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By Maja Ivancic
Maja Ivancic

Beauty and Skincare enthusiast and the Lead Editor of BeautyBets, Maja's main passion in life is to serve equally beauty-obsessed women with the content they want 24/7.

Last Updated: December 2, 2021
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Whether you’re after soft loose waves or gorgeous glam curls, a good curling iron is a must-have. But exactly what makes a curling iron good depends on your needs and wishes. For instance, if you prefer looser waves, you’ll want to check out large barrels, but if you like the look of tighter curls, small barrels are what you need. But what if you care about the health of your hair first and foremost? Then, curling irons with hair-friendly features such as tourmaline plates and lower heat settings are your best bet.

Now we know that to get the best curling iron for your needs and budget you have to wade through hundreds of different models, which can be frustrating, not to mention time-consuming. To make this process a bit easier for you, we’ve assembled a list of the best curling irons at a range of price points. Read on to find your next iron and get ready for some salon-like, long-lasting curly tresses.

The Best Curling Iron

1. REMINGTON Pro Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand

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    Crushed-pearl infused barrel for professional-looking results with less damage

    Ceramic coating for even heat distribution and frizz-free results

    Heat up time 30 seconds, up to 410°F

    0.5”-1” and 1”-1.5” models

    Auto shut-off after 1 hour of use

Boasting a crushed-pearl infused barrel, this Remington model is what you want if your hair is easily damaged and prone to frizz as this material heats quickly but doesn’t damage the hair nearly as much as traditional chrome barrels. The ceramic coating further helps tame the frizz and flyaways as it provides consistent and even heat, making it great even for curly and frizz-prone hair.

Another thing about ceramic curling iron models – because they distribute heat more evenly, they’re less likely to damage your hair than titanium irons, which is another plus for fine hair types that are easily damaged.

The heat-up time for this Remington model is only 30 seconds and the highest temperature it can reach is 410°F so if fast results are what you’re after, this is a great budget-friendly option.

2. CHI Spin N Curl in Onyx Black

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    Ceramic heat tech evenly heats the hair, minimizes damage

    3 pre-set temperatures and heat-up times for different hair types

    Tangle protection for perfectly curled tresses

    Max temperature 410°F

    Suitable for long to medium hair lengths

    Auto-shut off for safety

Don’t be fooled by the high-tech and seemingly complex look of this Chi curling iron – while it provides salon-like results, it’s really simple to use. Thanks to its shape and construction, it draws your hair right into its curl chamber, where it heats it for an ideal length of time according to your hair texture and preferences.

And don’t worry, even if you know nothing about heat styling and how it affects different hair types, Chi is easy to use as it comes with three pre-set temperatures and heat-up times for fine, medium and coarse hair. There’s even a beep alert to let you know when the curler is done!

The ceramic heat technology is another feature you’ll like as it evenly heats the hair, producing professional-looking results and shiny, voluminous hair, while minimizing the damage.

3. CONAIR Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

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    Tourmaline and ceramic curler with Nano tech

    Gentle on the hair, fights frizz

    Max temperature 400F, heats up in 30s

    5 heat settings for different hair types

    Auto shut-off for added safety

If your fine hair is easily damaged from heat styling but you still want those smooth, frizz-free locks, consider getting either a tourmaline curling iron or a combination of tourmaline and ceramic iron, such as the Infinitipro by Conair.

Tourmaline emits about 6 times more negative ions than ceramic barrels in order to combat dull and frizzy hair and it’s very gentle, making it ideal for fine, thin, dry and easily damaged hair. A combo of both tourmaline and ceramic, this 1-inch curling iron is great for all hair types, creating those classic gorgeous curls with less frizz and more shine.

It heats up in 30 seconds and goes up to 400 F, and there are 5 heat settings to choose from based on different hair types. For added safety, it comes with an auto-off feature so you never have to worry about leaving your hair curler on.

4. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

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    Nano technology heats hair from the inside

    Works to protect the hair and create shine

    Tourmaline and ceramic plates

    50 heat settings, up to 450 °F

    Available in a choice of barrel sizes

For beautiful, cascading soft curls then you need some Nano – and BaByliss offers one of the best. Using Nano tech to create a far-infrared heat, this neat-looking iron heats your hair from within the shaft, effectively reducing any damage. And as well as being gentle on your tresses, the result is a long-lasting curl that shines with health.

The barrel is made from titanium and ceramic so can be used on most hair types and comes in a choice of four sizes – from ¾ inch to 1½ inch so you can choose the wand for your ideal size and type of curl. Add in an impressive 50 heat settings to take the iron up to 450 °F as well as a turbo heat button for fast curls on the go, and this BaByliss curling iron will take your style from night to day – and everywhere in-between.

5. HOT TOOLS Professional Mega 1.25 Inch Curling Iron

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    Features a 24k gold-plated 1.25-inch barrel

    Evenly heats the full length of the wand

    Fast heating up to 430°F

    Rheostatic adjustable heat settings

    8-foot swivel cord and soft-touch handle

Bringing a gold standard to hair styling, the Professional Mega from Hot Tools features a 24K gold-plated barrel to create the even heat you need for pro-style curls. Working as a heat conductor, the surface of this slim curler consistently heats from end to end, for to die for curls that last. And not only does this gold iron add more than a touch of glamor to your hair styling, but it also gives you full control of the types of curls you want to create.

With variable heat settings, taking the wand up to 430°F, you can go from soft beach wave to tight curl whenever you want. However, the one drawback of this well-priced curling iron is the length of the barrel, which is a little on the shorter side so can fall short if you are styling long or very thick hair. But with a swivel cord, soft touch handle and foldaway safety stand, there is a lot about this golden curling iron to love.

6. Kiss Products Instawave Automatic Ceramic Curling Iron

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    Automatic spindler to curl and detangle hair

    Rotates for both inner and outer curls

    Ceramic ionic plate to reduce frizz

    Two heat settings up to 420°F

    90-minute auto shut off

Avoid tangles and ugly curl ends with this clever ceramic curling iron from Kiss. Featuring prongs set in a dial at the base, this wand helps to create seamless curls by gently smoothing and detangling your hair as it wraps around the iron. Button-operated, automatically curls up your hair and you can switch directions too.

And we like that the fact that the detangler sits between you and the plates, so your fingers never meet the heat. You also get an effective ceramic ionic plate on the barrel which reduces frizz and helps to protect your hair against heat damage – essential if you are a regular curler. There are just two heat settings, but it does reach a maximum of 420°F and you also get an auto-shut off for extra peace of mind.

7. INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Curl Secret

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    Innovative curling chamber to reduce tangling

    Heat controlled for the perfect curl

    Auto beep timer and three curl settings

    Heats up to 400°F with auto shut off

    Durable, long-lasting motor

Another high-tech curling device, this time by Conair which uses auto curl to take the heat and hassle out of getting the curly look you want. With an innovative curl chamber, you simply feed in a hair section by the root and the Infinitipro gently scoops it into the barrel to create your perfect curl.

It may seem a little daunting to use, but you quickly get the hang of it. And the outcome is a heat controlled and tangle free curl thanks to the inner chamber which can be adjusted for time and heat, to take you from medium wave to tight curl. You get two heat and three timer settings, and the device has an auto beep indicator, so you know just when to release your curl. You do need to do thinner sections the longer your hair but the results are impressive and fast.

8. Hoson 9mm Thin Curling Iron Ceramic

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    Thin barrel to create corkscrew curls

    Extra-long wand to catch all your hair

    Ceramic coating to prevent frizz

    Cool tip to protect your fingers

    Swivel cord and auto shut off

If you like your curls tight, then Hoson have the perfect wand for you, with their super-thin Professional Curling Iron. With a 3/8-inch small barrel, this ceramic-coated wand creates corkscrew-style curls beautifully and is also a good choice if you already have curly hair that needs more control to bring out its spiral best. The ceramic helps to reduce frizz and protect your hair, leaving you with voluminous tight curls that have a rich shine. 

We also like that the thin barrel is a good length – 8.3 inches – which helps to create consistent curls on longer hair. Add in an easy-to-use lightweight design and a no-tangle swivel power cord plus a cooling tip to protect your fingers and you get a lot of tight curling action for your money!

Best Curling Irons Buying Guide

How to Find the Right Curling Iron for Your Hair

As well as all the different styles you want to create, there are several other key considerations that can help you find the perfect curling tools for your hair:

The material it is made from

Hair curling devices are not all made from the same material, and so knowing the difference can really help you choose the right product for your hair. The main barrel materials to look for are ceramic, tourmaline and titanium and they all have their pros.

  • Ceramic – heats up evenly along the length of the curling iron barrel, is durable and suitable for most hair types. A ceramic curling iron can also protect your hair against heat damage, seal in shine and reduce frizz.
  • Tourmaline – one of the newest materials being used in hair waving tools, this crystalline mineral produces six times more negative ions than ceramic, creating a high level of gloss and smoothness. It can also produce moisture to enhance the shine.
  • Titanium – often lighter than ceramic, titanium barrel curling iron stylers can hold high heat for longer and can be used on all hair types but is particularly effective on coarse or harder to style hair.

You can also opt for a metal steam curling iron which can be particularly effective on thinner hair that may struggle to hold a curl as the steam seals in the shape.

Barrel size

The size of the curling wand barrel will determine the tightness of curls you are going to be able to achieve. So, for a beach babe relaxed wave, you need a larger barrel, while a narrow barrel will give you tight, almost ringlet-like curls. As rule of thumb, the larger the barrel, the looser the curl. But you also need to take the length of your hair into account as small barrels are best on short hair.

Adjustable heat settings

While styling your curls you will also want to protect your hair so having adjustable temperature setting on your wave hair irons will give you much greater heat control. Adjustable heat settings also mean you can adjust the temperature to suit your type of hair as thick, wavy hair will need more heat to take a curl than finer hair.

Auto shut off

If have ever left for your morning commute to suddenly worry you haven’t unplugged your styler off, then you’ll know that an automatic shut off feature is essential!

Additional extras

To help make curling your hair even easier and get you the wow look you want, look out for some extra features in your hair curler which do work. These include a removable clamp, which is a clip which extends the full length of the barrel to keep hair in place as you style for sharper curls.

A rotating barrel can also be a useful addition for fast, soft curls. And for the ultimate in versatility, a curling iron with interchangeable barrels for different sized curls is worth the investment.

FAQ

Do curling irons cause any harm to my hair?

If used correctly and not excessively and at the appropriate temperature for your hair, then curling iron shouldn’t harm your hair, especially if you use them in conjunction with hair styling and protection products.

Having too high a temperature held against your hair for too long will dry out your hair, leaving it looking listless and can even lead to hair breakage as the heat melts your hair’s natural keratin.

Which size curling iron is best?

The size of curling iron barrel you choose will depend on your type of hair and the curl you are wanting to create.  Curling iron barrels typically range from around 6mm through to 32mm plus, with the smaller the barrel giving you the tighter curls. Some barrels are also tapered, so smaller at the tip and widening out so you get a more natural-looking curl that is tighter at the root than the ends.

When it comes to hair type, smaller barrels are best for finer hair or hair that can’t hold a curl for long, whereas thicker or wavy hair responds well to a larger curling iron.

If you are in any doubt what size barrel to choose or you want to create different types of curls and waves, then a curling iron with a selection of interchangeable barrels may be the best way to go.

How to clean curling irons

As you will be using hair products, conditioners and hairspray to help style your hair, it is inevitable that your curling irons will need regular cleaning to get rid of gunk and product build-up.

Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your particular curling irons. But as a general guide, always ensure the irons are switched off and totally cooled down before cleaning. You can use acetone (nail polish remover) soaked onto a cotton pad and wiped across the barrel to remove particularly stubborn residue but for something more gentle use isopropyl rubbing alcohol or a baking soda and water solution. Once cleaned, wipe again with a clean dry cloth and leave to dry. You are now ready to get your curl on again!