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Best curling irons 2021: The top curling wands for bouncy curls and beachy waves

Best curling irons 2021: The top curling wands for bouncy curls and beachy waves
(Image credit: Getty)

The best curling irons can transform your hair to create lots of different looks to match your mood. But depending on the type of curls you want, you will need to think about what type of curling wands and tongs to go for, as some are better for longer or thicker hair, while others are suited to short and fine hair. Whatever your hair type, there will be a great curling iron for you, and the best thing is it won’t cost you the earth either, with many curling wands starting from as little as $18, and going all the way up to over $500 for the Dyson AirWrap Styler, which does so much more than just curl your hair. 

You'll find many big-name brands behind the best curling irons, including Remington, BaByliss and Conair, some of which also make the best hair dryers. The top curling tongs come packed with features to not only style but protect your hair too, including temperature control and a cool tip so you can hold your curling tong safely as you style. Another handy feature is an automatic switch-off, which turns off the curling wand if it hasn’t been used for a specific length of time, just in case you forget to.

Other things to look out for when buying a good curling iron is the length of the cord – make sure it is long enough for you to style your hair without getting in a tangle, and so that you can position yourself wherever is convenient in the room without being too tethered to the power outlet. 

Below you’ll find our list of the best curling irons, as well as the best hair straightener for anybody who likes to switch between textured and straight hairstyles. Meanwhile, if you or a member of your household is looking to keep things really short, then don’t forget to check out our guides to the best hair clippers and the best electric head shavers.  

8 best curling irons for a range of hair types

1. Dyson Airwrap: The best curling iron overall

Best curling irons: Dyson Airwrap Styler curling wand

(Image credit: Dyson)

Dyson Airwrap Styler

This cutting-edge curling wand does all the styling for you

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Various attachments, low-heat styling, superb temperature control

Reasons to Buy

Superb temperature control
Styles your hair for you
Curls, waves and smooths

Reasons to Avoid

Very expensive

If you’re a fan of the Dyson Supersonic blow dryer, you will love the Dyson Airwrap. This do-it-all hair styler makes light work of creating curls and waves, but it can also dry and smooth (but not properly straighten) your hair too. It does all this without using extreme heat involved, making it an ideal investment for the long-term health of your hair. The Dyson Airwrap is suitable for the majority of hair types, whether yours is thick or thin, frizzy or poker straight and hard to curl.

The Airwrap is available in three separate editions: Complete, Volume+Shape, and Smooth+Control. Each edition includes different attachments, apart from the Complete, which contains them all. Attachments include interchangeable brushes and barrels, as well as a dryer attachment to ensure your hair is ready for curling, waving or smoothing.

As you’d expect, the Dyson Airwrap uses a high-tech design to achieve all this magic, centering around an ‘aerodynamic phenomenon’ called the Coanda effect that curves the air around it. As a result, any hair placed near the barrel is attracted then wrapped around the Airwrap. That means Dyson’s hair styler does all the waving and curling for you - you don’t need to do anything other than hold it near whichever section of hair needs styling. 

It’s fun to use, though we admit it does take a few goes to get used to it. We’ve achieved different looks with our Dyson Airwrap, from loose and glossy waves to big and bouncy curls, and even a smooth blow dry with minimal frizz. Yes it’s the most expensive model in our best curling irons guide, but it’s an award-winning device and the best money can buy right now. If you have the budget and the need for such a comprehensive curling iron, don’t hesitate to buy the Dyson Airwrap.


2. Conair InfinitiPro Wand: Best curling iron for all hair types

Best curling irons: Conair InfinitiPro Rainbow Titanium Curling Wand

(Image credit: Conair)

Conair InfinitiPro Rainbow Titanium Curling Wand

This vibrant curling iron guarantees great results for all hair types

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: 20 heat settings, thermal glove included, heats to 400°F

Reasons to Buy

Quick heat transfer
Styles even fine hair

Reasons to Avoid

Dyson heat protection is better 

Conair’s curling wand is packed with features to help you create salon-standard curls and waves at home. It heats up to 400°F with 20 heat settings suitable for every hair type and includes a five-foot professional swivel cord that makes it cinch to use. Meanwhile, the titanium barrel guarantees less damage, helping reduce frizz and add shine with its easy-glide surface.

With such hot temperatures on offer, this Conair curling iron also has safety in mind and includes an auto-off function, as well as a thermal glove for added precaution. This wand is easy to get to grips with whether you’re after tousled waves or tighter curls. Simply take a section of hair and wind it around the barrel, leaving more space between the wraps for a looser effect. 

The Conair InfinitiPro Rainbow Titanium Curling Wand comes in three different barrel sizes: 1-inch, 1.5 inches, and the tapered 1.25-0.75. If you're shopping for the best curling iron to achieve a range of looks, we'd suggest this one and the Dyson above.


3. GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron: Best curling wand for long hair

Best curling irons: GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron

(Image credit: GHD)

GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron

The best curling iron for creating glam curls and big waves

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Single 365°F heat setting, safety stand, cool tip, auto-off after 30 minutes

Reasons to Buy

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

Reasons to Avoid

Only one heat setting

Anyone with long hair will know it can take a little while to curl it, but luckily the award-winning haircare brand GHD is here to make light work of styling with its GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron, which is why it's made our best curling irons guide.

Keeping things simple, the Soft Curl only has one heat setting – a 365°F optimum styling temperature, which GHD claims is suitable for all hair types. Using the device is easy too: 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 that have plenty of volume at the root too. 

Safety features on the GHD Curve Soft Curl Iron include a cool tip, built-in stand and automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes of non-use. For tighter curls, GHD also offers a 1-inch version with the Classic Curl, as well as a tapered barrel version with its Creative Curl Wand.


4. Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II: Best curling iron for beach waves

Best curling irons: Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II curling tong in green and silver

(Image credit: Bed Head)

Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II

Make (beachy) waves with this top-rated curling wand

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Ceramic tourmaline clamps, 30 heat settings, dual voltage |

Reasons to Buy

Fast and fuss-free waves
Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

Not as effective on shorter hair

This dedicated wave-maker from Bed Head instantly creates tousled and effortless-looking beach waves. the Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II 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. Start at the root and lightly clamp the hair before working your way down. 

The Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II has several neat features, including 30 heat settings and an auto-off function. Tourmaline ceramic technology also 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.

There are plenty of five-star reviews from existing customers for the Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver II, especially from users with longer and thicker hair. The Deep Waver II is ideal for looser, more tousled waves, but if you want more defined waves, check out the Bed Head’s Makin Waves ‘S’ Waver instead, or try the Dyson Airwrap. 


5. Bed Head Skinny Pop: Best curling iron for short hair

Best curling irons: Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Iron

(Image credit: Bed Head)

Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Wand

A simple curling iron for shorter hair styles

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: 0.5-inch barrel, clamp free, tourmaline ceramic barrel

Reasons to Buy

Super-slim barrel
Creates perfect ringlets

Reasons to Avoid

Doesn't create big curls

The fun Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Wand takes shorter hair from straight to great with a 0.5in narrow 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 to a toasty 400°F for quick results, while a tangle-free swivel cord guarantees you get to those tricky-to-reach sections. 

The Bed Head Skinny Pop Curling Wand's tourmaline ceramic technology is kind to hair and offers a frizz-free option for natural-looking long-lasting curls. Bed Head also includes a heat-protective glove so that you can safely style with the wand without burning your fingertips. As ever, Bed Head has delivered the goods with this well-made, easy-to-use device that has plenty of glowing user reviews on Amazon.


6. Remington SS550: Best hair straighteners for curling hair

Best curling irons: Remington SS550 1-Inch Curling Iron

(Image credit: Remington)

Remington SS550 1-Inch Flat Iron

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Anti-static technology, LCD screen, 310°F to 410°F

Reasons to Buy

Quick to heat up
LCD display

Reasons to Avoid

Takes practice to create curls

There are many different gadgets available for getting great curls and waves for your hair, but if you would like the option to both straighten and curl your hair, you might only want one device that does both. Step forward the Remington SS550 1-Inch Flat Iron, the best hair straighteners for curling and waving.

While there is only a limited range of curling  you can achieve with straightening irons, if you find the right pair it’s surprising what fantastic results you can get. Narrower plates, such as those found on the Remington SS550 1-Inch Flat Iron, work best for creating texture on medium to longer length hair.

The Remington SS550 flat iron also comes with anti-static technology and long plates that will create loose curls and gorgeous waves in just a few smooth glides. We also love the quick heat-up time and digital display screen that enables you to keep an eye on the temperature to suit your hair type. There are six heat settings ranging from 310°F to 410°F, so you can pick the right one for your hair.


7. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron: Best curling iron with large barrel

Best curling irons: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

(Image credit: BaByliss)

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Wand

The best curling iron for maximum bounce, minimum frizz

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: 1.5in barrel, 50 heat settings, temperatures up 450°F

Reasons to Buy

Good range of heat settings
Curls hair fast

Reasons to Avoid

Not effective on shorter hair

If you want glamorous larger-than-life curls fast, then look no further than the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron. This device 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.

The spring barrel clamps down hair to offer effective control whether you’re after tight curls or loose waves, with shiny and smooth results every time. There is also a turbo heat button that instantly boosts the temperature for faster results and more defined curls should you need it. 

There are plenty of great Amazon reviews for the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron, including from people with thicker, longer hair who found the BaBylissPRO particularly effective for their needs. Other comments, including those from Walmart customers, stated how this device curled in ‘half the time’ and had lasting results, with one satisfied customer stating their curls ‘lasted for days’. 


8. Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand: Best curling iron for fine hair

Best curling irons: Conair Ceramic Curling Iron

(Image credit: Conair)

Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand

This top curling tong is big on styling and heat protection

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: 30 heat settings, ceramic technology, heats to 375°F

Reasons to Buy

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

When it comes to applying heat to fine hair it’s always best to go gently with lower temperatures and ceramic technology. Ceramic surfaces not only distribute the heat more evenly, but you will also get a smooth curl with lasting results. 

The affordable Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand has 30 heat settings up to 375°F to guarantee complete control over your hair and get great results with minimal frizzing too. That means it's also one of the best curling irons for protecting your hair from heat damage.

Use the low temperature settings 1 to 5 for fragile to fine hair, or settings 6 to 10 for thin hair. And, of course it’s suitable for thick and coarse hair too – just switch the settings up to 21 to 30 to see what suits you best.

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, which makes the Conair Double Ceramic Curling Wand one of the best curling irons for holidays and general travel.

Today's cheapest prices on the best curling irons

Best curling irons FAQ

How to choose the best curling irons for you

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 it will give you a well-deserved treat at the same time.

Best curling irons: A woman styles her hair with a curling iron

(Image credit: Getty)

Are curling wands suitable for all hair types?

Unless your hair is very short, there should be a curling wand or curling iron to suit most hair lengths. People with shorter hair will often find a thinner barrel (0.5 to 1inch) easier to use, as you can wrap more hair around it. While if you have long hair and use a thinner barrel, you can achieve tight corkscrew curls. For larger bouncier curls on long hair try a wider barrel for more volume and a glamorous look.

It’s important to note that finer hair generally requires lower temperatures, so try to choose a device that has plenty of options for temperature control, as well as a quick release option if things get overheated. Thicker hair can generally withstand higher temperatures.

Curling irons are a great choice for frizzy hair, as the heat will smooth out the hair and create sleeker waves and curls. If your hair is any way damaged or brittle, then applying any sort of heat to it is best avoided.

Curling irons vs hair straighteners: What’s the difference?

As it sounds, the best hair straighteners are used to straighten hair into sleek smooth styles, while curling irons and tongs add curls, waves and texture. But, with a little practice, they can be used interchangeably.

The best straightening irons can also create waves and flicks to straight hair, while giving the hair a lovely smooth finish. Choose narrower plates and experiment with manipulating the hair as you move the plates down to create curls. These waves and curls may not be as uniform as using a dedicated curling iron, but the effect of this can look really great and natural. For precise uniform curls though, you will need a dedicated curling iron or wand.

Curling irons can be used to tame coarser more frizzy hair into smooth styles, while keeping volume and bounce. Again, experiment with the irons to see what works for you. A continuous movement, rather than holding the irons, may also be more suitable for a straightening effect.

Achieving curls with a curling device is easier and faster than with straighteners, as each section of the curl will be set immediately rather than in sections. If you like to mix and match straight, curly and wavy styles then you might want to consider buying both curling irons and straighteners – there are plenty of affordable options to choose from.

Best curling irons: An image showing the Dyson Airwrap Styler with accessories

(Image credit: Dyson)

When to consider when buying the best curling irons

Safety 
On its own, a curling iron is not likely to start a fire in your home when left on but bad outcomes are possible if fabric or tissue falls on it or someone grabs the hot barrel. A feature such as automatic shut-off can reduce the danger. Curling irons that provide safety gloves or a heat-resistant shield also help prevent burns.

Ceramic vs Tourmaline vs Titanium curling irons
Ceramic curling irons distribute heat evenly by emitting negatively charged ions. They don't strip your hair of its natural oils, which will make your curls look smoother. Ceramic irons are also the roughest curling iron surface, which means your hair is less likely to slip off but also more likely to catch and snag.

Tourmaline curling irons also heat up your hair by emitting negative ions. This kind of curling iron is made of ceramic but has a layer of tourmaline wrapped around the barrel and plate. This not only protects the ceramic place but will leave your hair looking shinier after you use it.

Performance
When you’re considering the type of curl you hope to achieve, the size of a curling iron or wand’s barrel is important because it determines the tightness of your curls. The shape of the barrel is also significant. Whether its uniform, spiraled or tapered can give you very different results. If you’re looking for more natural waves, you might like a curling wand better than a curling iron. Defining your style before you go shopping can help you find the right product for your needs.

While using a curling iron it's important not to leave the iron in your hair for too long. Make sure to read the directions of the product you buy and follow them. The hotter the curling iron, the less time you'll need to leave it in your hair. That being said, you should only use a very hot curling iron on thick or coarse hair. Thin hair is more likely to break or burn.

Convenience
Look for curling irons that have a longer power cord.  Anything over 6 feet is a good place to start. A long cord keeps you from feeling like you're attached to the wall as you curl your hair. A digital screen is nice so you can easily monitor the temperature of the curling iron. 

Storage
If you travel a lot, consider a heat resistant storage pouch for your curling iron. These bags protect curling irons from unnecessary wear and tear while you travel, and they protect other items from your still-warm curling iron. Just make sure you've purchased a bag that is heat and water resistant. That way you can toss the curling wand in the bag while it's still warm and head out the door without having to wait for your curling iron to cool down.

Looking for more wellness and personal care content? Then check out our guides to the best electric toothbrushes, the best teeth whiteners, and the best electric razors.