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Not all too long ago, you were likely sitting in your bedroom, clad in a nightgown, staring into your vanity mirror and trapping sections of hair between two giant, funkily-shaped clamps. Then, within seconds, you were rocking the 'it' hairstyle. Some of you may wish to leave this memory behind, but no matter your opinion on crimped hair, there's no denying that it's back baby.
That’s right—crimped hair is a thing again, except not the sharp, crimped edges from decades past, but rather a newer, more sophisticated version of the look. Today, those tiny, almost pointy, grooves are deeper, smoother waves that seem a little more “grown-up.” And the hot tools have evolved, too. They come in all shapes, sizes, and with different settings—something our preteen selves would have squealed over.
Here, the best hair crimpers the 80s and 90s would actually want back.
Best for Thick Hair: Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver
Multiple heat settings, tourmaline ceramic plates, and a barrel that looks almost too cool to use, this crimping iron delivers bouncy, beachy waves that would make any bohemian goddess jealous. Dividing hair into one-inch sections, start at the root and work your way down. Once you’ve completed the entire head, spray with a texturizing spray to keep the waves in place.
Best for Fine Hair: Hot Tools Professional Ceramic + Tourmaline Deep Waver
This magic wand will turn fine hair into glamorous waves in minutes. And we’re serious—the extra-deep grooves grab onto lots of hair at once, heating your strands within seconds and locking the wave in place. If that didn’t convince you: The heat technology auto-adjusts whenever there’s a change in temperature, so don’t expect any surges or dips.
Best Splurge: GHD Contour Professional Performance Crimper
Hands down, one of the best things about this crimping iron is that it automatically switches off after 30 minutes—meaning you won’t find yourself in constant stress over whether or not you turned it off. Add a boost of volume and texture without damaging your hair, thanks to advanced ceramic technology. One user recommends crimping the roots for instant volume—no backcombing necessary.
Best for Long Hair: Gold N' Hot GH3013 Gold Tone Crimping Iron
All you need is a minute to get this crimping iron ready to go. Two-inch gold plates, with various heat levels, instantly heat the hair to your desired style. In fact, fans of this hot tool rave that it doesn’t take them long to style their hair—just press down onto the section of hair for a second or two and you’ve got textured waves. Bonus: The 6-foot-long cord conveniently swivels—ideal for those just-a-tad-too-far outlets.
Best for Short Hair: Bed Head Little Tease Hair Crimper
This one’s for our short-haired gals. This small, but mighty crimper is an inch in size, making it thin and sleek enough to get even the shortest of strands. The tourmaline ceramic technology reduces frizz, while the short, pointed grooves give hair pumped-up texture. One user applies this hot tool at her root for maximum volume, then for even more height, teases that section out for big, beautiful hair.
Best for Natural Hair: Amika High Tide Deep Wave Crimper
Curly, coily, kinky—this volumizing hot tool works wonders on any hair type. Three tourmaline ceramic barrels help to create crease-free and flawless curls, all while sealing the cuticle to keep strands smooth. One user raves that although she’s a hair tool newbie, she found this crimper extremely easy to use—no practice needed.
Best for Travel: hiLISS Mini Travel Hair Crimper
This compact crimper can be stored anywhere thanks to its small size. With a quick heat-up time and even heat distribution, you can get texture pretty much anywhere. Because it is tiny, it's not going to create a ton of volume but it's a great option to travel with when you're tight on space.
Best Budget: Remington Wet2Waves Styler
Going from damp hair to gorgeous waves takes just one tool. The combo of ceramic and titanium plates—and their unique steam vents—can heat damp strands without damaging them. Because it’s a blow dryer and styler in one, it literally cuts your styling time in half. Before styling, make sure to towel-dry hair and remove excess water, then detangle with a brush. Section off hair as you normally would, then style.
Best Overall: Revlon Pro Collection Deep Waver Iron
Consider this your childhood crimped hairstyle revamped. A deep groove barrel gives your hair a beachy, yet defined wave that has movement and bounce. The barrel is coated in tourmaline ceramic, which gives your strands a frizz-free shine. With several heat settings, there’s something for all hair types. Plus, it evenly distributes heat throughout the barrel. Users love how lightweight the tool is, making styling your hair easy and quick.