Best Curling Iron

A woman curling her hair using a curling iron
(Image credit: Getty)

The best curling irons can be used on a variety of hair types, from fine hair to thick and curly tresses, but the final results will vary depending on your specific hair type and the amount of hair styling products you use. Gone are the days when curling wands would singe your hair in a bid to create curls and waves that dropped out within minutes - today’s best curling irons have built-in temperature control and create longer-lasting movement throughout your hair. There are plenty of curling wands to pick from too, with options to suit your specific needs. 

Best overall

Conair InfinitiPro Rainbow Titanium Curling Wand

(Image credit: Conair)

Conair InfinitiPro Titanium Curling Wand (opens in new tab)

For all hair types

Conair’s curling wand heats up to 400°F with 20 heat settings suitable for every hair type. The titanium barrel guarantees less damage, helping reduce frizz and add shine with its easy-glide surface. This wand is easy to get to grips with whether you’re after tousled waves or tighter curls.

Pros:

  • Quick heat transfer
  • Styles even fine hair

Cons:

  • No clamp

With such hot temperatures, this Conair curling iron also has safety in mind and includes an auto-off function, as well as a thermal glove for added precaution. The Conair InfinitiPro Rainbow Titanium Curling Wand comes in different sizes, but none of them have a clamp to hold hair in place. Instead, you'll have to hold the hair around the barrel yourself.

Best for long hair

GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron

(Image credit: GHD)

ghd Curling Iron (opens in new tab)

Create curls and waves

The ghd curling iron makes light work of styling long hair. Simply wrap hair around the 1.25-inch barrel, and hold for a few seconds, before releasing the spring-activated lever for beautiful soft bouncy curls. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Creates long-lasting curls
  • Don't create much frizz

Cons:

  • Only one heat setting

Safety features of this curling iron include a cool tip, built-in stand, and automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes of non-use.  The ghd curling iron keeps things simple with one heat setting – a 365°F, which is suitable for all hair types.

Best for beach waves

Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II

(Image credit: Bed Head)

Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver (opens in new tab)

A popular curling wand

This wave-maker from Bed Head instantly creates looser, tousled, and effortless-looking beach waves. It is easy to use too – just place your hair between the tourmaline ceramic clamps for deep waves and within seconds you’ll be rocking the look.

Pros:

  • Fast and fuss-free waves
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Not as effective on shorter hair

Features include 30 heat settings and an auto-off function. Tourmaline ceramic technology ensures the clamps add plenty of shine to your hair, for a smooth frizz-free effect. It's hands-down the best curling iron for mermaid waves. The Deep Waver II is ideal for looser, more tousled waves rather than defined waves.

Best large barrel curling iron

Babyliss curling iron

(Image credit: Babyliss)

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron (opens in new tab)

Maximum big curl bounce

The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron gives you glamorous larger-than-life curls fast. It uses far-infrared temperatures to ensure your locks heat evenly and there are 50 heat settings (up to 450°F) to suit every hair type.

Pros:

  • Good range of heat settings
  • Curls hair fast

Cons:

  • Not effective on shorter hair

The spring barrel clamps down hair to offer effective control whether you’re after tight curls or loose waves, with shiny and smooth results. There is also a turbo heat button that instantly boosts the temperature for faster results and more defined curls should you need it. It's a little difficult to use on short hair, but other lengths will work just fine.

Best for short hair

Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Iron

(Image credit: Bed Head)

Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Wand (opens in new tab)

For shorter hairstyles and ringlets

The Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Wand has a narrow 0.5in barrel for neat curls or looser waves alike. And, if you have longer hair, you can also use the Skinny Pop to get beautiful ringlets too. The clamp-free wand is straightforward to use and heats up quickly.

Pros:

  • Super-slim barrel
  • Create perfect ringlets

Cons:

  • Doesn't create big curls

The tourmaline ceramic barrel is kind to hair and offers a frizz-free finish. Since there isn't a clamp to hold hair in place, Bed Head includes a heat-protective glove so that you can safely use the wand without burning your fingertips. Overall the Bed Head curling iron is well-made, easy-to-use device.

Best for fine hair

Conair Ceramic Curling Iron

(Image credit: Conair)

Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand (opens in new tab)

Top for heat protection

The Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand has 30 heat settings up to 375°F to give you control over your hair and get great results with minimal frizzing too. Use the low-temperature settings 1 to 5 for fragile to fine hair, or settings 6 to 10 for thin hair.  

Pros:

  • Styles fine to thick hair
  • 30 different heat settings
  • Ceramic for a smoother hair finish

Cons:

  • Can't make tight curls

Extra handy features include a turbo heat boost, should you need it, as well as a cool tip for safe handling. There is also an auto-off feature and dual voltage. There is also an auto-off feature and dual voltage, which makes the Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand one of the best curling irons for holidays and general travel. The barrel of this curling iron is a bit large, so you won't be able to create tight, ringlet curls with it.

How to choose the best curling irons for you 

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The barrels on curling irons or curling wands can be made from different materials, such as ceramic or tourmaline. Ceramic barrels distribute heat evenly by emitting negatively charged ions and this type of barrel will not strip your hair of its natural oils, which in turn makes curls look smoother. But it’s also worth bearing in mind ceramic has a rougher surface – so while hair is less likely to slip off, it is also more likely to catch or snag.

Tourmaline curling irons are also ceramic but feature a layer of tourmaline around the barrel and plate. This protects the ceramic, while also leaving your hair shinier.

Another thing to consider when choosing a curling iron is barrel size, as this will determine the tightness of your curls. The shape of the barrel is also significant as uniform, spiraled or tapered barrels will give different results. If you’re looking for natural waves, a curling wand might suit you better than a curling iron, which typically comes with a clip to hold your hair tight against the barrel.

Do curling irons damage your hair?

If you use your curling irons carefully and at the right temperature then it should not damage your hair. You should only use a very hot curling iron on thick or coarse hair, as thin hair is more likely to break or burn at higher temperatures. There are plenty of heat protectants available that you can use to prevent hair damage, but the best advice is to exercise caution and keep a constant eye on your hair in the mirror as you curl it. 

Plenty of devices come with adjustable temperature controls – if you have finer hair try to keep the temperature below 200°F, and if your hair is thicker or coarser you should be able to go up to 300°F at home. Many devices go as high as 400°F, but these sorts of temperatures are best handled by a professional in a salon setting.

Another tip to protect your hair is to avoid passing the irons over the same section of hair repeatedly. If you have the temperature set correctly, one pass should be enough. The hotter the curling iron, the less time you'll need to leave it in your hair – this is particularly important if you have fine hair. And talking of frequency, it’s best to limit how many times per week you use your curling iron. The more often you use it, the more likely you are to cause heat damage to your hair. Try not to use the irons every day, for instance.

Away from the device, using a hair mask to repair any heat damage and replenish moisture will not only improve the quality of your hair but will give you a well-deserved treat at the same time.

Testing curling irons

(Image credit: Future)

Why trust us

At Top Ten Reviews, we recommend the best products to enhance your life. As experts, we handpick products based on quality and usefulness to positively impact your life. We take our responsibility seriously — testing products, reading reviews, and sourcing knowledgeable outlets to ensure our selections are worthy of your time and money. Our detailed product overviews balance objective information with subjective opinions, so making the best choice for your home and lifestyle is easy.

For curling irons, we tested several different ones on six people, each with a different type of hair. Using what we learned for our in-house tests, we've been able to create a great guide to help you choose the best curling iron for you.

Freelancer writer and sub-editor Davina has over 20 years’ experience under her belt, and is one of our go-to writers for wellness content. From handheld massagers to mattresses, Davina has a keen interest in all things relaxation and rejuvenation, and spends a lot of her time covering these areas for Top Ten Reviews. So if you’re wondering which essential oil to use for easing stress, or whether a percussive massager really can banish your knotty muscles, Davina is the one to ask. When not working, she loves reading, practicing yoga and writing fiction.