The Best Curling Iron

in Bathroom


We tested twelve top curling products on different hair types, ranging from short and thin to long and thick. After countless curls and flips, we determined that the Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand is the best curling iron on the market, though technically it’s a “curling wand.” Our testers universally appreciated the Xtava’s smart digital controls, ceramic tapered barrel, comfortable grip and overall sleek look. The Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod earned our luxe pick.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall

Xtava

Twist Conical Curling Wand

Upgrade Pick

Neuro

Unclipped Styling Rod

For Longer Hair

Beachwaver

S1

For Shorter Hair

Anjou

1-Inch Curling Iron

We tested twelve top curling products on different hair types, ranging from short and thin to long and thick. After countless curls and flips, we determined that the Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand is the best curling iron on the market, though technically it’s a “curling wand.” Our testers universally appreciated the Xtava’s smart digital controls, ceramic tapered barrel, comfortable grip and overall sleek look. The Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod earned our luxe pick.

Table of contents

How we selected finalists to test

To select our eight curling iron finalists, we first looked at online reviews from respected retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. We used these reviews to determine what consumers look for in a curling iron and which brands are leaders in the field.

Next, we consulted subreddits such as r/fancyfollicles, r/beauty and r/femalehairadvice. We also checked out a review from Reviews.com. This info helped us further our understanding of important curling iron features.

We continued researching curling iron technical components, such as barrel material, barrel size and temperature controls. We also consulted a professional hairstylist with twenty years experience, Priscilla Bagby.

Priscilla gave us practical information about proper curling iron/wand usage and what features she looks for in each. She also helped us in our decision to narrow down our finalists to only 1-inch barrels. We chose 1-inch barrels because this size can serve a variety of hair types and can be used to achieve the natural-wave look that is currently popular.

With Priscilla’s help, we also decided to represent all three of the most popular barrel materials in our list of finalists: ceramic, titanium and tourmaline. This let us compare the efficacy of the most popular materials on the market. We also included a range of price points, from bargain to luxury, so that we could find the best curling options for any budget.

The five best curling wands

Five curling wands with graphic numbers below
ProductPriceBarrel WidthBarrel LengthWeightCord Length
1. Xtava - Twist$$1" - 1.5"
(Tapered)
5.5"1.4 Lbs9 ft
2. Neuro - Unclipped$$$$1"5.5"1.0 Lbs9 ft
3. Remington - Pro$$1" - 1.5"
(Tapered)
5.5"1.1 Lbs6 ft
4. Bed Head - Curlipops$1"5.1"0.9 Lbs6 ft
5. NuMe - Classic$$$1"6.0"1.1 Lbs6.5 ft

The seven best curling irons

Seven curling irons with graphic numbers below
ProductPriceBarrel WidthBarrel LengthWeightCord Length
1. Beachwaver - S1$$$$1"5.5"1.6 Lbs8 ft
2. Anjou - 1-Inch$$1"6.3"1.2 Lbs8 ft
3. Conair - InfinitiPro$1"5.0"1.1 Lbs6 ft
4. Hot Tools - 24k Gold$$1"4.3"2.0 Lbs8 ft
5. Mr Big - 1-Inch$$$1"9.5"1.2 Lbs8.5 ft
6. Vivid & Vogue - Travel$1"3.4"0.8 Lbs6 ft
7. Conair - Curl Secret$$$1"NA1.6 Lbs6 ft

How curling irons work

Curling irons and wands use electrical resistors inside the barrel to heat up and remove water from hair strands. This process of removing water from hair is commonly called the water-set process. This process can be easily understood if you think of your hair like spaghetti. When curling irons remove the water from your hair, the hair dries in a manner similar to uncooked spaghetti. However, when the hair reabsorbs enough moisture, it loses this rigid structure, like when you add your spaghetti to a pot of water.

This process of direct heat and water evaporation inevitably leads to hair damage, because it breaks down the amino acids naturally present in your hair. Easy steps can be taken to prevent hair breakage and excess damage when curling, such as using a heat protectant and not using an unnecessarily high temperature while curling. During our hands-on testing, our testers used Moroccanoil – Perfect Defense heat protectant to avoid hair damage.

Curling irons vs. curling wands

The primary difference between a curling iron and a curling wand is that a wand does not have a clamp to hold hair around its barrel. With a wand, you use your hands to secure your hair around the barrel. Some people prefer this because it can lead to a more natural looking curl. Curling wands also may have tapered barrels, meaning the barrel becomes narrower at its tip.

Our professional, Priscilla, prefers to use a wand while curling hair because it can be used to “give hair a more natural look.” However, she concedes that most amateurs are more comfortable using curling irons. Without the safety of a clip, users may accidentally burn their hands while securing hair around the wand’s barrel.

Priscilla explains, “One good [skin] burn deters most people [from wands] for good.” However, “mastery can be achieved with repetitive practice.” Also, most curling wands come with a heat-resistant glove to protect your hands from these types of accidents.

Now, if you’re the the type of person who likes to mix up styles, be sure to also check out our review of hair straightening brushes.

How to properly use a curling iron and wand

Woman using a curling iron

Proper technique is very important when curling hair, not only to get the best look, but also to ensure that you do not unintentionally damage your hair. Immediately before using a curling iron or wand, precondition your hair with a heat protectant.

It is also important to avoid unnecessarily high temperatures when curling hair. There is no “one-size-fits-all” temperature that works for everyone; the right temperature for you is based on your hair’s texture and thickness.

If you are unsure about which temperature to use, start at a low temperature (around 300 °F) and slowly increase it until you are able to set a curl with one 15-second hold around the barrel. Once you have your curling iron or wand set to the correct temperature for your hair, Priscilla recommends focusing on three main factors while curling: sectioning, angles and direction.

Sectioning

“Sectioning” refers to how you section off parts of your hair for curling. After using a heat protectant, make sure your hair is dry and detangled before sectioning hair with clips.

Priscilla explains that “natural looks will usually just require two sections.” She recommends creating one section above your ears and another below. More sections can be added for more glamorous looks, but don’t go overboard. “No one needs to do five horizontal sections,” Priscilla says. “It’s way too much curl and looks amateur.”

Angles

The angle at which you hold your curling iron or wand while your hair is wrapped around its barrel will affect your curl. Priscilla explains ,“Holding the barrel of your iron or wand on a diagonal will result in a more natural beachy wave pattern, horizontal will result in a more natural brushed curl, and vertical will result in a ringlet curl.”

Direction

The direction of a curl can either be toward or away from your face. The curl’s direction, coupled with the angle at which you curl it, can have a huge influence on the overall look of your hair.

For those wanting a natural, two-sectioned look, Priscilla recommends directing the top layer of curls away from your face and the bottom layer towards your face to “maximize volume.” However, if you want to create an even more “lived-in” natural look, alternate the direction of the curls throughout your hair to create “a more natural pattern.”

If you are looking for an old-school Hollywood glam look, Priscilla explains that you should begin on your bottom section by directing curls away from your face, holding your iron or wand at a vertical angle. Continue that all the way around until you end up on the other side of your face with curls that are now directed towards your face. “Pull a boars-head groom brush through and voila, you’re Rita Hayworth.”

“The biggest mistakes that I see with clients and stylists alike is the strong desire to run your fingers through the curl while it’s still hot,” says Priscilla. For curls that last, let your hair cool completely before brushing or applying product. “If you want to relax the curl, simply grab the end of the curl, stretch the curl and hold while it’s cooling.”

Important features to consider

Barrel size: Curling iron and wand barrels range from 0.5 to 1.5 inches in diameter. We chose to test all 1-inch barrels because they create a curl that is structured, but not too tight for most hair lengths. If you have very cropped hair, you may want to opt for a smaller barrel size; or if you have very long hair, a larger one.

Barrel length is also a consideration because it determines the amount of hair you can wrap around your iron. Standard barrels are usually around 5-7 inches long. Extra-long models can extend up to 9.5 inches, which can be helpful for people with very long hair. Shorter models, under 5.5 inches, are handy for those with shorter hair and/or those who want an easier to carry curling iron.

Temperature range: Most curling irons can reach incredibly high temperatures upwards of 400 °F. However, these temperatures are not necessary for most hair types. You should check a curling iron’s minimum and maximum temperatures to make sure it can sustain your ideal heat.

Ionic: Ionic curling irons produce negative ions to attract the positive water ions naturally present in hair. These ions promote frizz-free, shiny hair. All of the curling irons and wands we tested promote ionization, although they all have different barrel types.

Barrel material: Most curling iron barrels are metal with a coating of one of the materials listed below. However, higher-quality irons are available that are completely comprised of ceramic or titanium. Gold and tourmaline are used as coatings for either metal, ceramic or titanium irons. Coated irons that have a metal substrate may pose durability issues over the course of years, as the barrel’s coating may wear off and cause hot spots of exposed metal.

Some curling iron manufacturers make proprietary blends of the following materials (for example, “tourmaline infused ceramic”):

  • Ceramic: Ceramic is a material that heats up quickly and evenly, making it a great pick for curling irons.
  • Titanium: The preferred material of our professional hairstylist, Priscilla, titanium curling irons heat up faster than ceramic irons and are lightweight. However, titanium curling irons tend to be on the pricey side.
  • Tourmaline: Tourmaline is a semiprecious gemstone, which is crushed to coat the curling iron’s barrel. This material boosts the negative ions produced by the curling iron, which helps make hair smooth and shiny.
  • Gold: Curling irons with gold-plated barrels heat evenly and prevent overheating, making them a good choice for frequent use.
ProductIonicCeramicGoldTourmalineTitaniumAuto ShutoffDual Voltage
Xtava - TwistYesYesNoYesNoYesYes
Neuro - UnclippedYesNoNoNoYesYesYes
Beachweaver - S1YesYesNoNoNoYesNo
Anjou - 1-InchYesYesNoNoNoYesYes
Conair - InfinitiProYesYesNoNoYesYesNo
Hot Tools - 24K GoldYesNoYesNoNoNoNo
Remington - ProYesYesNoNoNoYesNo
Mr Big - 1-InchYesYesNoNoNoYesNo
VIvid & Vogue - TravelYesYesNoNoNoYesYes
Conair - Curl SecretYesYesNoYesNoNoNo
Bed Head - CurlipopsYesYesNoNoNoNoYes
NuMe - ClassicYesYesNoYesNoNoYes

Safety features: Ever leave your house and think, “Did I forget to unplug my curling iron?” If so, you understand why an automatic shutoff feature helps your peace of mind. An important safety consideration, automatic shutoff ensures your iron is never left on for more than thirty minutes to an hour.

Other important standard safety features include heat-protectant gloves to protect hands and a stand to prevent the iron from burning your counter. All of our curling wand finalists came with heat-protectant gloves, and all of our finalists had some sort of stand.

Usability: A curling iron that is too heavy or unwieldy may lead to hair damage/breakage. Overall usability refers to the the iron’s weight, handle ergonomics, cord length and intuitiveness of the controls.

Aesthetics: A good quality, attractive curling iron means it won’t be an eyesore sitting on your counter.

How we tested

Hands-on curling

To see if our finalists really delivered perfect curls, we had regular consumers put them to the test. After using each curling iron, our testers answered questions about the appearance, usability, results and overall impression of our finalists. Our three testers each had a different hair type ranging from short and fine to long and thick. Each tester’s unique hair type meant that they had a different ideal temperature for curling hair.

Tester IDHair TypeHair LengthIdeal Temp (°F)
Tester #1Straight, normal thicknessLong (extends to lower back)320
Tester #2Straight, fineShort (stops above shoulders)210
Tester #3Wavy, thickMedium (extends to middle back)380

All of our testers also had some experience with curling irons. Our tester with the least experience had used a curling iron a handful of times and had no experience with curling wands. Our tester with the most experience was familiar with both irons and wands and had used a wand on a biweekly basis.

Our testers largely preferred the curling irons with digital controls as they were clear, simple and accurate. In particular, the Neuro and Xtava were found to have the best controls, as their digital temperature controls are simple to use and have bright LED numbers that are easy to read.

Two of our finalists, Hot Tools and Mr Big, have dial temperature controls. Our testers appreciated the dial controls for their simplicity, but were disappointed with the smaller number of heat settings.

The Bed Head and NuMe both have only one heat setting. This limitation was universally disliked by our testers. The single temperature setting for both of these curlers was too hot for all of our testers’ hair. In fact, our tester with average thickness hair experienced smoke due to burnt hair follicles; to prevent further damage, we avoided testing on fine-hair.

The most intimidating curling iron for our testers was the Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret. This curler is unique in that it is an automated curling machine, meaning it sucks in a section of hair and curls it around an inner barrel. Although it required some learning, this curling iron turned out to be easy-to-use, but ultimately delivered lackluster results.

While not a fully automated machine, the Beachwaver also has a mechanism to twist hair along its barrel. Our testers with medium and long hair were able to get the hang of its barrel-twisting controls easily. However, the mechanism was useless for our tester with short hair.

Barrel length

We found that the advertised barrel lengths of our curling irons were often longer than their practical lengths. These advertized lengths often include the unheated tip (at the end of the barrel) as well as the small portion of the barrel located below the curling iron clamp. To determine the length of the curling iron barrel that can effectively be used to curl, we did our own measuring.

Take, for example the Anjou, which was advertised as a 6.3-inch barrel. While this measurement is technically correct, it is misleading. If you subtract the unheated end of the Anjou’s barrel and the bit below its clip, the part of the Anjou’s barrel that actually heats hair is 5.3 inches.

This size made the Anjou ideal for our short-haired tester, but was too small for our long-haired tester. On the other hand, the Mr Big Curling Iron is advertised at 9.5 inches but, practically, only 8 inches of its barrel can be used for curling. Our tester with long hair appreciated this extra length, but our tester with short hair found it too cumbersome.

From our tester’s experiences, we recommend looking for barrels that are 5.5 inches and longer if you have long hair. If your hair is shorter, you should look for 5.5 inches or less. While you shop, keep in mind that advertised barrel lengths probably include the iron’s unheated tip.

Temperature range

We used a thermometer attached to a thermocouple to test the highest and lowest temperature settings of our curling irons. Keep in mind that the accuracy of these thermometer readings may vary slightly, as they were not performed in a lab.

The Neuro proved to be the most accurate curling iron of our finalists. Its tested temperatures were within 1 °F of its advertised minimum and maximum specs.

Generally, the rest of our finalists tested a bit lower than their advertised temperatures but were within 10 – 15 °F. While 11 of our 12 finalists claimed to reach temperatures over 400 °F, we measured that only the Neuro, Hot Tools and Mr Big Curling Iron measured above 400 °F. So if you need very high temperatures to curl your hair, we recommend the Neuro as your best-choice curling wand and the Hot Tools as a solid runner-up.

ProductMin-Max Temp (°F)
per Specs
Min-Max Temp (°F)
per Tests
Time to Reach Max TempAuto ShutoffDual Voltage
Xtava - Twist200 - 410203 - 38304m - 20sYesYes
Neuro - Unclipped160 - 450159 - 44902m - 40sYesYes
Beachweaver - S1290 - 410289 - 39806m - 30sYesNo
Anjou - 1-Inch200 - 410198 - 39806m - 33sYesYes
Conair - InfinitiPro310 - 400271 - 38306m - 30sYesNo
Hot Tools - 24K Gold280 - 430208 - 40506m - 20sNoNo
Remington - Pro265 - 410218 - 39704m - 30sYesNo
Mr Big - 1-Inch180 - 430167 - 41202m - 40sYesNo
VIvid & Vogue - Travel300 - 350223 - 34908m - 05sYesYes
Conair - Curl Secret400372 - 39702m - 00sNoNo
Bed Head - Curlipops40039707m - 20sNoYes
NuMe - Classic41034311m - 45sNoYes

This heat setting test was particularly useful for the Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret. This curling iron has four clearly labeled heat settings, and one ambiguous setting simply labeled “POWER.” We found the Conair’s “POWER” setting to be around 270 °F.

The NuMe measured significantly below 410 °F, its advertised temperature, reaching only 343 °F. This underperformance was noticed by our testers, who were displeased with the NuMe’s curling results.

Heating speed

To test how long each of our curling irons took to reach its maximum temperature, we again employed the thermometer and thermocouple, along with a stopwatch. We found that the Neuro was our fastest curling wand to heat up, taking only two minutes and 42 seconds to reach 449 °F. The titanium barrel of the Neuro helped it to easily beat the competition in heat time.

Our curling irons that heated up fastest were the Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret and the Mr Big Curling Iron. The Conair took two minutes to reach 397 °F, and the Mr Big took two minutes and 41 seconds to reach 412 °F.

The majority of our finalists took somewhere between five to 10 minutes to reach their maximum temperature. The slowest to reach its maximum temperature was the NuMe which took over 10 minutes to reach 343 °F. This slow heat time is most likely due to the NuMe’s 100-percent ceramic barrel, a material that takes longer to heat up.

Usability

To score high on our overall usability, a curling iron should have simple controls, feel comfortable and lightweight, plus have a long cord. Our testers gushed over the grips of the Neuro and Anjou, which they found particularly easy to hold.

Our testers did not like the grips on the NuMe and Bed Head. They complained that these finalists lack grip texture and ergonomic shaping, and that they have a weight-balance issue which makes them unwieldy.

We measured each curling iron’s power cord and found that the Neuro had the longest cord at 9-feet long. The Xtava, Anjou, Mr Big Curling Iron and Beachwaver also had very long cords, all around 8 to 8.5 feet. The curling wand with the smallest cord was the Remington at 5 feet, 10 inches. However, cord length did no prove to be an issue for any of our testers, as they found even the Remington to be a comfortable length.

The lightest of our curling irons was the Vivid & Vogue, which only weighs about 0.8 pounds (12.2 ounces). This makes the Vivid & Vogue ideal to travel with, especially since it features dual voltage. Our testers thought this extra-light weight made the iron easy to use. The majority of our curling irons and wands range from 1 to 1.5 pounds, which our testers described as a comfortable weight.

The heaviest curling iron we tested was the Hot Tools at 2 pounds. This curling iron’s extra weight gives the impression of a quality tool, but two of our testers complained that this extra weight made it feel more unwieldy.

Best overall: Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand

Xtava Twist Conical Curling Wand

The Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand impressed our testers with its styling results. All of our testers gushed about the curls created with this iron, especially our testers with long and medium length hair. The Xtava’s graduated barrel helped our testers get natural-looking, tousled, loose curls.

This curling wand is a great choice for those who want the “natural curl” look. If you are looking for a bit more of a structured curl, you might consider opting for a straight-barrel version of the Xtava or the Neuro.

Out of the box, our testers thought the Xtava looked sleek and smart with its all-black design. They were also highly impressed with its easy-to-use digital controls. The Xtava’s simple buttons and easy-to-read digital screen allow you to control the temperature from 200 °F to 410 °F in ten degree increments.

Our testers also liked that this wand displays its temperature while it heats up, so you know exactly when it’s ready to use. The Xtava took four minutes and 20 seconds to reach its maximum temperature, which we measured as 383 °F. This was an average heat time for our finalists.

Top Pick: Xtava - Twist Conical Curling Wand

Sleek, smart and effective, this curling wand provides the perfect tousled curl and comes at a good value. Accurate digital controls and comfortable handle make it easy — and enjoyable — to use.

While this 383 °F temperature is lower than the Xtava’s advertised maximum (410 °F), we believe it is within the margin of error for our testing. However, if you have thicker hair that should be ironed at temperatures above 400 °F, we greatly recommend splurging for the hotter Neuro. That said, the Xtava is a great choice for the majority of hair types that should be curled below 400 °F, including fine, normal and wavy hair.

The Xtava’s smart controls, plus its comfortable handle, made the Xtava very easy to use for our testers. In addition to the standard heat-protectant glove that comes with most curling wands, the Xtava also came with a good quality case that proved convenient to use.

Woman using Xtava curling wand

The Xtava’s tourmaline-infused ceramic barrel measured 5.5 inches in length and tapered from 1.5- to 1-inch wide. This makes it great for medium- to long-length hair. Those with very short hair might opt for the smaller-barreled Xtava, which tapers from 1 inch to 0.5 inch wide.

The weight of the Xtava curling wand is pretty standard among its peers at 1.4 pounds. While this may not be a super-lightweight model, none of our testers complained of arm fatigue.

The only feature our testers thought could be improved in the Xtava is its heat stand, which is pretty small and can easily tip over. However, the Xtava comes equipped with other safety features, such as an automatic shutoff plus a good quality heat-protectant glove and case.

The Xtava’s appearance is sleek, black and serious. However its controls are friendly, and its curling results are flirty and fun. Despite the high quality of the Xtava, it comes at a bargain at around $20. To put the cherry on top, the Xtava is dual voltage, which means you can use it outside of the United States.

Key takeaways:

  • Our top pick, the Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand has easy-to-use digital controls and a comfortable handle.
  • Our testers were highly impressed with the Xtava’s styling results, delivered by its graduated, tourmaline-infused ceramic barrel.
  • At a 5.5-inch length, the Xtava’s graduated barrel performed well on a variety of hair types.
  • The Xtava offers top-tier performance without a top-tier price.

Upgrade pick: Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod

Neuro Unclipped Styling Rod

The Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod is a straight-barreled curling wand. Our testers thought the Neuro’s expensive price tag is worth it for those with very thick hair, or for those who want a more structured curl. However, if you have thin, normal or moderately thick hair and are looking for a loose tousled curl, the Xtava is a better choice.

The Neuro’s high price tag is partly due its high-quality titanium barrel and smart digital controls. This titanium barrel heats up quickly and can reach an incredible 450 °F, the highest temperature of all our finalists. Therefore, if you have very thick or textured hair, this curling iron is probably worth the splurge.

All of our testers ranked the Neuro’s digital controls far above its competitors. This curling wand’s temperature range was 160 °F – 450 °F, which you can set in 10-degree increments. Its digital temperature was exceptionally easy to read, and its buttons were intuitive.

Luxe Pick: Neuro - Unclipped Styling Rod

If you have thick hair and a bigger budget, the Neuro is easy to use and highly effective. This professional-grade curling wand can create a variety of looks, and its titanium-plated barrel can reach a remarkable 450 °F.

Our heat testing also revealed that this curling wand is exceptionally accurate, measuring within 1 °F of its advertised temperature. The Neuro was also the fastest curling wand to heat up, taking only two minutes and 42 seconds to reach 449 °F. Our heat testing data proved that the Neuro’s titanium barrel is worth the price.

The Neuro also comes equipped with other professional-grade features, such as a customizable automatic shutoff feature. This feature allows you to program the curling wand to shut off after whatever amount of time you choose.

The Neuro’s straight barrel is 5.5-inches long, which works well for a variety of hair lengths. Because its barrel is straight, our testers found that it can be used to get a slightly more defined curl than the Xtava. This curling iron works well for creating different types of curls based upon the angle of the iron and the direction of the curl.

The Neuro’s styling results and its professional features make it ideal for consumers looking to spend more to get serious curling power. Like the Xtava, the Neuro is dual voltage, making it a good choice for trips abroad.

Key takeaways:

  • The Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod’s titanium 5.5-inch long barrel heats up the fastest of our finalists, taking just under three minutes to reach 450 °F.
  • The Neuro was the most accurate of our finalists, measuring within 1 °F of its advertised temperatures, and its simple digital controls allow you to select temperatures in 10-degree increments (200 °F to 450 °F).
  • With a temperature range suited for a wide range of hair types, our testers found this curling wand extremely easy to use and were pleased with its styling results.
  • The $100 price tag of the Neuro is worth it for those with very thick hair who are looking for a structured curl.

Best for medium to long hair: Beachwaver – S1

Beachweaver S1 curling iron

Our testers with medium-length and long hair loved the Beachwaver’s automatically rotating barrel, which was unique among our finalists. The Beachwaver’s rotation is controlled by two direction buttons on its barrel, but you don’t have to use this feature if you don’t want to. However, our testers with hair past their shoulders found this feature very handy in getting strands to wrap uniformly around the barrel.

Our short-haired tester found the Beachwaver to be too bulky overall to use successfully. However, our other testers appreciated the Beachwaver’s large handle, which they said felt more ergonomic than our other finalists. The Beachwaver’s large buttons are intuitive, which make using its fancy rotation feature easy.

The Beachwaver’s lowest temperature setting was 290 °F, meaning that it’s unsuitable for those with very fine, color-treated or damaged hair. Our testers liked this curling iron’s digital temperature controls, which allow you to easily select the temperatures in 10-degree increments up to 410 °F.

Best for Longer Hair: Beachwaver - S1

Our top-pick curling iron for long hair, the Beachwaver has a ceramic automatic-rotating barrel that our testers loved. With its large handle, this curling iron is comfortable to hold and features intuitive controls.

Though the Beachwaver was advertised to reach 410 °F, we measured its highest temperature to be 398 °F. This measurement may be within the margin of error for our testing, but if you’re looking for a curling iron that easily exceeds 400°F, we recommend going with the Hot Tools instead. However, the Beachwaver is a great pick for the majority of average- to long-hair types that should be curled at settings below 400 °F.

This curling iron took six minutes and 30 seconds to reach its maximum temperature, an average time for our finalists.

The Beachweaver’s clamp is the smallest of our finalists, yet our testers found it very effective. This small clamp minimizes the crinkle sometimes left by a curling iron’s clamp. Its 5.5-inch long barrel creates attractive curls that our testers rated “above average.”

The main drawback of the Beachwaver is its high price point at over $100. However, its comfortable handle and smart, automatic-spin feature make it a great curling iron for longer hair. The Beachwaver also comes equipped with an automatic shutoff feature that turns off the iron if left unused for 30 minutes.

Key takeaways:

  • The Beachwaver – S1 is a good choice for those with medium length or long hair.
  • This curling iron has an automatic rotating barrel that is easy to control and helps to create nicely styled curls.
  • Though hefty in size, the Beachwaver’s handle is comfortable to hold, and large buttons make using its fancy features easy.
  • This curling iron is our luxury pick, with a price point upwards of $100.

Best for medium to short hair: Anjou – 1-Inch Iron

Anjou one-ince curling iron

We found that the Anjou – 1-Inch Curling Iron is your best choice for shorter hair. Our testers thought the Anjou’s more manageable size (14.4 inches overall) and ceramic barrel made it a great overall curling iron. Our testers were pleased with the curls the Anjou made, and they proved the iron to be both effective and easy to use.

The Anjou’s ceramic barrel is advertised as 6.3 inches; however, our testers found that they were only able to practically use 5.3 inches of the barrel. This is because the 6.3-inch measurement includes the unheated end of the barrel, as well as the portion of the barrel below the iron’s clamp.

This posed a problem for our tester with the longest hair, which falls around her mid to lower back. This tester wanted a little more length from the Anjou’s barrel in order to fit more hair around it. However, our other two testers had no issue with the Anjou’s barrel length.

Best for Shorter Hair: Anjou - 1-Inch Curling Iron

Our top pick for short hair, the Anjou - 1-Inch Curling Iron has a manageable size yet provides great results. Our testers loved the Anjou’s 5.3-inch ceramic barrel and lightweight design.

The Anjou also comes equipped with digital heat controls, which allow you to select the temperature in 10-degree increments from 200 °F – 410 °F. The Anjou’s buttons are very small, which our testers thought was a bit of a pain. However, the controls are very simple and allow for specific temperature setting. We found that the Anjou took about six minutes and 33 seconds to reach its maximum temperature, which was a pretty average heating time among our finalists.

This curling iron works well for most hair thicknesses, except for those with very thick or textured hair that needs to be curled above 400 °F. We measured its maximum and minimum temperatures to be 198 °F to 398 °F, just a bit lower than its technical specs. This slight temperature discrepancy was not noticed in our hands-on testing.

Weighing 1.2 pounds, this curling iron is relatively lightweight, which our testers thought made it easy to manipulate. This curling iron is also dual voltage, so you can travel with it overseas.

The Anjou is easy to use, features smart controls and offers great results, making it a great pick for those with short- to medium-length hair. To top things off, the Anjou is a bargain, costing only about $25.

Key takeaways:

  • The Anjou – 1-Inch Curling Iron is a good choice for those with short to medium-length hair because of its more manageable size at 14.4-inch length and 1.2-pound weight.
  • This curling iron’s digital controls allow you to select the temperature between 200 °F to 410 °F, and our testers were pleased with the curls created by the Anjou’s 5.3-inch ceramic barrel
  • The Anjou works well for a variety of hair thicknesses, but it’s not the best pick for those with very thick or textured hair that needs to be curled above 400 °F.
  • The Anjou comes at a very reasonable price point, costing only around $25.

Conair – InfinitiPro Curling Iron

Conair InfinitiPro curling iron

The Conair – InfinitiPro Curling Iron came in just behind the Anjou in its overall testing score, ranking above average with most of our testers. Our tester with the shortest hair especially liked the Conair’s smaller size and lighter weight.

The Conair’s barrel is made of ceramic-infused tourmaline and measures 5 inches long. This length worked well for our short- and medium-length hair testers, but it was too small for our long-haired tester. Overall, our testers ranked the curls created by the Conair as average.

The Conair lost points in its low-quality appearance. Its light weight (1.08 pounds) and — as one tester described it, “Aquaman-blue” handle — contributed to this overall impression of cheaper quality. However, when you consider that the Conair – InfinitiPro was able to yield average styling results for an incredibly cheap price at just around $20, it’s easy to forgive the Conair’s appearance.

The Conair – InfinitiPro’s controls are simple but do not offer the specificity of a digital curling iron. The Conair allows you to select the temperature at five different presets. If you select only “POWER,” the curling iron reaches about 275 °F. Beyond that base setting, your other options are 310 °F, 330 °F, 360 °F and 400 °F.

The Conair took an average length of time to reach its maximum temperature, six-and-a-half minutes. Our measured temperatures for the Conair were a bit lower than the specified minimum and maximum temperatures. This curling iron works best for those with normal or thick hair. Because of its limited temperature range, it’s not a good pick for those with very thin or very thick hair.

Overall, this curling iron is a solid budget pick as it offers average styling results with easy-to-use controls and at a friendly $20 price. This curling iron is better suited for those with short to medium-length hair because of its shorter barrel.

Hot Tools: 1-Inch 24k Gold Curling Iron

Hot Tools curling iron

Our testers thought that the Hot Tools – 1-Inch 24k Gold Curling Iron was an overall average curling iron. Like the Conair curling iron, the Hot Tools delivers average styling results. However, during our temperature testing, this curling iron reached one of the highest temperatures of our finalists, heating up to 405 °F. Therefore, if you have thick hair and are looking for a bargain, the Hot Tools is a solid-choice curling iron.

The Hot Tools relies on a dial temperature control system, which is simple, but lacks the accuracy of digitally controlled irons. This curling iron also heated up in a reasonable amount of time, taking about six minutes to reach its maximum temperature.

In addition, the Hot Tools price is very affordable, falling just under $30. It has an easy-to-grip handle and a gold barrel, which measures 4.25 inches. This was our heaviest curling iron, coming in around 2 pounds. When curling a lot of hair, this extra weight can turn hair curling into an arm workout. Overall, the Hot Tools is a solid curling iron, but it lacks the professional features and exceptional results to make it one of our top picks.

Remington – Pro Curling Wand

Remington Pro curling wand

While our testers were happy with the loose curl that the Remington – Pro Curling Wand creates, they were less than impressed with this wand’s temperature display and plastic handle. Our testers wished the Remington’s digital temperature display was brighter and more readable and that its handle had a better stand for holding the wand while hot.

The Remington reached its maximum temperature quickly, taking only four-and-a-half minutes. However, we measured the maximum temperature a bit below the advertised 410 °F. If you have extremely thick or textured hair, this is not the wand for you. However, it does work well for all other hair thicknesses that can be curled at a setting under 400 °F.

This curling iron comes at a good price, around $25. However, the Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand comes at a similar price point and offers more professional features and better performance. Therefore, the Remington would only be a good choice if the Xtava was out of stock.

Mr Big Curling Iron – 1-Inch

Mr Big curling iron

Unsurprisingly, our tester with long hair appreciated the Mr Big Curling Iron the most, mainly because of its very long barrel that measures 8 inches. However, all of our testers thought that Mr. Big’s curling results were lacking and that its long clamp was unnecessary.

The Mr. Big Curling Iron was our fastest heating curling iron, reaching an incredible 412 °F in only two minutes and 41 seconds. However, because of this curling iron’s unwieldiness, we recommend opting for the Hot Tools if you have very thick hair and are looking for a curling iron that offers temperatures above 400 °F.

For its large size, Mr. Big is relatively lightweight, weighing 1.2 pounds. However, this iron is unnecessarily cumbersome to manipulate around your head, particularly for those with average-length hair. Even if you have long hair, there are curling irons which offer better results, such as the Beachwaver.

Vivid & Vogue – Travel Curling Iron

Vivid and Vogue travel curling Iron

Do you have short hair and travel a lot? If the answer is yes, the Vivid & Vogue – Travel Curling Iron is a good option for you. If the answer is no, you should probably invest in a larger curling iron. This curling iron has a tiny 3.75-inch barrel and weighs less than a pound.

The Vivid & Vogue has a very simple temperature switch that offers only high or low temperature settings. Its high-temperature setting measured about 350 °F, and its low setting measured 223 °F. This small curling iron took a longer time to reach its maximum temperature, clocking in at around eight minutes.

This extremely lightweight flat iron is simple and cheap, costing around $15. It is a solid flat iron for those with thin, short hair who travel a lot. However, its small barrel and overall lower quality make it a poor choice for everyday use or for those with hair that falls below their shoulders.

Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret

The Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret was the only fully automatic curling machine we tested. Initially, it visually and conceptually intimidated our testers. This machine requires hair to be placed inside two plates that are pressed together and then automatically curl hair inside a curling chamber. However, in practice the Conair was very easy to use and would not curl any piece of hair that was tangled.

This curling machine was extremely quick to reach its maximum temperature. We found that it reached 397 °F in two minutes. Because the Conair – Curl Secret only has two temperature settings, which we measured to be 372 °F and 397 °F, this curler is only suited for those with normal to thick hair.

Despite its ease of use, our testers were all dissatisfied with the curls produced by the Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret. Our tester with the shortest hair was unable to use the machine because her hair was not long enough for the machine to properly funnel into its barrel. Our testers with longer hair thought that their curls came out too crinkled. Therefore, we recommend spending time practicing your technique with a manual curling iron, rather than settling for the subpar results of the Conair – InfinitiPro Curl Secret.

Bed Head – Curlipops Curling Wand

To put it simply, the Bed Head – Curlipops Curling Wand is too hot. When tested on hair of normal thickness, this curling iron burnt follicles to the point of producing smoke. With only one heat setting at 400 °F, our tester with fine hair was unable to try this curling iron due to risk of serious hair damage.

Our heat test showed that this curling iron’s advertised 400 °F temperature is accurate. At seven minutes and 20 seconds, it took a bit longer than average to reach its maximum temperature. This curling iron is suited for those with very thick hair that requires high heat.

The Bed Head iron also lacks an automatic shutoff function. Paired with its high heat, this deficiency poses serious safety concerns if you forget to unplug your curling iron. Even if you have hair that needs to be curled at this high temperature, our testers ranked this curling iron’s curls as slightly below average.

NuMe – Classic Curling Wand

Like the Bedhead, the NuMe – Classic Curling Wand only has one heat setting, which frustrated our testers who all wanted more accurate controls. While its temperature is advertised to be a super-hot 410 °F, we measured it to be around 350 °F. That means this curling iron is only suited for those with hair of normal thickness.

Because the NuMe has a 100-percent ceramic barrel, it takes over 10 minutes to heat up to high temperature. This measured to be the longest heating time of any of our finalists.

Our testers also found the NuMe’s handle to be uncomfortable and thought it was unwieldy to use. This curling iron lacks an automatic shutoff, but still commands a higher price tag at around $70. We recommend you skip this curling wand and instead opt for either the affordable Xtava or the luxury Neuro.

The bottom line

Overall, we were pleased to find that you can get a great curling iron or wand without breaking the bank. With proven performance, the Xtava – Twist Conical Curling Wand earns our pick for the best curling wand.

Our testers were impressed with the Xtava’s smart, easy-to-use, digital temperature system as well as its overall sleek appearance. This curling wand’s graduated barrel delivers a tousled curl that our testers universally appreciated. The Xtava comes with professional features, such as an automatic shutoff and dual voltage, yet only costs around $20.

On the more expensive side of curling wands was the Neuro – Unclipped Styling Rod. This curling wand was loved by our testers because of its smart digital controls, quick heating time and salon-quality results. This curling wand has the widest temperature range of our finalists, ranging from 160 °F to 450 °F. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of hair types, and its straight barrel can be used to create a variety of looks.

If you prefer the clamp of a traditional curling iron, we have two top picks based upon the length of your hair. The Beachwaver – S1 scored well with our testers with average to long hair, who appreciated its auto-rotation feature.

The Beachwaver’s large handle is very comfortable and has large buttons that are easy to use. It also has smart digital temperature controls that can be set at increments of 10 °F. However, the Beachwaver’s lowest temperature is 290 °F, which means it’s not suited for those with very fine or damaged hair.

For those with short hair looking for a small-sized curling iron, the Anjou – 1-Inch Curling Iron is your best bet. This curling iron offers great results and smart digital controls for a bargain at approximately $25. This curling iron’s overall light weight and long power cord make it easy to use around your head. Its shorter, 5.3-inch ceramic barrel is well suited for those with short- to medium-length hair.

Top Pick: Xtava - Twist Conical Curling Wand

A great value choice, the Xtava earns our top pick for curling wands. This wand’s accurate digital controls make it easy to use, and our testers appreciated its comfortable handle.

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