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You are here : Home > Tutorials & "How-To's" > How to Choose a Curling Iron

How to Choose a Curling Iron



Would you love to have a head full of curls? When setting down your flat iron to opt for a beautiful natural curly style, understanding your options before purchasing will help you choose the perfect curling iron!

Barrel Size for Desired Curl

The curling iron you choose will largely depend on your hair type and curling style you want to achieve. The size of its barrel determines the size of curls it produces.

  • Big Waves: A curling iron with a 2" barrel will create large, loose waves in longer hair, or help smooth short hair. TIP: Wrap large sections around iron to smooth... wrap small sections to create waves.
  • Slight Waves: A curling iron with a 1 1/2" barrel will create nice, soft waves. TIP: Curl small sections of hair with the curling iron, then clip each section to head. When cool, release pins and run fingers through hair.
  • Big Curls: A curling iron with a 3/4" to 1" barrel size will create large curls. TIP: Spritz small sections with mousse, then wrap them around iron and hold for five seconds. Release curling iron, let hair cool, then use fingers to separate curls.
  • Tight Curls: A curling iron with a 3/8" to 1/2" barrel size will create perfect little ringlets. TIP: Wrap small sections from ends to roots in a spiral. Hold five seconds. Release curl, then let cool... spritz with hairspray, but do not touch!


Curling Iron Styles

Spring-loaded, Marcel, or Clip less handle?

  • Marcel Curling Irons: Designed for professional hairstylists.

  • Spring-loaded Curling Irons: Easy to style with and great for everyday user.

  • Clip-Less Wands: These do not have a clamp, the hair wraps hair around the rod.

Barrel Types

Chrome (Silver), Gold, Porcelain, Ceramic, Tourmaline, Titanium, Teflon, or Metal?

  • Chrome (Silver): The most common and least expensive. They are pretty effective but there is a chance for damaging hot spots. Only recommended for occasional use.
  • Gold: Great for daily use because this material distributes heat very effectively and provides a smoother surface that eliminates hair strand snags.
  • Teflon: Helps distribute heat evenly throughout the barrel to eliminate frizz and create soft, bouncing curls.
  • Ceramic: Seals the hair cuticle to lock in moisture during the heating process. This material also provides consistent heat and distribution. If you have frizzy, color-treated, damaged, dry, or hard to curl hair, this is the perfect choice for you.
  • Tourmaline: Delivers negative ions to neutralize the hair's positive charge which creates calm smooth, shiny hair strands.
  • Titanium: Keep consistent temperatures, eliminating hot spots, for smooth, silky curls.
  • Metal: Known to damage hair as they emit extreme heat which is very harmful, especially when used for prolonged periods of time.


Additional Options to Consider

  • Steam Curling Iron: Great for those with hard-to-curl hair as the steam helps lock the curls in place. Steam is also less damaging than dry heat.
  • Cordless Curling Iron: Is handy for traveling or touch-ups just about anywhere. Some cordless curling irons are rechargeable, similar to a cordless phone.
  • Brush Curling Irons: A blow-dryer and curling iron in one device. Some are curling irons with plastic or bristle brushes around the barrel for ease of use.
  • Triple Barrel Curling Iron: Three barrels that create a wavy result. Works great for all hair types.


Now ask the question, What kind of hair do I have?

  • Fine / Thin Hair: You should choose a small barrel curling iron.
  • Thick Hair: You want a curling iron with a higher heat setting.
  • Short Hair: Use a smaller curling iron. For large curls, you should purchase a large barreled curling iron.


Temperature Control

Different hair types require different heat setting.

  • 180 F: Normal hair can handle up to 180 F, while wavy, curly, thick or coarse hair needs 180 F or above to style.
  • 150 F or less: Those with fragile and thin hair won't need a curling iron more than a 150 F heat capacity.
  • Heat Indicator: Another key feature. It will make your life easier if you have a means of knowing that the device is ready for use.