There are endless YouTube hair tutorials and TikTok hacks out there showing you how to create perfectly bouncy curls and beachy waves. But when it comes to creating beautiful coils, it isn’t just about technique— the tools you use are just as important. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right curling wand for your hair. For example, when curling your hair, are you aiming for textured, beachy waves, or bouncy, loose curls? Do you have fine hair or thick hair? Short hair or long hair? Do you plan on styling your hair on a daily basis, or just once in a while? If you’re feeling bogged down by all of these questions, don’t stress–we’ve got your back. Read on for our guide to the best curling irons–from nano titanium to ceramic barrel coating–for every hair type, hairstyle, and need. When in doubt, just remember, there’s a curling iron out there with your name on it.
Want to learn how to create mermaid-like beach waves with minimal effort? Check out this easy beach wave tutorial:
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The key factors to pay attention to when selecting the best curling iron (or any styling tool, for that matter) are: barrel size, material, heat settings, and automatic shut-off. Style, size, and other extra features are fun to look out for, too.
Before you curl, keep these pointers in mind: “Always use a heat protectant and try to be as quick and efficient as possible to keep the iron on the hair for the shortest amount of time. Always let the curls cool (at least 5 minutes on each side) to ensure the waves set properly, before combing through or using your fingers to break the curls,” says Malhotra.
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This baby is suitable for any and every hair type, and creates everything—from tight curls to spirals and loose waves—with ease. Stylists love this wand for its rotating barrel, which prevents wrist fatigue while you style, and its gold curling iron barrel that heats up lightning fast. “ I love the HOT TOOLS 1 ¼” 24K Gold Marcel Wand. It gives me the best amount of control and heat to create the exact waves I want, every time,” Malhotra tells us.
While this luxe tool may have a hefty price tag, it's adored by stylists for its ability to create gorgeous curls without damaging fine hair.” I use my Marcel on fine hair too, but I do love the Bioprogramming Hairbeauron Iron for damaged or super fine hair because its technology is incredible and so gentle on the hair,” Malhotra says. This wand uses its “bioprogramming” technology to boost shine and moisture while curling hair at lower temperatures.
There’s a reason BaByliss has pretty much become a household name when it comes to hair tools. Besides lasting for what seems like forever (seriously, we think this tool has 9 lives), this 1 1/4” barrel curling iron features an easy-to-use wand that helps create the summery, beachy, tousled waves you’ve always wanted. This wand heats up to 450 degrees, helping create effortless curls on the thickest hair types while a ceramic-coated barrel boosts shine and smooths unruly strands. Here’s a quick beach wave how-to from our pro. “Section the hair and split into two sides. Starting from the bottom take about 1 inch sections and starting about 2 inches from the root use the twist and pull method, or wrap the hair around the iron without overlapping your hair to create waves. End the wave about 2 inches from the ends and just simply pull the hair through the iron to give it a quick heat seal,” says Malhotra.
We’re hooked on this styler for creating quick, on-the-go curls that look like they took serious time. With its “Single Pass” technology, this wand comes with five adjustable heat settings, plus a smart microchip that helps prevent fluctuations in temperature, making it great for beginners. The result? Gorgeous waves and sleek spirals in virtually no time.
If you’ve ever reached for your curling iron with the hopes of creating soft, romantic curls, only to be faced with hard, crunchy ones, we feel your frustration. The solution? This gentle-on-hair tool actually senses each strand of hair and adjusts to an even 365 degrees across its entire barrel for silky, soft curls that aren’t extra crispy.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of a curling wand with a rotating barrel, but trust us—it’s a game-changer. The rotating clamp on this hot tool helps create everything from bouncy curls to sleek S waves, to beachy bends on fine, thick, curly, wavy, and straight hair with ease, and it's easy on your wrists. It’s made with Ionic Technology, which helps seal the hair cuticle for less frizz, more shine, and style that lasts for the long haul.
This multitasker lets you create pretty much any style you crave, from tight curls to bombshell waves without taking up real estate in your bathroom. All you have to do is swap the barrel out from its universal base. You’ll get three interchangeable wands with five heat settings and built-in “SinglePass” technology for speedy styling.
Vacation and travel don’t mean you have to put your daily hairstyling routines on hold. Exhibit A: this travel-friendly styling wand from FOXYBAE. It fits effortlessly into a carry-on but is just as effective as the full-size version. This 19mm inch curling iron is ideal for short and fine hair types looking for choppy beach waves or tight curls, however, it will work for any hair type. A 360-degree swivel cord makes it easy to use, no matter where you are. Plus, with a marble handle and a rose gold barrel (made of tourmaline ceramic), it looks just as fresh and stylish as your curls will.
Wake up your bedhead in the morning with this clip-free (that means 100 percent crease-free) THEORIE curling iron. Thanks to its titanium-coated barrel, this wand helps smoothes out frizz, locks in moisture, and polishes each curl to look soft and shiny. With an automatic shut-off feature, you can head to work stress-free knowing there’s no risk of accidentally leaving your curling wand plugged in. Add some heat protectant and hairspray for the ultimate frizz-free, salon-level curls.
To all our fellow long-hair curlers out there, this tourmaline-infused titanium tool is for you. In five seconds max, the titanium barrel heats up to almost 400 degrees, so you’re in and out of the bathroom with curly hair in no time. Negative ion technology eliminates frizz and a cool ensures your long hair is perfectly curled without overly coiling and drying out the ends. A swivel cord and heat-resistant protective glove make styling as simple and safe as possible.
Ceramic curling irons and titanium curling irons are two of the most popular hot tools professionals use, but one benefit of ceramic is its ability to distribute heat evenly, which minimizes the potential for hair damage and breakage. Our top pick for ceramic curling wands is this clip-free option from EVA NYC. Not only does it have a pastel marbled handle, but it also has a one-inch barrel that’s fabulous for short and long hair of all types. Negative ions help smooth frizz, while a cool tip and protective glove keep your hands and countertops safe and sound.
If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds on social media, you’ve come across the magic that is the DYSON Airwrap. Besides being the coolest piece of hair curling technology we’ve ever seen, this wave maker uses airflow technology to wrap hair around its barrel creating curls and waves of all shapes without causing heat damage to your hair.
Anything Harry Josh makes, we’re absolutely here for, and that includes this mother of all multitaskers. It comes with an interchangeable set that works as a wand, marcel, and curling iron to create everything from tousled curls, to glam waves, to tighter curls, and ringlets, along with a 40-second heat-up and 60-second automatic shut-off.
BEACHWAVER has a cult following—and for a good reason: This brand is the G.O.A.T. when it comes to creating carefree, tousled beach waves that take minimal effort. Reach for this curling iron if you want to create sexy, loose bends that look like you’ve spent the day lounging by the ocean.
What we love about this curler is that it delivers fast, effortless curls without breaking the bank or singe-ing our strands. This clamp-free wand features a barrel that tapers towards the tips, allowing you to create gorgeous curls that vary in size minus any crimps or creases.
Not only do we love how sleek this tool looks in our bathroom, we’re also hooked on how easily it weaves soft, romantic “undone” waves into varying hair lengths. This curling iron features negative ion technology (which we know is amazing at eliminating frizz), along with a super smooth barrel that cuts out any chance of creases, kinks, or snags, for waves that are polished, shiny, and healthy-looking.
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