

There are four types of power outlets used in South Africa, these are type M, C, F and N with the primary power outlets being type M:

  • Plug Type C - You can identify this power outlet by the two round adjacent holes next to each other where the live and neutral pins go.
  • Plug Type F - You can identify the power outlet by the two large holes 19 mm next to each other for live and neutral pins along with two metal grounding clips above and below.
  • Plug Type M - The wall socket, also known as a type M power outlet, looks like 3 large circular holes in a triangular configuration for live, neutral and earth.
  • Plug Type N - You can identify the hexagon shaped wall socket by the three round holes in a triangular configuration for live, neutral and earth.

A Type M plug adapter is suitable for powering 230 volt hair straighteners in South Africa; read the step by step instructions below for full details of how to use hair straighteners in South Africa with a power adapter. Note that unless you that have dual voltage hair straighteners you might also have to use a voltage converter.  [8] [13] [AD]

Which plug adapter will you need when using  hair straighteners in South Africa?

Dual voltage hair straighteners

How can I tell if my hair straighteners are dual voltage?

Dual voltage hair straighteners

How can I tell if my hair straighteners are dual voltage?

An easy way how to tell if your hair straighteners supports a dual voltage outlet is to check for either a sticker or numbers printed on the plug or the handle. This location will depend on the make or model of your hair straighteners, it should also state on the box or in the instruction manual. Some dual voltage models can change automatically but other models will feature a button which allows you to toggle between different voltage ranges depending on which country you are in.

  • Single voltage could say a specific number - such as 110V. If this number matches the 230 volts used in South Africa then you should be able to use your hair straighteners with a South African power outlet.
  • Single voltage might also have a small voltage range with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 100-120V. If the 230 volts used in a South African power outlet falls within the range shown on your hair straighteners then you can use it in South Africa.
  • Dual voltage will typically say a large range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V. Your hair straighteners will be capable of being used in South Africa or any other country if these numbers are shown.
 [14] [AD]

Travelling to South Africa with hair straighteners

Can you bring hair straighteners in your carry on?

Travel hair straighteners with heat protective cap

Can you bring hair straighteners in your carry on?

According to the TSA guidelines for hair straighteners there are no restrictions when bringing mains powered hair straighteners in your carry on luggage through airport security in the US. The TSA also recommends that you should check that the airline which is flying you to South Africa will allow hair straighteners onboard and that they will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.

Packing your hair straighteners in a dedicated heat resistant protective hot tools travel case leaves them easily accessible for airport security checks, they can be packed away quickly avoiding a tangle of wires in your carry on luggage (the TSA advices wrapping wires tightly around electric items such as hair straighteners). If you do intend to bring fragile or expensive hair straighteners in your hand held luggage then it is recommended to use hard carry on luggage as this offers the greatest protection against knocks and bumps during your journey.    [14] [15] [16] [17] [AD]

Is it safe to bring my hair straighteners to South Africa?

Bringing dual voltage travel hair straighteners are preferable to packing your existing hair straighteners as it is safer to assume that they will operate correctly with the 230 volt power outlets used with a South African power outlet, as long as you bring the correct power adapter for South Africa.

Note that packing expensive domestic hair straighteners might place them at risk because of potential damage or loss in transit by a baggage handlers. The cost and inconvenience of repairing expensive specialised domestic hair straighteners in South Africa might overshadow the costs of purchasing cheaper dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2] before setting off. If you intend to pack your own hair straighteners in your luggage either slot them inside a boot or sneaker to protect from light damage, alternatively use a shockproof and heat resistant hot tools travel case or heat travel mat for hair straighteners and curling irons which also allows the hair straighteners to be transported immediately after use without risk of burning.   [16] [18] [AD]

Power converters for South Africa

Do I need a voltage converter to use my hair straighteners in South Africa?

The correct model of power converter (or voltage transformer) will allow your hair straighteners using a different voltage to operate using a 230 volt power outlet used in South Africa. Travellers who wish to bring along their own hair straighteners can use a power converter, but it could be more expensive to purchase a power converter than it is to buy dedicated dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2]. Also, travel hair straighteners can be considerably smaller and lighter than a power converter making travel hair straighteners more suited for travelling. [11] [AD]

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a voltage converter for South Africa?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a voltage converter for South Africa?

An expensive and heavy power converter converts a 230 volt South African power outlet to work with non-230 volt hair straighteners, but a more lightweight and cheaper power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your hair straighteners to slot into a power outlet found in South Africa. [11] [AD]

Hair straightener safety

Are hair straighteners dangerous?

The temperature of the ceramic plates used in hair straighteners can reach over 200 degrees with the potential to burn hair, skin, and even start a fire if not used correctly. According to figures from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service electrical beauty products have been responsible for an estimated 650,000 fires in the United Kingdom alone.

How can I minimise risk using hair straighteners?

A heat resistant glove

How can I minimise risk using hair straighteners?

  • Skin protection: Wear heat resistant gloves during styling to protect hands from heat.
  • Children's protection: With 10% of children's burns being caused by hair straighteners it is recommended to look for hair straighteners which include a heat resistant end cap to keep the plates closed shut when not in use, making it easier to store out of reach of children.
  • Luggage protection: Placing hair straighteners directly into luggage without allowing them to cool down can risk damage to clothes and heating up combustible or flammable packed items. If your hair straighteners weren't supplied with a heat protective cap then wrap them in a heat mat or use a hot tools travel case to pack them into luggage whilst warm. A travel case will also keep expensive hair straighteners protected from damage during transit.
  • Hair protection: Applying a heat protectant spray prior to using hair straighteners is essential to prevent burning, as well as using the correct technique for your hair type - read our guide on how to use hair straighteners for comprehensive information.
  • Fire protection: It can take up to 40 minutes for hair straighteners to cool down so resting your straighteners on a heat mat could reduce the risk of setting fire to furniture. Forgetting to turn off hot domestic appliances can also cause fires. This risk can be reduced by using a model of straightener with a timer socket which will turn itself off automatically after a certain length of time, you can also add this feature to any basic straighteners by using a timer socket in a power outlet.    [16] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [AD]
How can I add a safety timer to my existing hair straighteners?

Hair straighteners connected to a timer power outlet

How can I add a safety timer to my existing hair straighteners?

1 in 12 owners of hair straighteners admit to forgetting to turn them off after use, unless your hair straighteners have a built in automatic timer then leaving them on could potentially start a fire. However you can add this functionality to any model even if it doesn't have an integrated timer:

  1. Add an automatic timer to any hair straighteners by plugging them into a timer socket then plugging the timer into a power outlet.
  2. Turn on the timer and use the hair straighteners as normal.
  3. After you have finishing using the hair straighteners turn off the power at the outlet.
  4. However if you forget to turn the power outlet off then the timer will automatically switch off the straighteners after a pre-set length of time. Depending on the model of timer this could be 15, 30, 60 or 120 minutes - ideally pick the shortest length of time possible.
  5. For added peace of mind use a power outlet splitter to share the outlet from the timer with both your hair straighteners and a lamp. When the timer is running both the straighteners and the lamp will be turned on, making the lamp a clear indicator that the straighteners are still being heated. When leaving a room it is second nature to ensure all lights are turned off, if the lamp is still on then this acts as a reminder to switch off the straighteners.
  [21] [23] [AD]

How to treat a hot iron burn

If you accidentally burn yourself run cold water under your burn and if it is severe it is advised to seek medical attention from a doctor or hospital.

How to use hair straighteners in South Africa using a type C power adapter

Instructions on how to power your hair straighteners in South Africa with a Type C travel charger.

  1. Please check that your hair straighteners are either dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2] or is compatible with a 230 volt power outlet - if it doesn't then don't continue because you could damage your hair straighteners, blow a fuse or create an electrical fire hazard. Before using a travel straighteners make sure the switch is set to the 230 volt setting to use in South Africa - consult the manufacturers instructions for more information on where the switch is found.
  2. If the plug shape on your hair straighteners isn't the same shape as the outlet which is used in South Africa you will need to use a Type C plug adapter [4]. This plug adapter helps adapt plugs from other countries for an electrical outlet found in South Africa simply by changing the shape of the plug, but the adapter doesn't change the frequency or voltage of your hair straighteners to work with a 230 volt outlet.
  3. Begin the process by plugging the Type C plug adapter in the South African power outlet. You can recognise this plug supply by the 2 round adjacent holes next to each other where the live and neutral pins slide into.
  4. Plug in the hair straighteners into the Type C plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet. The hair straighteners can now be used in South Africa.
How to use  hair straighteners in South Africa using a type C power adapter

How to use hair straighteners in South Africa using a type F power adapter

How to power hair straighteners in South Africa using a two prong Type F power adapter.

  1. Please check that your straighteners are either dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2] or works with a 230 volt power outlet - if not then do not attempt these instructions because you could blow a fuse, damage your straighteners or create an electrical fire hazard. Before using a travel hair straighteners make sure the switch is set to accept 230 volts to use in South Africa - consult the user guide for more information on how to do this.
  2. If the type of power outlet which is used in South Africa won't accomodate the plug shape on your hair straighteners you will need to buy a Type F plug adapter [6]. This plug adapter is designed to fit plugs from other countries for an electrical outlet found in South Africa simply by changing the shape of the plug, but the adapter doesn't change the frequency or voltage of your hair straighteners to work with a 230 volt supply.
  3. Start the process by plugging the Type F plug adapter into the South African power outlet. This recessed round plug supply can be recognised by two round adjacent holes next to each other for live and neutral pins along with a pair of thin grounding clips above and below.
  4. After that plug in your hair straighteners into the Type F plug adapter.
  5. Turn on the South African power outlet.
  6. Your hair straighteners can now be turned on.
How to use  hair straighteners in South Africa using a type F power adapter

How to use hair straighteners in South Africa using a type M power adapter

A page showing how to use your hair straighteners in South Africa with a Type M travel charger.

  1. Make sure that the hair straighteners are either dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2] or is compatible with a 230 volt power outlet - if it doesn't then don't continue because you could damage your hair straighteners, blow a fuse or create an electrical fire hazard. Before using a travel straighteners make sure you have set it to the 230 volt setting to use in South Africa - refer to the manufacturers instructions for more information on where the switch is found.
  2. If the plug shape on your hair straighteners isn't the same shape as the outlet which is used in South Africa you will need to buy a Type M plug adapter [8]. This plug adapter helps adapt plugs from other countries into a power outlet in South Africa simply by changing the shape of the plug, but the adapter doesn't change the frequency or voltage of the hair straighteners to work with a 230 volt outlet.
  3. Begin the process by plugging the Type M plug adapter in the South African power outlet. This plug supply, sometimes known as a Type M power outlet [7], looks like 3 large circular holes in a triangular configuration for live, neutral and earth.
  4. Plug in the hair straighteners into the Type M plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet. The hair straighteners can now be used in South Africa.
How to use  hair straighteners in South Africa using a type M power adapter

How to use hair straighteners in South Africa using a type N power adapter

How to power your hair straighteners in South Africa with a Type N travel charger.

  1. Check that the hair straighteners are either dual voltage travel hair straighteners [2] or works with a 230 volt power supply but if it doesn't then don't attempt these instructions as you may blow a fuse, damage your straighteners or create an electrical fire hazard. Dual voltage hair straighteners typically have a switch to toggle between voltages, before using your straighteners ensure you have set it to the 230 volt setting; please refer to the user guide to find out where this switch is.
  2. You'll need to bring a Type N plug adapter [10] if the shape of the power outlet which is used in South Africa isn't the same shape as the plug on your hair straighteners. The Type N plug adapter will fit different plugs on appliances from other countries for use in a power outlet in South Africa simply by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the voltage of the hair straighteners to work with a 230 volt outlet.
  3. Begin by taking the Type N plug adapter and plugging it in the wall outlet. You can identify the squashed hexagon shaped plug supply by the three large holes forming a triangular configuration.
  4. Plug in the hair straighteners into the Type N plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet. The hair straighteners can now be used in South Africa.
How to use  hair straighteners in South Africa using a type N power adapter

See also

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  1. Wikipedia - Wikipedia.org web page about South Africa
  2. Amazon - dual voltage travel hair straighteners
  3. iec.ch - Type C power outlet
  4. Type C plug adapter - European Europlug Type C plug adapters are unearthed and comprise of two 4mm rounded pins placed 19mm apart, under C$35.
  5. iec.ch - Type F power outlet
  6. Type F plug adapter - Schuko Type F plug adapters are earthed using two clips at the top and bottom with two rounded 4.8mm pins set 19mm apart, C$10-C$15.
  7. iec.ch - Type M power outlet
  8. Type M plug adapter - South African Type M power adapters have three large circular pins in a triangular shape with the top earthed pin longer and larger in diameter, under C$15.
  9. iec.ch - Type N power outlet
  10. Type N plug adapter - The three rounded pins on a grounded Brazilian Type N plug adapter form a flattened triangular pattern, the 10 amp version uses 4mm thick pins whilst the 20 amp version has 4.8mm thick pins, under C$20.
  11. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts, costing under C$180.
  12. Wikipedia - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country -
  13. iec.ch - IEC World Plugs by location -
  14. Dual voltage travel hair straighteners - Hair straighteners with adjustable temperature and dual voltage for 110 volts and 220 volts suitable for international travel, under C$50.
  15. tsa.gov - TSA guidelines for hair straighteners -
  16. Hard case for hot tools - Hard case designed for storing and protecting a flat irons, curling irons and hair straighteners, C$20-C$25.
  17. Hard carry on luggage - Example of hard cases, suitcases and luggage suitable for airline carry on, C$110-C$120.
  18. Heat travel mat for hair straighteners and curling irons - Protects surfaces from hot hair irons and wraps around the appliance allowing instant packing into baggage, priced at C$20-C$25.
  19. Heat resistant gloves for hair styling - Heat resistant glove recommended to protect skin against the risk of heat from a curling iron, flat iron or hair dryer, C$5-C$10.
  20. Heat protectant spray - Thermal protector spray used prior to styling with heated tools such as blow dryers and flat irons, under C$50.
  21. Energy saving outlet with timer - Automatic power shut down of a connected appliance after a preset length of time, priced at under C$20.
  22. Hair straighteners which include a heat resistant end cap - Example of hair straighteners with a protective cap suitable for travel, C$80-C$90.
  23. Power outlet splitter - Splits a single power outlet to multiple power outlets, allowing multiple appliances to simultaneously use a single wall outlet, C$15-C$20.