Last updated: September 9, 2021

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Whether you're going for defined curls or natural waves, a curling iron will always be your greatest ally. This accessory was specifically designed to curl hair, simply and comfortably. Using the latest technology in the matter, it also protects your hair and keeps it soft.

If you're thinking of joining the curl revolution, there's probably a whole lot of things you might not know about curling irons. After all, they come in so many shapes, sizes and types! So don't worry if you end up getting lost. We've designed the following shopping guide to teach you everything there is to know about curling irons.




Key Facts

  • Curling irons are great accessories to help you get professional quality right from home. Make sure you choose a model adapted to your hair and your goal in order to obtain the best results.
  • It is essential for you to know the different types, shapes and sizes if you want to buy the right curling iron. The great news is that these accessories are much easier to use than you might think. There are only a few simple steps to follow, and you'll have perfect hair.
  • The most important thing is to pick a quality curling iron that won't damage your hair more than necessary. This is why temperature control is such an essential feature. The manufacturing material, type, shape and size will also influence your final decision. Get your own curling iron and join the trend!

Our selection: The best curling irons

You can find so many curling irons on the market that it can be quite challenging to know which is the best for your hair. We've selected the best model available out there to help you in your decision process. That way, you'll know which types you can opt for and make up your mind without further research.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about curling irons

While it is possible to curl your hair or get natural waves using a straightener, you'll always feel more comfortable and obtain a more efficient result with a curling iron. You may have doubts at first, and many things you don't know about this device. In the section below, we'll answer the most frequently asked questions to help you get it right.

The curls you'll get with a straightener are nothing like what a good curling iron can do. 
(Source: Undrey: 86555399/ 123rf.com)

Do I need a curling iron if I have a straightener?

A curling iron will allow you greater speed, comfort and possibilities. You can also manage to get what you want with a straightener iron. However, if you've tried both before, you'll realise that curling irons are more ergonomic and comfortable. What's more, you won't take as long to get the perfect curls.

The curls you'll get with a straightener are nothing like what a good curling iron can do. We're talking about curl types, shape and intensity. A curling iron will allow you to do anything from narrow, defined curls to the most natural, loose waves you could ever want.

What types of curling iron are there?

The good news is that there is a wide variety of different curling irons out there. This incredible variety also means that it's hard to know every single type available, and making the right decision can be a challenge. Here are the different curling irons you can find on the market based on their mechanism:

  • Without clamp: It consists of a cylinder to roll up the locks and an insulated handle. They come in different shapes: straight, conical or with beads.
  • With clamp: They are very similar to the models above. Their main difference is that they feature a clip that holds your locks, making your work easier.
  • Automatic: They are very easy to use, as they'll grab your lock and roll it by themselves.
  • Thermal rollers: The improved version of the traditional hair curlers, they are made from ceramic and heated on an electrical base to get faster results.

What are the shapes of a curling iron?

Nowadays, these accessories come in different shapes. There are several key factors that you should evaluate if you want to get the right one for you. These include comfort and the curling style you're looking to achieve. We've listed the main types in the table below:

Straight Conical With pearls Double or triple
The cylinder has the same diameter on all its length. The diameter of the cylinder decreases from the base to the tip. They are more difficult to use, but allow you to make different styles of curls. Its shape with small beads allows the hair to pass through easily, and creates different curls depending on the distance between the beads. They feature two or three straight cylinders. Ideal to get defined and natural waves.

What does my curl definition depend on?

The answer is simple: the cylinder of your curling iron. It is literally the only thing that determines the definition or softness of your curls and waves. From the largest diameters (50 mm) to the smallest (9 mm), each type is designed for a specific role and will help you get the finish you're looking for.

You are advised to use a curling iron with a large diameter if you want large and natural waves. On the other hand, if you have curly hair and want to give it more volume, or if you have straight hair but want very defined curls, small diameter cylinders will be your best bet.

There are several key factors that you should evaluate if you want to get the right iron, which include comfort and the curling style you're looking to achieve.
(Source: Mytro-Dudchenko: 88935258/ 123rf.com)

At what temperature should I set my curling iron?

As you probably know, heat can damage hair. This is why the temperature at which you use this accessory is so important. When it comes to curling irons, the ideal option is to choose one that allows you to regulate its temperature. That way, you can set it to the most suited for your hair type and reduce potential damage.

Generally speaking, a temperature of 150/160ºC should be used for thin or damaged hair, while you can go up to 180°C if your hair is thick and resistant. In any case, do not exceed this temperature, or you'll risk damaging your mane. These data are intended as a guide, and you should always know what's best for your hair.

How should I use my curling iron?

Not all types are used in the same way. For this reason, it is important that you read the specific directions provided with your curling iron, as they may vary slightly from one model to the next. That being said, there are some basic steps that you should always follow to get perfect curls. We've listed them right here for you:

  • Brush your hair so that your locks pass smoothly through the curling iron.
  • Apply a heat protector before using your iron to reduce heat aggressiveness.
  • Choose the right temperature. You should start with a low temperature, as this will be more gentle for your hair.
  • It is easier if you split your hair and curl it by section.
  • Grab the root of your lock, then turn towards the tips.
  • Curl your hair in the opposite direction to your face for a more natural look.
  • Wait for your hair to cool down before letting it loose. That way, your curls will last longer.

Can I use my curling iron with wet hair?

This is not recommended. Since the curling iron uses heat to operate, avoid using it on wet hair. Otherwise, you'll be increasing the already existing damage that heat does to your hair. This is why you need to make sure your hair is completely dry before using this accessory.

Some people say that hair tends to straighten out when blow-dried, so your curls won't look good in the end. While this isn't actually scientifically proven, it does makes sense. For this reason, we recommend that you let your hair dry naturally to achieve the desired volume.

What does it mean that my curling iron releases negative ions?

You may have already heard about negative ions in appliances such as curling irons, straighteners or hair dryers. They claim to prevent frizz and provide softer, shinier hair. Well, that's actually true, and it's all about balancing the charges in our hair.

Most of the products you use to care for your hair contain positive charges, which generates the static electricity you've probably heard of before. Curling irons release negative ions to balance the charge and prevent frizz. This does indeed give you soft and shiny hair.

Shopping Criteria

There are several key criteria that you'll have to consider when you decide to purchase your very own curling iron. In the section below, we've detailed each of these factors for you. That way, you know what to look for and always choose a quality curler that suits your needs and with which you will get the result you want.

Temperature

This may just be the most important criterion of all. If you love to have perfect curls, your hair needs to remind healthy. Unfortunately, the heat given off by a curling iron isn't exactly the best thing to take care of your hair. This is why it is essential for you to be able to regulate its temperature.

This will allow you to adapt your curling iron's temperature to the style you want to create or to your type of hair. This will lead to much better and more satisfying results, both aesthetically and in terms of hair care. Try avoiding models that don't have a temperature regulator, unless you have a tighter budget.

You are advised to use a curling iron with a large diameter if you want large and natural waves.
(Source: dolgachov: 89513063/ 123rf.com)

Material

The manufacturing material of your curling iron is another key factor to take into account. This is very important because it will determine the quality of the hair friction in the device, as well as its ability to transmit heat more efficiently to curl your locks. Ceramic is the most frequently used material.

This material offers little friction, facilitates smooth passing of your hair and heats evenly. Certain models also feature tourmaline, a mineral that releases negative charge and neutralises the positive ions that frizz your hair.

Did you know that titanium curling irons are ideal for thick hair? Their high heat transmission increases their effectiveness.

Type and shape

As you've probably noticed throughout our article, there is a wide variety of types and shapes of curling irons available out there. This is why these two criteria are so important to making the right purchase. First of all, make sure you know your hair type, as well as what styles you want to create with your iron.

Once you're clear about this, it's time for you to choose the type and shape of curling iron that best suits you. If you're still having doubts, you can always read expert opinions on the matter, or even ask your by trusted hairdresser. It is also interesting to know which accessories you can add to your curling iron.

Size

In addition to the type and shape of your curling iron, the size of the cylinder is also essential to get the results you're looking for. The size you'll see refers to the diameter of the cylinder. The vast majority of models will fall somewhere between 19 and 38 mm, although you can still find larger or smaller if you're not satisfied.

Smaller diameters will give you maximum curl, defined and with much more volume. Larger cylinders, on the other hand, will create softer and more natural waves. Remember that the diameter can be written either in inches or in millimetres. We've come up with a quick equivalency table to help you:

Inches Millimetres
⅜" 9 mm
⅝" 16 mm
¾" 19 mm
1" 25 mm
1.25" 32 mm
1.5" 38 mm
1.75" 45 mm
2" 50 mm

Comfort and safety

We're sure you'll end up take a true liking to using your curling iron. This is why it's very important that you opt for a comfortable and safe model. This will be particularly key if you spend ten to fifteen minutes every day curling your hair!

Nowadays, most curling irons include an extra-long cable (at least 1.5 metre) that rotates 360º to prevent it from becoming entangled during movement. Modern models also tend to be very light, and feature a handle to hang it easily. All of these are nice extras to have.

Summary

Curling irons have taken hairstyle by storm, and they're making our lives easier. Today, getting hairdresser-quality curls is so simple simple and can be done from the comfort of your own home. You'll find curling irons of different types, shapes and sizes to suit your hair and tastes.

You can opt for the perfect curling iron, or buy a set that includes different cylinders so you have greater freedom of choice. You could also want some natural and casual waves. Whatever it is, this accessory will make it possible. So, what are you waiting for?

If you liked our guide on curling irons, feel free to share it with your friend on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below.

(Source of featured image: Galovtsik Gabor: 24895065/ 123rf.com)

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