In the realm of beauty and hairstyling, where waves and curls dance in perfect harmony, there exists a transformative tool, a magician’s wand of sorts, known as the curling iron. With its sleek design and enchanting capabilities, this fiery accomplice to fashion effortlessly bestows a touch of elegance and charisma upon even the tamest tresses. Like an artist with a brush, it weaves intricate patterns of curls, breathing life into locks that were once mere strands. Step into the world of the best curling irons, where mundane becomes magnificent, and every strand has a story to tell.
Whether you were born with straight, curly, or wavy hair, you’ve likely picked up a tool like a hair dryer, straightener, or curling iron at some point in your life. While the average Gen Xer has only tried six different hairstyles over the years, the average millennial has already tried eight new looks, according to a poll of 1,000 millennial women (ages 25-40) and 1,000 Gen X women (ages 41-56), which asked both groups about how their hairstyles have evolved over time.
The versatile curling iron, with its cylindrical shape and heat-infused prowess, serves as a multi-purpose tool in the world of hairstyling. Its primary function, of course, is to create stunning curls and waves that add volume and dimension to one’s locks. With varying barrel sizes, it caters to a range of curl patterns, from tight coils to loose beachy waves. Beyond its curling capabilities, many curling irons can also double as a straightening tool, providing sleek and smooth results when used to glide along the strands. It can even serve as a texturizing wand, adding subtle bends and twists for a tousled, effortlessly chic look. From glamorous curls to sleek straight styles, the curling iron stands as a reliable ally in the quest for hair transformation.
Ready to spice up your hairstyle? StudyFinds searched for the best curling irons on the market, compiling a list based on the most recommended models across 10 expert websites. Grab one of these highly rated options or share which one you currently use in the comments below!
The List: Best Curling Iron, According to Beauty Experts
The Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium is a solid choice for anyone with thick or long hair. The iron provides high shine and long-lasting curls due to its wide array of heat settings and titanium and ceramic-coated barrel.
“If you crave a curly look but are concerned about heat damaging your hair, the BabylissPRO Nano is an excellent choice. The barrel is titanium, which allows for even heat distribution. Not only does that make for a better, longer-lasting curl, but it also protects your hair, since infrared heating is much gentler on hair,” writes RealSimple.
The Babyliss isn’t exactly a budget pick but is still considered very affordable for a reliable iron that will last for years and will deliver the same results as pricier picks. “The BabylissPro Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron is an unbeatable pick for thick hair because of its wide range of heat settings — it can go up to 450 degrees to create long-lasting curls, while the ceramic-coated barrel helps to also maintain shine,” adds InStyle. “Turn to this if you want voluminous, effortless-looking curls. We appreciate that it’s super lightweight and has a swivel chord, too.”
According to Women’s Wear Daily, this is the best choice for those with textured hair. Why? “Textured hair types tend to be more coarse, so they require a higher level of heat application…The titanium barrel also delivers negative ions to enhance shine, and the minimalist design keeps this one relatively lightweight. It also has an eight-foot cord on a swivel base for easy navigation in any space.”
For those who are looking for softer, beachy waves, the T3 SinglePass can help you achieve a less-polished finish. “If you’re looking for an iron that can help you achieve that perfectly imperfect beach wave, look no further than the T3 SinglePass Ceramic Curling Iron. The 1.25-inch barrel size offered our testers a less defined, more relaxed, and more elongated finish in their curls,” writes Byrdie.
The ceramic barrel of the T3 is a huge plus for frizzy or heat-damaged hair, and the iron’s light weight makes it easy to grip and work with. “One of our favorite features is its 5-heat settings (260-410) making it great for all hair types. It also has Auto World Voltage which is great for work travels — it turns off after one hour, has a cool tip to prevent burns, and is super user friendly,” adds Variety.
for anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much time on their hair, Real Simple loves this model. “The T3 SinglePass Curl only requires one pass to create the curls you want, and the ceramic technology ensures that your hair stays smooth and shiny. There are five heat settings on the T3, but what’s even better is the SmartTwist dial at the bottom that makes it easy to change settings, even while mid-curl.”
The Dyson AirWrap is a cult favorite among those who have tried it (and can afford the hefty price tag). The styler doesn’t quite qualify as a curling iron, as it uses air and a lower level of heat to produce a curl. “Dyson’s Airwrap and Supersonic hair dryer were game-changers for a reason and their brand new Multi Styler took it to the next level. Instead of manually wrapping your hair around a barrel or having the barrel rotate, this tool uses air to gently pull the section around the barrel,” writes Women’s Wear Daily.
The AirWrap has an intelligent heat control that measures air temperature more than 40 times a second to prevent heat damage while you style. “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,” writes Cosmopolitan. “Basically, this is the best curling iron for someone who’s given up on all the others and wants something totally different.”
According to Byrdie, “It’s most certainly a high-ticket item, but those that use it swear by its effectiveness—our tester included. She admitted that she was skeptical at first (it took a moment for her to navigate the different settings), but after using it on two sections of hair, she ‘got into a rhythm.’ She achieved her desired curls quickly and efficiently, she said and especially loved that the tool (which is powered by innovative air technology) felt like it was safe for her fine hair.”
The Kristin Ess line is loved by hairstylists and beginners alike due to pre-programmed temperature settings you can select based on hair type and a short heat-up time. “One of our favorite details about this budget curling iron is how well the clamp grips. I was able to grab the thinnest, tiniest hairs along my temples that usually slide out of other models’ clamps. This one keeps hair taut while I’m twisting the iron around and around, without creating a crease,” writes Forbes.
The iron itself is easy to maneuver, with a 9-foot swiveling cord and a clip that can gran even the smallest, thinnest hairs. “The Kristin Ess Curling Iron earned itself an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2021 because it immediately became one of our favorite options for curling shorter hair — though longer hair will enjoy some of its best days with its help, too,” says Allure.
“Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess is known for her supremely pretty (yet wallet-friendly) hair-care products, and the same goes for her tools,” raves Women’s Wear Daily. “This one offers a digital display so you don’t have to guess the temperature and a smooth barrel that prevents friction (and therefore minimizes frizz).”
The GHD is a classic option for those who want a consistent curl from root to end without heat damage. “The clear favorite among the hairstylists we polled for this story was a one-inch curling iron from GHD. Most mentioned how intuitive this iron is at minimizing hair damage — it heats up to exactly 365 degrees. The material allows heat to distribute evenly, creating the perfect wave without damaging your hair,” writes NY Mag.
The intuitive temperature control is loved by hairstylists for its ability to work on colored or damaged hair without smoking or burning. “Those with color-treated hair should look to the GHD Classic Curl—a model designed to intensify hair color and create curls that last,” notes Vogue. “The ceramic iron uses the brand’s Tri-zone technology to guarantee the perfect curling temperature of 365 degrees Fahrenheit, which celebrity hairstylist Graham Nation says ‘makes the hair easy to manipulate without overheating the hair and maintain it across the entire barrel.”
According to Women’s Wear Daily, this model “ensures even heat, seals in moisture and sets the pattern for long-lasting curls. Plus, it also features universal voltage for travel, a generous nine-foot cord and an automatic shut-off function which powers down the device after 30 minutes of inactivity.”
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned. Listed prices for products may correspond to when article was published.