You can use a straightener to achieve a tousled, casual, and beachy look, but curling irons will often achieve that look much more professionally and effortlessly! Here are some that we recommend.
Why buy a curling iron?
From its humble beginning in the late 1800s to its reinvention for the voluminous hair of the 1980s, curling irons have been making waves for many years. The heating element molds your hair into beautiful ringlets or soft waves with ease, while the adjustable temperature seals in the shape, even on stubborn hair. With your own curling iron, you can create salon-quality looks at home with just a single purchase.
What should you look for in a curling iron?
There are hundreds of these things on the market, and new hairstyling tools seem to be added all the time. Here are some of the most important things to look for to help you make the right purchase:
- Adjustable Heat Settings: Not all hair types require the same heat. Some hair is more susceptible to damage from high heat, while others won’t effectively curl at low heats. Choosing an iron with adjustable heat settings will ensure that you have the right temperature for your own hair.
- Barrel Size: A thicker barrel will give you looser curls but is also better for thicker, longer hair, as the larger size can make contact with more hair strands. In turn, a skinny barrel will give you smaller waves or curls and is better for short or thin hair. Note that no matter your hair length or texture, you can use a barrel of any size to get the curl that you want. It just might take an inconveniently long time for those with long or thick hair to use a smaller-barreled curling iron.
- Cord Length: If where you style your hair is a little distanced from an outlet or if you’ll need to do someone else’s hair with the tool, it can be beneficial to purchase a curling iron with a longer cord length.
- Heating Time: Some curling irons come with faster heating times than others. If a speedy heat-up time is important to you to get out the door faster, check for that feature.
What temperature should your curling iron be set to?
Many people are actually curling their hair at too high of a heat setting. The temperature of curling irons can typically range from around 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. People with fine, damaged, or frequently treated hair should use lower temperatures, somewhere around 200-300 degrees, to prevent damage. People with healthy, medium-textured hair can use a curling iron set at 300-380 degrees Fahrenheit. People with coarse or extra-thick hair might need temperatures of 350-450 degrees to effectively curl their hair. You can start out at a lower temperature and pay attention to how your hair responds. If it doesn’t seem to hold the curl, raise the temperature a bit and try again, and don’t forget the heat protectant!
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Conair Double Ceramic 1-Inch Curling Iron
A cool tip, recessed buttons, and damage protection make this curling iron easy to use and safe for your hair.
Pros: The barrel of this curling iron has multiple sizes to meet your needs and 30 different heat settings with a high of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It offers instant heat-up as well as damage protection and anti-frizz control. There’s also a cool tip for added styling ease, and the buttons are recessed to prevent any accidental shutoff in the middle of your hair routine.
Cons: Conair placed the on and off switch beneath the clip lever. This odd placement has led some reviewers to accidentally cut the power or adjust the heat setting while they go through their hair routine.
Bottom Line: This curling iron is ideal for everyday users who need a reliable hot tool to create casual waves and pretty updos. Its large range of heat settings allows people of all hair types to use it without fear of burning their strands.
Bed Head Curlipops Clamp-Free Curling Wand
Designed to make sure you don't have any frizz, your hair will have beautiful curls without added products.
Pros: This curling iron is a wand, meaning that it doesn’t have a clamp. The specially designed tourmaline ceramic 1-inch barrel on this curling wand reduces frizz while giving you massive shine, with more curls and impressive body. This wand heats all the way up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with a bonus heat-protective glove so that you can worry less while styling. The cord is dual-voltage, 6-feet long, and swivels to ensure that there are no annoying tangles while moving and styling.
Cons: This curling wand has a single button for the on and off function. This simple design means that you won’t have control over the temperature. The higher heat might be too high for those with damaged or bleached hair.
Bottom Line: The wide barrel and additional heat-protection glove allow those with thick hair to easily roll their locks with precision. This curling wand ensures that every piece of your hair will make contact with heat to create the perfect curl.
Duomishu 6-in-1 Curling Iron
With multiple easily interchangeable pieces to choose from, you can style your hair with minimal damage and maximum variety.
Pros: This set includes 1.25-inch, 1-inch, and 0.74-inch round barrels, 0.35- to 0.7-inch and 0.74- to 1-inch tapered barrels, and a 1-inch bubble wand. The two temperature levels range from 300 degrees to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can get the ideal heat level for your hair. Each tool is designed to heat up within 30 seconds, and the ceramic tourmaline coating creates a smooth barrel to avoid pulling on hair during styling and to reduce hair loss. Each piece is easy to install and quickly interchangeable to fit any style that you’re looking to achieve, from small bouncy curls to flowy large ones. Included with the attachments and base is a heat-resistant glove for added styling comfort and two heat-resistant clips.
Cons: The cord’s swivel base isn’t always enough to keep the wire from tangling. The issue might cause you to unplug the device to periodically unravel it. Others noted that the barrels get extremely hot, potentially causing damage to fine and color-treated hair.
Bottom Line: Curling iron mavens will love the versatility of this set’s different barrel options. You can create lots of different styles while reducing the amount of hot tool storage in your bathroom.
HOT TOOLS Professional 24K Gold Curling Iron
This skinny ceramic barrel will give you shiny and tight ringlet curls with multiple heat settings, a fast heat-up time, and an automatic shutoff.
Pros: This skinny curling iron can help you achieve long-lasting, tight ringlet curls. To avoid damaging thin hair, the barrel’s 24K gold construction and 5/8-inch size provide smaller, kinkier curls without frizz but with massive shine. There’s an adjustable heat setting from 280 to 430 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can keep it low for damaged hair or turn it up to solidify your look. The internal heating element uses pulse technology for a 30-second heat-up time and to keep the barrel evenly heated.
Cons: The small size of this curling iron might be more gentle on thin hair, but it can lengthen the time that it takes to complete your styling, making this option limited to those who have the time and patience to use it. Some reviewers also noticed that pieces would break over time with consistent use, which would create a fire hazard.
Bottom Line: This curling iron’s small size and adjustable heat setting are ideal for people with thin hair. The low heat setting will keep you from losing hair while giving you a tight curl.
Bed Head Wave Artist Ceramic Deep Hair Waver
Feel like a mermaid with this tool's waved design that quickly adds texture.
Pros: You can bring the beach to your bathroom with this unique tool that creates waves with its extra-deep barrel. The 30 heat settings allow people with thin to thick hair to utilize this curling iron. The 2X Tourmaline ceramic technology helps to smooth your strands into soft, shiny waves. This tool also features dual voltage, so you can take it across the world without worrying about the internal heating element going haywire.
Cons: The deep curve and wide barrel of this tool limit its ability to effectively add texture to short hair. Those with a short style might find it difficult to reach parts of their hair due to its large shape. Additionally, the temperature dial doesn’t display any numbers.
Bottom Line: The wavy shape of this hot tool provides lots of texture fairly quickly. For those who want a quick way to amp up their hairstyle without struggling with a traditional round barrel, this is a great alternative.
Curling irons are an essential tool for creating a wide variety of intricate or effortless hairstyles. A curling iron is a reliable tool to make your hair look voluminous and interesting. Whether you’re putting in extra effort for a date night or looking to try out a new updo, adding texture with curls can take your hair to the next level.