The Best Curling Irons

No matter what your circumstances in life, one universal truth seems to be that women inevitably go through a stage where they’re unhappy with their hair. Luckily, hair is something you can change the appearance of with relative ease. There are so many ways to change your hair; dye, cutting, straightening or perming. One of the most popular ways is to curl it with an iron. The best part of this change is that it’s temporary, so you can experiment with all different types of styles that will let you find exactly what you like. And when you try something you don’t like, unlike those other changes, you’re not stuck with it.

We reviewed dozens of curling irons to find the best of the best. We weeded through automatic curlers that curl with a push of a button and large barrel curling irons that will give you the beach waves you love. We looked for ceramic irons and titanium to bring you all the information you need to make the right purchase for you.
Top Pick
Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves

For a curling iron that can handle practically anything you could want, and do it well, check out the Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand.

$27.99 USD

Fairly early in our research, we identified Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves as the clear winner of our top pick spot. As a curling wand, you can be sure your hair won’t get the crease that other curling iron’s can give with the clamp and the waves or curls you get by using it will be sure to please.

The 5 Top-Rated Curling Irons for 2018

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallBed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves4.3
Runner UpLee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand4.4
Best Budget Buy
INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
4.3
Best Ceramic Curling IronKiss products Ceramic Instawave4.5
Best Spiral Curling IronHerstyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron4.3

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves

The Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves has no clamp to secure your hair so you will need to pay a bit closer attention to holding it in place on the iron. It comes with a heat protection glove for you to hold your hair to the barrel, though, so even if the wand is a new practice for you, you’ll have a handicap to help you along the way. And the lack of crease with the pinched clamp may just be worth the risk of a couple ouchies if you hold the barrel too closely.

With this brand and model curling iron, you can pick which size you need for the look you want. You’ll choose from a smaller barrel, 1/2″ for a spiral curl, 1 1/4″ for larger, tousled curls and the standard 1″ for your choice of either and all stages in between.

This curling wand has an overall rating of 4.3 stars on Amazon with over 1,300 customer reviews. Not only will those numbers tempt you, the price tag, $20-$30, depending on the size barrel you choose, should seal the deal.

Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves Key Features:

  • Tangle Free 6ft Swivel Cord
  • Temperature up to 400 degrees F
  • Tourmaline ceramic coated barrel

Our Runner-Up Pick: Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand

Our Runner-Up Pick
Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand

The Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand will give you the gorgeous curls you love – every time.

$29.99 USD

The Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand offers you the same capability you can expect from a professional hairstyle, with a set heating temperature of 450 degrees – and that means it’ll hold that style and it will curl fast. To go along with how fast it can curl your hair, take note of how quickly after being turned on it can reach that temperature: only 15 seconds! So you can go from straight to curly even faster than you imagined with this curling wand.

The end of the wand is covered by a durable plastic tip specifically intended to keep your fingers from burning as you wrap the hair around the wand. It comes with a heat protection glove, too, so the chances of injuring yourself are even less. (And with it heating so high and so quickly, these are real and necessary precautions!)

This curling wand has over 450 customer reviews on Amazon that have earned it an overall rating of 4.4 stars. We think those numbers speak for themselves; this is a wand with which you’ll very likely be more than satisfied.

Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler Curling Wand Key Features:

  • 3/8″ barrel for tight curls
  • Heats to 450 degrees F in 15 seconds
  • 100% guarantee for corkscrew curls that last 24 hours

Best Budget Pick: INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand

Best Budget Pick
INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand

Meet the InifinitiPro by ConAir for the best deal on an amazingly versatile curling iron.

$29.99 USD

The INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand has a tourmaline ceramic barrel that will minimize the frizz and smooth your hair as it curls it to give it a silky shine. It has a tapered barrel to create a large to small curl that creates a vintage look of a Hollywood starlet or if your hair weighs the curls down, you can get a gorgeous beach wave with no problem. The wand tapers from 1 and 1/4″ to 3/4″ and you can buy it in pink or purple and with or without the heat-resistant glove and pouch.

This wand allows you to control the temperature with its 5 heat settings and that’s ideal for thin hair that needs a lower heat setting. (Heat range from 310-400 degrees F.) And no matter what setting you choose, it will reach the desired temperature in 30 seconds or less. With an auto-off function, you won’t need to panic if you left it on while you were running late that morning.

With over 1,500 customer reviews on Amazon giving this a 4.3 star rating, there’s no surprise that this is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller for Hair Curling Wands. And if that’s not enough to sway you keep in mind this top seller is under $14! What a deal!

INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand Key Features:

  • 2 color options or buy with bonus heat pouch
  • Auto-off setting
  • 30-second heat up time

Best Ceramic Curling Iron: Kiss products Ceramic Instawave

Best Ceramic Curling Iron
Kiss products Ceramic Instawave

The Kiss Products Ceramic Instawave will curl your hair all over without the tired arms.

$49.99 USD

The Kiss products Ceramic Instawave is an automatic curling iron and if you’ve never used one, you’re in for a treat. You section off a piece of your hair, place it in the iron, press a button, and it wraps your hair for you. And if you have a lot of hair, this is both a big time save and a huge help for your tired arms! The curler will also twirl in two different directions, too, just in case you have a preference.

The barrel of this iron is 1″ and ceramic, which means that you’ll see a noticeable difference in the result. After curling with this iron, your hair will appear smoother and healthier, with less frizz. There are two heat settings, allowing you to crank it up for faster curls that will last longer or turn it down a bit for thinner hair.

There are over 1,200 customer reviews on Amazon, earning it a rating of 4.2 stars – which is nothing to scoff at! In fact, those numbers suggest pretty strongly that you’ll be pleased with the results you will get from this curling iron.

Kiss products Ceramic Instawave Key Features:

  • 2 heat settings up to 420 degrees F
  • Ceramic ionic barrel
  • 2-year warranty

Best Spiral Curling Iron: Herstyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron

Best Spiral Curling Iron
Herstyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron

Made of ceramic, this curling iron produces stunning spiral curls without damaging your hair.

$23.99 USD

The Herstyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron has a ceramic barrel that will prevent damage to your hair and help you minimize the appearance of breakaways or frizz by smoothing the hair with its barrel. The Teflon barrel will keep any product you have in your hair from sticking and the negative ion technology will also help eliminate frizz. The barrel is just 9 mm (or just under 1/2 inch) in circumference and that means you’re going to get adorable spirals that will give you the tight curl look you want.

The manufacturer boasts these curls can last up to a full day without losing their bounce and the iron heats up to a full 400 degrees F, making it a curling iron that will let you do plenty of “curl and forget.” The long cord meets the iron with a swivel, preventing tangles as you make your way through your hair, taking one more worry off your plate and the plug is dual voltage so you can take this with you practically everywhere.

This curling wand has an overall rating of 4.5 stars with well over 600 customer reviews. You can pick one up for under $25, too. And all those numbers aside, we love the tagline of this curling iron: Thin Curling Iron for Queens Who Want to Be Crowned in Curls.

Herstyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron Key Features:

  • 2 color choices
  • Teflon barrel with negative ion technology
  • 1-year warranty

Who Should Buy a Curling Iron

If you aren’t satisfied with the look of your hair, then picking a curling iron is a good idea for you. If you’re not happy with the curling iron you have, then getting a better one will also send you into the curling iron market. Different curling irons will, naturally, give you different results and having a good curling iron that lets you play with your hair until you’re comfortable or even, dare we say, happy with your hair is crucial to maintaining your self esteem and that’s something that’s important for all women.

The other alternative for why you may want to buy a curling iron is that you could be starting a career in cosmetology. If you plan on doing hair for income, then you’re going to need a quality curling iron or two (or more!) Making sure your clients get what they pay for will mostly depend on your skill and training but ensuring you get what you pay for will come down to your research before purchase.
Top Pick
Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves

For a curling iron that can handle practically anything you could want, and do it well, check out the Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand.

$27.99 USD

Important Features to Consider

A curling iron should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a curling iron for your hair:

  • Heating element construction. Ceramic and tourmaline barrels are probably the most common barrel these days and for good reason: they’re probably the safest for your hair. This is the consistent heating temperature that will help you with frizz and help make your hair appear smooth and shiny. Titanium barrels will help with the frizz, as well but are more for coarse hair that won’t hold heat very well. Chrome or gold barrels will hold heat well but do nothing for frizz. Steam barrels will help thin hair that won’t hold a curl.
  • Iron vs. wand. A curling iron has a clamp to hold your hair in place; a wand doesn’t. The clamp can leave a crease in your hair if you’re not careful and a wand doesn’t have that risk at all. With a wand, you’ll also be able to curl your hair from root to tip, rather than tip up to base, should you choose. That can help if you have damaged ends that you don’t want to hold to the heat for too long. Keep in mind though, this is not a novice-level curling skill and the learning curve is steep. You may get frustrated if your hair is prone to slipping.
  • Temperature and heating settings. Different settings will help you customize your curl to your hair and your preferences. You don’t ever want to exceed 400 degrees F (stylists may go that high for some things, but those temperatures are better left to the professionals else you may damage your hair). Generally, the thicker your hair, the higher your hair’s temperature tolerance. Even so, you’ll probably want to stick to a range between 300-380 degrees when using your curling iron at home. (That’s really the highest temperature you’d need anyways.) If you have fine or thin hair, though, you’ll want to stick around 175-200 degrees.
  • Barrel size. With very few exceptions, curling irons will vary in size from 3/8″ to 2″ barrel width. Different sizes give different looks. The smaller the barrel, obviously, the smaller the curl. So if you want a tight ringlet, go for the smallest barrel you can find. A 1″ will work great for a more “vintage” curl that will give you variety when the curl is left alone versus when brushed out. A lager barrel, like the 2″ one, will give you a natural looking wave to your hair without a lot of fuss.
  • Interchangeable barrels. If you’re going to use more than a couple curling irons on a decently regular basis, a curling iron with interchangeable barrels may suit you best. That way, not only can you experiment with new styles and textures to your hair, you’ll be able to do it with an iron you’re with which you’re familiar. Trying new things with a piece of equipment you’re familiar with will make the experiment more likely to succeed. Be careful when you’re shopping though; sometimes  “Jack of All Trades” means “Master of None” and you’ll not want to sacrifice quality for convenience.
  • Your hair type. If you have thinner hair, there’s a good chance you’re going to struggle keeping a curl in your hair. For that reason you’ll want a smaller barrel that will give you tighter curls. That way as the curls fade and weigh down, they’ll still have some curl; whereas large barrel curls can weigh down and disappear before you even leave the house. Thick hair will hold a curl a bit better so use the barrel the size of the curl you want. Your hair will hold a true barrel sized curl. If you have curls or waves that you want to “overwrite” by straightening and then curling, you’ll need a curling iron with a clamp that will be extra comfortable for you to hold for extended periods of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a curling iron and how does it work?

A curling iron is an electronic tool for styling hair. It produces heat through coils that will heat a cylindrical barrel that you wrap your hair around. You’ll hold it in the iron for a few seconds at a time (being careful to not extend this time and damage your hair). As you release the hair from the iron, it will maintain a curl. Doing this all over your head will give you the appearance of curly hair. Depending on the size if the barrel and what you do with your hair after will change the end result. For science,  i’d you curl or all over with a small barrel and cover the curls with a holding spray,  then you’ll have a head of spiral curls like Shirley Temple. If you use a bigger barrel and comb or brush them out a bit after, you’ll have a relaxed-looking curl or wave that has a natural appearance.

Despite the name, though, you can also use a curling iron to straighten curly hair. This may not be the best product if you want an all over straight hair look (a flat iron may work better) but if you want your tight curls to transform into bigger ones,  this can do it all in one. This method is also good for buying one tool to accomplish a few tasks.

How do you measure the size of a curling iron?

The size of the curling iron is measured with the barrel, or the hot iron portion. The circumference of the barrel is the size that will be listed with your new purchase. If you want to measure it yourself, the best way to do so is to grab flexible measuring tape and wrap it around the barrel, closest to the base; where the handle meets the iron. (Of course, you’ll want to make sure the iron is cool before doing this to avoid injury or damaging the measuring tape.)

If the curling iron gradually decreases in size, you’ll see it listed with two measurements. (These are called cone irons and they’ll let you use one wand for different size curls.) The first and largest number will be that of the base and the smaller number will be the smallest point at the end of the iron. The “standard” curling iron size is a 1″ and if you only invest in one curling iron all your life, this is probably the one you’ll want. You can do anything from tight ringlets to beach-y waves and just about anything in between.

Do you use a curling iron on wet or dry hair?

Dry. Dry. Dry! If you’re using a curling iron on wet hair, there are no two way about it: You’re going to damage your hair. The healthiest way to curl your hair with an iron is to allow it to mostly air dry, cover it with some heat protection and blow dry it the rest of the way before curling. If you don’t have time for that, then towel dry as much as possible, heat protect, then blow dry.

The reality is that you absolutely can curl wet hair. But even beyond damaging your hair, it won’t hold a curl until it’s dry anyways. So you’d need to use the iron to dry your hair on the first few runs through it and then it’ll curl once it’s dry. And with this method, you’re baking your hair. Or more accurately, you’re frying it. It’s a bad idea. If you don’t have the time to curl it properly, opt for a sleek bun.

How do you use a curling iron?

There are a few different tactics from a few different styles of curling irons that will get you a few different results. The most common iron will be the type where you pull a piece of your hair (about an inch wide) and place it in the open claw of the curling iron as close to your scalp as you’re comfortable. You’ll close the claw and gently pull it through your hair to the ends. Without losing any hair in the iron, you’ll roll the iron, curling your hair around it as you go. Once the iron is rolled up to your scalp, you’ll want to hold it there for a bit. The time you’re holding will depend on what kind of curl you want. The longer you hold it the more “curly” the curl. But you don’t want to damage your hair in the process. If you see smoke or steam, you’ll want to release it immediately. That’s your hair cooking, and not the goal. When you release your hair, you’ll want to open the barrel slightly and gently pull the iron away from your hair, letting the curl fall from the iron slowly. Repeat this process as much as you want to get the desired look. Brush out the curls for a more natural look or keep them untouched for spiral curls.

Other Curling Irons We Reviewed

Top Pick
Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Tousled Curls and Waves

For a curling iron that can handle practically anything you could want, and do it well, check out the Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand.

$27.99 USD

We looked at 20 other curling irons. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best curling irons list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your hair. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Large Barrel Curling Irons

Anjou Curling Iron

Anjou Curling Iron

The rotating cord on this curling iron will allow you to twirl it into your hair without tangling yourself with the cord.

Key Features:

  • Heats up to 410 degrees F in 60 seconds
  • LCD screen displays temperature
  • 1.25″ barrel

Cost: $30

InfinitiPro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

InfinitiPro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

This curling iron comes with a heat shield and and auto off function that will make sure you won’t need to run back to the house to turn it off, should you forget.

Key Features:

  • 1 1/2″ barrel
  • Auto-off function
  • 5 heat settings up to 400 degrees F

Cost: $25

MiroPure Curling Iron with Tourmaline Ceramic Coating

MiroPure Curling Iron with Tourmaline Ceramic Coating

The tourmaline, ceramic coated barrel will keep your hair from damage and reduce static and frizz.

Key Features:

  • 1.25″ or 1.5″ options
  • Heats up to 410 degrees F in 30 seconds
  • 1-year warranty

Cost: $25

PARWIN PRO 32mm LED Light Curling Iron

PARWIN PRO 32mm LED Light Curling Iron

Control the heat completely with any temperature you’d like between 250-450 degrees F.

Key Features:

  • 6 sizes available
  • 30-second heat up
  • 360 degree rotating cord

Cost: $25

xtava Twist Hair Curling Wand

xtava Twist Hair Curling Wand

Create the perfect beach wave or the look of a vintage darling with this tapered curling wand.

Key Features:

  • Control heat from 200-410 degrees F
  • Tapered wand from 1″ – 1.5″
  • Bonus heat glove

Cost: $25

Spiral Curling Iron

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

With this curling iron, you can control your temperature with 50 heat settings.

Key Features:

  • Heat up to 450 degrees F
  • 8 ft tangle free cord
  • Titanium/ceramic barrel

Cost: $50

Bluetop Professional Hair Curler Iron

Bluetop Professional Hair Curler Iron

The safety cool tip of this iron spins as you turn it and allows you to rotate the iron without needing to twist your hand all over, too.

Key Features:

  • Nearly 9ft power cord
  • 440 degree F max temperature
  • 0.4″ barrel

Cost: $25

Conair Instant Heat Spiral Curling Iron

Conair Instant Heat Spiral Curling Iron

This iron’s spiral edging along the barrel will keep your hair separated, creating more defined curls.

Key Features:

  • Dual voltage
  • 6 ft swivel power cord
  • 350 degrees F max temperature

Cost: $15

Lee Stafford CoCo LoCo Bubble Curling Wand

Lee Stafford CoCo LoCo Bubble Curling Wand

The bubbles on this wand will guide hair into the creases and the curls will be tighter if they’re wrapped around the smaller divots.

Key Features:

  • Coconut oil infused ceramic barrel
  • 400 degrees F max temperature
  • 60-day money back guarantee

Cost: $25

NuMe Classic Curling Wand

NuMe Classic Curling Wand

The bubble wand is like curling iron training wheels, allowing you to get perfectly bouncing curls without extra skill or experience.

Key Features:

  • 100% tourmaline ceramic barrel
  • Dual voltage 110-240V
  • Heats to 410°F in seconds

Cost: $90

Revlon Salon High Heat Hair Curling Iron Ball Wand

Revlon Salon High Heat Hair Curling Iron Ball Wand

This curling wand features a “kick stand” to prevent rolling or burning the counter.

Key Features:

  • Cool tip for fingers
  • Bonus heat glove
  • Tourmaline ceramic coated barrel

Cost: $30

1″ Barrel Curling Irons

Jose Eber Curling Iron

Jose Eber Curling Iron

Using this curling wand couldn’t get any simpler; it’s one on/off button and no moving parts.

Key Features:

  • Swivel cord to prevent tangles
  • Ceramic coated barrel
  • Bonus heat resistant glove included

Cost: $40

Kiss products Ceramic Instawave Automatic Curling Iron

Kiss products Ceramic Instawave Automatic Curling Iron

Your hands are safe with this automatic curling iron; they’ll never be near the heated barrel.

Key Features:

  • 2 heat settings
  • Ceramic coated barrel
  • 2-year warranty

Cost: $50

Ouiast Curling Iron with Ceramic Tourmaline Coating Barrel

Ouiast Curling Iron with Ceramic Tourmaline Coating Barrel

This is a lot like the “classic” curling irons of your past and if you need something in your comfort zone, crease in hair and all, this is a great option.

Key Features:

  • 19 heat settings
  • 30-second heat up time
  • Ceramic coated barrel

Cost: $30

Red by Kiss Ceramic Tourmaline Curling Wand

Red by Kiss Ceramic Tourmaline Curling Wand

The Red by Kiss Ceramic Tourmaline Curling Wand uses tourmaline ceramic technology, giving off negative ions to combat frizz for smooth, healthier-looking hair.

Key Features:

  • 360 degree swivel cord
  • Heat resistant glove and carrying case
  • 410 degrees F max temperature

Cost: $20

VAV Automatic Curling Iron Ceramic Professional Auto Hair Curler

VAV Automatic Curling Iron Ceramic Professional Auto Hair Curler

With it’s ceramic ionic technology, this automatic curling iron will give you an elegant and smooth look that is almost effortless.

Key Features:

  • Cool tip for fingers
  • 360-degree swivel cord
  • Rotates left or right

Cost: $35

Interchangeable Sets

MQB 5 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

MQB 5 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

This curling wand has tapered wands that will give you a great curl in any size.

Key Features:

  • Barrel sizes: .35-0.71 inch, 0.71-1 inch, 1-1 inch, 1-1.25 inch, 1.25-1.25 inch
  • 2 Temperature settings 300 and 410 degrees F
  • 8 ft power cord

Cost: $30

NEXGADGET 6 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

NEXGADGET 6 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

This set is all you’ll need for your hairstyle, including a lot of little extras!

Key Features:

  • Bonus heat resistant glove
  • 2 heat settings
  • Swivel power cord

Cost: $40

Ohuhu 5 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

Ohuhu 5 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

Switch the barrel of this curling wand with a simple push of a button and pull of the wand.

Key Features:

  • LED power indicator
  • 2 heat settings
  • Bonus heat resistant glove

Cost: $30

PARWIN PRO 7 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

PARWIN PRO 7 in 1 Curling Iron Wand Set

You won’t need to worry about the safety of this curling wand; it will auto shut-off, keeping your home safe even if you’re especially forgetful.

Key Features:

  • LCD digital display
  • 175-410 degree F temperature range
  • Tourmaline ceramic barrel

Cost: $60

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