As a former emo kid, I admit that I’m much better acquainted with flat irons than curling irons. So if you’re in a similar camp, and finally looking to get it on the curling action, crowdsourcing your choice with one of the best-rated curling irons makes the whole thing much more approachable. When you’re evaluating curling irons, there are three major factors to consider: material, barrel size, and heat. The most common materials you’ll find are titanium and ceramic, but tourmaline and gold-plated curling irons occasionally pop up, too. They’re all excellent heat conductors, but according to Giovanni Vaccaro, Artistic Director at Glamsquad, with whom Bustle spoke for this article, “Titanium is a better option for thicker hair because it heats up quicker, and ceramic is better for fine to medium hair.” Titanium and tourmaline are also effective for mitigating static and frizz, since their hard, smooth surfaces help reduce friction between hair and iron.
The barrel size component is more logical: The shorter your hair, the smaller your barrel should be, and the larger the barrel, the looser the curl. If in doubt, go for a standard 1-inch barrel. And when it comes to heat settings, thick hair can typically handle higher heat than thin or fragile hair. Regardless, always use a heat-protectant first, which will help reduce damage and keep unwanted frizz at bay.
With that in mind, one of the five best-rated curling irons, rounded up below, is bound to suit your hair type, budget, and skill level — so keep scrolling to shop.
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1. The Amazon-Reviewer Favorite
With an average 4.5 stars out of 2,222 ratings, this BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron is one of the best-rated curling irons on Amazon. The barrel is what makes it really unique — it’s made of a combination of ceramic and titanium, so you’ll get the smoothing effects of the former and the quick heating time of the latter. Speaking of heat: It has an impressive 50 heat settings, can rack up to 450 degrees, features a Turbo Heat button if you’re really impatient, and its tip stays cool for easier manipulation and fewer potential accidents. As an added stress-free feature, its 8-foot swivel cord is tangle-resistant.
- Available barrel sizes: 0.75 inch, 1 inch, 1.25 inch, 1.5 inch
2. The Pro-Favorite
If you’ve even been in a hair salon or backstage at a fashion show, chances are you’re familiar with Hot Tools curling irons. The brand’s tools tend to be the go-to for professional stylists, because they’re reliable and high-quality, yet reasonably priced. The Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold Extra-Long Barrel Curling Iron has a slightly lower rating than the BaByliss iron on Amazon, but considering that it’s out of an average of over 6,000 reviews, those four stars are pretty impressive. Reviewers confirm that it heats up quickly and evenly, and that the long clasp and comfortable grip make it easy to use. The gold barrel is ideal for coarse or thick hair, but users with fine and straight hair have also found success with this curling iron (and a good amount of hairspray). Choose from eight barrel sizes to best suit your hair length/type.
- Available barrel sizes: 0.375 inch, 0.5 inch, 0.625 inch, 1 inch, 1.25 inch, 1.5 inch, 2 inch, extra-long barrel
3. The Best Curling Iron For Beachy Waves
Although it looks deeply weird, this Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver is probably the easiest curling iron on this list to use. It actually works more like a crimper: Just clamp a section of hair between the two barrels (use smaller sections for tighter waves, or larger for looser), hold it for a couple of seconds, and continue all the way down the shaft. The barrels’ tourmaline-ceramic combo seals the hair cuticle to enhance shine and reduce unwanted frizz, and it even has an auto-off feature for added safety.
4. The Best Budget Curling Iron
At about $12 for the 1-inch barrel, this Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron is just as effective as curling irons that cost triple the price. This straightforward, fuss-free iron heats up to 375 degrees, but the Turbo Heat setting delivers hotter bursts if your curls aren’t cooperating with its 30 standard heat settings. The ceramic build protects your hair against excess heat damage while reducing static, too. Reviewers say that the short barrel is a little tricky to use, but its relatively compact size, dual voltage, and protective cover make this a really solid option for travel. And, like with the deep waver above, its auto-off button is a handy feature if accidentally leaving your iron on is one of your greatest fears.
- Available barrel sizes: 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch, 1 ¼ inch, ½ inch, ¾ inch
5. The Best Clamp-Free Curling Wand
If you’re a little spatially challenged (I can’t parallel park either, it’s fine), go for a curling wand like this one from Remington. You won’t have to contend with a traditional curling iron’s clamp — you literally just wrap your hair around the wand — so your styling session will, hopefully, not end in tears of rage and frustration. The barrel’s conical shape gives you tousled waves rather than tight, prom-queen curls, but the ceramic build contains crushed pearls (fancy!) for extra smoothness and shine.
- Available barrel sizes: 0.5-1 inch, 1-1.5 inch
Giovanni Vaccaro, Artistic Director at Glamsquad.
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