Last updated: September 3, 2020

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Whether you’re going for tightly-defined curls or natural-looking waves, a curling iron will always be your best tool for the job. This accessory was specifically designed to curl hair, simply and easily. Using the latest technology when doing so, it can also protect your hair and keep it healthy.

If you’re thinking of joining the curl revolution, there are probably a lot of things you might not know about curling irons. After all, they come in so many shapes, sizes and types! So don’t worry if you feel a little lost and do not know which one to buy. We’ve designed the following shopping guide to teach you everything there is to know about curling irons.

Key Facts

  • Curling irons are great accessories to help you get professional quality styles right at home. Make sure you choose a model adapted to your hair type and your style goal in order to obtain the best results without damaging your hair.
  • It is essential that you know about the different types, shapes and sizes of curling irons if you want to buy the right one for your hair. The great news is that these accessories are much easier to use than you might think. There are only a few simple steps that you need to follow, and you’ll have the perfect hairstyle in minutes.
  • The most important thing to remember is to choose a quality curling iron that won’t damage your hair more than necessary–as application of heat of any kind renders a certain amount of damage to hair. This is why temperature control is such an essential feature, especially for fragile or damaged hair types. The material of which the iron is made, the type of clasp (or lack of clasp), shape and size of the curling iron will also influence your final decision. Get your own curling iron and join the curly trend!

Our recommendation: The Best Curling Irons on the U.S. Market

You can find so many curling irons on the market that it can be quite challenging to figure out which one is best for your hair. We’ve selected the five best models available now to help you in your decision process. That way, you’ll know which types you can safely use and then make up your mind while shopping, without needing to do any further research.

REMINGTON Pro 1″ – 1½” Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand

The REMINGTON Pro 1″ – 1½” Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand features Professional Pearl Ceramic – ceramic infused with real crushed pearls creates fast, salon results with less damage. The ceramic provides even, consistent heat while styling, and the crushed pearl helps create smooth, frizz defying waves. The wide conical barrel (1”-1½”) creates beautiful tousled waves. Digital controls and ten heat settings (max 410°F) make it easy to select the right temperature for your hair.

The temperature lock function allows you to lock the styler at your preferred temperature during styling. A heat protective glove has been included! The price tag of just $16 and high ratings make this a winner for curling irons of this type.

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

For the waves of the future, choose Babyliss Nano Titanium. These irons are engineered with advanced technology to create textured curls and waves. Nano titanium is an exceptional conductor of heat and maintains stability in ultra high temperatures. It yields maximum far-infrared heat, penetrating the hair shaft from within for professional styling without damage. Sol-Gel Technology makes the iron barrels 37% stronger and 22% smoother than those of standard irons. Available in 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/4″ and 1-1/2″.

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium1 1/2″ Spring Curling Iron with Sol-Gel Ceramic technology creates the smoothest surface possible for easy styling. 50 heat settings up to 450 F Degrees and turbo button instantly boosts heat to the maximum temperature and an 8 foot tangle free cord allows for easy styling. Babyliss is a trusted name in curls and for only $39 you can have one of the best names in curling irons.

Xtava Twist Curl Curling Wand – 1 to 1.5 Inch

This versatile tool by Xtava includes 22 digital temperature control settings for all hair types, 60 minute auto shut off function and 8’10” 360 degree swivel cord, and includes a heat resistant glove and travel case. You decide the type of heat you use with this hair wand. With 22 digital temperature settings to choose from (200ºF-410ºF), there’s a right temperature for everyone. Perfect for color-treated, dry, or damaged hair, this hair iron creates bouncy curls while smoothing the cuticle. The xtava Twirl Wand Curling Iron is your go-to for creating defined ringlets and tighter curls. This 1 inch Wand curling iron features a tapered ceramic barrel which allows for small to mid-size curls.

Great for styling long or short hair – use the wider 1.5 inch end of the barrel for long hair and the smaller end of the barrel to define individual curls. Use the digital temperature control display to choose between 22 settings, and enjoy smart features including a cool tip, 60 minute auto shut off function, 8’10” 360 degree swivel cord, and a heat resistant glove and travel case. Universal dual voltage adjusts automatically to the proper voltage when used with a compatible adapter.  At just $29, this is a tool you will want to try.

The Beachwaver Co. Model S1 With Dual Voltage

At $129 this rotating waver may not be for everyone, but the reviews are terriffic and it could be a help avoiding sore shoulders from blow drying and curling for someone with long hair. One happy buyer says “It’s a great size, and works well. It heats quickly, and rotates nicely with two speed options. I really like the little clip part to clamp your hair. What a great idea, and it works surprisingly better than having a large one.”

Rotate your way to perfect waves with the new, dual voltage Beachwaver S1. With the same user-friendly functions as the original S1, this dual voltage Beachwaver can travel with you anywhere, jet setter! With the Beachwaver S1, you can create three different styles, including defined curls, loose, Beachywaves and glam waves. Its ceramic, rotating barrel provides easy, quality waves in minutes!

Sumlife Curling Iron Special Handle

The handle is a non-slip design, ensuring a stable grip and does no slip easily.  It comes with a 360° rotating cord which ensures you are free to use this curling iron creatively and comfortably; it also extends the service life of the rotating wire. The three buttons are simple and easy to see and operate: the power button and plus and minus temperature buttons.

With its special “L shape” the Special Right Angle design is very easiy to hold for your hair curls. When you are holding it you can’t hurt your hands, it can be held to curl your hair in many angles and is easier to create your hair style. 1 hour Auto Shut-off, 8.2 ft Professional Swivel Cord. BONUS Heat Protective Glove and 2 Clips for Free Styling included.There is a display on the head of the curler that displays the current temperature in real time, so you can see the current temperature and adjust to the temperature you want.  At just 39.99 why not try this new angle on curling irons?

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Curling Irons

While it is possible to curl your hair or get natural waves using a hair straightener, you’ll always feel more comfortable and obtain more efficient results with a curling iron. You may have doubts at first, and there may be many things you don’t know about using this hair tool. In the section below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions to help you get the right curling iron.

Two girls curling their hair with rollers in a room

The curls you’ll get with a straightener are nothing like those a good curling iron can create. 
(Source: undrey: 86555399/ 123rf.com)

Do I need a curling iron if I have a straightener?

A curling iron will allow you greater speed, comfort and styling possibilities. Some people use a straightener to create waves or curls, but this is not what the tool was designed for and is more of a shortcut than proper curl creation. However, if you’ve tried both before, you’ll realize that curling irons are more ergonomic and comfortable. What’s more, it won’t take you as long to get the perfect curls with a curling iron.

The curls you’ll get with a straightener are nothing like what a good curling iron can do. We’re talking about curl types, shape and intensity. A curling iron will allow you to do anything from narrow, defined curls to the most natural, loose waves you could ever want.

What types of curling iron are there?

The good news is that there is a wide variety of curling irons on the market o choose from, and they are available in every price range, as well. This incredible variety of choice also means that it’s difficult to understand the workings and features of every single type of curling iron available, so making the right decision can be challenging. The following are the different curling irons you can find on the market based on their mechanisms:

  • Without clamp: This type consists of a cylinder to wind locks of hair around and an insulated handle. They come in different shapes: straight, conical or with beads for separation measurements.
  • With clamp: These are very similar to the models above. The main difference is that they feature a clip that holds your hair, making your work easier–you just clamp the end of your hair into the clamp and wind the iron around your hair.
  • Automatic: They are very easy to use, as they’ll grab your hair and roll it by themselves, but these take practice to use safely. People with shoulder or arm problems find these helpful.
  • Thermal rollers: The improved version of the traditional hair curlers, they are made from ceramic and are heated on an electrical base to get faster results. These provide very long-lasting curls.

What are the shapes of a curling iron?

Nowadays, these accessories come in all kinds of different shapes. There are several key factors that you should look into if you want to buy the right tool for your hiar and desired styles. These include comfort considerations and the curlstyle you’re looking to achieve. We’ve listed the main types in the table below:

Straight Conical With Beads Double or Triple
The cylinder has the same diameter along its entire length. The diameter of the cylinder decreases from the base to the tip. These are more difficult to use, but allow you to create different styles of curls. Its shape with small beads allows the hair to pass through easily, and creates different curls depending on the distance between the beads. They feature two or three straight cylinders. Ideal to obtain defined and natural waves.

What creates curl definition?

The answer is simple: the cylinder of the curling iron. It is literally the only thing that determines the definition or softness of your curls and waves. From the largest diameters (2 in) to the smallest (1/4 in), each type of iron is designed for a specific role and will help you get the end result you’re looking for.

You are advised to use a curling iron with a large diameter if you want big, soft, natural waves. On the other hand, if you have curly hair and want to give it more volume, or if you have straight hair but want very defined curls, small diameter cylinders will be your best bet.

Hairdresser makes hairstyle girl with long red hair in a beauty salon. Create curls with curling irons. Professional hair care.

There are several key factors that you should evaluate if you want to get the right iron, which include comfort and the curling style you’re looking to achieve.
(Source: Mytro-Dudchenko: 88935258/ 123rf.com)

At what temperature should I set my curling iron?

As you probably know, heat can damage hair. This is why the temperature at which you use this accessory is so very important. When it comes to curling irons, the ideal option is to choose one that allows you to regulate its temperature. That way, you can set it to the most suited temperature for your hair type and reduce potential damage.

Generally speaking, a temperature of 300/350ºF should be used for thin or damaged hair, while you can go up to 475°F if your hair is thick and heat resistant. In any case, do not exceed this temperature, or you’ll risk damaging your hair. These data are intended as a guide, and you should always know what’s best for your hair. Always start with a lower temperature and increase if it is safe to do so.

How do I use my curling iron?

Not all types of curling irons are used in the same way. For this reason, it is important that you read the specific instructions provided with your curling iron, as they may vary slightly from one model to the next–these instructions are made for each specific iron to work at its best, so don’t disregard them. That being said, there are some basic steps that you should always follow to get perfect curls. We’ve listed them right here for you:

  • Brush your hair so that it will pass smoothly through the curling iron.
  • Apply a heat protector before using your iron to reduce heat aggressiveness.
  • Choose the correct temperature for your hair type. You should start with a low temperature, as this will be more gentle for your hair.
  • It is easier and provides a better result if you divide your hair and curl it by small sections.
  • Clamp or hold the ends of your hair section onto the iron, then wind towards the roots.
  • Curl your hair in the opposite direction of your face for a more natural look.
  • Wait for your hair to cool down before letting it loose. That way, your curls will last longer.

Can I use my curling iron with wet hair?

This is not recommended. Since the curling iron uses heat to operate, you should avoid using it on wet hair. Otherwise, you’ll be increasing the already existing damage that heat does to your hair. This is why you should make sure your hair is completely dry and has had a protectant applied to it before using this accessory.

Some people say that hair tends to frizz out when blow-dried, so that curls you later create with a curling iron won’t look as good in the end if you dried with a blow dryer. For this reason, we recommend that you let your hair dry naturally to achieve the optimal level of smooth, natural-looking curls, if smoothness is more important to your desired style than volume.

What does it mean when they say a curling iron releases negative ions?

You may have already heard about negative ions in appliances such as curling irons, straighteners or hair dryers. They claim to prevent frizz and provide softer, shinier hair. Well, that’s actually true, and it’s all about balancing the charges in our hair.

Most of the products you use to care for your hair contain positive charges, which generates the static electricity you’ve probably heard of. Curling irons release negative ions to balance the charge and prevent frizz. This does indeed give you softer and shinir hair.

Shopping Criteria

There are several key criteria that you’ll want to consider when you decide to purchase your first (or tenth) curling iron. In the section below, we’ve detailed each of these factors for you. That way, you know what to look for when shopping and will always choose a quality curling iron that suits your needs and with which you will get the result you want.

Temperature

This may just be the most important criterion of all. If you love to have perfect curls, your hair needs to remain healthy. Unfortunately, the heat given off by a curling iron isn’t exactly the best thing to take care of your hair. This is why it is essential for you to be able to regulate its temperature.

This will allow you to adapt your curling iron’s temperature to the style you wish to create or to your type of hair. This will lead to much better and more satisfying results, both aesthetically and in terms of hair care. Begin with a very low temperature and only increase as needed to enable your curls to hold.  Longer curling time at a lower temperature is better for your hair and creates longer-lasting curls.

hot styling and curling irons with hairdryers

You should use a curling iron with a large diameter if you want large and natural waves.
(Source: dolgachov: 89513063/ 123rf.com)

Material

The material your curling iron is made from is another key factor to take into account when choosing the iron you will purchase. This is very important because it will determine the amount of the hair friction in the device, as well as its ability to transmit heat to curl your locks more efficiently. Ceramic is the most frequently used material and is curently the standard of quality.

Ceramic offers little friction, facilitates smooth passing of your hair and heats evenly. Certain models also feature tourmaline, a mineral that releases negative charges and neutralizes the positive ions that frizz your hair.

foco

Did you know that titanium curling irons are ideal for thick hair? Their high heat transmission increases their effectiveness.

Type and Shape of Irons

As you’ve probably noticed throughout our article, there is a wide variety of types and shapes of curling irons available out there. This is why these two criteria are so important to making the right purchase. First of all, make sure you know your hair type, as well as what styles you want to create with your iron.

Once you’re clear about this, it’s time for you to choose the type and shape of curling iron that best suits you. If you’re still having doubts, you can always read expert opinions on the matter, or even ask your by trusted hairdresser. It is also interesting to know which accessories you can add to your curling iron.

Size

In addition to the type and shape of your curling iron, the size of the cylinder is also essential to get the results you’re looking for. The size you’ll see refers to the diameter of the cylinder. The vast majority of models will fall somewhere between 1/2 and 1.5 in, although you can still find larger or smaller if you’re not satisfied.

Smaller diameter curling irons will give you maximum curl, defined and with much more volume, but you will need to curl only small strands of hair at a time. Larger cylinders, on the other hand, will create softer and more natural waves, and you can curl more hair in each curl. Remember that the diameter can be written either in inches or in millimetres. We’ve come up with a quick equivalency table to help you:

Inches Millimetres
⅜” 9 mm
⅝” 16 mm
¾” 19 mm
1″ 25 mm
1.25″ 32 mm
1.5″ 38 mm
1.75″ 45 mm
2″ 50 mm

Comfort and Safety

We’re sure you’ll end up taking a true liking to using your curling iron. This is why it’s very important that you opt for a comfortable and safe model. This will be particularly key if you spend ten to fifteen minutes every day curling your hair!

Nowadays, most curling irons include an extra-long cable (at least 1.5 yards) that rotates 360º to prevent it from becoming entangled during movement. Modern models also tend to be very light, and feature a handle or loop to hang it up easily. All of these are nice extras to have.

Summary

Curling irons have taken hairstyling by storm, and they’re making our lives easier. Today, getting hairdresser-quality curls is so simple simple and can be done from the comfort of your own home. You’ll find curling irons of different types, shapes and sizes to suit your hair and tastes.

You can opt for the perfect curling iron, or buy a set that includes different cylinders so you have greater freedom of choice. You may also want some natural and casual waves. Whatever it is, this accessory will make it possible. So, what are you waiting for?

If you liked our guide on curling irons, feel free to share it with your friend on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below.

(Source of featured image: Galovtsik Gabor: 24895065/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Charlotte Steward Beauty Expert & Cosmetologist
Charlotte became interested in the subject of beauty at an early age. It is her passion to improve the beauty industry. She now has her own small beauty salon and many regular customers who appreciate Charlotte's expertise.