Best Curling Irons 2022

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Finding the best curling iron can feel like trying to find a unicorn—it needs to be both magically transformative and simple to use, which is not exactly an easy-to-find combination. A good version performs well with your hair type, allows for versatile styling, holds up over time and doesn’t singe your strands in the process. And yes, they do exist.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right one for you, whether it’s a wand or iron: the material, the temperature settings and the barrel size. With the right tool, you’ll save time and have fewer false starts with uneven, sad-looking curls or waves. What’s more, there’ll be no need to buy extra tools or take trips to the salon, and you won’t sacrifice the health of your hair.

When curating this list of best curling wands and irons, we took several variables into account: hair type and length, the ability to alter temperature, how easy the tool is to manipulate and the looks it helps you achieve—from tight coils to flatiron curls to artfully tousled beachy waves. With these top models, you’ll end up with polished or textured, perfectly styled hair, and will shave minutes off your beauty prep routine (especially if you pair it with a good hair dryer). Here are our expert-approved picks.

Best Curling Iron Overall

A Tool That Gives Voluminous, Long-Lasting Curls Without Damage

It can be difficult to know what temperature setting is right for your hair, but this wand has nine personalized heat settings and smart-touch technology. What that means is that the temperature auto-adjusts to your hair profile when you input your hair type, so you don’t end up with a weak, droopy curl or fried, crispy hair. Depending on your hair texture and whether you have color-treated or chemically-processed hair, this iron customizes heat so you have all-day (or all-night) curls or waves and less damage. Reviewers love that they can execute a full head of amazing curls in just 10-15 minutes that last for days. To note: It’s got a bigger barrel at 1.25 inches, but despite the bigger size, reviewers say the curls last and don’t drop.

What you’ll love:

  • No guesswork to decide best heat setting
  • Holds curl well

Keep in mind:

  • Power button can get pressed accidentally while styling

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Best 1-Inch Curling Iron

Perfect-Every-Time Curls Without Hair Damage

“This is my absolute favorite iron,” says Brooke Jordan, co-owner and salon director at Brooklyn-based salon The Bird House. “It’s super functional—it’s ceramic so it’s less likely to cause hair damage, and it heats up in seconds,” she says. “It glides smoothly so it doesn’t pull or snag the hair like some other irons, and it gives a long-lasting curl.” To note: This iron doesn’t have multiple heat settings like some others. Instead, it uses proprietary technology to detect a hair-safe temperature of 365 degrees across the iron so you don’t have to guess how much heat will work best. In particular, users love that it heats quickly and consistently produces bouncy, defined curls.

What you’ll love:

  • Heats in just 25 seconds
  • Goes into automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes
  • Doesn’t pull out or snag hair

Keep in mind:

  • Only has one heat setting
  • Some say curls could last longer


Best Curling Iron For Fine Hair

Long-Lasting Volume For Limp Locks

Fine hair is vulnerable to breakage, so you want a curling iron that can meet the needs of silky-yet-delicate strands. This model has a custom-blend ceramic barrel that’s easy on hair, yet it gets hot enough to hold a curl after just one pass—meaning no extra heat damage from multiple attempts. In fact, reviewers say it creates curls that last, even without hairspray. The brand’s CeraGloss barrel glides smoothly, so it won’t snag and stretch hair; it heats up quickly and has an adjustable temperature; and it’s lightweight and arm-friendly. Another key standout: Users love that there are no buttons to mistakenly turn it off while using it, which can be frustrating when you realize you’re putting in effort but not getting optimal heat. Instead, the iron is turned on and off by the smart twist dial on the end, which also changes the five heat settings. The T3 SinglePass comes in both a 1-inch and 1.25-inch barrel size.

What you’ll love:

  • Styles smoothly without snagging
  • Heats up quickly
  • One hour auto shutoff

Keep in mind:


Best Curling Iron For Thick Hair

A Pick That Keeps Heavy Hair From Falling Flat

Good Value

This titanium styler is a veritable workhorse. It heats up to 430 degrees, and the barrel is two inches longer than most other irons, so it allows thick hair to spread over the barrel for even heat. “The Hot Tools 24K Curling Iron with an extended barrel works especially well to accommodate long and thick hair lengths,” says Nataya Smalls, a hairstylist at Christopher Noland Salon. “It gets exceptionally hot and creates long-lasting curls that won’t drop or go flat.” This model allows you to create an ultra-defined curl in one pass instead of having to curl the bottom half and top half of hair separately, as is the case with other, shorter-barreled irons that can’t manage thick tresses. A couple features that make this iron especially user-friendly: It has a rotating cool tip so you won’t burn your fingertips, and it comes with a heat-resistant mat so you won’t singe your countertop. To keep in mind: The clamp is much shorter than the barrel because it’s only intended to secure hair, but this feature bothers some. This model comes in two barrel sizes: a 1-inch or 1.25-inch.

What you’ll love:

  • High heat that distributes well on the barrel
  • 8-foot swivel cord for extra reach

Keep in mind:

  • The extended barrel can require practice to maneuver well
  • The temperature control dial can be easily jostled


Best Curling Iron For Long Hair

An Efficient Styler For Making Waves On Longer Hair

Those with long hair know that maintaining long-lasting curl volume is a struggle. This top-rated curling iron is a professional favorite, and it receives top marks from curling newbies for its ease of use. “This is the best curling iron that I’ve used over the years,” says Savone. “It heats up quickly and reaches 430 degrees, and it has a longer barrel than most curling irons, which allows longer hair to curl faster.” The ionic technology promises to lock in moisture and seal the hair cuticle (buh-bye frizz), and well-distributed heat creates uniform, droop-free curls from root to end. This lightweight-but-sturdy model is also equipped with thoughtful details. The longer barrel gives extra reach and allows you to more easily style the back of your head. It has a nine-foot swivel cord for ease of movement, and it has a temperature lock feature so you can’t mistakenly press buttons—and change temperatures—while curling.

What you’ll love:

  • Comes in both a 1-inch or 1.25-inch barrel
  • Creates high-shine curls

Keep in mind:

  • Some say the clamp doesn’t grip hair tightly


Best Hair Curler For Volume

A Hardworking Styler That Dries And Curls Simultaneously

Get bouncy curls sans heat damage with the the latest iteration of Dyson’s Airwrap, which dries and styles hair simultaneously. Seemingly magically, it attracts hair to the barrel and then wraps it using powerful air flow. The best part? Intelligent heat control monitors constantly during use to prevent major damage. “If you’re looking for big hair, this is the way to go, but it definitely takes some practice,” says Jordan. “It gives lots of volume and more of a bouncy, blowout feel.” The Airwrap now comes with a variety of updated attachments that cater to your hair type or length, including a set for long hair and one for curly or coily hair.

What you’ll love:

  • Works for all hair types
  • Comes with a handy storage case for attachments

Keep in mind:

  • Hefty price tag
  • Hair can only be curled in small sections


Best Curling Iron For Short Hair

Effortless Curls On Cropped Cuts And Shoulder-Skimming Lengths

“For shorter hair, sometimes I prefer styling wands because you can wrap short hair around the iron a little better and with more control than with a full curling iron,” says hairstylist Cristina Savone, owner of Hair + Co in Rye, New York. “Finding a wand with interchangeable heads is the best way to tackle different size curls.” Here’s why the Ohuhu tourmaline wand is a standout: It offers five easily interchangeable barrel shapes ranging from .35-inch to 1.25-inch to create different curl types depending on the look you’re going for. The ceramic coating of the barrel can help to reduce damage and increase shine on cropped styles. This fast-heating iron takes just 30 seconds to reach one of two temperature settings—356 degrees or 410 degrees—so it works whether you have baby-fine, fragile hair or a thick and textured mane. Pro tip: Savone suggests using a heat protective glove (included in this set) to protect fingers from burns if you’re new at curling. Don’t forget that this is a wand, so it doesn’t have a clamp.

What you’ll love:

  • Affordable price tag
  • Versatile, easy-to-change attachments

Keep in mind:

  • Doesn’t come with a storage bag for all the parts
  • No clamp


Best Curling Iron For Beach Waves

A Foolproof Pick For Getting Perfectly Imperfect Beach Hair

There are few hair products out there that have a cult following like the Beachwaver. That’s because this game-changing tool is so easy to use that even the most inexperienced hot tool user can create covetable curls. How it works: Clamp and secure the 1-inch ceramic barrel at the base of your hair and hold the arrow button to start the rotation. To stop rotation, you release the button, hold for three seconds and then open the clamp to slowly release the curl. Curling veterans and novices alike should in theory be able to create three different styles—defined curls, relaxed waves and glamorous waves. Additional key details include adjustable heat settings from 290-410 degrees, dual-rotation arrow button control, and a 30-minute auto shut-off.

What you’ll love:

  • Small clamp doesn’t create kink marks
  • Works for all hair types

Keep in mind:

  • Might require a learning curve


Best Curling Iron For Frizz-Free Curls

A Tool For A Smooth, Flyaway-Free Look

For a model that boasts serious heat (up to 450 degrees) and is built for speed, look no further than this titanium iron with ceramic-coated barrel. “I find that I can create curls quickly with this iron, and it produces curls with staying power,” says Jordan. “It comes in various barrel widths—1-inch, 1.25-inch and 1.5-inch—so that you can choose which works best for your hair length and the look you’re trying to achieve.” Users love that it distributes heat evenly, it slides smoothly through hair without pulling and it’s lightweight so it won’t cause arm fatigue.

What you’ll love:

  • High heat defines curls
  • Easily maneuverable 8-foot, fabric-wrapped swivel cord

Keep in mind:

  • The tip can be hot to the touch
  • The temperature button is easy to accidentally turn down


Best Travel Curling Iron

A Portable, Compact Curling Iron For Styling On The Go

If customer reviews are anything to go by, this curling iron from beloved celeb hairstylist Harry Josh is one you’ll want to scoop up immediately. Its 1.25-inch nano-ceramic tourmaline barrel emits negative ions and smooths strands, but it doesn’t dry out hair (so you won’t get that crunchy feel). From a practical standpoint, it heats up in 30 seconds and has adjustable temperature settings from 325 to 425 degrees. And most importantly for travel—because you don’t want to sacrifice too much suitcase space for hair styling tools—this small iron weighs just over six ounces and features universal voltage for worldwide use.

What you’ll love:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Heats quickly

Keep in mind:

  • Shorter barrel
  • Doesn’t come with a travel case


Best Affordable Curling Iron

A Budget Option That Produces High-Impact Results

Whether you want chic beach waves, glamorous curls or something in between, this budget curling iron is a solid pick. It’s available in five barrel sizes—0.5-, 0.75-, 1-, 1.25- and 1.5-inch—and has 30 heat settings to make it work for a wide variety of hair types and textures. (Keep in mind stylists advise always starting on a low setting.) There’s also a practical cool-tip feature on the end so you can hold the iron and not singe your fingertips while styling.

What you’ll love:

  • Heats up quickly
  • Auto-off feature for safety

Keep in mind:

  • The barrel may be too short for those with longer hair
  • Buttons are inconveniently placed


How We Chose The Best Curling Irons Of 2022

We’ve done extensive research, digging through authentic reviews from professional testers and consumers. We’ve also tested (and loved) many of these curling irons and wands ourselves.

This article is routinely updated so that availability, prices and reviewer ratings and quotes stay relevant and up to date. We also re-evaluate our curling iron picks to ensure that they’re still (in our opinion) some of the best choices in their categories. This story was last updated in June 2022.


What To Consider When Buying A Curling Iron

Temperature Control

When it comes to heat level, it’s always best to start low and see how your hair handles it. “One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a curling iron is temperature control so you don’t cause damage to your hair,” says Jordan. “Some of the higher end irons produce even heat throughout and regulate temperature well, and therefore don’t offer specific settings. But if it’s a less expensive model, make sure it has temperature settings, and start with a lower temperature and work your way up so you can see which is the best temp for your hair.”

Barrel Size

Curling iron barrels can vary in size, but most commonly range from 1 to 1.5 inches. “You’ll need to decide on a barrel size that works best for your hair,” says Jordan. “If you have short hair, a 1-inch iron will give better results and may help your hair hold the curl longer. If you have longer hair, a thicker barrel in 1.25 or 1.5 inches will work best.”

Material

As a whole, ceramic irons tend to work well for fine or damaged hair because they heat hair from within and typically cause less damage. Titanium barrels work well on thicker or coarse hair, and they distribute heat evenly, fight frizz and hold curls well.


What’s The Difference Between A Curling Wand And A Curling Iron?

While both produce bends, waves and curls, the results can vary between the two. “In general, the most obvious difference between a curling iron and a curling wand is that an iron has a clamp and a wand doesn’t,” says Jordan. “But the kind of curl each produces is also different.”

“With an iron, you’ll typically get more heat [across the section of hair] because it is pulled wider and flatter on the barrel, and you get a more finished curl,” she says. This is often because the clamp curls the section of hair to the very tips. “With a wand, you’ll get a more natural-looking curl with less bend at the end of the hair,” she says. This is because the ends don’t get curled by the clamp and instead are held by your fingers while the rest of the section gets curled.

What Type Of Curling Irons Are Used By Professionals?

There’s no short answer to this because hair professionals use a variety of curling irons depending on hair type and the look they’re trying to achieve. Some prefer traditional curling irons in either ceramic or titanium. Others like using a marcel iron, which has a clamp that is not spring loaded—some say it offers more control of the curl. Others prefer curling wands for more relaxed styles, or even flat irons for creating S-curls or looser waves in hair.

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