The 10 Best Curling Irons

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This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in April of 2015. When you want to achieve that just-left-the-salon look without the exorbitant cost, try one of these effective and feature-rich curling irons. We've included models that will help you create long-lasting styles on any hair type and texture, as well as compact selections that are convenient for taking on vacation, all rated here by their quality, ease of use, and safety. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. T3 Custom Blend

2. BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium

3. Xtava Professional

Editor's Notes

March 18, 2020:

Our selection of curling irons features a wide array of models geared toward all types of hair, some with special features to achieve certain results. They span a wide price range, so there’s something for every budget. Today we added in the T3 Custom Blend, which features patented technology designed to give you well-formed, long-lasting curls with just one pass each time. It’s attractive, too, with a smooth, sleek rose-gold-and-white design. It’s about as easy to use as any clamp model can be: Just secure the ends of a section of hair underneath the clamp, and roll. Hold for a few seconds before releasing.

We also added in the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium, another clamp model that’s significantly less expensive than the T3. This one makes use of far-infrared heat to penetrate hair from within, the goal of which is to prevent damage from the heating process. Included is a professional-length eight-foot swivel cord that won’t become tangled as you’re working with it. This one offers more control than most, in that you can choose from among 50 temperature settings.

If it’s a wand-style model you’re after, without a clamp, look to the Bed Head Curlipops. It’s easy to use and won’t cause any creases in the hair, as you just wrap the hair around it and turn in either direction. Pull the wand straight down to release the curl.

If you want a device that does the twisting for you, consider the Kiss Products Instawave Automatic, which is made to grab a section of hair and rotate. Just push one of two buttons to tell it which way to turn. It’s got four prongs that help prevent tangles from forming as it turns.

To make room for new additions, we removed the Anjou Titanium, which is no longer available. We also took out the BaBylissPro MiraCurl, since it’s not a traditional wand. We felt the BaByliss model we added in was better suited for the list. We considered adding in the Drybar 3-Day Bender, which is available from a well-respected name in styling products, but were deterred by the number of people who complained the clamp didn’t hold their hair tightly enough.

If you’re searching for styling tools designed for a specific hair type, we’ve got several specialized lists, including curling irons for fine hair and curling irons for thick hair.

For safety’s sake, always keep curling irons away from water, even if they’re plugged in yet shut off. They should always be unplugged when not in use. Help prevent burns by using one with a stay-cool tip or one that comes with a protective glove.

Special Honors

Amika Curl Icon Base Kit This kit features an interchangeable base to which you can attach different sizes of ceramic curling barrels. Included is a one-inch barrel, which is a good size for various hair lengths. You can purchase other sizes separately for times when you want looser or tighter curls. It’s designed to help your hair retain moisture as it creates a smooth, polished look. The clip-free barrel eliminates snags or creases, and it’s easy to achieve a modern, polished look when you alternate rolling pieces of hair toward and away from the face, accordingly.

4. Phoebe Dual Voltage

5. Bed Head Curlipops

6. Conair Nano Infiniti Pro

7. Kiss Products Instawave Automatic

8. Hot Tools Titanium

9. ISO Beauty 5-In-1

10. Instyler Max 2-Way

How Curling Irons Work

That is because, the material isn't good at conducting electricity, and rather than letting an electrical wave pass through it, it just heats up.

Curling irons are usually made from metal, Teflon, titanium, ceramic or tourmaline. These materials all have one thing in common: they are poor conductors of electricity. One might notice that the rod of a curling iron becomes very hot, but it never causes a spark or an electrical shock. That is because, the material isn't good at conducting electricity, and rather than letting an electrical wave pass through it, it just heats up.

Curling irons contain an internal switch that cuts off the movement of electricity when the metal rod has reached the desired temperature. One might wonder why the curling iron doesn't become completely cold when the internal switch turns off. The switch inside actually expands as it heats up, and begins to shrink when it's reached the preset temperature. When it becomes very small, it expands again. This cycle keeps the curling rod hot until the user shuts the device off.

There is a limited temperature range that can bend and manipulate hair without breaking or damaging it. That range varies depending on the appliance but most curling irons are in the 290 to 400-degree range, and so they all use about the same amount of electricity. Hair is very similar to wood in that when it becomes warm, its structure weakens and one can easily reshape it. It will also keep its new shape until it becomes wet.

Special Features To Consider

Frequent travelers know that appliances have different electrical needs depending on the country, which is why they should buy a curling iron that is both compact and accepts a universal voltage. This way, they don't need to worry about purchasing adapters or a new hair tool every time they visit a foreign country. Most newer models boast a rapid heat-up time, which is not only convenient, but also safer since the user doesn't have to leave an electrical appliance unattended for long while they wait for it to warm up. Another time-saving feature is the comb and barrel system. These irons both brush and curl the hair at the same time. When the hair is warm, it's even easier to untangle, resulting in extra soft locks.

This way, they don't need to worry about purchasing adapters or a new hair tool every time they visit a foreign country.

Those hoping to achieve lots of different looks should consider an iron that comes with attachments for various curl sizes. Depending on the size of the rod, a person can make anywhere from tiny, tight ringlets to loose, beach-style waves. It's more economic to buy one iron and several attachments than a different tool for every look. For those who can't stand the motion of physically turning the curling iron, their are models that do the work for the user. These irons simply require a person to place their lock of hair on a small drum inside of an enclosure. When they turn the appliance on, the drum automatically spins and curls the hair.

Indents are a major concern for most curling iron users. Not only are they unsightly, but they can damage one's hair. For this reason, many models do not contain a clip to hold the hair; the user simply wraps their lock around the heated rod. This style of iron is called a curling wand. Some curling irons have several preset temperature settings since different types of hair require different temperatures to manipulate.

Ceramic, Tourmaline or Titanium?

Curling irons are made from several different materials, but a few have stood out for offering special styling benefits. Ceramic emits only the minimum amount of heat required to curl the hair, so it can help reduce the chance of burns. It also sends out plenty of negative ions that seal the hair cuticle. Sealing one's cuticles is an important part of growing healthy hair and it can further prevent damage. Ceramic evenly distributes heat throughout the rod, so the user can see tight curls, no matter where they place their hair on the tool. It's also very difficult for debris to stick to ceramic, so this type of iron stays clean. Ceramic will, however, typically be found in higher priced hair tools.

Tourmaline has a reputation for creating the smoothest, shiniest hair, and for combating the toughest frizz.

Tourmaline is an organic crystalline mineral, and for that reason alone,many people who like to use natural products prefer it. This material also puts out negative ions, nearly six times as many as ceramic does. Tourmaline has a reputation for creating the smoothest, shiniest hair, and for combating the toughest frizz. Tourmaline also administers moisture, so it can help make brittle hear healthier. Like ceramic, it seals the cuticle, so it can lock moisture inside the hair. Tourmaline is usually best for hair straighteners rather than irons because it's ideal for flattening out tight curls.

Titanium has metallic properties so it heats up very fast. Titanium irons have an extra polished feel, so hair glides across it effortlessly and rarely snags on the clip or rod. This material also has anti-corrosion properties, so it won't rust and can last for several years of use. Finally, titanium is one of the more affordable options.

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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