Yahoo January 28, 2022



The 9 Curling Irons and Wands That Hairstylists *Legitimately* Use


A comment I've heard again and again when talking about curling irons with friends (and, um, my mom) is how “they just don't make 'em like they used to." And that's because even the best curling iron back in the day was still just a hunk of scorching-hot metal that singed everything it touched—which, yeah, got you a curl, but also some horrible damage in the process. Thankfully, we don't have to settle for crispy, deep-fried curly hair anymore because the newest generation of curling irons perform better, work faster, and are much safer for your hair.

And unlike years ago, when we had just two options of irons to choose from, the variety these days allows you to create tons of different hairstyles on all different hair types and textures. And to help us weed through all the options, we asked top hairstylists for advice on choosing the best curling iron, took a poll of their favorites, and will now share all the results and info with you below.

If your eyes are already starting to glaze over, and you just want some quick picks to shop right now, check out this abbreviated list, or just keep reading and scrolling for the full breakdown of features and specs.

Meet the experts:

Amy Abramite is a creative director and hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL.

Tamika Gibson is a licensed cosmetologist, wig expert, and the founder of Bold Hold hair products.

Priscilla Valles is a celebrity extensionist who works with celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Kylie Jenner.

Joseph Maine is a celebrity hairstylist and cofounder of Trademark Beauty.


The best curling irons of 2022

Best for long, thick hair: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1'' XL Spring Curling Iron
Best for versatility: T3 Micro Twirl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron
Best for minimizing damage: Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler
Best tapered curling wand: Hot Tools Professional Nano Ceramic 1-1/4" Flipperless Tapered Curling Wand
Best marcel curling iron: Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron 1.25 Inch

Is titanium or ceramic better for curling hair?

Much like flat irons, the best tool material depends on your hair type and styling needs. According to Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon, ceramic technology is best for fine, fragile, or dry hair to protect it from further damage. Titanium irons, on the other hand, will work best on coarse textures that require hotter temperatures to smooth or style the 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 Joseph Maine, celeb hairstylist and cofounder of Trademark Beauty.

How do I choose a curling iron?

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all curling iron, because the size, shape, and hold of the curl depends heavily on the tool you use. Here are the most important features to consider when shopping for a curling iron:

The material

We already settled the ceramic vs. titanium debate, but don't be surprised to find a slew of other materials offered, like gold-plated, teflon, tourmaline—the list really goes on. The experts we spoke with mostly recommended ceramic or titanium, so start with either one of those if you need to narrow down the overwhelming selection.

The temperature

“You definitely should find one that has temperature control so you can find a temperature that’s right for your texture,” Maine explains. “For fine hair or heavily color-treated, you want to keep the iron closer to 325 degrees. For coarser and more-resistant hair types, around 400 degrees is appropriate.” For the most accurate temperature reading, find one with a digital screen. Otherwise, a dial or toggle button would work, too.

Just make sure you have the option to adjust the temperature as needed because 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.

The type

Next, you want to decide on 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 the wand for a beachy, messy look, and the iron for a perfect curl shape and hold.” says Tamika Gibson, hairstylist and wig expert. “The wand is great for looser curls but doesnt give the same hold or structure as the iron. The iron allows for an exact and sturdier curl, and looser curls are a bit harder to achieve with it.” As far as a spring iron vs. a marcel, Maine says they give pretty similar results, but the main difference is how you hold and clamp the curl.

The barrel size

One of the most important features of a curling iron is the barrel size because, well, 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 inches with increments in between. This greatly affects the springiness or how relaxed a curl is.”

What curling iron do professionals use?

Curling irons for professional hairstylists are like makeup brushes for makeup artists—they have and use all shapes and sizes to create different looks, but they also pick their faves. Maine says marcel irons (which requires some serious hand coordination not unlike using chopsticks) are typically more for professional use because they're difficult for someone to use on themselves, but it all comes down to preference. What to know exactly which curling irons the pros prefer? Read on.


BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1'' XL Spring Curling Iron

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.


T3 Micro Twirl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron

Just because a ceramic iron doesn't get as hot as quickly as a titanium iron doesn't mean it won't perform well. 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. Both stylists highlight just how versatile this curling iron is, too. It has five heat settings and comes with a detachable barrel that you can switch out with two other sizes, whether you want tighter curls or loose, wavy hair.


Trademark Mood Starter Kit – 1 Inch

Another interchangeable option, and Maine's go-to device, this ceramic curling iron offers a spring-clamp barrel, a clampless wand barrel, and a triple barrel for perfect S-shaped beach waves. One small detail that might sound like NBD but makes the biggest difference: the temperature dial on the far end of the handle. Rather than right underneath the clamp (the usual spot for it), the dial is out of the way so you don't accidentally change the settings while you work. It's the little things, y'all.


Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler

A favorite of yours truly (and hairstylist Jon Reyman, who gave me allll the tips when I reviewed the Dyson Airwrap), this hair-curling device goes against everything you know about curling irons. It's clamp-free, but not it's not exactly a curling wand, either. This tool blows out air that sucks and wraps your hair around it for you so you don't have to use your other hand at all. And it doesn't get super hot, either, which is better for your hair. Basically, this is the best curling iron for someone who's given up on all the others and wants something totally different.


Ghd Classic Curl - 1" Curling Iron

A favorite among pros and ya girl right here, this ceramic-coated curling iron takes the guesswork out of choosing a temperature, thanks to the technology that always keeps it at an even 365 degrees. Not too cool and not too scorching hot, this temp is ideal for someone with medium texture hair that hasn't been color-treated or chemically treated and needs a little more heat to manipulate their hair but not too much to cause major damage.


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

If you have a love-hate relationship with your curling iron's spring clamp (all those creases and ripped-out strands), try a 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 4.6 stars 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.


Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron 1.25 Inch (1 piece)

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.”


Kim Kimble Celebrity Series Tourmaline Ceramic Multi-Barrel Auto-Rotating Curling Iron Wand

Let's be honest, we've all clamped down on a section, wound it up the wrong way, and were 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 3/4-inch barrel and the 1-inch for different sized curls.


Kristin Ess Hair Nanoblack 1.25'' Curling Iron

Get yourself a classic curling iron with a springy clamp, like this ceramic one from celeb hairstylist Kristin Ess's own line, if you love the look of big, brushed-out, glam waves (a style Ess is famous for). According to Maine, a clamp is also a good idea for anyone whose style falls out easily since it creates more of a “perfect” curl. This iron reaches a whopping 425 degrees and delivers negative ions to smooth flyaways and frizzies.