Bubble or double barrel? Clip or wand? Ceramic or tourmaline? Shopping for a new curling iron can almost feel like learning a new language.
But fear not, sis we have you covered. There are so many types of curling irons on the market that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by choice, but choosing the best type of curling iron for you comes down to pretty basic requirements; hair texture, length, and the type of curl you want to achieve.
See? A little easier already.
The different types of curling irons aren’t meant to just confuse you, they all achieve different curl types and depending on the material, the size of wand and barrel, some curling irons are better suited for certain hair types than others.
Ready to find the best curling iron for you? We break down each type, what type of curls you can achieve with them and which ones are best for different hair types. To note, you can take into account these tips and styles to curl your hair extensions too.
Welcome to Curling Irons 101.
Curling Iron Materials
Ceramic curling irons may be the most popular and well-known option. The ceramic material helps to evenly distribute heat to the hair which is great in creating an even curl or wave from root to tip. Ceramic curling irons work really well for both thin hair that can’t handle a lot of heat and for thick hair that needs consistent heat throughout styling. As the ceramic wand or barrel will evenly distribute heat throughout, those with thin hair can use a lower heat setting to get the curls they want while also protecting their thin hair from damage of high heat.
For thick hair, ceramic works well to evenly curl the hair as you move from section to section, without having to wait for your iron to heat up.
Tourmaline curling irons emit negative ions which make it ideal for frizzy and dry hair. Tourmaline also gives the hair shine, so it also works great for curling dull hair. Because of tourmaline’s ability to tame and smooth hair, it also works great for thick hair types. These types of irons give the stylist (you) more control of your curl and a more consistent outcome.
Titanium may sound like a heavy-duty type of iron, but actually it’s one of the lighter materials. Titanium curling irons heat up quickly and can also hold high heat for a longer period of time. By transferring heat to the hair quicker and longer, curls will also hold for longer. Titanium, like tourmaline also helps to smooth hair and promote shine. It’s commonly used by hair professionals and while it can be used on all hair types, thick hair benefits the most from titanium curling irons.
Gold plated curling irons don’t just look pretty, they work similarly to titanium in how they heat up quickly and hold high heat for longer. Creating more heat, means more power and less time styling. The high heat capability make gold-plated curling irons ideal for coarse hair.
Curling irons come in a variety of sizes and each one will help you achieve a different type of curl.
A 1-inch curling iron is the best all-around size and is versatile enough that it can work for different types of hair length and hair textures.
The smaller, 3/4-inch barrel size can be used to create tighter curls like ringlets and also works well for short and fine hair. For curly hair girls who want more definition, this size will also work great for you.
For longer hair a 1.5-2” barrel works well. This size also works great for more voluminous curls or those beautiful loose waves, like our Signature Luxy Waves.
Now that materials and barrel size are covered off, let’s get into the different types of curling irons.
Different types of curling irons and wands
Let’s say it’s the curling iron for beginners or for someone who follows all instructions all the time. The bubble wand is a no-fail curling iron as the creases between the bubbles or balls indicate where to wrap your hair. The best part? Getting an easy, even curl each time. The downside? This type of wand works best for longer hair as you can maximize more of the bubble space. However, if you part your hair right, short hair girls can also take advantage of this styling tool. The bubble wand helps to create tighter, more bouncy curls.
Tapered curling iron
As the name suggests, the tapered curling iron has a wide base and gets narrow towards the top (or tapers off). The tapered wand is great in giving you the ability to created different kinds of curls with just one styling tool, you can create large, voluminous curls using the base of the wand or tighter, smaller curls by using just the top half of the wand.
Curling iron with clip/clamp
An old school type of iron that you probably saw in your mom’s vanity – but let’s face it, this type of curling iron still works. When using a curling iron with a clamp you start curling from the end rolling up, this is great for defining curls from the mid-shaft down, but it is more difficult to curl the hair closer to the scalp. However, with the clamp you don’t have to hold the hair in place while it curls (saves from those little burns and knicks) as the clamp holds the hair together for you.
Usually referred to as just a curling wand, the barrel size can vary from ¾” to 2”. With curling wands it allows you to choose the thickness of each curl and the type of style. Depending on the barrel size the curling wand offers style versatility. For instance, smaller barrel equals tighter curls like ringlets and are also suitable for people with thin hair. Larger barrel size can create those va-va-voom waves and curls and are best suited for long and thick hair. The direction you wrap your hair, how close you wrap the hair around the wand and how you hold the wand all make a difference in the type of curl you create.
Double barrel iron
For those relaxed beachy waves, the double barrel curling iron is your must-have tool. To use the double barrel iron, wrap your sectioned off strands in a figure-8 pattern around each barrel. The result is a loose S wave. The downside, however, is you need at least mid-length hair to get the full benefits of this type of curling iron.
Triple barrel iron
Triple barrel irons will come with a clamp so larger sections of the hair can fit between the three barrels. Similar to the double barrel, this curling iron creates the type of loose crimp waves, similar to the effects of taking your hair out of a braid. Triple barrel irons works great for all hair types, but again the down fall like the double barrel, is the type of length you need to get the full effect.
The type of curling iron you will likely see at a hair salon or in a professional’s hands. Why? The Marcel curling iron has no spring in its clamp, meaning it has to be manually controlled the stylist or user. A regular curling iron has a spring in the clamp so it’s very simple for the user to maneuver. While the Marcel wand may be challenging for the everyday user the manual control actually allows for more versatility in the curls. With this type of wand you have to curl from the root and control the wand curling all the way to the end. If you’re a pro curler, this could be for you – otherwise, leave it to the pros.
Similar to the bubble wand, the tapered curling iron has raised material wrapped around the wand. This “swirl” let’s call it, is more spaced out than your typical bubble wand, giving your more versatility in the thickness of the curl. By wrapping your hair around the tapered swirl, you’re creating an ‘S’ shape curl, think of that defined old school Hollywood curl worn by both past and modern day glam girls. If you’re looking for that vintage S-pattern curl, this is the wand for you.
Luxy Hair Extended Barrel Curling wand (Coming Soon!)
With so many amazing curling tools out there, we wanted to make ones especially for the type of hair we know best – hair extensions. Made with a 1” barrel what makes the extended barrel hair extensions curling wand unique is right in its name! the 7.2” length nearly 2” longer than the average curling wand barrel length.
It is the perfect wand to achieve our Signature Luxy Waves (Note: any wand with 1.5-2” barrel will also work for this style).
Made of a tourmaline ceramic mixed coating, heat is evenly distributed and the material helps to reduce hair breakage and damage, prevents frizz and helps to enhance shine. We created a wand truly with you in mind with a cool touch tip – no need to worry about accidentally burning our fingers – we’ve all been there and a safety stand which allows the wand to rest on the table without having to touch the table or surface.
We believe in protecting hair and hair extensions from heat, so with 11 heat settings up to 450°F and one of the lower heat settings being 250°F (which is the recommended max heat setting to be used on our hair extensions) you can select the temperature you’re most comfortable with.
Ever leave the house and wonder if you turned off your curling iron? No need to worry with this one, it comes with a 1-hour automatic shut-off safety feature so you will fret no more.
With any curling iron or wand you use make sure you always pair it with a good heat protectant. Also be aware of the heat setting whenever using heat styling tools. It’s best to never exceeds 450F when heat styling and depending on your hair tyle follow these guidelines:
- Healthy or medium-thick hair stay within 300-380F
- Fine hair or chemically treated hair, no higher than 300F. Fine hair and chemically treated hair are already prone to damage, heat can make it worse.
- Thick, coarse or curly hair can use higher temperature settings form 350-450F for best styling results.
With Curling Irons 101 now adjourned we hope you have all the info you need to create the best curls for you.
Written by: Rosalyn Solomon