These Are the 12 Best Curling Irons for Thick Hair, Hands Down

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Best Curling Irons for Thick Hair

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Fine hair often gets tons of attention, with lots of products and tools that are designed to address its specific needs. Often it feels like thick hair gets the short end of the stick. But even if you’ve been blessed with full, lush strands, that doesn’t mean that any old styler or hot tool will work for you—thicker tresses need some dedicated attention, too. Take curling irons, for example.

Everything from temperature settings to barrel material to shape can make all the difference when it comes to styling your voluminous locks, whether you’re going for beachy waves or retro, brushed-out curls. When looking for a curling iron, you'll want a barrel size appropriate for your thickness and length, as well as a material that heats quickly enough to not cause damage. On top of that, a range of temperature settings is important, as is whether the barrel is a clamp or wand.

Ahead are the best curling irons for thick hair that will give your mane exactly what it needs.

Best Overall: Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver Pro Dual Voltage

4.6
Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver PRO Curling Iron

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Self-spinning technology

  • Ergonomic handle

  • Includes great safety features

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping and Vogue both picked the Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver Pro Dual Voltage.

This game-changing hot tool truly revolutionized the hair industry when it first came on the scene, with self-spinning technology that makes it possible for anyone to get the beachy waves you see on runways and the red carpet. All you have to do is put a section of hair in the clip and push a button; the iron does the work for you, spinning it in the right direction to create that effortlessly tousled texture. This pro version is great for thick hair, thanks to its larger barrel and adjustable temperature settings.

Temperature Range: 310 to 450 F | Size: 1 inch

Best Budget: Hot Tools 24K Gold Curling Iron

4.7
Hot Tools 24K Gold Curling Iron

 Ulta

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Comes in various barrel sizes

  • Even heat distribution

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note the clamp can get stuck

Despite the fact that Hot Tools products aren’t incredibly pricey, they feature all kinds of great technology and are a staple among professional stylists. This iron touts a patented pulse technology to sense heat loss, immediately restoring it so that your iron stays evenly hot the whole way through—a huge win when you’re curling thick hair that can take quite a long time to get through.

Temperature Range: 280 to 430 F | Size: 0.75 inches, 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 1.25 inches

Best Drugstore: Remington Pro 1-1.5-Inch Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand

4.5
Remington Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Adds shine

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note results aren't long-lasting

This affordable option heats up super fast—in just 30 seconds, to be precise—and can reach temperatures up to 410 degrees. Crushed pearl on the ceramic coating makes for evenly distributed heat (which minimizes the likelihood that you need to go over the same section again) and adds a shiny smoothness to your hair. Bonus points: The tapered wand allows for versatility when it comes to the type of curls you can create.

Temperature Range: 266 to 410 F | Size: 0.5 to 1 inch, 1 to 1.5 inches

Best Smoothing: T3 Micro Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reduces frizz

  • Adds shine

  • Three interchangeable heads

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This beloved hot tool brand uses a custom-blend ceramic on the surface of this iron, which is choice for booth tamping down errant frizzies (a common problem for those with thicker strands) and imparting mega-watt shine. While it’s definitely pricey, consider the fact that you’re also basically getting three separate irons for the price of one. This comes with a tapered wand, plus a 1-inch and a 1.5-inch barrel size, allowing for plenty of versatility. Use the larger one on the back of your head and the smaller one around your face, where even thick hair will be a little finer.

Temperature Range: 260 to 410 F | Size: 0.75 to 1.75 inches, 1 inch, 1.5 inches

Best for Long-Lasting Curls: Drybar The 3-Day Bender Digital Curling Iron

drybar digital curling iron

Courtesy of Drybar

What We Like
  • Long-lasting results

  • Reduces frizz

  • Adds shine

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note clamp isn't flush with iron

As the name suggests, this tool is ideal for those who want to wash and style their hair once and not have to do it again for a few days. Ultimately, that’s the best way to minimize heat damage to your hair, something that’s important for all textures. Plus, the rotating clamp helps you create perfectly shaped curls faster than traditional irons—which, again, is a big plus if you have lots of thick hair to get through.

Temperature Range: Up to 440 F | Size: 1 inch, 1.25 inches

Best for Beginners: Kristin Ess Soft Wave Pivoting Wand

Kristin Ess Soft Wave Pivoting Wand

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Wand pivots to a 90-degree angle

  • Adds shine

  • Reduces frizz

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note results aren't long-lasting

Know why your hair always looks so much better when a pro does it? It’s because they're standing behind you with complete access to every last inch of your hair. That’s not the case when you’re taking the DIY route; you're standing in the mirror having to contort your arms to try and get to all those hard-to-reach spots at the back of your head. The solution? This wand's pivoting barrel which straightens just like a traditional wand and bends 90-degrees to more easily curl every last bit of hair. And let’s face it, curling thick hair can already be hard enough, so we’ll take whatever help we can get.

Temperature Range: 325 to 425 F | Size: 1.25 inches

Best Ceramic: CHI Volcanic Lava Ceramic Pro Spin N Curl

3.8
CHI 1'' Volcanic Lava Ceramic Pro Spin N Curl
What We Like
  • Adds shine

  • Recommends temperature by hair texture

  • Includes great safety features

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Ceramic is a standout material in the world of curling irons and straighteners—it's one of the most effective at evenly conducting heat and helping to minimize the damage that can come with metal options. This iron ups the ante even further, with a volcanic lava-lined chamber (seriously) to up that heat conductivity. It’s also super easy to use, drawing small sections into the chamber and spinning them. There are helpful pre-set temps and heat-up times based on hair texture, including an option for thick or coarse tresses.

Temperature Range: 370 to 410 F | Size: 1 inch

Best Interchangeable: Drybar The Mixologist Interchangeable Styling Iron

The Mixologist
What We Like
  • Includes great safety features

  • Three interchangeable heads

  • Ergonomic handle

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This is a go-to tool for Byrdie associate editor Holly Rhue. It comes with three interchangeable attachments allowing for a variety of different looks. There’s a 1-inch wand for more defined waves, a 1.25-inch wand for classic curls, and a three-pronged waver for a tousled, beachy texture. Infrared technology heats up whichever one you choose from the inside out, which is a great way to help minimize damage, and it also reaches up to 450 degrees, which is a huge plus for those with thicker hair.

Temperature Range: Up to 450 F | Size: 1-inch, 1.25 inches

Best for Thick, Curly Hair: HerStyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron

HerStyler Baby Curls Mini Curling Iron

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Portable

  • Great for curly hair

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't have many safety features

Styling products aside, a curling iron can be a great way to touch up and define your naturally curly texture. Just make sure you’re using the right one; this option fits the bill. The tiny size is perfect for adding smoothness and shape to curls and has the added benefit of being lightweight and portable. It’s a solid choice for curly hair, no matter whether your spirals are fine or thick.

Temperature Range: Up to 400 F | Size: 9 to 18 millimeters

Best Splurge: T3 Curl ID 1.25-Inch Smart Curling Iron

Curl ID 1.25'' Smart Curling Iron with Touch Interface
What We Like
  • Recommends temperature by hair texture

  • Long-lasting results

  • Prevents damage

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Also yes. This product has some of the coolest high-tech features we’ve ever seen in a hot tool, all of which add up to a totally customized styling experience. How it works: Input your hair profile based on texture, color, and chemical treatments, and the tool does the hard work for you, coming up with the exact heat profile you need to score long-lasting, damage-free curls. (There’s also a manual mode you can play around with.)

Temperature Range: 260 to 410 F | Size: 1.25 inches

Runner-Up, Best Splurge: Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron 1-Inch

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

Courtesy of Dermstore

What We Like
  • Two interchangeable heads

  • Adds shine

  • Volumizes

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Hairstylist Harry Josh is arguably as well-known for his iconic work as he is for his eponymous line of amazing hot tools. This three-part wand, a favorite of Byrdie senior editor Lindsey Metrus, is one of those. There’s a clipless wand as well as two interchangeable options, one of which boasts Marcel clamps and one of which features a spring clamp. All of them have a nano-ceramic and tourmaline coating to smooth hair and add body, plus a variety of heat settings that can be adjusted based on your hair texture.

Temperature Range: 190 to 380 F | Size: 1 inch

Best for Damaged Hair: Sultra After Hours Collection 1.5-Inch Titanium Styling Wand

Sultra After Hours Collection 1.5-Inch Titanium Clipless Curling Wand in Black
What We Like
  • Tug-free

  • Prevents damage

  • Long-lasting results

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note temperature control isn't placed well

A titanium barrel coupled with an ion emitter makes for a friction-free surface that won’t pull or tug on the hair. It allows for one-pass styling, which further minimizes the likelihood of heat damage. The clipless rod is also perfect for creating beachy waves.

Temperature Range: Up to 390 F | Size: 1.5 inches

What to Look For in a Curling Iron For Thick Hair

Barrel Size

The size of the curling iron's barrel determines how large or small your waves or curls will come out. While it may be tempting to use a mini iron for a headful of tightly curled spirals, that might turn into more of a time commitment than you're prepared for if you have thick hair. Your fastest use iron will be one with a larger barrel, especially if you have long hair. Save the minis for touch-ups, and use a 1-inch to 2-inch barrel for full-head styling.

Material

Tourmaline, gold plate, titanium: Curling irons sound kind of like jewelry these days. You have numerous options for a material that heats fast and can help mitigate damage from curling. If you have thick hair, titanium is the best choice—but only provided you're a skilled curler. "Titanium plates will heat up much quicker and are great for pros, but they heat up from the outside and, for an inexperienced user, could cause more damage over time," celebrity hairstylist Matthew Collins told Byrdie.

Temperature Settings

Thick hair can require higher temperature settings in order to curl properly. While thinner hair can get results in the 300-degree range, if you have thick hair that is healthy, you'll want an iron that has higher capabilities than that. Ideally, a range of up to 350, or even 450, will work best—just be sure to work quickly if using the iron closer to the latter temp.

Wand

Where once all curling irons had a clamp, in which you placed the section of hair and then twisted the barrel to create curl, curling wands have taken over the curling iron market in recent years. Because your hair isn't placed directly into a clamp, it may experience less heat damage. Wands are ideal for more messy waves, whereas clamps are used for perfect ringlets.

FAQ
  • How do I get my thick hair to hold a curl?

    Thick hair may be difficult to keep curled after putting in the effort with an iron, so it's important to facilitate keeping your curls intact. A couple of top tips for creating a lasting curl: Use a mousse and heat protector before drying, set your curls with clips, and don't run your fingers through your hair.

  • What should I put on my hair before curling it?

    A setting spray is a great choice for holding your curls and can also be used as a prep in advance of curling it. Some setting sprays also offer heat protection, making them even more of a win-win.

  • Do you use a curling iron on wet or dry hair?

    Not only will damp locks flatten after you curl them, using a curling iron on wet or even damp hair can cause damage. Additionally, the steam created by the contact of heat on damp or wet hair can burn your scalp. Always use curling irons on hair that is fully and completely dry.

Why Trust Byrdie

Melanie Rud is a contributing writer for Byrdie where she covers all things skincare—from buzzy ingredients to acne advice. She has over 10 years of experience working in beauty editorials. Over the years, her work has appeared in such digital and print publications as Real Simple, Shape, Allure, and Better Homes & Gardens.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. 14 best curling irons, according to hair pros. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty-products/hair-styling-tool-reviews/g5046/best-curling-iron

  2. 16 stylist-recommended curling irons for effortless curls and waves. Vogue. https://www.vogue.com/article/best-curling-irons

Related Stories