Tips on What to Look for in a Curling Iron

Are you having problems choosing the correct curling iron for you? Curling irons differ in size depending on the curls you want, so choose one that matches the size of the curls you want.

While curl size is a personal decision, the texture of your hair should also be considered, as some curls are only suitable for particular types of hair. Before purchasing a curling iron, knowing which one will curl your hair the best is vital.

Here are helpful tips on what to look for in a curling iron and additional tips on using it.

Determining the Type of Curls


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Pick a Barrel Based on the Size of the Curls You Want

Curling irons come in various widths, ranging from 3/8″ to 2″, and each barrel generates a distinct type of curl. If you prefer tight curls, use a smaller barrel width; if you want looser curls, choose a wider barrel width.

Smaller barrels work well with thin, flat hair. The hair looks done even if the tight curls lose their structure throughout the day. Large barrels that create loose curls will not provide long-lasting curls for this hair type.

Larger barrels will maintain looser curls much better if you have thick hair that holds its shape well.

For Springy, Tight Curls, Choose a Small Barrel

Barrels with a diameter of 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″ are excellent for tight curls. Short hair just past the shoulders works best with these little barrels.

These little curling irons are ideal for curly hair, whether long or short. If a few strands aren’t curled properly, the barrel’s size allows for touch-ups.

Girls with straight hair can achieve tight, kinky curls with these sized barrels. Although the procedure is time-consuming, the result is entirely attainable. These barrels are wonderful for coiled, spiral locks and a perm effect, and they work well with thinner hair.

Opt for a 3/4″ Barrel if You Want Vintage Curls

This barrel creates somewhat looser curls, ideal for retro hairstyles or updos. You can also use this barrel to make corkscrew curls. Brush these curls out gently for smoother locks.

This barrel is suitable for hair that is short or medium in length. This is also a good option if you desire loose curls but have thin, fine, straight hair.

Purchase a 1″ Barrel if You’re a Curling Iron Newbie

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Most people believe the 1″ barrel to be the best all-around styling tool for any curl and any length of hair. Consider starting with a 1″ if you only want to purchase one curling iron or are purchasing your first one.

Medium lengths, short bobs, and long layered curls all go well with this barrel. On longer hair, this breadth can generate natural tight curls that, when brushed out, appear natural and flowing.

Select a 1-1/4″ Barrel if You Have Medium to Long Hair

This is the preferred barrel size for women with longer hair since it generates a uniform curl. This barrel creates defined natural soft waves or looping curls and may be used on short hair to add volume and create softer, looser curls.

Achieve Beach Curls With a 1-1/2″ Barrel

The looser the curls are, the larger the barrel. Thanks to the 1-1/2″ barrel, the curls are loose and voluminous. If you want those messy beach curls or “Victoria’s Secret” curls, this is the barrel to use.

Longer hair looks better with this barrel size. It’s suitable for medium-length hair, but the barrel is too large for short hair.

Make Use of a 2″ Barrel if You Want a Slightly Tousled Look

This huge barrel is only suitable for people with long hair. The 2″ isn’t meant to create curls but rather to give your hair a rounded texture at the ends. This is ideal for creating 70s-inspired feathery styles, and 90s flicked ends on girls with straight hair who want a little structure but not definite curls.

Selecting the Correct Curling Iron

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Examine the Heat Settings on the Curling Iron

Different heat settings are required for different hair types. Thick hair can withstand greater temperatures; however, thin hair needs to be kept at much lower temps to avoid damage. If you’re curling a lot of hair at once, you’ll need to use higher temperatures.

Many curling irons include heat settings that you can adjust. This is great because you can adjust the temperature to suit your hair type.

Temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit should never be used. Temperatures like these are best left to stylists and specialists. When styling your hair, try to keep the temperature between 300 and 340 degrees. Go as low as 175 degrees if you have delicate, thin hair.

Choose Between Using a Curling Iron or a Curling Wand

different types of curling irons hanging on the wall

A spring-loaded clamp on a curling iron keeps your hair in place as you curl it. These are the most prevalent, and they can be bought in almost any large retailer. You must manually curl your hair around a curling wand because it is clipless.

A curling iron’s advantage is its clamp to keep the hair in place. They are also available in many barrel sizes and are readily available in retailers.

The advantages of a curling wand include the ability to wrap the ends last, which reduces split ends, the ability to go closer to the roots for extra volume, and the fact that it does not leave a crease or kink in the hair like a curling iron would.

Curling wands can give you greater beach curls and a more natural look, but they don’t curl the ends of your hair, so your curls will be uneven. They also necessitate the acquisition of some skills.

A Marcel iron, a type of curling iron without a spring-loaded clamp, is an alternative to both. These take some time to master, but they give you more control and a stronger curl. You can find Marcel irons at the majority of beauty supply stores.

Decide on the Shape of Your Iron

Curling irons are available in various forms, each producing a particular effect. If you want to go for a specific look, consider one of the following:

Cone Shaped Wands: The smaller end of these wands frequently widens to a thicker base. They’re also available in reverse, with a thicker point and a smaller base. These curls are exact, and the varied sizes on one tool allow you to generate larger and thinner curls.

With these tools, you can create beach waves. These can also be used to produce romantic curls that spread at the base.

Straight Barrels: This is what you’ll find on most curling irons. This gives your curls a unified shape and allows you to have coils and ringlets.

Spiral Barrels: Ribbon ridges or raised spirals guide the hair into form in these barrels. These result in a definite helix curl.

Pearl Barrels: Small pearls or balls run the length of the barrel on these. This is for curls that resemble naturally curly hair rather than having a defined precise shape. It’s suitable for all lengths of wild, natural curls.

Double or Triple Barrels: Wavers are another name for these. They are made up of two or three barrels that resemble fingers. Wavers, rather than curls, produce the S-shaped hair waves, which are better for longer hair.

Flat Irons: A flat iron is another option for curling your hair. You may use this method on short or long hair, and you can also use it to curl hair if you already own a straightener. Just make sure your iron is no wider than 1 inch (2.5 cm) and has curved edges.

Select the Appropriate Material

a male hairstylist curling a woman’s hair

Curling irons aren’t all created equal. When picking a curling iron, it’s crucial to consider the material it’s composed of. Some of these substances are kinder on your hair than others.

Tourmaline and Ceramics: These curling irons are among the most popular and safest on the market. This is the substance to use if you curl your hair frequently. They keep the temperature stable throughout the barrel and emit negative ions that reduce frizz, smooth the hair’s cuticle, and make it seem smooth and lustrous.

Titanium Barrels: Titanium barrels are ideal for coarse, unmanageable hair that doesn’t hold heat, is difficult to heat, or is difficult to style. They also contain the same negative ions as tourmaline or ceramic, which assist in decreasing frizz and protecting hair.

Chrome and Gold Barrels: These barrels heat up quickly, but they won’t keep frizz at bay. While chrome curling irons are less expensive, they can have spots where the iron becomes too hot and harm your hair.

Metal Steam Barrels: Thin hair that won’t hold a curl can benefit from metal steam barrels. They emit steam, which aids in replenishing the moisture lost by the metal and keeps the curl in the hair.

Splurge for Extras


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Are they required? No. On the other hand, curling iron accessories can make life easier and may be worth the extra money.

When you’re sitting in your office, for example, and you’re wondering if you forgot to unplug your iron, an automatic shut-off option might give you peace of mind. A rotating barrel makes the curling procedure foolproof, producing red-carpet-worthy waves in minutes.

You can also seek a tool with a removable clip so you can use it as a clipless wand or a regular curling iron, resulting in a more relaxed, modern wave. There are also irons with replaceable barrels, so you don’t have to own (or store) different irons to adjust the size of your curls.

Using a Curling Iron: Tips & Tricks


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We wouldn’t leave you hanging without the most important hairstyling advice. That is to say, the techniques above are crucial, and if you want a long-lasting curly hairstyle, you should combine them with the additional advice in this area.

Using a Heat Barrier

It is necessary for those who plan to incorporate hot curling into their daily activities. It won’t be long before your hair revolts against you. Frizz appears now and then, and treated hair resembles a witch’s broomstick more than ever.

Pre-curling, spray your hair with a heat protectant to create a shield or barrier between your hot curling iron and your hair.

Ensure you know what temperature you’re curling your hair before purchasing a heat protectant. Some heat-protective sprays, for example, can go up to 300°, so if you’re curling at 375°, you won’t be providing enough heat protection to your hair. Always check the small print!

Creating Hair Sections

Hairstyles can be created more easily by sectioning your hair. It may not appear to be a huge deal, but splitting your hair is crucial. Brush your hair thoroughly with a hair clip.

You can start detangling your hair with the sharp end of a pencil or a comb. Make a natural parting between your brows. Then decide whether you want voluminous or wavy curls.

Begin dividing your hair into sections. A horizontal parting will add volume to your roots, whereas a vertical parting will give you a stylish beach wave.


Brushing your hair is essential at the beginning and conclusion of your curling process. When curling, it’s crucial to have neat curls so you can separate your hair and remove individual 2-inch strands. Did you know that brushing your hair after curling is just as important?

Brush your hair once it’s cooled down (extremely important!) if you’re going to move away from the Victorian curl (depending on the style you want). This will give your hairstyle a more natural appearance and a consistent look. If you like, you can brush your hair with a hairbrush or run your fingers through it.

Hair Spray


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Hair spray is last but not least important. Hair spray is what keeps curls in place, and it’s crucial to use it after brushing your hair. Your hair strands won’t clump together this manner, and your curls will stay smooth and bouncy.

According to some hairstylists, hair spraying should be done before curling with a light-setting spray. This is crucial for folks with tough pin-straight hair and will aid with hair preparation.

Instead of wetting each curl with water, spray your hair. Even if your hair isn’t resistant to curling, repeat the method at the end. You should avoid moisturizing hair oils, such as coconut or argan oil, because they might weigh down your hair.

Keeping a Curling Iron Clean

Using a lot of product on your curling iron can leave residue, whether you like it or not. Even if you don’t curl your hair with a curling iron, some shampoos and conditioners are so strong that they don’t wash out and stay in your hair, causing steam to form when you curl your hair.

If you use a lot of setting spray, this leftover product can build up. If you see a black substance on your curling iron, you’ll know it’s there.

What’s the best way to clean a curling iron? Take a couple of circular cotton pads and some white spirits with you. Pour a few drops on a pad and begin rubbing away the residue. However, always wait for the curling iron to cool down before proceeding.

You can also rub the cold unplugged curling iron with a mixture of three parts baking soda and one part water. This should remove the unsightly stains, and it’s important to do this regularly if you want your curling iron to work properly.

Using a curling iron can damage your hair, so here are tips for hair hydration. And if you want to put that iron to use, here are the most popular celebrity hairstyles of the 2010s you can imitate.


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