The 7 Best Curling Irons for Thick Hair of 2019

Get the waves you want, even in hard-to-curl hair

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There’s a lot that goes into choosing a curling iron for thick hair. If your hair is naturally resistant to holding a curl, or simply hard to fit into a standard curling iron, you may be tempted to upgrade your curling iron—but how? Should you switch from a clip style to a wand? Should you go tourmaline or ceramic? Should you add a dose of extra heat? These are all things to look for when shopping for a new curling iron.

Your choice will ultimately depend on the look you’re trying to achieve and the amount you want to spend, but you also want to choose a curling iron that’s right for your hair. These are our favorite curling irons for thick hair so you can find one that's right for your texture (and your wallet). 

Best Overall: Beachwaver Pro

Beachwaver Pro
Courtesy of Nordstrom

From the moment you heard the name “Beachwaver” you probably had a vision of perfect, loose supermodel curls—kind of like the ones at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, where the Beachwaver is the backstage hair secret. So what makes it our best overall choice for getting today’s Instagram-worthy waves? You simply put a section of your hair into the clip and push the button—the Beachwaver's tourmaline and ceramic barrel rotates on its own to twist your locks into the perfect loose curl. The Pro model has a larger barrel than the original, making it easier to use for women with long, thick hair. It’s easy enough for a beginner to use, but has advanced technology that even expert hair stylists will admire.

Best Budget: Hot Tools Gold Spring Curling Iron

Hot Tools 24K Gold Curling Iron
Courtesy of Ulta

Hot Tools is one of the leading brands in the styling tools space, creating reasonably-priced versions of the best styling technology on the market. The Gold Spring Curling Iron uses patented pulse technology to sense heat loss and begins restoring it immediately so the iron gets hot and stays hot until you’re done. The 24K gold-plated barrel speeds up the heating and circulates it evenly, providing a smooth, uniform surface for frizz-free styles. At under $50, it’s a fraction of the price of some of the more brand-name models and offers a lot of the same functionality with no learning curve.

Best for Frizzy Hair: T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand Set

T3 Single Pass
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Yes, the price is a little jaw-dropping, but the interchangeable barrels make this essentially three styling tools in one, opening up a whole new world of curls for your hair. The T3 relies on tourmaline technology to support what it calls its SinglePass system, letting you spend less time and put less heat on each individual curl. The barrels are easy to switch in and out (it’s a lot like switching out lenses on a camera) and the set includes a one-inch straight barrel for defined waves and curls, a tapered barrel for beachy waves and loose tousled curls, and a 1.5-inch straight barrel for glamourous​ full-bodied waves.

Best for Color-Treated Hair: GHD Curve Classic Curl Iron

Courtesy of Sephora 

GHD developed a special “tri-zone” technology for this curling iron, using six intelligent sensors up and down the barrel that guarantee an even curling temperature of 365°F from root to tip, locking in moisture and minimizing damage to color-treated or delicate hair. The one-inch-wide barrel creates classic, defined curls with ease, thanks to the clip that secures your ends for a root-to-tip bounce, and it’s also easy to play with to create looser, beachier styles. It heats up in just 25 seconds, has a ceramic coating for a smooth glide, and has an automatic safety shut-off after 30 minutes so you don’t have to worry about leaving it plugged in if you’re using it as your daily styler.

Best Ceramic: Chi Volcanic Lava Ceramic Pro Spin N Curl

CHI Lava Spin N Curl
 Courtesy of CHI

When Chi first burst onto the market with their ceramic flatiron, a whole generation of hair sighed with relief. Ceramic is one of the most effective heat conducting materials around, creating sleek, shiny styles without the potentially damaging qualities of hot metal. This ceramic styler takes it to the next level with a volcanic lava-lined chamber that draws in your hair section by section and spins it into the perfect curl. Each section is timed, so your hair never gets fried, and a digital display makes it easy to customize the temperature for your hair type and texture to get exactly the results you want.

Best for Lasting Curls: Drybar 3-Day Bender

Drybar 3-Day Bender
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Created by hairstylist and Drybar founder Alli Webb, 3-Day Bender gets its name from how long its curls last and last (and last). Even if you have hard-to-curl hair, the rotating barrel and ionic technology can create beautiful, well-defined curls that last for days, with no need to straighten your hair first. Skipping that step can reduce damage from heat styling. The same is true for the two ceramic heaters that create fast, even heat, with infrared technology to help heat hair from the inside out. This minimizes damage to the cuticle for maximum shine.

Best for Ease of Use: Kristin Ess Soft Wave Pivoting Wand

Kristin Ess Soft Wave Pivoting Wand
Courtesy of Target

When you’re starting out curling your hair, no one tells you that it helps to have the sculpted triceps and back of an Olympic swimmer if you want to make it through your styling efforts without breaking a sweat. The pivoting head on this styling wand lets you switch from using it as a straight wand to using it bent at a 90-degree angle, which makes it easier to hold and work with while you’re styling around the back of your head. Designed by pro stylist Kristin Ess, this is designed to create loose waves and big volume. It heats up to 425 degrees to give you curls that last all day.

Our Process

Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular curling irons for thick hair on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 50 different curling irons overall, screened options from 30 different brands and manufacturers and read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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