Glamour August 28, 2023



The Best Curling Irons for Creating Every Kind of Wave, According to Hair Stylists


We tested dozens of options to narrow it down.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the best curling iron. With these hair tools, the size (and shape) make a world of difference in achieving the type of curl you’re looking for—and so do factors like your hair type, hair length, the products you use, how hot the barrels get, and even how you hold the tool. To make your journey easier, we asked hair experts for tips on how to get the perfect curl (or wave, depending on your preference) and curated a list of the best tools on the market, according to our editors who put them to the test and stylists who use them every day.

What to look for in a curling iron


Titanium vs. ceramic: The most common curling irons have ceramic barrels; those tend to spread heat evenly to ensure smooth, shiny results and are a great pick for people with finer hair. “I recommend selecting an iron with ceramic barrels and customizable heat settings,” celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine tells Glamour. Those tend to be less damaging on hair, while the adjustable temperature allows you to tailor the heat to your hair type’s needs for lasting results.

Professional stylists like titanium irons for thicker hair, since the material is more durable and able to style curls at higher temps for longer. Tourmaline ceramic is another material that’s a solid pick for people with frizzy or damaged hair; it emits negative ions that react with the positive ones in your hair to minimize dullness and frizz.


Thin or fine hair requires less heat than thick hair, Maine explains. The ideal temperature for thin hair will be no more than 300°F, while thicker or coarser hair textures can handle high heat, from 350°F to 450°F.

First, consider length. “For those with long hair, find a long barrel length,” Maine recommends. Barrel width also makes a difference, says Maxine Salon stylist Raven Hurtado; slimmer attachments (0.5- to 0.75-inch) mean tighter curls, while thicker ones (1.5- to 2-inch) lead to looser curls or waves. Finally, if you like wearing your curls in various sizes and hairstyles (think bouncy ringlets, tight curls, beachy waves), consider a styling tool with interchangeable barrels that consolidates multiple hair tools into one.


Your hair should be dry before curling, Maine says. He also suggests using a heat protectant both while the hair is wet and once it’s dry. Techniques and barrel sizes differ depending on the look you’re after—again, smaller barrels mean tighter curls. “To style while using any size curling iron, place the hair in the middle of the clamp and curl away from your face to achieve a standard formal curl,” says Hurtado.

Ready to curl? We asked the experts, pored through reviews, and tried tons of options for ourselves. The result: the definitive roundup of the best curling irons, wands, and tools for every hair type and style. (You’ll even spot a few Glamour Beauty Award winners in the mix.)

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Best Overall: Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler Complete Long

Like the Supersonic—Dyson’s bestselling hair dryer—the Airwrap is expensive. But if you’re looking to invest in a tool that’s truly luxe and lives up to the hype, it’s your best bet. The Airwrap dries and styles simultaneously without burning your hair to a crisp, and its six included attachments allow you to achieve pretty much any hairstyle.

Pros: Six attachments, dries and styles at the same time, two-year warranty
Cons: Expensive
Heat settings: Three
Barrel Size: 1.2 inches
Review: “Not to be dramatic, but my life changed when I tried the first-generation Dyson Airwrap. At the time I had just gotten curtain bangs, and the interchangeable attachments made it so easy to switch according to my styling needs, delivering salon-level smoothness and blowouts in less than half the time. I wasn’t alone in my obsession—you’ve probably seen the viral TikTok videos and marveled at its eye-popping price tag. But the styler is completely worth it, and the latest model only drives the point home—it’s got a whopping 13 styling attachment options and game-changing features like an airflow switch, flyaway-smoothing attachment, and extended curling barrels for long hair. And so my Airwrap love affair is still going strong.” —Ariana Yaptangco, senior beauty editor

Save on the best curling irons with these Sephora promo codes and these Ultaa promo codes.


Best Value: Conair Double Ceramic 1-Inch Curling Iron

You don’t need to shell out more than $20 for a great curling iron. This classic doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive options, but it gets the job done—especially if you’re a newbie to styling your hair at home. Plus, basically every reviewer notes that this thing heats up quickly and won’t keep you in the bathroom for any longer than you need to be.

Pros: Affordable, multiple barrel sizes, 30 heat settings, heats quickly
Cons: Short cord
Heat settings: 30
Barrel Size: 1 inch
Review: “I’ve never quite mastered the art of curling my hair—especially since my chin-length waves are usually tucked into some sort of three-day-old bun or claw-clip type of situation. But I realized the beautiful, beachy waves I so desperately wanted (and constantly went to the salon for) could be done at a fraction of the price and time with this Conair ceramic curling iron. Perhaps when I get much better at this and my hair doesn’t look like it came out of a Shirley Temple machine, I’ll invest in a high-tech curling iron, but for right now I love how beginner-friendly the Conair one-inch barrel is. Plus, it’s on Amazon.” —Ana Escalante, contributor

Best for Beginners: The Beachwaver Co. S1 Dual Voltage

If our Beachwaver review is any indication, this rotating curling iron is just as good as social media claims it is. Its moving barrel makes it ideal for beginners, since you don’t need salon-level expertise to get started; just clamp in a section of hair and let it work its magic. Beachy waves have never been so effortless.

Pros: Easy to use, curls hair quickly
Cons: Might not be durable
Heat settings: 290-410°F
Barrel Size: 1.75 inches
Review: “The TikTok-viral Beachwaver is worthy of the hype: It’s really the only curling iron I can actually use. The barrel rotates, meaning that it’s as easy as 1-2-3: One, clamp a section of dry hair at the end; two, press the arrow button facing away from the face; and three, allow your hair to wrap as it revolves, and release the wrapped hair after about 10 seconds. Et voilà: Your hair is curled! Plus, its user-friendliness doesn’t mean it's any less effective. My Beachwaver-styled curls stay put for days.” —Danielle Sinay, associate beauty editor

Save on the best curling irons with these Ulta promo codes.

Best Interchangeable: T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

The Whirl Trio’s appeal is its extreme versatility. You’ll get three interchangeable barrels—a 1.5-inch, a 1-inch, and a tapered 0.75- to 1.25-inch—for nearly endless styling options. Yes, it’s an investment, but you’re basically getting three of the best curling wands in one.

Pros: Three separate barrels, two-year warranty, included mat
Cons: Pricey
Heat settings: 5
Barrel Size: 1.5, 1.25, 1, and 0.75 inches
Review: “My style is really laid-back, so I’ve struggled to find a wand that doesn’t curl hair in a way that looks too precious. Hi, finally found it. I love that this curling wand has interchangeable barrels. I can easily go back through and add some variance in size to my waves, which make them look more lived-in. The tapered end is also perfect for leaving your ends a bit straighter or less styled for that realistic, effortless flippy-wave look instead of uniform spirals.” —Erin Reimel, contributor

Best for Curly Hair: GHD Curl Thin Wand

This slim wand heats up to 365°F in just 30 seconds, offering quick, lasting results. It’s just half an inch thick, a perfect size for tight ringlets. While it’ll work well with any hair type, it’s especially great for defining and smoothing already curly hair—and it’s long enough for nearly any length.

Pros: Heats up quickly, great for tight curls, long swivel cord
Cons: Only one heat setting
Heat setting: 1
Barrel Size: 0.5 inches
Review: “This is a versatile iron. I have fine, kinky, curly hair, and I loved that the lower temperature setting reduces my risk for breakage. My curls were long-lasting, and I was able to comb out the tight curls for a gorgeous wavy look that lasted almost two days. Since I’m a busy physician, the rapid heat-up time was a game changer for my schedule.” —Michelle Henry, contributor

Save when you shop for the best curling irons with these Nordstrom promo codes.

Best for Thick Hair: Paul Mitchell Pro Tools Express Gold Curl Marcel Curling Iron

Thick hair is no match for this titanium curling iron, which goes up to 430°F to tame even the most unruly manes. The secret is its marcel attachment, which (unlike a spring clamp) gives you complete manual control; it’s the style many professional hairstylists use. It’ll take a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth the extra effort if nothing else has worked for you.

Pros: Multiple heat settings, ergonomic handle
Cons: Might not be durable
Heat settings: 6
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches
Review: “My hair is really thick and has a lot of volume, but because it’s also so straight, I have a hard time finding irons that’ll hold a curl—except for this. Thanks to the titanium barrel, which helps distribute heat evenly, it was the quickest, easiest experience I’ve had in doing my full head of hair. The iron has a second flexible handle, which made it easier to style one-handed. And no sizzling or excess steam came off my hair, even at 430°F, its highest heat setting. I was able to give myself the exact look that I would have gotten if I had paid a professional stylist: loose, natural-looking curls.” —Smriti Sinha, contributor

Best for Textured Hair: 5-in-1 Professional Curling Iron and Wand Set

One of the most affordable options available anywhere, this interchangeable set offers an entire arsenal of curling tools for less than $50. You won’t get a cool tip, but all the important features—including widths between 0.3 and 1.25 inches—are here.

Pros: Affordable, versatile design, included travel case
Cons: No cool tip
Heat settings: 5
Barrel Size: 0.5, 0.7, 0.75, 1, 1.25 inches
Review: “I’ve been using this set for years now, and I love how it comes with a range of barrel sizes that give different looks. To touch up face-framing curls that are being uncooperative, I use the smallest one to blend in with my natural texture (which is a 3B/3C curl type). But when I’m going for a ’70s-inspired moment, I’ll size up and brush it out a bit to channel Donna Summer.” —Erin Parker, contributor

Best for Tight Curls: Mint Tools Professional Series 3/8-Inch Curling Wand

Whether you prefer tighter curls, have long hair, or fall into both categories, Mint’s skinny curling wand is about to become your best friend. While there are multiple barrel widths available, this one is especially great at creating tiny, defined ringlets that still manage to look completely natural.

Pros: Great for long hair, included glove
Cons: Only one heat setting
Heat settings: 1
Barrel Size: 0.37 inches
Review: “The number of times I’ve seen stylists whip this iron out on set is well into the dozens. That’s because nothing helps define tight spirals and coils like it. The ceramic barrel heats up quickly, the wand comes with a styling glove to prevent burns, and because the wand is extra-long, it’s great for working with both cropped and longer lengths.” —Lindsay Schallon, contributor

Best for Beachy Waves: Amika High Tide Deep Waver

This crimper turns out beach-ready waves in mere seconds. Just add a section of hair, wait a moment, and slide the tool away to reveal perfectly low-key locks. It doesn’t do curls, but if waves are your preferred texture anyway, you’ll be pleased with the results

Pros: Works quickly, great for beginners
Cons: Not ideal for wavy hair
Heat settings: 120–390°F
Barrel Size: 0.7
Review: “As someone who came of age in the early aughts, I never in my life would think that I’d let something called a crimper near my head again. But this wand doesn’t leave you with the awkward zigzags you remember. Instead it creates the most effortless, boho, ’70s-style waves that look like you truly woke up with them. The trick is to start a few inches down from your roots—right at your earline—so your waves look lived-in and not poufy.” —L.S.

Save on the best curling irons with these Sephora promo codes.

Most Versatile: Drybar The Mixologist Interchangeable Styling Iron

This Drybar bestseller offers three attachments (waver, wand, and clamp iron) that you can easily swap to create everything from beach waves to classic curls. It’s simple and incredibly versatile, and using it might just be easier than making a hair appointment.

Pros: Interchangeable barrels, auto shut-off, temperature control
Cons: Reviewers say the device doesn't heat up properly and may break easily
Heat settings: 15
Barrel Size: 1, 1.25 inches
Review: “I always love options, and I’ve got plenty with this set from Drybar. I’m sometimes a little skeptical of hot-tool sets because the options often don’t work equally well, but that’s not the case here. Each one is easy to use and heats up to the perfect temperature to keep my waves set for an entire day. As long as I pair it with a good heat protectant, my bleached, highlighted hair stays in healthy shape.” —Sarah Y. Wu, contributor

Save on the best curling irons with these Target promo codes.

Best Lightweight: Amika Le Marcel Professional 2-in-1 Swivel Curler

This titanium choice acts as both a curling wand and a marcel wand, giving you plenty of control over your look. It offers four heat settings between 300°F and 450°F, meaning any hair texture is fair game. But the best part is its super-lightweight design, which won’t leave you exhausted or strained mid-curl.

Pros: Ergonomic, lightweight design, multiple temperature settings, one-year warranty
Cons: Not ideal for beginners
Heat settings: 4
Barrel Size: 1 inch
Review: “The first time I learned to curl my hair, I used a flatiron instead of a wand, so I’ve always been a little biased toward this style of hot tool. Amika’s titanium barrel edition is kind of the ultimate. The material is super lightweight, which makes the iron easy to maneuver around my head, and it makes my waves look extra shiny and smooth. It’s got all the features I could possibly want: a rotating clip handle, ionic technology for less frizz, precise temperature controls, a rotating cool tip, and a heat-proof swivel cord. Whether I’m currently in a short hair phase or growing out a longer style, this is the best for creating loose curls and waves.” —S.Y.W.

Best Oval Barrel: GHD Classic Wave Oval Curling Wand

While an oval barrel takes a bit of getting used to, it’s a great option for natural, undone waves, adding volume without sacrificing length. GHD’s pick has an optional spring clamp and a shut-off feature that kicks in after half an hour of nonuse—no more worrying that you left your curling iron plugged in. Just note that it’s preset to 365°F, which might be a touch hot for finer hair.

Pros: Heats quickly, automatic shut-off, great for loose waves
Cons: Only one heat setting
Heat settings: 1
Barrel Size: 1.5 inches
Review: “I typically curl my hair with a straightener. My last attempt at using a curling iron (years ago) ended in burning out a huge chunk of hair and a lot of tears. But this iron, which comes at the recommendation of dozens of celebrity stylists, was a 10-out-of-10 experience for me. It’s straightforward to use, and it’s got even heat and a cool and touchable tip. On day one I attempted a ‘normal’ curling iron experience by using the spring lever. My hair was shiny, and the curls were perfect; a girl stopped me on the subway to gush and ask whether I was genetically blessed. On day two I used the iron as a wand without the clamp to even greater results: There was a wonderful unfinished quality about the curls, and my hair was so voluminous. As great as that intense heat is, though, it’s tough on your hair. Invest in a heat protectant.” —Meg Adams, contributor

Save on the best curling irons with these Dermstore promo codes.

Best Multi-Barrel: Hot Tools Pro Artist Gold 3-Barrel Hair Waver

Like a crimper for laid-back waves, this three-barrel gem is one of the easiest ways to add texture and volume without frizz. There are multiple temperature settings to work with any hair texture, and the tool is so big that it might only take minutes for you to work through every single section.

Pros: Heats quickly, automatic shut-off, easy to use
Cons: Bulky
Heat settings: 300–450°F
Barrel Size: 1 inch
Review: “I absolutely love this waver for second- and third-day hair. If I wake up with sections that need a little boost, I just give them a refresh with this tool. It’s like a crimper, but it gives you soft waves without the creasing. And it revives waves in seconds.” —E.R.

Save on the best curling irons with these Ulta promo codes.

Most Simple: Chi Volcanic Lava Ceramic Pro Spin ’N Curl

If you’re even somewhat interested in hair care, there’s a good chance Chi’s rotating curling iron has come across your TikTok FYP. It draws hair into a rotating chamber, timing each section for consistency. There’s also an auto-off feature and an 11-foot cord—plenty of length for any home user.

Pros: Great for beginners, adjustable temperature, works quickly
Cons: Not ideal for thick hair
Heat setting: 1
Barrel Size: 1 inch
Review: “This thing looks intimidating as hell, but it’s surprisingly easy to use. All you do is section your hair into one-inch pieces (smaller sections are key), feed it into the chamber, press a button, and boom—curls. It’s a little heavy and clunky-looking, but the design is great if you’re someone who always burns yourself, since the outside chamber stays cool. The lasting results were what really sold me, though. I purposefully tested the iron right before bed to see how the curls would match up against a night of sleep. The next morning I woke up to see that my hair still had modern, thick waves.” —Halie LeSavage, contributor

Save on the best curling irons with these Ulta promo codes.

Most Gentle: Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron

Marcel irons are definitely not for the curling iron novice, since they require more coordination to use. But on the flip side, hair stylists love them because they give you more control to manipulate your hair exactly how you want it. If this isn’t your first rodeo, go with this three-piece tool that works as a wand, marcel, and curling iron all in one. Plus, you can adjust the heat between a gentle 190°F and a more intense 380°F, ensuring you’ll get the right temperature for your hair type.

Pros: Multiple heat settings, versatile design, automatic shut-off, long-lasting curls
Cons: Not ideal for beginners
Heat setting: 190–380°F
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches
Review: “This iron, designed by Gisele Bündchen’s mane man, gives you the best of both worlds. The clip detaches easily from the barrel, making it easy to experiment with both to see which delivers your favorite curls and waves. Bonus: The longtime fave recently underwent a makeover and now delivers more even heat throughout, so your curls will hold longer.” —S.Y.W.

Save on the best curling irons with these Dermstore promo codes.

Best Single Pass: T3 SinglePass Curl 1.25" Ceramic Long Barrel Curling and Wave Iron

T3 and waves are pretty much synonymous at this point. The brand’s curling tools help all hair types achieve effortless waves and curls in minutes. This 1.25-inch barrel gets the job done with just a single pass—no touch-ups required.

Pros: Works on all hair types, designed to be used in one pass
Cons: Expensive
Heat settings: 5
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches
Review: “This curling iron has the perfect 1.25-inch barrel to create the imperfect waves I’m looking for. And I love that it has multiple heat settings so I can use the middle temperature without frying my hair.” —Elizabeth Denton, tester

Save on the best curling irons with these Sephora promo codes.

Best for Salon Results: Bio Ionic Long Barrel Curling Iron 1.5" Nanolonic MX

As a hairstylist fave, this long barrel is made to lock in moisture so you get less heat damage than usual. It doesn’t leave you with tight curls either, but rather loose, natural-looking waves.

Pros: Larger barrel, locks in moisture, one hour shut-off
Cons: Not ideal for shorter hair
Heat settings: 6
Barrel Size: 1.5 inches
Review: “I love Bio Ionic curling irons because they don’t strain the hair with excessive heat. For my clients with longer hair, I like that this one is two inches longer than the original curler because it saves me a lot more time as I get through each section.” —Rocio Diaz, hair stylist

Save on the best curling irons with these Sephora promo codes.

Best for Quick Styling: Mermade PRO Hair Waver 1.25"

Get beach waves all year round with Mermade’s clamping hair curler. It has three barrels in one, and doesn’t require you to turn it or flip it to get results. You simply work your way down by clamping your hair in sections and watch the magic happen.

Pros: Auto shut-off, beginner-friendly, crimp-free, includes heat protection glove
Cons: Not ideal for short hair
Heat setting: 176–410°F
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches
Review: “Before I cut my hair into a bob, I had a thing for mermaid waves, especially in the summer. I had never tried one of these multi-barrel curlers, but I love that all I had to do was sandwich my hair between the clamp, instead of turning my hands like I would with a traditional curling iron.” —Andrea Navarro, commerce writer

Save on the best curling irons with these Target promo codes.

Best Hands-Free Curler: InfinitiPRO By Conair Curl Secret Auto Curler

Unlike most curling irons, this one does all the work for you. All you have to do is simply place each strand of hair through the barrel and once turned on it’ll spiral each piece to leave you with a bouncy, voluminous twirl.

Pros: Easy to use, good for beginners, works on all hair types, tangle-free
Cons: Bulky
Heat settings: 5
Barrel Size: 1 inch
Review: “It’s so much fun to play with this custom curler and I love that you can switch it up in different directions with just the press of a button. Because the barrel is clear, you can actually see the magic happen.” —E.D.

Save on the best curling irons with these Ulta promo codes.

Best for Touch-Ups: BondiBoost Clever Curler

This 1.25-inch curling iron is known for heating up super quickly, which is great if you're in a hurry or need a quick touch-up. Even people with super-straight hair praise it for developing curls that don’t fall flat.

Pros: Heats up quickly, styles waves and curls, minimizes frizz
Cons: Not beginner-friendly
Heat settings: 4
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches
Review: “If I ever leave the salon with curled ends, they fall flat in a few hours. Since I often need touch-ups I like having this curler at home for a quick fix before heading out for the night. It heats up quickly and curls the ends of my bob easily.” —A.N.