Business Insider April 27, 2022

Business Insider


The 13 best curling irons for every hair length and texture, according to professional stylists


Similar to straighteners and blow dryers, curling irons are not all created equally. This can make finding the best option for your hair type and desired look tricky if not tedious. To save you from trial and error, stylist Shelly Aguirre of Maxine Salon in Chicago tells Insider there are three features to consider when shopping for hot tools: adjustable heat settings, the size of the barrel, and whether or not the iron is ionic and ceramic. 

The next step is to cross-check what the tool offers and if it meets your specific needs. For example, if you have shorter hair, Aguirre recommends a shorter-sized iron "so the hair is able to go around the iron at least 1.5 times." And if you're a novice, Aguirre suggests using an iron with a clamp as opposed to a wand, as the latter requires more experience. 

Needless to say, before you commit to a curling iron, it's best to do your research. However, because there are so many options cluttering the market, it's helpful to have expert insight, so we asked a few professional stylists to list their best recs below.

The best curling irons in 2022, according to hairstylists:


The best curling iron overall

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron with blue handle

  • Barrel size: 1 inch, 1.25 inches, and 1.5 inches
  • Maximum temperature setting: 450 degrees Fahrenheit

When asked about the best curling iron for all hair types, stylists flooded my inbox singing the praises of the Babyliss Pro. International makeup artist and hairstylist Fernanda Celidonio commented that the Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron's titanium and ceramic barrel is "super lightweight and it heats up pretty quickly — up to 450°F." Los Angeles-based stylist Fae Norris agreed, adding that the tool's heat dial is especially helpful when working with coarse, fragile, and colored hair, all of which require a cooler setting. "[The curling iron] is a bit more expensive up-front," Norris says, "but pays for itself over time."

The best curling iron for beginners

GHD 1" Classic Curl Curling Iron with black handle

  • Barrel size: 1 inch
  • Maximum temperature setting: 365 degrees Fahrenheit

For bouncy, buoyant curls, Jana Rago of Jana Rago Studios recommends beginners use the GHD 1" Classic Curl Curling Iron. Its special features include a ceramic barrel that, according to Rago, "creates a smooth curl without dents," as well as GHD's Ultra-zoneTM technology that monitors heat distribution to ensure equal distribution across the barrel. "The temperature does not exceed 365 degrees which helps prevent damage to the hair shaft and color-treated hair," Rago tells Insider. "I also love that it automatically shuts off after 30 minutes of non-use."

The best curling iron when you're in a time crunch

Image of triple-barreled Trademark Beauty Babe Waves with blue packaging

  • Barrel size: 1.1 inches
  • Maximum temperature setting: 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Short on time? Trademark Beauty's Babe Waves curling iron cuts down the minutes you'd normally spend in front of the bathroom mirror thanks to its triple-barrel design. Aguirre raves the quick-heating curling iron creates the perfect wavy texture without too much effort on the user's end, and because it features a digital dial and LCD display that lets you adjust and monitor the temperature settings, it makes for an excellent beginner tool.

The best curling iron for long hair

Bio Ionic Long Barrel Curling Iron Nanoionic MX

  • Barrel size: 1.25 inches
  • Maximum temperature setting: 430 degrees Fahrenheit

Because Bio Ionic's curling iron is 2 inches longer than the average styling tool in its category, stylist and owner of Jade Beauty Co. Morgan Thomas says it's an especially remarkable tool for curling long hair but is suitable for all hair lengths and types. "With a variety of temperature settings, it makes it easy to get perfect, long-lasting curls for any hair texture," Thomas tells Insider. Plus, she notes "it has outlived all of my other irons by a long shot."

The best curling iron to splurge on

Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler with accessories

  • Barrel size: 1.2 inches and 1.6 inches
  • Maximum temperature setting: 302 degrees Fahrenheit

If you're looking to invest in a curling iron built to last for years to come, look no further than the Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler. The set includes a pre-styling dryer, a 1.2-inch barrel, a 1.6-inch barrel, three brushes (one for smoothing, a second for firming, and a third for volumizing), plus a storage case, so you really do get what you pay for. And beyond styling, the Dyson Airwrap can dry and style hair simultaneously "by combining moisture in your hair with powerful airflow and controlled — not extreme — heat," Aguirre explains.

The best curling iron for personalized styling

T3 Curl ID in white and rose golda

  • Barrel size: 1.25 inches 
  • Maximum temperature setting: 410 degrees Fahrenheit

T3 curling irons are best known for their salon quality, but the T3 Curl ID is the first curling iron of its kind, says Nine Zero One stylist Sierra Kener. Through advanced HeatID technology, the tool intelligently adjusts to one of nine heat settings based on your hair profile. In other words, it "reads" your hair and customizes its settings based on details like your hair texture, color, and chemical treatments. The result? Less frizz and a sleeker and smoother finish.

The best curling iron under $25

Remington Pro Pearl Ceramic Conical Wand in black and pink

  • Barrel size: .5 inch to 1 inch
  • Maximum temperature setting: 410 degrees Fahrenheit 

Don't let its low price tag fool you: According to celebrity hairstylist and Pinterest creator Ursula Stephen, the Remington Pro Pearl Ceramic Conical Wand can help you achieve professional looks at a fraction of the cost. "This unassuming curling wand works well on all hair types helping to recreate that beach wavy texture we all love and gives natural textures frizz-free curls," Stephen tells Insider. "It heats up quickly and the ceramic material is very gentle on the hair and is very easy to use."

The best curling iron under $50

HOT TOOLS Professional 24K Gold Marcel Iron on white background

  • Barrel size: 1 inch
  • Maximum temperature setting: 430 degrees Fahrenheit 

According to Julien Farel of the namesake salon in New York, the Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold Marcel Iron is an exceptional tool for beginners and professional stylists alike. With its even heat distribution, adjustable rheostat control dial, and touch guard protector that keeps the neck and face safe from burns, the tool can help you achieve virtually any look, from old Hollywood glam to beach waves. However, Kener adds that while affordable, you do get what you pay for. "They don't last very long so I suggest them for clients at home that don't use heat on their hair very often," she tells Insider.

The best all-in-one curling iron

Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron in teal green

  • Barrel size: 1 inch
  • Maximum temperature setting: 380 degrees Fahrenheit

Harry Josh Pro Tools are considered elite, and that includes the brand's three-in-one ceramic curling iron. "It has an incredible amount of versatility," NYC-based hairstylist Devin Toth with Salon SCK tells Insider. "You can use it as a marcel iron like professional hairdressers sometimes do. You can use it as a wand and wrap hair around it for loose, undone waves. Or you can just use it as a typical spring iron." Plus, if you're not a pro, your purchase comes with a heat-resistant glove so you can stay protected from potential burns.

The best curling wand

Sam Villa Artist Series 2-in-1 Marcel Iron and Wand on white background

  • Barrel size: 1 inch and 1.5 inches
  • Maximum temperature setting: 380 degrees Fahrenheit

Field education leader at Hair Cuttery Salons Gregory White tells Insider the Sam Villa Marcel Iron and Wand is "as close to a magic wand as it gets." The tool comes in either 1 or 1.5-inch barrel sizes and can be used as either a traditional curling iron or wand. It's the "Swiss Army knife of curling irons," White says. "The wand feature is particularly great for curling longer hair, and has a rotating handle so that you can spin your hair around the barrel with less strain on your wrist."

The best automatic curling iron

BabBylissPRO Miracurl 3 Curl Machine

  • Barrel size: N/A
  • Maximum Temperature Setting: 450 degrees Fahrenheit 

First impressions aren't everything. While we're completely aware that the BaBylissPRO Miracurl 3 Curl Machine might look intimidating, professional hairstylist and co-founder of Laura Roncagli swears by the automatic styler because whether you're a beginner or a professional haistylist, this device does the work for you. "You don't need any expertise at all, or focus on doing a precise job or respecting the sitting times," Roncagli tells Insider. "Miracurl 3 Pro literally sucks your locks in and releases some uniform and perfectly done curls." All you have to do is choose your desired curl tightness, temperature, sitting time, and curl direction. In other words: It's smart styling at its finest.

The best curling iron brush

ghd Rise Volumizing Hot Brush

  • Barrel size: 1.25 inches
  • Maximum Temperature Setting: 365 degrees Fahrenheit

Another styling tool Roncagli gravitates toward is the GHD Rise Volumizing Hot Brush. While not a traditional curling iron, the hairstylist assured Insider the GHD's brush creates natural, airy-looking waves with a ton of volume, with just a push of one button. "There are two main styling methods you can use: One is to wrap the whole lock around the brush, let it sit, and then release the lock by un-rolling. Like this, you will obtain some well-defined waves," says Roncagli. "If instead, you wrap the lock with just one turn, and you slowly make the brush slide down, you get a voluminous and structured hairstyle, as you would achieve with brush and hairdryer."

The best interchangeable curling iron

NuMe Octowand 8-in-1 Curling Wand Set

  • Barrel size: 13mm, 19mm, 25mm, 32mm
  • Maximum Temperature Setting: 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Master stylist Devon Rahal of Dev Does Hair in Brooklyn, New York tells Insider the NuMe Octowand offers the best bang for your buck, and based on personal experience, I can agree. The set includes 13mm, 19mm, 25mm, and 32mm interchangeable barrels, a pearl barrel, reverse barrel, 25mm cone, and 19mm cone barrel, plus the styler's base, as well as a heat-resistant glove for protection and a travel case. For under $200, you essentially receive eight different curling irons. If that isn't a steal, we don't know what is. 

Curling iron vs. curling wand

According to Devin Toth, hairstylist at Salon SCK in New York City, there's really only one main difference between a curling iron and a curling wand, and that's the clamp. 

"Usually when people are talking about curling wands, they're referring to a curling iron that doesn't have a clamp, aka shell," Toth tells Insider. "Wands are used for wrapping hair around the iron instead of twisting the iron itself. You can always wrap hair around the shell and rod of a regular curling iron and just use it as a wand."

Frequently asked questions

How do I choose a curling iron?

For a tool with maximum versatility, Tom Smith, celebrity hairstylist and International Creative/Colour Director at evo, says smaller barrel sizes will give you more options. For a loose or undone texture, Smith says a barrel that measures 32mm or above is best. 

Is titanium more damaging than ceramic?

Smith tells Insider that as long as you're using the tool sensibly, it doesn't really matter if it's made of titanium or ceramic. His advice? Use your curling iron in moderation "and always with high-quality heat protectors."

What size curling iron should I use?

Raven Hurtado, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, tells Insider that for tight curls "you want to use a smaller barrel curling iron. For looser curls, you'll want a bigger barrel, between 1 ½ inch to a 2-inch barrel."