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Published Aug. 12, 2021

Whether you’re a beginner or practically professional at styling your hair, there is a curler for your unique tresses, no matter how fine, thick, long, or short they may be. The best curling iron for you will be easy to use, have multiple heat settings to accommodate your hair texture, prevent hair damage, and most importantly, leave your hair with shiny, healthy curls. Of course, barrel size matters when it comes to achieving the types of curls or waves you want—anything less than one inch will create tighter curls, while anything above will create a looser, beachier vibe. The most versatile size is one-inch, and it works well for all hair types. So, time to get wavy and scroll through the best curling irons below.

What to consider when shopping for the best curling iron

When looking to add a curling iron to your hair styling tool collection, there are a few key factors to consider, starting with your hair type. While there are many great products and tools available, they may not work best for your specific hair texture or length. Secondly, the materials used in the curling iron, your budget, and your hair styling savvy may be important to think about when choosing the best option for you. 

What size barrel should you get?

The size of the curling iron barrel can take your hair from small ringlets to beach waves with the difference of half an inch. Depending on the type of curls you want, your hair texture and length will help to determine which size is best for you. Across the board, a one-inch barrel works best for all hair types. A smaller barrel will create tighter curls, while larger barrels will create looser waves and even a blow-dried look. If your hair is above your shoulders, consider a smaller barrel so you’re able to curl enough hair around the curling iron. 

Which plate material is best for your hair?

The most common materials for curling irons are ceramic, titanium, tourmaline, and gold plating. Ceramic curling irons are great for fine and processed hair because they don’t get as hot as other types—plus, they create lots of shine. Titanium curling irons get hot fast, so they work best for thick hair that can withstand higher temperatures. Meanwhile, tourmaline can produce up to six times more negative ions than ceramic plates, achieving a high level of shine and reduced frizz. Lastly, gold-plated curling irons are great for coarse, thick hair because they heat up fast. However, gold-plated doesn’t naturally offer evenly-dispersed heat along the iron, so it’s best when fused with other materials.

Are you on a budget?

You don’t have to break the bank to get a great hair styling tool. Some of the more affordable curling irons cost between $20 and $50. While you shouldn’t have to spend a ton for a great iron, be sure the one you take home has multiple heat settings as well as a good amount of power so you don’t end up damaging your hair with prolonged use.

Do you need a dual voltage curler?

If you’re a world traveler and want to do so in style, you’ll want to take your curling iron along for the ride (or flight). In order to do this, consider a curling iron with dual voltage. Different countries use different voltages, but with dual voltage, the curling iron will automatically switch between 110 and 120 volts and 220 and 240 volts when you plug it in. 

Automatic or manual curling iron?

Choosing automatic or manual is a complete matter of preference. Automatic curling irons are best suited for beginners, because they essentially curl your hair for you. Manual curling irons, on the other hand, offer a bit more control with where you start the curl and how long you leave the curler in place.

What heat settings do you need?

Consider an iron with multiple settings so you can adjust accordingly to your hair type and texture. Finer hair requires less heat, while thicker hair can stand higher temperature, but you shouldn’t go above the 420 degrees range. 

The best curling irons

While the number of hair tools seems to be limitless, once you narrow down the options according to your hair texture, desired style, budget, and styling abilities, you’ll have no problem finding the best curling iron for your needs. 

Best overall: CHI Ceramic Tourmaline

Shine On

This tool also uses ceramic materials with even heat distribution for easy styling and great results. CHI

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If you’re looking for a curling iron that heats up quickly, prevents heat damage, and creates long-lasting waves and curls with less frizz and static, then the CHI Ceramic Tourmaline Curling Iron is the hot tool for you. By using the latest technology of combining tourmaline and ceramic for even heat distribution, the iron dramatically reduces static electricity to create a smooth and silky ‘do. With great features like the versatile one-inch smooth barrel, 30-second quick heat-up, digital temperature control for varied heat settings, and an LCD screen, this wand was designed with many different hair types in mind. Plus, the dual voltage makes for easy hair styling while you travel.

Runner up: Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver

You Woke Up Like This

The deep barrels create defined and sculpted locks. Bed Head

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Whether you’re a beginner or pro when it comes to hair styling, the Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver is easy to use and produces beautiful results. The upgraded design features double the tourmaline ceramic technology to tackle frizz and add extra shine to your waves. With three heat settings—low for fine hair, medium for normal thickness, and high for thick hair—you can customize according to your hair texture. This waver goes up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with instant heat recovery to apply an even temperature to your tresses. Additional features include dual voltage and auto shut off for safety.

Premium pick: T3 Twirl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron

Multifunctional Option

With multiple sizes, this model creates classic, bouncy, and voluminous curls. T3 Micro

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It’s understandable why reviewers say the T3: Twirl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron is worth the investment. It’s one tool with three different sized clip barrels—one inch, 1.25 inches, and 1.5 inches—so you won’t need a whole collection of hair tools to attain multiple hairstyles. With five adjustable heat settings, from 260 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, you can choose which one is best for your hair texture. Plus, the Digital SinglePass Technology helps protect hair from heat damage with an internal microchip that constantly measures and maintains an even temperature across the entire barrel. Made with custom blend ceramic, the barrels emit negative ions to retain moisture and produce shiny, healthy curls. With dual voltage, you can take this curler anywhere you go, and as an added perk, it even comes with a little bag to keep the pieces organized. 

Budget pick: Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron

Affordable Curls

With 30 heat settings to choose from, this has an option for every type and texture of hair. Conair

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With varying prices under $20 depending on barrel size, the Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron is proof you don’t have to break the bank to get a great curler. This new and improved tool features higher ceramic content for even heat and shiny, healthy, long-lasting styles with less frizz. This curler features 30 heat settings for hair types ranging from fragile/fine hair to coarse/thick hair, and instant heat up to 375 degrees with Turbo Heat. Even difficult-to-style spots will get the customized attention your hair needs. Additional features include a cool tip, plus easy handling and recessed buttons to prevent accidental shut off. If a simple, straight-forward curling iron is on your wishlist, this one’s for you. 

Also consider: CHI Spin N’ Curl Ceramic Rotating Curler

Great for Beginners

This automatic iron has customizable heat settings and timers based on your hair type and texture. CHI

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If you love how your hair looks styled but are not so sure about the styling process, the CHI Spin N’ Curl Ceramic Rotating Curler is for you. This tool does the curling for you—all you have to do is place your hair section into the barrel, press the curl button, wait to hear four beeps, and then pull the iron down to release your perfectly curled hair. Depending on your hair texture (fine, medium, or thick), there are pre-set temperatures and heat-up times to best suit your tresses. This iron utilizes ceramic heat technology, which leaves shiny and healthy, long-lasting waves. The one-inch barrel is best suited for those with hair longer than four inches.

FAQs

Q: What curling iron is best for beachy waves?

In general, when looking for the best curling iron for beach waves, opt for an iron with a one to 1.5-inch barrel, depending on the length of your hair. If you like to switch up your length every so often, a curling iron with a one inch barrel is the most common and versatile size. The CHI ARC Tourmaline Ceramic Automatic Rotating Curler (1.25-inch barrel) holds true to its name and creates gorgeous waves every time.

Q: What should I look for when buying a curling iron?

When buying a curling iron, look for ones that offer adjustable heat settings. Thick hair can withstand higher temperatures, while thinner hair needs much lower temperatures to prevent damage and create the curl or wave. Also, consider whether you want a ceramic or titanium plated curler. Ceramic curling irons, great for thinner hair, reduce frizz and heat damage among all hair types. Titanium, on the other hand, is a great option for thicker hair, heats up quickly, and helps retain hair moisture. Additional features to look into are barrel size and automatic versus manual.

Q: How do I use a curling iron?

How you use a curling iron depends on the specific model. The Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver works much differently than the CHI Spin N’ Curl Ceramic Rotating Curler. Generally, with more straight-forward curling irons such as the CHI Ceramic Tourmaline Curling Iron, you section out your hair and curl each piece around the barrel, using the clamp to keep hair in place for a few seconds, then slowly release the section of hair for a perfectly curled piece. Repeat with each section of hair until your full head is completely curled. You can use a holding or texturizing spray for finishing touches. 

The final word on shopping for the best curling iron

The best curling iron will leave your hair looking healthy, radiant, shiny—and most importantly— curled to your liking. For the best results, understanding your hair type is key. While some materials used in hair tools are better when it comes to preventing hair damage, it’s always important to prep your hair with a heat protectant and to make sure your hair is completely dry prior to using your curling iron. Once you select the best model for you, you’ll never tire of creating those pretty, beachy waves.

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