Types of Curling Irons for Different Curls

There are four main hair types. Straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Using the right equipment on our hair will save us time and will make the time spent curling or straightening it a joy instead of a chore.

Let's delve into the world of curling irons and wands to see which one will fit your hair like a glove.

Curling wand with clips (a.k.a, curling irons)

KIPOZI 1 Inch Curling Iron Hair Curler with Ceramic Coating Barrel,Professional Curling Wand Instant Heat up to 450°F,Dual Voltage,Include Heat Resistant Glove(Rose Pink)

This is a good all-rounder and excellent for beginners. It's easy to use because the clip helps to hold the hair in place while curling. Clip the end of the hair and roll up or around the barrel. Unwind your hair and release the clip. Easy peasy.

You can achieve polished, sculptured, spiral, and wavy curls depending on the barrel size you choose.

Clipless curling wand

Remington CI9538 Pro 1"-1.5" Pearl Ceramic Conical Curling Wand, Digital Controls + 10 Heat Settings, Black/Pink

This wand is a good choice for intermediate and expert users. As the name suggests it doesn't have a clip. The cylindrical-shaped barrel is usually made of Tourmaline, Nano-Ceramic, or Pearl Ceramic.

Great for loose, yet defined, bouncy curls. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl.

Bubble wand

L’Ange Hair Le Perle Bubble Curling Wand – Hair Iron with Titanium Bubble Barrel, Hair Curler for Beachy Waves, Dual Voltage Crimper with Professional Heat Resistant Gloves

This is a tool suitable for beginners and professionals alike. The wand helps keep the hair in place. The hair doesn't slide around as much as it does on a straight cylindrical barrel.

The unique bubble-shaped barrel creates fuller, messier, textured beach waves.

Spiral Iron

The spiral iron can be used by intermediate and expert users. The barrel of this iron is spiral-shaped which helps to create evenly sized spiral curls.

It can also be used to create Old Hollywood, romantic, retro waves. Think 1930's.

Tapered/Conical Wand

This wand is great for intermediate and expert users. Beginners can also use it, but it does take a bit of practice.

The cone-shaped barrel gives the iconic spiral curl look. Depending on how you use the tool, you can create volume at the root of the hair with the curls becoming smaller at the tips of the hair. Alternatively, reverse this action to create more loose and wavy curls which are not so tight.

Reverse curling wand

The reverse curling wand can be used by intermediate and experts. The barrel looks like an upside-down ice cream cone. It tapers from small to bigger. You wind your hair from the top of the barrel to the end which creates tight curls at the top and looser curls at the bottom.

This option gives a tighter, more voluminous curl at the root and softer, looser waves at the bottom.

Marcel curling iron

If you’re a newbie, it’s best to avoid marcel curling irons. Hairstylists love using this iron because it gives them more flexibility. But it has a learning curve to it. 

They’re just like a traditional curling iron. The only difference is that it has a scissor-like mechanism that lets you control the clamp. It’s much easier on the wrists too, which is important if you do curl hair daily.

If you’re looking for a professional curling iron, marcels are a great option! Almost every possible type of curl can be created using the Marcel curling iron.

Hair Wavers

Hair wavers are typically either double or triple barrel curling irons.

The hair waver can be used by everyone that has enough experience when it comes to curling hair. This is not a curling iron, but it does come with two or three barrels. The hair is placed between the barrels and that is how the wave is created.

You can not really create curls with this hair waver as it crimps the hair more than it curls the hair. It is perfect for those 1980s, wavy, fun waves, which are also called mermaid waves.

Interchangeable Curling Iron Wand

L’Ange Hair Le Cinq 5 in 1 Curling Wand Set - Comes with 19mm, 25mm, 32mm, 19-25mm and Bubble Titanium Barrels - Professional Curling Iron Set - Interchangeable Curling Wand Set

This curling iron can be used by everyone because it has more than one barrel to choose from. There are usually 3 to 6 interchangeable barrels to choose from. If you want beach waves, use the bubble barrel. If you want loose curls, use the 1-inch barrel. To get more volume with your curls, use the cone-shaped conical wand barrel.

Due to the variety of barrels, you can create every curl to your heart's content.

Automatic Curling Irons

CHI Spin N Curl in Onyx Black

Newbies should tread carefully with this curling iron because it can pull hair out of the scalp if it is not used correctly. Luckily for us, some models come with a tangle-free feature, which stops that from happening. My suggestion would be to start with a curling wand with clips and work your way to this alternative curler.

How it works is a motor rotates the barrel of the curling iron, which in turn wraps the hair automatically around it. Depending on the model, the curling iron will beep to tell you that the hair is curled. As you can see there is less work to do when using this model.

These curling irons are great for not-so-perfect, wavy styles of curls.

Cordless curling irons

Unbound Cordless Titanium 1-inch Curling Iron From Conair – The First High Performance Cordless, Rechargeable Curling Iron For Curls or Waves Anytime, Anywhere

The cordless curling iron is perfect for anyone that travels and for those of us that enjoy the freedom that comes with any cordless styler. You can use this curling iron just about everywhere as it gets its power from a gas cylinder and not an electrical cord. These are usually smaller so they can fit easily into your purse or carry-on.

Use the bigger barreled option for bigger loose curls and the smaller barreled option for tighter, ringlet, spiral curls.

Curling iron brush/curling brush

AmoVee Curling Iron Brush Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Hair Curling Wand Volumizing Hot Brush with 1 Inch Barrel & Anti-Scald Bristles for All Hair Types, Dual Voltage, Instant Heat

The curling iron brush is different from the hot airbrush. When using the curling iron brush your hair must be completely dry. The hot airbrush actually curls and blow-dry your hair at the same time. The curling brush has a brush attached to the barrel. The smooth, separated bristles help to hold and style the hair.

Because of the brush attached to the barrel, it gives a finished, polished look to the hair with a bouncy, spiral curl throughout or just enough to curl the ends in or out.

Here is a summary table for easy reference.

Curling Iron TypeCurl Type
Curling wand with clipPolished, sculptured, spiral, and wavy curls
Clipless curling wandLooser, yet defined, bouncy curls
Bubble wandFuller, messier, textured beach waves
Spiral IronOld Hollywood, romantic, retro waves
Tapered/Conical WandCreate volume at the root of the hair with the curls becoming smaller at the tips of the hair
Reverse curling wandTighter, more voluminous curl at the root and softer, looser waves at the bottom
Marcel curling ironAlmost every possible type of curl you want
Hair WaverThose 1980s, wavy, fun, mermaid waves
Interchangeable Curling IronAll types of curls
Automatic curling ironNot-so-perfect, wavy styles
Cordless curling ironsBigger loose curls or tighter, ringlet, spiral curls.
Curling iron brush/curling brushFinished, polished look, with a bouncy, spiral curl

Once you have purchased your curling iron, please remember to use heat protectant spray on your hair. To make it easier, part your hair in sections before you start to curl. If possible, use a safety glove to avoid any injuries.

And remember practice does make perfect. If your hair doesn't do what you want it to do the first time, try and try again. You'll get it.

Last Updated: April 16, 2021

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