John Frieda's Tight Curls packs the best curling features in a reasonably priced package, earning it our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award. Our testers loved the effect this curling iron creates and generally found it easy to use on a variety of hair types. The Tight Curls heats up fast and has the widest temperature range of any curling iron we reviewed, which ensures you use the right setting for your specific hair type.
The Tight Curls’ tight clip and ultra-smooth barrel coating work together to effectively curl hair without damaging it. The clip is strong enough to keep hair in the right position and prevents it from slipping out of place on the super-smooth surface. The barrel’s specialized surface is coated with ceramic titanium designed to distribute heat and prevent hot spots that can damage delicate hair.
One drawback to a super-strong clip is that it makes it harder to create loose curls because the hair doesn’t easily slide through when you want it to. With a little practice, you can create loose curls with this hair curler, though you may have to modify your method a little. You could also just buy John Frieda’s bigger-barreled version of this curling iron. This model made perfect traditional curls practically every time we used it, regardless of hair type – our testers said it created the "perfect ringlet" and "a good curl." The Farouk Chi Arc curling iron is another top performer with consideration.
The curler’s truly wide temperature range means you can choose a heat setting that curls your hair without damaging it. This matters for people of all hair types, but especially for those who have fine hair, which can burn at high temperatures. In addition, you can depend on the Tight Curls to actually be the temperature it says it is, or at least really close – something that can’t be said about all of its competitors.
We found that this iron’s curls didn’t hold as well over time as some of its competitors’, but it did better than at least half of the other curlers we tested. The curls didn't really start to lose their shape until about the fifth hour of the test, which is a decent run that can get you through many special occasions. You can extend the hold by using the right styling product – we did our timed test product-free.
This hair curler was the easiest to use of the bunch we tested, and our testers generally loved it. It is comfortable to hold, and because the trigger for the clip is close to the handle, your thumb doesn’t have to move far to manipulate it; this is unlike many other models we tested, which require some serious stretching.
The Tight Curls has a long, swiveling cord so you don't feel too tethered to your outlet while you style your hair. In addition, its digital display is much easier to read than the dials on much of the competition. Since the temperature controls and on/off switch are right where you hold the curling iron, you may inadvertently change the settings, but you would have to grip the handle really hard to make that happen.
John Frieda's Tight Curls has all the most important safety features, including automatic shut-off in case you forget about it on a busy morning. It also has an elevated rest and a heat-resistant mat you can place under it to protect your countertops.
This curler stands out for having a tip that actually stays pretty cool – not room temperature, but close. Some of the other curling irons we tested have tips that are just slightly cooler than the barrels themselves, which makes it hard to comfortably style your hair, especially when you use higher heat settings. This curler doesn’t come with a glove, but that is not really surprising – they are more useful for curling wands than curling irons with clips.
The Tight Curls has a notably long warranty, and even though it’s not a big investment, it’s nice to know the curler will keep working for a good long time. If it doesn't, you can contact John Freida – company representatives are easy to contact by phone or over email through the company’s website.
All the curling irons we tested curl hair, but not all of them do it well or do it well on all hair types. The John Friend Tight Curls did, though. It also has an easy-to-use design and comes with all the important safety features. The barrel’s smooth ceramic coating has been engineered to protect your hair from heat damage, and its impressively long warranty gives it a final boost, making it our absolute favorite curling iron.