Cosmopolitan July 20, 2023



15 Best Curling Irons and Wands, Tested and Reviewed for 2023


I've had the Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand since high school... and it's still my fave.

One thing about me: I am obsessed with hot tools. The heat-styling fixation began in middle school, and since then, my natural hair has never seen the light of day. Under my bed (lol, New York), you can find hair straighteners, hot rollers, crimpers, Dyson Airwrap attachments—and plenty of Airwrap dupes—, as well as various sizes of curling irons and wands. Basically, I know my hot tools. The funny thing is, I actually have naturally curly hair, but my god-given curls simply don't compare to the beach waves, ringlets, soft “Hollywood glamour”-style curls, and model-off duty piecey crimps that can be achieved with a good curling iron.

Tech has been tech-ing the past few years, as I’ve seen an influx of cool new options, like hot-air tools, multiple barrel systems, and automatic rotating features that help me get any type of curls or waves you want. Of course, I tested ‘em all for you and compiled my favorites. But to help you figure out which hot tool best suits your needs, I enlisted the help of four hairstylists (Tamika Gibson, Priscilla Valles, Joseph Maine, and Amy Abramite) for all the details on choosing the best curling iron for you: What to look for in a curling iron, what works best for your hair, and even what size barrel creates the hairstyle you want.

Before we get there, though, here are the 15 best curling irons and wands we tested on all different lengths and textures:

FYI: We updated this article in July 2023 to give you the most up-to-date info on curling irons, including two tried-and-tested tools going viral on TikTok, a hairstylist’s take on ceramic versus tourmaline, and how to choose the best curling iron for yourself.

Keep reading for all of our top picks for the best curling irons of 2023, from clampless curling wands to detachable barrels to classic marcel irons. Then, get into all the details to help you make the right decision, from how to choose between titanium and ceramic and what curling iron professionals use.

Best Curling Iron Overall

Conair Double Ceramic 1-inch Curling Wand


  • Has 30 (!) different heat settings
  • Love the dual-voltage power for international travel


  • Very easy to burn your hands, according to reviews

There are certain relics of the past that you refuse to part ways with, no matter how far you get in life. For me, regardless of how many expensive tools graze my desk, I can't let go of the Conair curling wand I purchased in college. It’s inexpensive, for starters, but it is also so easy to use, especially since I don’t have to deal with any clamps. I just section my hair, put on the included gloves, then wrap one-inch pieces around the tool for 10 seconds, and leave them in my palm for another 10 seconds to cool and set. It takes me about 30 minutes to do my entire head of fine-yet-dense hair, and violá—bouncy, voluminous curls.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 400 degrees
  • Barrel size: Available in 1” and 1.25-1.75”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “At first I wasn't sure if the 1 in. iron was going to give me the curls I was looking for, but boy was I wrong,” one tester writes. “I love the curls I get when using this wand! Obsessed! I have never been one to curl my hair, but I decided to finally give it a try. Very easy to use for beginners.”

Best Curling Iron for Beach Waves

Beachwaver Co. Dual-Voltage Rotating Curling Iron


  • Makes curling my hair so easy, thanks to rotating iron


  • Can get too hot if you’re not careful, IMO

My favorite thing about this rotating curling iron is that it does all of the work for me. It did take a few uses to fully grasp the technique (you have to hold down the arrow button to start the rotation, then release it to stop), but now that I’ve mastered it, it’s one of my go-to tools for creating large, bouncy curls and beach waves. Also, it comes with a 30-minute auto shut-off feature, a lifesaver for someone like me whose biggest fear is burning the apartment down.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat from 290-410 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1.25”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “Beach waver has changed my hair, I swear,” one reviewer writes. “I was told my hair could never and would never hold a curl and it did after I used this! I have REALLY thick hair, and it only took me 20 or so minutes to do my whole head. Would 1000% recommend.”

Best Curling Iron for Damaged Hair

Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler


  • Uses warm air, not a hot iron, to curl, which can be less damaging
  • Set comes with six attachments to curl, blow-out, and straighten


  • Most expensive tool on this list (but loved by all of Team 'Cosmo')

No, this isn’t your traditional curling iron. But the coveted, $$$ Dyson Airwrap is the GOAT for getting big waves and curls with as minimal damage as possible. Because instead of using ultra-high heat, it blows out warm air that sucks and wraps your hair around it for you, sans clamp, to give your hair a super bouncy wave. Think: Less work and no arm strain. There's also a round-brush attachment available if you want to achieve a more ringlet-style look or like to add some extra volume at your roots. But, IMO, the best part? It doesn't burn your hair to a crisp, which definitely makes your hair less susceptible to damage and breakage over time, especially if you heat style daily.

  • Temperature settings: Three heat settings and a cool shot setting
  • Barrel size: 1.2-inch and 1.6-inch barrels (included)
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “I bought this and have used several times. I like mixing up curl sizes. I use the cold burst and my hair keeps the curl longer. I’m excited that with this set of tools, I can style my hair almost as good as the professionals,” one tester writes.

Most Versatile Curling Iron

T3 Switch Kit Curl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron



  • Comes with three detachable barrels (0.5 in., 1.25 in., and 1.5 in.)
  • My curls last v long with this iron compared to others I tested


  • A few reviewers wished all included barrels were wand style

If you want a curling iron that will get you through a “bus, club, another club, another club, plane, next place” kind of night, look no further than this ceramic curling iron set. No, seriously, it's gotten me through at least six bachelorette parties because it comes with three different barrels (0.5 in., 1.25 in., and 1.5 in.) depending on the ~vibe~ I’m going for that day/night. It has five heat settings and comes with a detachable barrel that you can switch out with two other sizes, whether you want tighter ringlets or loose, tousled waves. Don’t just take my word for it: Both Gibson and celebrity extensionist Priscilla Valles swear by T3 curling irons for how well the curls last. “The next day when I wake up, my hair looks exactly the same,” Valles says.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat from 260-410 degrees
  • Barrel size: .05” wand, 1.25” wand, 1.5” clip
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “The absolute best curling wand I’ve ever used. I’ve never seen my curls last this long and they don’t lose shape,” one tester writes.

Best Curling Iron for Long Hair

Bio Ionic Long Barrel Styler Pro Curling Iron 1"



  • Extra-long barrel helps me quickly curl long hair
  • Can lock temperature setting (which testers and I loved)


  • Cord broke for a few testers after a year or two

I love curls but despise how long it takes to curl every piece of my long hair. Enter: This Bio Ionic iron, which has an extra-long length (it’s two inches longer than nearly every other iron on this list, fyi) to help me wrap the entirety of each strand around the iron, giving me back so much time during curling. And to make things even quicker, I can choose my go-to temperature (I go for 375 degrees for my thick hair, but def go for under 330 if you have fine or damaged hair) and lock it into place, so every time I turn the iron on, it automatically heats up to my preferred setting.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 430 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1” and 1.25”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “​​If you have long hair, this is the best curling iron I’ve ever used,” writes one reviewer. “My curls last literally three days, and they actually stay—usually, my hair is stick straight, and I couldn’t find anything to keep my curls in. Definitely a great purchase.”

Best Curling Iron for Natural-Looking Waves

Mermade Hair 1.25" Original Pro Waver



  • I love the piece-y, natural look this gives my hair
  • V easy to use, per my testing


  • Some reviewers said their hair was prone to getting caught in the clamp

All it took was one targeted TikTok and a screening of The Little Mermaid for me to add this waver hair tool to my shopping cart. Because the waves look so natural and mermaid-y (legit, the O.G. “I just woke up like this”). I'm obsessed with how easy it is to use—I just open the 32mm clamp, insert a 1 to 2 in. strand inside, then hold for five to ten seconds and release. Then, I finish off my look with a texturizing spray or a strong-hold hairspray to keep it rough and matte. FYI: I do usually straighten or blow out my curly hair beforehand to get my hair sleek, then grab random pieces throughout my hair to add the waves to give my hair an imperfect, beachy vibe.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat from 180-410 degrees fahrenheit
  • Barrel size: Available in 1” or 1.25”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “I have naturally straight hair that I've been curling and waving for several years,” writes one reviewer. “I've been wanting a more lived-in, natural, and carefree look for a long time now and I am so happy that I came across this tool.”

Best Rotating Curling Iron

Kim Kimble Tourmaline Ceramic Multi-Barrel Auto-Rotating Curling Iron



  • Wand rotates to help you avoid crimps and creases
  • Testers with short hair found it easier to use than other rotating irons


  • Barrels are too short for some reviewers with long, thick hair

Let's be honest, we've all clamped down on a section and wound it up the wrong way, all to be left with major creases and bends (and not the cool kind). This rotating ceramic curling iron from celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble's line of styling products does all the twirling for you, so you don't make those mistakes again. Even better, it has a detachable barrel, so you can switch between the ¾ in. barrel and the 1 in. barrel for different-sized curls.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 410 degrees
  • Barrel size: 75”and 1”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “I love this curling iron wand! It looks beautiful and it works perfectly in creating beautiful, bouncy curls. The rotation makes it easier and quick to create curls, less hassle than the clipless curling iron that I was using. It heats up fast and is very easy to use,” one tester writes.

Best Curling Iron for Long, Thick Hair

BaBylissPro Nano Titanium 1'' XL Spring Curling Iron


  • Extra-long barrel helps testers curl waist-length hair
  • Uses titanium coating to heat up to 400+ degrees v fast


  • Some reviewers wish there were thicker barrel options

If your hair is thick, coarse, and long, I'm gonna guess that you're used to your curls falling flat (if your hair even takes a curl at all). What you need is a titanium curling iron that reaches super-hot temps (but is still adjustable) and has an extra-long barrel with plenty of space to wrap the entire section from the end to the root. FYI, Gibson and Abramite are both big fans of this one for thick, long hair for those exact reasons.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 430 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1”
  • Material: Titanium

THE REVIEWS: “I have long hair and this was perfect to use. I have a BaBylissPro straightener so I felt comfortable using this brand as my straightener is still going strong after like 6+ years,” one reviewer writes.

Best Curling Iron Set

Trademark Beauty Mood Interchangeable Curling Iron



  • Three-piece set is easy to pack and bring on vacation
  • I *love* that the temperature switch doesn’t get easily changed while using


  • Barrels were a little long for short-haired testers

Instead of purchasing a bajillion different tools to create all your lewks (or filling your suitcase), just grab this interchangeable ceramic-coated curling iron set. It includes a spring-clamp barrel, a clampless wand barrel, and a triple barrel for perfect S-shaped beach waves, and was actually created by hairstylist Joseph Maine. One small detail that might sound like NBD but makes the biggest difference, IMO: The temperature dial is on the far end of the handle, rather than right underneath the clamp (the usual spot for it), so it’s out of the way and won’t accidentally get bumped and change your settings. It's the little things, y'all.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 450 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1” clamp iron, 1” wand, three-barrel waver
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “This is a fabulous invention to include multiple barrels to avoid extra cords and devices,” writes one tester. “I love the pink and the feel of it. You have a storage bag which is perfect to keep them together. The beach waves look amazing!”

Best Clamp Curling Iron

Kristin Ess Hair Nanoblack 1.25'' Curling Iron



  • Glides through my hair without catching in the clamp, in my experience
  • I like the affordable price for how sleek and high-quality the iron feels


  • Easy to accidentally hit the off button while using

If you love the look of big, brushed-out, glam waves (á la celeb hairstylist Kristin Ess’s specialty), get yourself this classic curling iron with a springy clamp. According to hairstylist Joseph Maine, a clamp is a good idea for anyone whose style falls out easily since it creates more of a “perfect” ringlet-style curl, rather than a bendy wave. I particularly loved this iron because it heats up in about 30 seconds to 425 degrees, plus makes my hair look super shiny and soft, especially if I smooth a shine serum through my ends.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable heat up to 425 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1.25”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “The curling iron heated to the desired heat very quickly, and it's easy to change from one heating setting to the next with ease by just pressing a button,” one reviewer writes.

Best Tapered Curling Iron

Drybar The Wrap Party Styling Wand


  • Tapered style tightly curls close to my roots to help boost some volume
  • I love how easy the handle is to hold


  • Broke after two years for a couple of testers (sad)

I know what you’re thinking—the barrel on this curling wand gets bigger towards the end of the wand, instead of the opposite way around—but trust me, it actually works in your favor. The reverse-taper here actually prevents your hair from slipping on the iron, so that you don’t waste time re-curling (or accidentally burning) your hair. I love the ergonomic handle too for its easy adjustment style and the pressure that’s taken off your wrist.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable temperature from 200-450 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “​​I love this. I have very fine hair and struggle to curl my hair any other way. The curl with this somehow stays without hairspray,” one tester writes.

Easiest Curling Iron to Use

Ghd Classic Curl 1" Curling Iron


  • Heats up to 365 degrees in 2 seconds (per my testing and reviews)


  • Singular 365-degree setting might be too hot for very-fine or damaged hair

Can we quickly chat about the decision fatigue that comes with deciding the temperature of your curling iron? Like, I’m exhausted, just do the work for me, pls. Which is where this ceramic-coated curling iron comes in: It exclusively heats up to 365 degrees, basically the perfect middle-ground temperature for a long-lasting curl without fully frying my medium-to-thick hair. But it also somehow heats up to that temperature in a whopping two seconds, meaning I don’t have to wait around for my iron to be able to do my thing.

  • Temperature settings: 365 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “This is a great curling iron. I have hair that is thick and naturally wavy and I love the curls it creates. I never like an overly curled look so the waves I get are perfect for me,” one tester writes.

Best Curling Wand

Hot Tools Professional Nano Ceramic 1-1/4" Flipperless Tapered Curling Wand


  • Tapered-wand style give a tighter curl at the ends that helps keep my curls from falling
  • Comes with a heat-resistant glove to help protect your hands while using


  • Doesn't have an automatic shut-off feature

If you have a love-hate relationship with your curling iron's spring clamp (all those creases and ripped-out strands), try this clamp-free wand instead. “A wand is very easy to use as you are only wrapping your hair around the barrel,” Maine explains. Some wands have a diameter that's consistent from end to end, and others have more of a conical or tapered shape, like the ceramic one shown here that has 4,000+ five-star reviews on Amazon. As Abramite explains it, these tapered wands are designed to give a looser curl toward the root and a tighter one toward the end, or vice versa, depending on the shape of the tool.

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable temperature from 280-430 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1”-1.4”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “The wand heats fast and makes curls that will last all day! I can now wrap large portions of hair on top of not having to overlap the curl. This wand is fabulous and would buy again,” one reviewer writes.

Best Marcel Curling Iron

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


  • Can be used as a clamp iron, wand, or marcel iron


  • Testers with long hair wished the barrels were longer

Not sure what type of curling iron you want? This multipurpose ceramic styling tool from celeb hairstylist Harry Josh's line can easily transform from classic curling iron with a spring clamp, to clampless curling wand, to professional marcel iron, thanks to the removable attachments that come with it. “Some find winding their hair around a curling wand more intuitive than working with a classic spring clamp or professional marcel tongs, which require more hand agility,” Abramite explains. “It’s a personal choice, and I find people click with one type and excel with their results with practice.”

  • Temperature settings: Adjustable temperature from 190-380 degrees
  • Barrel size: 1.25”
  • Material: Ceramic

THE REVIEWS: “The wand heats fast and makes curls that will last all day! I can now wrap large portions of hair on top of not having to overlap the curl. This wand is fabulous and would buy again,” one reviewer writes.

What is the difference between a curling iron and curling wand?

The difference between a curling iron and a curling wand lies in the presence of a clamp. Curling irons come with clamps that are used to pin the hair in place or even straighten parts of the hair. However, if not used properly, these clamps can potentially leave a crease in your hair. Which is why many prefer curling wands, which are clamp-free and require you to use your hands to hold your hair in place on the iron.

Curling wands tend to be easier for many people, but because they don’t have a clamp, they also increase the risk of burning your hand if you're not careful.Thankfully, many curling wands come with a heat-resistant glove, which may look a bit dorky but can save you from panic-googling whether or not you have a third-degree burn.

Is titanium or ceramic better for curling hair?

Titanium nor ceramic is “better” for curling hair; the best tool material depends on your hair type and styling needs. Ceramic irons are best for fine, fragile, or dry hair because they heat up to lower temperatures more evenly and slowly, which can help prevent some damage, says hairstylist Amy Abramite. Titanium irons, on the other hand, will work best on coarse textures that require hotter temperatures to smooth or style your hair.

If you're looking for an at-home option that'll offer the least amount of heat damage, go with ceramic. “I prefer ceramic barrels, as they aren't as harsh on the hair and typically glide very nicely, so the hair doesn’t stick,” says hairstylist Joseph Maine.

What curling iron do professionals use?

There is no one type of curling iron professionals use—they have and use all shapes and sizes to create different looks. But they also tend to pick their faves. Maine says marcel irons (which requires some serious hand coordination not unlike using chopsticks—here’s a visual) are typically more for professional use because they're difficult for someone to use on themselves, but it all comes down to preference.

How to choose the best curling iron for you:

Consider the temperature

“You definitely should find a curling iron that has temperature control, so you can adjust it for your texture,” Maine says. “For fine hair or heavily color-treated, you want to keep the iron closer to 325 degrees,” he explains (and fwiw, Cosmo’s beauty editor Beth Gillette is obsessed with the Kristin Ess Hair Nanoblack 1.25'' Curling Iron for her baby-fine hair). “But for coarser and more-resistant hair types, around 400 degrees is appropriate,” Maine says. Which is why testers with thick hair loved the ease of not having to adjust the temperature on the Ghd Classic Curl Curling Iron, since it exclusively heats up to 365 degrees.

For the most accurate temperature reading, find a curling iron or wand with a digital screen (see: Kim Kimble Tourmaline Ceramic Multi-Barrel Auto-Rotating Curling Iron and the Trademark Mood Starter Kit). Otherwise, a dial or toggle button works, too—it's just less precise. Just make sure you have the option to adjust the temperature as needed. Hairstylist Amy Abramite says you always want to take into consideration the overall condition of your hair and adjust the heat for the safest, healthiest results. Start low and raise the temp in small increments until you've found the sweet-spot that styles without scorching.

Figure out the easiest tool for your skills

Next, you want to decide if you want a classic curling iron with a spring clamp, a marcel iron, or a curling wand. Not only does the type of curling iron change the way you hold and maneuver it, but it also affects the end results of your curls. “I love a curling wand for a beachy, messy look, and the iron for a perfect curl shape and hold.” says Tamika Gibson, hairstylist and wig expert. “A wand is great for looser curls but doesn't give the same hold or structure as an iron." Of all the curling irons and wands I’ve tested, my favorite is the Conair Double Ceramic 1-inch Curling Wand for how long my curls last and how simple it is to use.

Meanwhile, "an iron allows for a sturdier, tighter curl, which is why looser curls and waves are a bit harder to achieve with it,” says Gibson. Which is why reviewers overall loved the Beachwaver Curling Iron for giving them long-lasting, beachy waves. And if you're deciding between a spring iron vs. a marcel (like the Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron) they give pretty similar results, says Maine, but the main difference is how you hold and clamp the curl. If you're a beginner, go for a spring clamp or wand.

Look at the barrel size

One of the most important features of a curling iron is the barrel size because the diameter of the iron determines the size of the curl. “Creating a tight corkscrew curl needs a smaller diameter than a loose beach wave, which needs a bigger diameter,” Abramite explains. “On average, barrel sizes range from 0.5 inches to 2 in. with increments in between. This greatly affects the springiness or how relaxed a curl is.” If you want beachy waves, go for a 1 to 2 in. iron; if you want big, voluminous curls, try a 1.75 to 2 in. iron; and if you want springy, Taylor-Swift debut-era ringlets, look for a 0.5 to 0.75 in. iron.

Meet the experts:

Tamika Gibson is a licensed cosmetologist, wig expert, and the founder of Bold Hold hair products.
Priscilla Valles is a celebrity extensionist and hairstylist who works with celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Kylie Jenner.
Joseph Maine is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Trademark Beauty, a beauty brand that specializes in styling tools, hair products, accessories, and skincare.
Amy Abramite is a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL where she is also creative director. She specializes in haircuts, styling, and chemical treatments.