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Think of the curling wand as the curling iron’s hip cousin. A little more modern and updated, they're the choice tool for creating effortless waves and fresh curls. Unlike traditional irons, they’re clampless and slightly easier to use (though there’s definitely still a learning curve, TBH). "Think about how comfortable you are using certain irons. The wand may be easiest to use or a clamp which is also fairly easy to use or a marcel if you are up for a challenge," says New York-based hairstylist Sky Kim of Serge Normant at John Frieda. Before you start to work on your wanding technique, however, choosing the right tool is paramount.
What to Look for in a Curling Wand
Unlike traditional curling irons, the barrel of a curling wand is usually clampless, which makes for more natural-looking curls and waves. Also, some barrels are tapered, while others have a consistent thickness. Tapered options tend to deliver looser curls, whereas straight barrels create more defined spirals.
The best curling wands can get notably hot, with some reaching up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Some have adjustable heat, which gives you more flexibility. Standout options are designed to ensure an even temperature is maintained across the length of the barrel. Also, some modern curling wands heat up in seconds, which can come in handy when you're in a time crunch.
Another important aspect of a curling wand is damage control. To minimize a frying effect on your hair, look for an option that maintains a consistent heat across the barrel or a model with sensors that measure the temperature at regular intervals to prevent overheating. Additionally, some curling wand barrels are made with ceramic or other naturally sourced materials that emit negatively charged ions to seal in your hair cuticles and minimize damage.
So keep scrolling to discover the best curling wands you can buy now.
Best Overall: ghd Curve Creative Curl Wand
There’s no denying that heat styling can take a toll on your tresses, which is why we appreciate that this tool goes to extra lengths to ensure minimal damage. It boasts patented tri-zone technology with six sensors to maintain an even temp across the entire barrel (365 degrees Fahrenheit, to get specific). It heats up in a mere 25 seconds and has an ever-so-slight taper that lets you create an array of wavy and curly looks. Kim is a fan of ghd wands, particularly the Creative Curl model. "Since it has the tapered barrel, you can achieve a tighter or looser curl depending on what you want at the moment," she says.
Best Budget: Bed Head Curlipops 1'' Tourmaline Ceramic Styling Iron
For those who don’t want to shell out the big bucks, this budget-friendly option can’t be beaten. The best-seller—a favorite of Byrdie Commerce Editorial Director Jessica Mahgerefteh—boasts tourmaline ceramic technology to enhance shine and disperses heat evenly across the one-inch barrel. Bonus points for the cool tip and included heat protective glove that helps prevent burns.
Best Splurge: Dyson Airwrap Styler
Just like the brand known for high-tech vacuums completely revolutionized the blow dryer (their take on the tool is a Byrdie favorite), so too have they completely revamped the styling tool. Kim explains that this wand "is the most expensive but will save you the most time." Like the blow dryer and vacuums, this option isn’t cheap but is well worth the price if you’re ready to make a beauty investment.
Aside from the fact that it comes with six different attachments in various shapes and sizes, what’s cool here is that you don’t even have to touch your hair to use it. It attracts hair to and wraps it around the barrel using only air, making styling easier than ever. Plus, that air also dries hair simultaneously, a major time-saver on busy mornings. And, in true Dyson fashion, there are of course cool tech features; think a heat sensor that measures the temp every 40 seconds to ward off the potential for damage.
Best for Damaged Hair: Bio Ionic Eternity Wand
If your tresses could use a little extra TLC, you should one, use a heat protectant before any hot tool styling and two, make sure you’re styling with this wand. It delivers what the brand calls “moisturizing heat” in order to minimize damage; the barrel is infused with natural volcanic rock that locks in moisture and seals the hair cuticle. Plus, a digital temperature gauge allows you to keep the heat on the low side.
Best for Beginners: Paul Mitchell Neuro Angle Rod Curling Iron
We don’t care how easy people on social media make it look—curling your own hair is hard. Happily, this patented design makes it much easier. Credit an extra-long barrel and totally unique technology that lets you fold it into four adjustable positions. (So yes, you can finally reach the back of your head.) Other notable features include a nine-foot cord and an automatic shut-off function.
Best Ceramic: Remington Pro 1-1.5-Inch Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand
This earns our vote for the best ceramic option, though it also deserves recognition for being super affordable. Opting for a ceramic wand is a good move in general—the ceramic emits negatively charged ions that ward off damage—but it’s especially choice for those with thin or fine hair, whose strands are more susceptible to damage and breakage in the first place. However, if you have thicker hair, you’ll appreciate that this heats up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit; there are also two sizes available.
Best Cordless: Lunata Beauty Cordless Convertible Curling Iron/Wand
File under, ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ It seems oh-so-simple, yet this the first and only full-sized curling iron on the market that’s completely cord-free. Ideal for travel (or if you’re just working in a cramped space with minimal outlet accessibility), it has up to 40 minutes of battery life when used on high, longer if you set it to medium or low. And, the clamp on this guy is also removable, so you can use it as either an iron or wand.
Best for Beach Waves: The Beachwaver Co. S1 Dual Voltage Curling Iron
Score mermaid-esque hair, no trip to the shore required, with this tool. It does the hard work for you, with an automatic rotating function that creates gorgeous waves with the mere press of a button. While there is a clamp on this guy, it’s extra-small so as to not create any kinks, and the temperature is also adjustable from 290 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Basically, all you have to do is section your hair, press the button, then shake out your newly tousled texture.
Best for Versatility: T3 Micro Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, right? While this pick is a bit pricey, you’re essentially getting three unique tools for the price of one. The base comes with a trio of interchangeable barrels. Use the biggest, 1 ½” option to create voluminous waves, the 1 ¼” tapered one for loose curls or the smallest 1” straight barrel for defined spirals. Either way, you’ll get to choose from five different heat settings and reap the benefits of a digital heating system that prevents hot and cool spots from cropping up.
Best Convertible: Harry Josh Pro Tools 2-in-1 Ceramic Marcel Curling Iron
We have yet to meet a stylist who doesn’t love using a Marcel iron. Essentially an iron with a spring-free clamp, they have to be maneuvered manually, requiring some major fine motor skills. It’s definitely something that takes getting used to, but once you do, it’s an invaluable skill that can make a major difference when it comes to the end curl result. In this case, you can keep the clip on, though it’s also removable, transforming this into a clampless wand.
Best for Curly Hair: xtava The Twirl Conical Curling Wand
Sometimes (read: a lot of the time) curly hair needs a little extra hot tool styling in order to achieve a desired end result. For this purpose, smaller, narrower wands are best, like this guy. An Amazon favorite, the tapered barrel extends from ½ inch at the tip to just one inch at the bottom, the perfect size for defining and shaping your natural curls and spirals.
Best for Experts: Rsession Nalu Waver
Fair warning, this dual-pronged wand is best reserved for the DIY-ers who have some serious experiencing wielding hot tools. You’re meant to cross-weave strands in between the two, ¾” barrels, which makes for a super effortless wave pattern; it’s no surprise that celeb stylists love this guy. It takes some getting used to but will be well worth your time and effort.
Our number-one pick for curling wands is the ghd Curve Creative Curl Wand. It has a tapered barrel, heats up exceptionally quickly, maintains an even temperature, minimizes damage, and can be used to create tons of wavy and curly effects. Having said that, the Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand is also an impressive product, especially considering it comes at a fraction of the price. While the ceramic barrel isn't tapered, it can reach up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cool tip makes it easier to hold sections in place.
How do you use a curling wand?
Since most curling wands are clampless, they work slightly differently than curling irons. Separate a piece of your hair about 1 to 2 inches wide. With the wand pointed downward, wrap the separated hair around the barrel, starting at the base and moving toward the tip. Hold the end of your hair in place with your thumb and forefinger for a few seconds, then release the curl.
How do you curl short hair with a curling wand?
The best way to curl short hair with a curling wand is to work in layers. Start by clipping the top half (or two-thirds if you have thicker hair) up so it's out of the way. Next, separate the bottom layer of your hair into four or five sections. Holding one section, place the base of the barrel at the root with the tip pointing downward. Wrap the section of hair around the barrel, working toward the tip. Hold it in place for five to eight seconds, then release. Curl the remaining sections of the bottom layer of your hair, then repeat the process with your top layer (or layers).
How long do you keep the hair on a curling wand?
It depends on the temperature of the wand, how long your hair is, how large of a section you're curling, and the effect you're going for. If you have medium or long hair and are aiming for soft waves, five seconds is usually plenty for a one-inch piece of hair at a high temp. For slightly tighter curls, you can add one or two seconds. With shorter hair, you may need to hold it for up to eight seconds. Larger pieces of hair take longer to heat through, so if your sections are closer to 2 inches wide, you may want to hold it for an additional couple of seconds. The same goes for lower temperatures, as this will slow down the time it takes to heat through your hair.