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When it comes to curling irons, one size doesn’t always fit all. Choosing the right curling iron is just as important as learning how to effectively use one. So what constitutes an ideal curling iron? According to Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, there are three things to look for when shopping for a quality curling iron. One, be aware of the thermostat and heat settings. Two, look for features that would make styling easier, like cord length and swivel function. Three, test out the clamp and see how much tension there is—the stronger the tension, the more it can even out and keep hair in place when styling.
With these tips in mind, we’ve cut through the clutter to bring you the best curling irons on the market.
Best Overall: Hot Tools 24K Gold Curling Iron
The name Hot Tools is synonymous with reliability. With a six-foot swivel cord, you have the flexibility to do your hair even in the tightest of spaces. Plus, it can reach up to 430°F, so it’s got the power to style thicker, coarser hair.
Best Budget: Conair Double Ceramic 1-Inch Curling Iron
The turbo heat feature makes it easy to style sections that need an extra boost of heat. And with its double ceramic plates, it evenly distributes that heat throughout your hair (read: no hot spots = no damage). For this affordable price, you may even want to buy a backup for your gym bag.
Best Drugstore: Revlon Salon Long Lasting Curls Curling Iron
Running late? The tourmaline ceramic barrel heats up in 30 seconds, which means there’s barely any wait time to start styling your hair. For flexibility, we recommend the 1-inch barrel as it can deliver both a tighter curl or loose waves.
Best Splurge: Dyson Airwrap Styler
When it comes to this innovative styler, many reviewers echo the same sentiment: it’s totally worth the investment. It does everything from curl, smooth, and dry your hair without the excessive heat that comes with traditional curlers. Plus, it’s clamp-free—it uses the Coanda effect to essentially bring the hair to the barrel and keep it there.
Best for Beach Waves: Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver Pro 1.25-Inch Dual Voltage
This patented curler developed by celebrity hair stylist Sarah Potempa still reigns supreme for gorgeous, beachy waves. Reviewers love how user-friendly it is—it rotates both ways, has a 9-foot cord, and automatically shuts off after 30 minutes.
Best for Beginners: CHI Air Spin N Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler
Get the curls you want without the guesswork. This foolproof iron does most of the work for you—all you have to do is place your section through the barrel, press the curl button, and watch your hair automatically wrap itself around the barrel inside. Once you hear three beeps, pull the iron down to release the hair.
Best for Thick Hair: T3 SinglePass Curl 1.25-Inch
As someone with thick hair, the biggest benefit a curling iron could give me is being lightweight. And this fan-favorite iron is that and more. Style your hair with ease (no workout here) with a ceramic barrel that internally regulates its temperature to give you curls that last. Plus, it lives up to its name—no need to go over the same section twice.
Best for Fine Hair: Insert Name Here The Waver
The deep grooves of this waver not only provide a subtle wave, but also help to add some fullness to your look. It also features an LCD panel, which makes choosing your desired temp easy and precise.
Best Cordless: Lunata Beauty The Lunata Cordless Convertible Curling Iron/Wand
For moments when the outlet is just a smidge too far (or you really just don't want to deal with another cord), this cordless tool swoops in and saves the day. Equipped with a rechargeable battery, this iron features four temperature settings and a removable clamp—so you can turn it into a wand for effortless beach waves.
Best for Long Hair: StyleCraft 1.25-Inch Style Stix XL Curling Iron
Long hair, meet your new best friend. With an extra-long barrel, high heat range, and lightweight feel, this iron makes it simple to add curls or waves in just one pass. Reviewers appreciate the non-slip handle, which helps with precision while styling.
Best for Short Hair: Remington Pro ½-1-Inch Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand
The crushed pearl-infused barrel delivers a long-lasting curl that’s equal parts smooth and bouncy. A section of short hair easily wraps around the thinner barrel, which is about half an inch to an inch, for a consistent curl.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any curling irons from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.