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My hair type can best be described as "fine, but a lot of it," which essentially means that my hair rarely can be coaxed into holding a curl longer than an hour. Generally, if I curl my hair, it's kind of like a Cinderella situation—at the stroke of midnight (or, like an hour after curling my hair), my hair turns back into a metaphorical pumpkin.
If you are similarly afflicted, know that there's hope. First off, choose the right hair products. A heat protectant is especially important since fine hair can be prone to breakage, Dominick Pucciarello, celebrity hairstylist, says. Second, choose the right curling iron. "The biggest issue with fine hair when you curl it is overdoing it and frying your hair," Pucciarello says. "For fine hair, you don't need a curling iron that gets to 450 degrees—that is way too hot and will burn and damage your hair." (Side note: Oops, I've definitely been frying my fine hair in my quest for curls.)
Pucciarello suggests looking for one that's 310 degrees or lower. As for size? It all depends on the look you're going for. "If you want tight curls, go with a small barrel. If you want loose beach waves, go with a bigger barrel," he says. Sounds straightforward enough.
Shop our picks of the best curling irons for fine hair, below.
Best Overall: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron
This 1.5-inch curling iron effortlessly adds body and wave to fine hair. An adjustable heat setting allows you to set it at 310 degrees that's the perfect temp for fine hair, and the titanium/ceramic blend of the barrel delivers negative ions that help smooth hair.
Best Budget: Remington Pro ½-1-Inch Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand
You can control the heat setting of this tapered wand, which, coincidentally, was my curling iron of choice for many years. It's affordable and gets the job done without causing major hair damage. I found that my curls actually lasted longer when using this wand.
Best Budget, Runner-Up: Conair Double Ceramic 1-Inch Curling Iron
Resist the urge to use the turbo heat setting on this rose gold wand—it'll only do more harm than good. Instead keep it at a steady 310 degrees (reiterating because, as a fellow fine-haired girl, my instinct is to crank up the heat to make my curls last longer); the one-inch non-tapered barrel creates pretty, loose waves.
Best for Beginners: Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver Pro 1.25-Inch Dual Voltage
Pucciarello is a fan of the Beachwaver because it's so easy to use. The super-long rotating barrel curls hair at the push of a button (literally, you barely have to do anything), and has an adjustable heat setting so you don't fry your fine hair.
Best Rotating: Drybar The 3-Day Bender Digital Curling Iron
There's a bit of a learning curve with this rotating curling iron, but once you get the hang of it, it quickly transforms even the straightest of fine hair, like this writer's, into bouncy, full curls. It also has ceramic plates so it's gentle on your hair and ionic technology to smooth frizz.
Best for Short Fine Hair: ghd Curve Classic Curl Iron
If you have short, fine hair, reach for this classic curling iron. Its one-inch barrel features the brand's patented tri-zone breakthrough ceramic technology, which guarantees even, consistent heating throughout, while its cool tip provides protection when you're styling close to the face or scalp. Plus, for safety, it turns off automatically if left unused for 30 minutes.
Best Splurge: T3 Micro Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand
Create a variety of styles with this set of interchangeable barrels. There's a tapered barrel for curls, a one-inch barrel for polished waves, and a 1.5-inch barrel for loose, bendy waves. Each barrel is made with tourmaline and ceramic, which basically means they get rid of frizz and make hair super shiny in addition to curling. Plus, you can adjust the heat setting.
Best Ceramic: Hot Tools 1-Inch Nano Ceramic Salon Curling Iron
A basic 1-inch curling iron that has a clamp, this wand is a bit easier to use right off the bat than some others out there. It's ceramic—aka less damaging to hair— and the barrel is extra-long, which makes styling simple and quick.
Best Portable: Harry Josh Pro Tools Travel Curling Iron 1.25-Inch
Harry Josh's travel-size curling iron is small yet powerful enough to satisfy your styling needs on the go. It's also especially great for fine hair because it has customizable heat settings (from 325 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit)—plus, its fast heat-up time makes it super convenient (30 seconds is all you need) and its nano-ceramic and tourmaline barrel smooths your strands and locks in moisture. Lastly, for added safety, it has a 60-minute auto shut-off feature.
Best for Loose Waves: Bio Ionic Curl Expert Pro Curling Iron
This wand has natural volcanic rock minerals infused in it, which, in addition to sounding cool, also helps hydrate hair while you curl it. It works exceptionally well at creating beach waves on fine hair.