The 11 Best Curling Irons for Short Hair of 2023

Our best overall pick is the NuMe Classic Pearl Bubble Curling Wand

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The 10 Best Curling Irons for Short Hair of 2022

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Shopping for a curling iron should be pretty straightforward. Except for most of us, it's not. With constantly evolving technology, shapes, and sizes, it can be difficult to keep track of what's hype, what's not, and what's actually worth spending your money on. (Especially since some of the best curling irons come in at a hefty dollar value.) That being said, there are some truly great rods and wands out there—especially if you're looking for an iteration to pair beautifully with shorter locks.

We conducted hours of research on the best curling irons for short hair, evaluating them on design type and barrel size, as their heat settings and how temperature range. We took into consideration all hair types and textures, and how easy the tool is to use. After considering dozens of different brands, we landed on the following best in show.

Best Overall

NuMe Classic Pearl Bubble Curling Wand

NUME CLASSIC PEARL CURLING WAND

NUME

What We Like
  • Helps add bounce

  • Creates tight curls

  • Heats up fast

What We Don't Like
  • Temperature cannot be adjusted

What do buyers say? 400+ NuMe reviewers rated this product 4.9 stars or above.

Okay, within the curling iron realm, this oddly shaped, pearl-inspired wand from NuMe has already become somewhat of a legend. And while it may work beautifully on hair of any length, it's especially great for those with a shorter chop. Made with tourmaline, the unique pearl shape claims to encourage bouncy texture and full-bodied waves and curls. It's also wonderful for every kind of texture, from ultra-thick to baby-fine.

Price at time of publish: $99

Temperature Range: Up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1/2 inch and 1 inch

Best Budget

Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold Curling Iron

4.7
Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold Curling Iron

Amazon

What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • Multiple barrel sizes available

  • Adjustable heat settings

What We Don't Like
  • Can snag hair

Okay, we're just going to say it: This curling iron from Hot Tools might just be one of the most popular, effective, and budget-friendly curling irons of all time—especially if you have short hair. The 24K surface creates long-lasting and ultra-defined hair looks, while innovative pulse technology (which claims to get hot and stays hot without a moment's hesitation) may chop styling time by 50 percent.

Price at time of publish: $38

Temperature Range: Up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 3/4", 1 1/2", 1", 1 1/4"

Best Budget, Runner-Up

Conair Instant Heat 1 1/2-Inch Curling Iron

Conair Instant Heat Curling Iron

Amazon

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Heats up quickly, within 30 seconds

What We Don't Like
  • While there are multiple heat settings, the temperature isn’t specified

A solid, high-performing curling iron for less than $20? Is that even a thing? Yep, and you’re looking at it. This bargain-buy heats up quickly (in just about 30 seconds) and evenly, and while it comes in several different sizes, this half-inch option is especially perfect for using on shorter strands. There are 25 heat settings, although the temperatures aren’t specified; your best bet is to check online for info as to which range is best suitable for your hair texture.

Price at time of publish: $20

Temperature Range: Not specified, although there are 25 heat settings | Barrel Size: ½ inch, ¾ inch, 1 inch

Best Titanium

Foxybae Wanderlux Rose Gold Curling Wand

FoxyBae WANDERLUX 25mm Professional Curling Wand

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Boosts shine

  • Heats up quickly with adjustable heat settings

What We Don't Like
  • Curls could last longer

Sleek, rose-gold packaging aside (but seriously, who wouldn't want to display this on their vanity?), this one-inch wand by Foxybae consistently receives five-star reviews on sites like Ulta and is applauded for its habit of potentially inducing impeccable shine and hold—sans spray.

Price at time of publish: $62

Temperature Range: Up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 3/4 inch, 1 ¼ inch

Best Ceramic

Sultra The Bombshell Rod Curling Iron

Sultra The Bombshell Rod Curling Iron

Amazon

What We Like
  • Less damaging than other options

  • Easy to use

  • Boosts volume

What We Don't Like
  • Temperature cannot be adjusted

This cult-favorite one-inch wand is great for any hair length (take it from someone who's proved to be ever the chameleon over the years) but is especially handy for short hair. Plus, it also may be one of the least damaging in the bunch. Featuring the brand's exclusive Advanced Care Ceramic technology (which claims to simultaneously repair the hair as you style), it's safe for color-treated, dry, and yes, even damaged strands. Also—it's fast.

Price at time of publish: $99

Temperature Range: Up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1 inch

Best Splurge

T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

Sephora

What We Like
  • Chic design

  • 3 wands in one

  • Works quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Okay, before you balk with sticker shock, hear us out. Because essentially, you're getting four different curling irons in one with this ingenious set from T3. Travel-friendly and with the ability to create unique and head-turning curls (the barrels are really just that good), this handsome foursome is worth every penny. According to the brand, undone waves can be achieved with the one-inch straight barrel, tousled waves with the traditional tapered (seen right), cascading waves with the reversed tapered (middle left), and loose with the 1.25-inch straight. Oh, and the base also boasts five different adjustable heat settings, auto world voltage, and a one-hour automatic shutoff, so you'll never waste a day wondering did I or didn't I? again.

Price at time of publish: $325

Temperature Range: Up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1 inch, 1.25 inch, 1.5 inch

Best Tapered Rod

ghd Creative Curl Tapered Curling Wand

4.7
ghd Creative Curl Tapered Curling Wand

Amazon

What We Like
  • Tapered wand creates versatile styles

  • Heats up quickly

  • Hair feels soft

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for every style

According to the brand's helpful product comparison guide, this is one of the best Ghd curling irons for short hair, and if the stellar reviews have anything to say about it, they're not lying to us. Ever so slightly tapered at the end, the wand boasts cutting-edge tri-zone technology that claims to ensure even and consistent temperature for healthier, long-lasting results. Yes, this one's an investment. But if our personal stash of Ghd tools (some of which have lasted us for five years and beyond) gives us a hint, it's a worthy one.

Price at time of publish: $205

Temperature Range: Up to 365 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1 inch

Best Rotating Rod

Drybar The 3-Day Bender Digital Curling Iron

Drybar The 3 Day Bender Rotating Curling Iron

Amazon

What We Like
  • Rotating clamp styles hair faster

  • Helps reduce frizz

  • Heats up quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Aesthetically, Drybar's signature bright yellow iron is a winner, but so is its amazing technology and curl payoff for those with shorter strands. Great for all hair types—from tightly coiled curls to pin-straight, this iron boasts a rotating clamp (which may cut your get-ready time in half) in addition to dual ceramic heaters, infrared heating technology, and a handy digital temperature reader.

Price at time of publish: $149

Temperature Range: Up to 440 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1.25 inches

Best Rotating Rod, Runner-Up

Beachwaver Co. S1 Rotating Curling Iron

4.2
Beachwaver Co. S1 Rotating Curling Iron

Beachwaver

What We Like
  • Creates natural-looking waves

  • Has two speeds

  • Has 30-minute shutoff

What We Don't Like
  • Curls could last longer

The Beachwaver Co. has been making waves within the industry for a while now, and honestly, it's for good reason. Case in point: It rotates at two different speeds (fast or slow, take your pick), boasts ceramic technology that may decrease damage, and allows you to create every iteration of curl for your short hair—from intricate and defined to loose and beachy.

Price at time of publish: $149

Temperature Range: Up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1 inch

Best Cone-Shaped Rod

Paul Mitchell Neuro Angle Rod Curling Iron

Neuro Angle Rod Curling Iron

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy and comfortable to use

  • Heats up quickly

  • Creates lasting styles

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Full disclaimer: When this curling wand first came across our desks, we were skeptical. Would an angling iron actually prove useful? Or would it just be a liability where unsightly ear, neck, and chin burns are concerned? Thankfully, however, we were proven wrong. With four different rod positions, this universally flattering one-inch wand allows you to position your iron wherever you need to without distressing your biceps, shoulders, or neck in the process. Plus, it heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit in record time—we're talking just a matter of seconds, folks.

Price at time of publish: $145

Temperature Range: Up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit | Size: 1"

Best Marcel

Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron 1-Inch

Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Three-in-one design can be used multiple different ways

  • Has an automatic shut-off

What We Don't Like
  • On the pricier side

  • Only comes in one size

A vast majority of professional stylists opt for marcel curling irons, which simply means irons with a clamp that is manually-controlled rather than spring-loaded. While the technique takes a bit of practice and getting used to, it ultimately yields a very uniform, precise, old-school type curl (hence why many pros are such fans).  It makes sense then that a professional stylist would create this tool, which lets you experiment with using that type of clamp. Though if it turns out that a marcel iron just is not your vibe—or you want to have other options—the manual clamp is detachable and the iron comes with a spring-loaded version, too. Or, remove the clamps entirely and just use it as a wand. Also nice: The fact that you can adjust the temp from 190 to 380 degrees.

Price at time of publish: $185

Temperature Range: Up to 380 degrees Fahrenheit | Barrel Size: 1 inch

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is the NuMe Classic Pearl Bubble Curling Wand, which is made with tourmaline, for less damage, and designed with a patented shape that encourages bouncy texture. For something more affordable, consider the Hot Tools 24K Gold Professional Curling Iron. This drugstore pick has a 24 karat gold surface that helps to create long-lasting and ultra-defined hair looks.

What To Look For in a Curling Iron For Short Hair

Barrel Size

Go for a smaller barrel, like one that's 0.5 to one inch in size. Any barrel bigger than that will be too big for shorter hair, which may not allow the curl to hold. You want it to be able to wrap around without being too loose, which is why 0.5 to one inch are the ideal size.

Type

Take into account whether you feel more comfortable using a wand or iron before selecting a curling iron. Typically an iron uses a clip to hold the curl in place, whereas a wand requires you to hold the curl in place. Both can yield the same results, so it's truly just a matter of preference of what you like to use more.

Adjustable Heat

Make sure your curling iron arrives with adjustable heat. This can help you adjust the temperature to one that is best for your hair. This may help prevent damage and keep your hair in tip-top shape, which is something we all want. Different hair types and textures need different temperatures, so selecting an iron with adjustable heat is pretty important.

FAQ
  • Is a curling iron or wand better for short hair?

    Both tools work well for short hair styling. It depends on what you're comfortable with. The one you have success with is truly based on your personal preference and how you use it.

  • What size of curling iron is best for short hair?

    A barrel that's 0.5 to one inch in size is usually best for shorter hair. A smaller barrel will make the tool easier to maneuver and allow you to wrap an entire section of hair around it.

  • How do you curl short hair with a curling iron?


    Once your hair is dry, part your hair in the middle and divide into as many sections as you can. Find the desired heat setting. Try to wrap your hair in increments of 1-inch and begin curling the front pieces, making your way to the back, on either side of your part. Remember to use no a barrel between .05 and 1 inch for best results.

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