If you can’t quite nail the art of curling your own hair, you’re not alone. Even as a beauty editor, I struggle to clamp, twirl, and then release my own hair. Most of the time, the finished product looks nothing like it does after the salon. However, when I discovered rotating curling irons (a type of curling tool that does the work for you), I never looked back.
Rotating curling irons are ideal for anyone who could use some extra assistance when styling their hair. As the name suggests, rotating curling irons wind your hair up the barrel themselves, creating perfectly uniform, bouncy curls (or waves) with little to no effort.
There are a ton of options available, so to take the guesswork out of selecting the right tool for you, we handpicked 29 of the most popular rotating curling irons on the market and asked our testers to try them out. After putting the tools to the test in The Lab, our Manhattan testing facility, testers judged each one based on ease of use and efficacy. The highest-rated products made this list. Keep reading to discover the best rotating curling irons out there, according to our testers.
Prizm 1 Inch Wavy Professional Rotating Curling Iron
Easy to maneuver
Speed can be too fast for some
For a rotating curling iron to really blow our testers away, it needed to be comfortable, practical, and effective. The Prizm Wavy Professional Rotating Curling Iron couldn’t have impressed our testers more—and it’s all thanks to how straightforward and easy to use it is. The tool rotates to the left and to the right, each direction triggered by the push of a button. Plus, in case you get confused (or if the barrel spins in the wrong direction), the “M” button re-centers the tool back to its original position. With 11 heat settings ranging from 250°F to 450°F, the tool offers a ton of variety so that users with all different hair types and thickness can use it.
After curling her hair, our tester admitted she was impressed with how stress-free the process was. She said the clamp felt “just right” and shared that she especially loved that it didn’t tug or pull at her hair as it rotated. She also appreciated that it heated up relatively quickly and that the directions provided were really helpful in guiding her on how to use the iron in its totality. The tool’s only downside is that it turns at one speed, which can be too fast for some. To avoid burning yourself, try practicing the motion on the lowest heat setting to get the hang of it.
Price at time of publish: $90
Barrel Size: 1 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature settings: 250 °F to 450°F
What Our Testers Say
“My curls turned out very nice; they were well-defined and bouncy. I could easily brush the curls to get beachy waves if I wanted.” —Nasya Sutrisno, Product Tester
MaikcQ 1.25 Inch Rotating Curling Iron
Digital temperature display
Requires muscle memory
Rotating curling irons (and all hot hair tools, for that matter) can be on the pricier side. This iron from MaikcQ, however, is pretty affordable. The tool, which has a 1.25-inch barrel, doubles as a rotating curling iron and a hot brush—thanks to an accompanying brush attachment. Despite little instruction material, our tester found the tool incredibly easy to use. Depending on the direction you want the tool to curl in, you’ll hit the corresponding arrow button on the grip of the iron. While this doesn’t sound super complicated (and it’s not), our tester admitted that it does require some muscle memory to remember if the top or bottom button is needed to make the curling iron rotate in the correct direction. Other than that caveat, she was pleased with the fact that it comes with a digital temperature display, an anti-scald tip, and a small yet effective clamp. The tool’s rotation was “fluid” and worked as expected, producing loose, bouncy curls in under five minutes.
Price at time of publish: $55
Barrel Size: 1.25 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature Settings: 176°F to 410°F
Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler
Utilizes air technology
Multi-use styling tool
Motion takes some getting used to
This list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of at least one Dyson tool. The Airwrap Multi-Styler is perhaps the most popular of all the Dyson hair styling products, and that’s because it can style hair in a multitude of ways. At $600, it’s most certainly a high-ticket item, but those that use it swear by its effectiveness—our tester included. She admitted that she was skeptical at first (it took a moment for her to navigate the different settings), but after using it on two sections of hair, she “got into a rhythm.” She achieved her desired curls quickly and efficiently, she said and especially loved that the tool (which is powered by innovative air technology) felt like it was safe for her fine hair. You can expect the tool to wrap hair in both directions—left and right or towards and away from the face—by simply twisting the top of the attachment. Unlike the other tools on this list, the Dyson doesn’t have a clamp but rather relies on suction to wrap the hair around the tool. And, no, it doesn’t pull or tug on your hair while it sucks it up, curls it, and lets it out.
Price at time of publish: $600
Barrel Size: Several, including 1.2 inch and 1.6 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature Settings: 140°F to 194ºF
What Our Testers Say
“There is no clamp on this tool, only the suction that wraps the hair around the tool automatically. The hype is real with this tool. It’s quite fascinating to work with, especially the suction part. Nonetheless, my hair never felt too tight or too loose. I didn't experience any pulling or tugging on my hair while testing.” — Stacey Perdek Smith, Product Tester
Best for Beginners
Bio Ionic Stylewinder Rotating Styling Iron
Similar to traditional curling irons
Hair can slip out if not curled tight enough
Instinctual and straightforward, the Bio Ionic StyleWinder Rotating Styling Iron is great for people that have grown accustomed to traditional curling irons. It looks and feels like one—down to the clamp, size, and overall design—and the brand even says that it’s their most user-friendly tool. Our tester agrees, noting that despite having several heating options, toggling between settings felt mindless. She was “in control” and didn’t feel the tool spiraling wildly like she feared it might. And, even though the clamp is pretty long (it’s almost the length of the barrel), she never experienced pulling, snagging, or tangling in the ten minutes it took to curl her entire head of hair. She did recommend that users of this tool take extra care in ensuring that each piece of hair is secured on the tool. When she first tried using it, she didn’t wrap her hair tight enough, and the piece didn’t stay put, forcing her to redo it.
Price at time of publish: $145
Barrel Size: Available in .07 inch, 1 inch, 1.25 inch, and 1.5 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature Settings: Up to 440°F
Conair Unbound Rechargeable Cordless Auto-Curler Curling Iron
Great for ringlets
If you hate being tangled up in cords or are short on space, this cordless rotating curling iron from Conair was meant for you. The high-performance tool is designed to style your hair for up to 60 minutes cord-free. It runs on a chargeable battery—so when it’s not in use, you just plug it in and let it charge back up. Both of the testers that tried this curling iron in the lab agreed that reading the directions was necessary to understand how to use it. But, once you get the hang of it, the tool produces “perfect ringlets” every time.
The tool sucks a section of hair into the barrel and gives an option of which direction you’d like it to curl in (left, right, and mixed) before stopping after 12 seconds to prevent heat damage. Our testers noticed no burning whatsoever and said that the automatic timer was to thank for that. The only thing both of the testers weren’t super thrilled about was the tool’s wide grip. They mentioned in their notes that it can feel uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, especially if you have smaller hands.
Price at time of publish: $63
Barrel Size: N/A | Cord: No | Temperature Settings: Up to 400°F
Best for Volume
T3 1.25 Inch Twirl 360 Curling Iron
Ideal for bigger curls
Not ideal for beginners
Curls are one surefire way to achieve voluminous, thick-looking hair—even when your natural hair falls flat. This automatic curling iron from T3 is powered by smart technology and takes cues from your wrist movements to curl your hair. Our tester admitted that she was surprised by how seamlessly the tool worked, despite only having one button and relying solely on the flick of your wrist. It can be complicated for those not used to curling irons, she says, but the fact that the tool listens to signals from your body ensures that you won’t end up curling your hair the wrong way. Plus, the barrel is a bit thicker than most other rotating irons (it has a 1.25-inch barrel, compared to 1 inch), so it creates bigger, bouncier curls.
Price at time of publish: $230
Barrel Size: 1.25 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature: 260°F to 410°F
What Our Editors Say
“With the high-tech features, it’s understandable that this pick is a bit pricier. In all honesty, it’s totally worth it. I’ve used a T3 straightener for four years now, and I haven’t had an issue, so I know this will last a long time. Plus, the sleek design and time-saving features only add to the appeal.” —Mary Honkus, Commerce Editor
Best for Curl Variety
Lyealion Interchangeable Hair Curling Wand
3 interchangeable barrels
Can break if not handled carefully
Thanks to three interchangeable barrels, you’ll never get bored of the Lyealion Automatic Hair Curling Wand. With small (0.75 inch), medium (0.98 inch), and large (1.26 inch) barrels, this budget curling iron gives you options. Whether you prefer to play around with different curl patterns for different occasions or like to use ‘em all at once, you’ll enjoy the variety that this tool provides. What’s more, the iron features a home button (which brings the clamp back to its original position), an automatic timer that beeps to let you know when to release your hair, and a bunch of helpful accessories (like gloves, clips, and more) to ensure you get your money’s worth. Just keep in mind that the curling iron can break if not handled with care. Be sure to store it in a place where it won’t be tampered with when it’s not in use.
Price at time of publish: $32
Barrel Size: Interchangeable heads 0.75 inch, 0.98 inch, 1.26 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature: 320°F to 430°F
Best for Waves
Beachwaver Co. S1 Rotating Curling Iron
Simplifies the styling process
Easy and straightforward—those are two words two of our testers used to describe the Beachwaver. Though the iron is pretty lightweight, it’s perhaps the biggest name in the category (and for good reason). The body of the tool is equipped with an easy-to-read LED screen, plus and minus buttons to increase or decrease the temperature, and left and right arrows to control the direction. You’ll also find a switch that controls the speed (fast or slow) along the side. Even if you press the wrong button and end up curling your hair in the wrong direction, one of our testers says all she had to do was press the other arrow, and she was “back on track.” Though two of our testers couldn’t rave about it enough, another felt that the clamp was too small. Our advice: Work with 1-inch sections of hair to get the perfect curl every time.
Price at time of publish: $150
Barrel Size: 1 inch | Cord: Yes | Temperature: 290°F to 410°F
What Our Editors Say
“The beauty of this tool is that you’re able to create different kinds of curls depending on how you use the clamp, how long you keep the iron in your hair and the direction it rotates. If I leave it on my hair for 30 seconds, wrapped tightly, I have tight curls. If I leave it for a few seconds wrapped a little looser, I know I can expect loose waves. I’ve had mine for two years now, and it hasn’t lost its value or diminished in quality at all.” —Mary Honkus, Commerce Editor
Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System
Doesn’t cause heat damage
Dries, curls, and straightens hair
Some attachments come separately
You’ve probably seen it all over TikTok, but the Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System is honestly comparable to the Dyson. Our tester, who has owned the Dyson Airwrap for over two years, admits that it works the exact same. To get voluminous, beachy curls, you just grab your hair at the tip, leaving about an inch of hair between your fingers, and the tool automatically sucks it in and curls it. Our tester admits that the motion was really instinctual for her because of her familiarity with the Dyson; those that aren’t as experienced may need to practice a bit.
Since it’s more of a blow dryer than an iron, it’ll get to work on wet hair right away. But, because it relies on air technology to dry and style hair, you can expect salon-quality results without heat damage. To use, pick the attachment for your desired style (the autowrap curlers, in this case), set the temperature (low, medium, or high heat), and let it work its magic. According to our testers, changing the attachments is “easy and safe,” and there’s even a safety button for locking and unlocking the brush and barrel. There’s so much to love about this tool, so there’s only one thing we would change: The fact that it only comes with three of the six attachments. At checkout, you can only select three attachments for free, and the rest can be added to your bundle for an additional price each.
Price at time of publish: $280
Barrel Size: 1.25 inches | Cord: Yes | Temperature: None, Low, Medium, High
Our top pick is the Prizm Wavy Professional Rotating Curling Iron, which is as straightforward as rotating curling irons get. The easy-to-use buttons help users (beginners and experts alike) nail the art of achieving luscious curls. If you’re looking to splurge, the Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler is a catch-all tool that uses innovative technology to deliver salon-worthy hairstyles.
Meet the Expert
Joseph Maine is a celebrity hairstylist based in both Los Angeles and New York City. He is the founder of Trademark Beauty and serves as the Artistic Director of Color Wow.
How We Tested
Byrdie editors did extensive research on popular rotating curling irons, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing 29 to test out first-hand. Our testers used the curling irons on freshly dried hair. Each tool was assessed based on ease of use, comfort, and efficacy before deciding on a rating from one to five. Those with the highest scores made the list. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.
What to Look for in Rotating Curling Irons
When picking a curling iron, whether it be rotating or regular, the size of your barrel should be your top concern—since it depends on your hair length and desired results. If you’re after loose, beachy waves (or have longer hair), a larger barrel is ideal. For tighter curls (or shorter hair), a smaller barrel size can help achieve ringlet-like locks on less hair.
Since rotating curling irons rely heavily on buttons to do the work (instead of your own hands), their placement and design are important. You should look for a tool featuring easy-to-locate buttons (like the Beachwaver’s side-by-side arrows), so you can rely on muscle memory instead of having to stop what you’re doing and search for them every single time you want to make a switch.
Rotating curling irons are relatively innovative compared to standard irons. When trying to pick a tool, consider how high-tech you want it to be. Some people want the latest and greatest technology, like the air-wrapping technology of the Dyson and the Shark FlexStyle, or the smart T3 Twist Auto-Rotating Tool, while others feel more comfortable sticking with a straightforward tool—like the BioIonic StyleWinder—that they can maneuver without needing practice.
What are rotating curling irons?
As the name suggests, rotating curling irons are a type of hot tool that curls your hair by rotating the barrel rather than manually curling strands of hair. Many of these tools are equipped to wrap up pieces of hair in either direction (left or right) with the push of a button.
How do rotating curling irons differ from regular curling irons?
According to Maine, there aren’t too many differences. The major difference between rotating curling irons and traditional curling irons is that the former does so on its own using a twirling barrel, while the latter requires you to manually curl the hair around the motionless wand.
How do you use a rotating curling iron?
Start by prepping your hair with a heat protectant (Maine’s favorite is the Color Wow Style on Steroids). “It’s important to use a thermal protectant before heat styling so that there’s a barrier between your hair and the heat,” he says. “Otherwise, the tool can pull the natural moisture from your hair.” After that, separate your hair into small sections and feed your hair onto the rotating curling iron barrel, securing it with the clamp. Then, press the button that twirls the iron so you don’t have to manually twist it like a traditional curling iron. Let the section of hair sit on the barrel for a few seconds and release it.
How do you achieve bouncy curls from a rotating curling iron?
Maine says that after you’ve curled your hair completely and allowed the curls to cool, brush through them. “Brushing through your curls allows them to separate and sit on top of each other,” he explains. “Then, spray a texturizing spray in between each section to help the curls hold.”
What is Byrdie Verified?
Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced beauty writer and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has been a staff writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers makeup, skincare, hair care, and more. She has tried several rotating curling irons, including some on this list from brands like Beachwaver and T3, to name a few.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any curling irons from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.