Best curling irons: 7 best buys for every hair type and texture

Here are 7 of the best curling irons for every hair type, texture, and budget

best curling irons
(Image credit: Getty Images)

To obtain cascading curls or beach-inspired waves, it all boils down to one thing: a curling iron. However, the key to successfully recreating those lust-worthy looks? It's having one of the best curling irons, and if you're not a professional who is familiar with the hundreds of options on the market? It's not an easy task. 

No two curling irons are the same, and when we're looking for the "best" curling iron, it's important to remember that this is a personal matter. It's imperative to find a curling iron that best suits not only your lifestyle but your hair type, and there are dozens of features and functions to consider.

 Are you looking for an option that offers a clamp, or are you partial to clampless styles? What about barrels? Do you want a larger barrel (somewhere around 2-inches), or are you in the market for a smaller (1-inch) version? Or are you someone who is shaking their head in confusion right about now? If so, not a problem — and you're in luck. 

See, our team of esteemed experts understand all of the trials and tribulations associated with finding one of the best curling iron. As a result? They've gone ahead and tested and trialed so many versions to not only bring you the creme de la creme of options, but options that are suitable for every hair type, texture, and budget. 

Regardless if you're working with a small or large budget or have straight, curly, or unruly hair, we've rounded up 7 of the best curling irons. Don't believe us? Continue scrolling to see. 

Oh, and if you're looking for the best hair straightener? Check out our buying guide here

The 7 best curling irons to invest in: 

best curling irons

(Image credit: T3)

1. T3 Whirl Trio Styling Wand

The best hair curler you can buy: this interchangeable curling wand ticks all our boxes

Specifications
Color: White/Rose Gold
Heat up time: N/A
Barrel size: 19mm - 38mm
Cord length: 2.7m
Temperature: 210º C max
Temperature control?: Yes
Settings: 5
Reasons to buy
+3-in-1+5 heat settings+Affordable+7 different barrels available+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Only comes in one color

Our team has rated the T3 Whirl Trio Styling Wand high on our list — and with good reason! Unlike other options on the market, this hair tool is interchangeable, and all you need is the base, and from there? From there, you can mix-and-mix all seven of the included barrels. 

This set, the T3 Whirl Trio, comes complete with three heads – a 25mm for undone waves: a 19mm - 32mm barrel for tousled waves, and a 38mm option for loose waves. (And if looking for more? There's also an additional four barrels up for grabs and can be purchased.) 

However, no matter how versatile this piece can be, there is one thing for sure: every barrel features a custom blend ceramic seal for a smooth and shiny finish. Oh, and if that wasn't enough? 

This curling iron is suitable for all hair types and textures. We're talking curly, straight, damaged, untameable, or anything else in-between; it will work wonders. 

Now, if you're wondering how this curling iron holds up heat-wise? Exceptionally well, to be frank. The maximum temperature is 410ºF, and one of its most fabulous features is that this hair tool boasts consistent heat for one-pass styling — which means what exactly? Both your roots and hair get the same treatment; flawless style from top-to-bottom! 

Last but not least, if you're someone who forgets to turn off their curling iron (Don't worry, I'm right there with you!), this perfect piece also includes the peace of mind. After one hour of inactivity, the T3 Whirl Trio will automatically turn off. Don't about perfection!

best curling irons

(Image credit: GHD)

2. GHD Rise Hot Brush

Best hair curler for short hair: add some volume with the GHD Rise

Specifications
Color: Black
Heat up time: 25 seconds
Barell size: 32mm
Cord length: 2.7m
Temperature: 185ºC
Temperature control?: No
Reasons to buy
+Heats up quick+Can be used multiple different ways+Great for detangling, too+Super lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not very easy to use if you have long hair

We know what you're thinking: Why is a hot brush on a curling iron list, and we completely get it. But if there are any short-haired women out there? You know that this hot brush belongs on the list. 

The GHD Rise is not only one of the newest hair curlers on the block, it's the saving grace for many short-haired ladies out there. It opts against the traditional wand design and instead goes for a brush look,  but trust us: it's just as endlessly beneficial. 

Here, the design features bristled dotted around a 32mm barrel, and when plugged in, this brush heats up and the reason for that? When using it directly to your hair, this brush will add shape to it. So, if you're someone who is looking to calm and unmanageable frizz or flyaways: you've met your match. 

Now, it is also important to note that this brush is in a league of its own, and cannot be compared to any other GHD hair tool. Or at least, when it comes to the temperature control settings that ring true. Here, this lightweight option ramps up to 365ºF, and the long swivel cord makes it easier than ever to use. 

You can use this hair curler for a big bouncy blow-dry, loose tight curls, or even for a wavy style. The opportunities are endless. Though we do think it's best (and easier) for use on shorter hairstyles, it does take some getting used to at first. Once you find your footing, you'll be rocking a very voluminous hairstyle, that's for sure.

best curling irons

(Image credit: Dyson)

3. Dyson AirWrap Styler Volume + Shape

Best hair curler wand: a fantastic all-in-one design that can be used on damp hair

Specifications
Color: Fuschia and nickle
Heat-up time: N/A
Barrel size: 30mm
Cord length: 2.62m
Temp control: Yes
Settings: 3
Reasons to buy
+Powerful dryer+Easy to use+Intelligent heat control+Creates impressive volume and curls+Makes hair fuller and shinier+Works without awkward winding mechanisms
Reasons to avoid
-Higher price point-Some say it takes a second to learn

If you've read our Dyson Airwrap review, you know we are seriously obsessed with this perfect pick. And if you haven't? We highly recommend taking a look at it — because this curling iron lives up to the hype. But in the meantime, we're here to give you a quick rundown. 

Let's start with the obvious: the price. Sure, compared to other curling irons on the market, the higher-price point is less than desirable, but when you factor in all that this trusty tool does? This Allure Best of Beauty award-winner is undoubtedly worth every single penny. 

The Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler is engineered for multiple hair types and styles. Featuring Coanda air styling and propelled by the Dyson digital motor, users can curl, wave, smooth, and dry with no extreme heat. It attracts and wraps hair, using only air-The Coanda effect attracts hair to the barrel, then curls it for you, using only air.

Plus, the fun doesn't end there! It also styles and dries simultaneously-engineered to style damp hair, combining powerful airflow with controlled heat to dry your hair as it styles.

best curling irons

(Image credit: GHD)

4. GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand

Best hair curling iron: for loose or tight curls

Specifications
Color: Black
Heat up time: 25 seconds
Barrel size: 28mm - 23mm
Cord length: 3
Temperature: 185ºC
Temperature control?: No
Reasons to buy
+Quick heat up+Cool tip+Comes with glove+Makes hair look shiny
Reasons to avoid
-No temperature control

Regardless, if you're dealing with short, medium, or long hair — the GHD Curve Creative curl wand was designed for you. 

This GHD curve wand contains the break-through ultra-zone technology that guarantees the right curling temperature of 365°F. This technology is maintained across the whole barrel thanks to the latest in advanced technology recognizing the section of hair and adapting to ensure the correct styling temperature at all times; delivering lasting curls that are formed fast and stay locked-in while respecting the health of your hair.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough? This curling wand has a 1"- 0.9" tapered barrel that can create natural-looking curls and deep waves for a beautiful beachy effect and glamorous, bouncy, big hair. 

Plus, the protective, cool tip provides you with a safe place to hold the hair in place while you curl, and the built-in safety stand allows you to place the wand down securely during styling. Other handy features include a professional-length cord to allow for flexible styling, automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes without use, and universal voltage. 

So if you are looking to create fancy, flirty, festival curls? This wand is for you. 

best curling irons

(Image credit: GHD)

5. GHD Curve classic wave wand

Best hair curler for waves: this GHD curling wand is truly the best at creating cool waves

Specifications
Color: Black
Heat up time: 25 seconds
Barrel size: 38mm - 26mm
Cord length: 3m
Temperature: 185°C
Temperature control?: No
Reasons to buy
+Cool tip+Safety stand+Auto shut off after 30 mins+Heats up in 25 seconds
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If you're wondering if this is an error and that you just read about the GHD curve wand: you're not wrong. You did, and the GHD Curve Classic Wave Wand is an extension of the previous option.   

Here, this version offers that same break-though ultra-zone technology that guarantees the right curling temperature of 365°F. It also is maintained across the whole barrel and will deliver long-lasting curls that will be locked-in for hours and hours to come! But the difference with this option? The actual size. 

This wand has a 1 1/2" - 1" oval-shaped wand that creates glossy, defined waves and glamorous movement on longer hair. The protective cool tip also provides a safe place to hold the hair in place while you curl, and the built-in safety stand allows you to place the wand down securely during styling. 

Other handy features include a professional-length cord to allow for flexible styling, automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes without use, and universal voltage. 

So if you are looking to create wonderful, wondrous waves, you've met your match. 

Best hair curler for thick hair: GHD Curve Classic Curl Tong

(Image credit: GHD)

6. GHD Curve Classic Curl Tong

Best hair curler for thick hair: tame that mane with this 26mm barrel

Specifications
Color: Black
Heat-up time: 25 seconds
Barrel size: 26mm
Cord length: 2.7m
Temperature: 185ºC
Temperature control?: No
Reasons to buy
+Clamp for holding your hair+Cool tip for holding too+Automatic shut off+Long cord+Safety stand
Reasons to avoid
-No temperature control

Our last pick (in the GHD-series, at least) is this GHD Curve Classic Curl Tong. It's an ideal solution for all hair types and textures and works wonders on everything from long to short hair. But why? 

This version boasts a 26mm barrel and can not only clamp the thickest or unruly hair but also has the power to hold it, too. Plus, as someone with both thick and unmanageable hair, that is music to my ears — and you want to know what else is making me swoon? Only that this trusty tool features that same cool tip and ultra-zone technology we spoke of before. 

Here, users will receive those same lustrious long-lasting curls without causing any damage to their hair, and will do so from the root-to-tip! 

Oh, and if you still need more convincing? It's also worth mentioning that this curling iron has a built-in safety stand, so you can pop this hair tool down while in use! 

best curling irons

(Image credit: Target)

7. Kristin Ess 2" Soft Bend Curling Iron

The best curling irons: the best affordable option for all hair types

Specifications
Color: Gold and White
Materials: Titanium
Number of heat settings: 4
Heat-up time: 1 minute
Power source: Electric
Reasons to buy
+Suitable for all hair types+Offers 4 pre-set heat settings for flawless styles+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-N/A

Naturally, we've saved the best curling iron for last: The Kristin Ess 2" Soft Bend Curling Wand. Again, if you've already read our review? You already know that this curling iron is the real deal and offers all the bells and whistles, and does so at an extremely affordable price. 

Faking a professional blowout has never been easier. When you want the soft curves that you typically only get from a blow dry, use this 2" barrel curling iron to polish the ends and add ultimate subtle texture.

Plus, it is both quick and efficient. This curling iron has temperature sensing rapid heat technology that delivers fast, even heat for more consistent curls and a longer-lasting style. 

Oh, and if you need more? This curling iron offers more. 

Additionally, the titanium barrel transfers consistent heat to enhance shine and eliminate frizz. Plus, the super-smooth barrels optimize an ergonomic thumb grip and heat-resistant tip to minimizes friction on the hair and eliminates creasing. 

With a digital display + 4 temperature pre-sets (325°F - 365°F - 400°F - 425°F) that allows you to customize the temperature contingent on your hair type and texture, and an automatic shut-off (after 30-minutes!), it's hard-pressed you'll find a better option at this price point. 

How to find the best curling irons for you?

Wand material
Choosing the perfect curling wand can be daunting as there are so many models to choose from. Some decisions will be based on your hair type and length and if in doubt, you can always ask your hairstylist to recommend some brands or designs for you. Ceramic coated barrels are the most popular as they heat up quickly and conduct heat evenly, creating curls that should last from one wash to the next. Tourmaline, on the other hand, is made from tourmaline mineral and this emits negative ions that are said to help deal with frizzy locks and fine, flyaway hair. Titanium is often used by the professionals as it’s lightweight and reaches higher temperatures.

Barrel size
Curling wands and brushes come in a variety of different barrel sizes so choose the one that best suits your hair type, texture and length. A small barrel is best for short or fine hair and ideal for creating tight curls and adding definition. Medium barrels are great for all-round use and work on most hairstyles. Longer barrels are easier to work with on long hair as well as creating loose waves and a bouncy, beachy look.

Heat settings
Heat is used to hold curls so you do need a high heat setting but you also don’t want to damage your hair with overheating, so make sure you use a lower setting if your hair is already damaged or if it’s thin and flyaway. It's always handy to have a few temperature options on a hair tool, especially if you're working with damaged hair. While the average temperature for a hair tool sits at around 185ºC, having a few choices – even one as low as 80ºC – will prove beneficial. Always apply a heat protector spray before you use the curling wand, for best results.

Cord length
Something to bear in mind if your plug socket and mirror are on opposite sides of the room, ensure the cord length of your new hair curler is long enough to reach wherever it may need to. 

Heat up time
Some hair curlers take seconds to heat up while others may take minutes. This factor may not bother you – perhaps you always leave yourself a lot of time to do your hair? – but if you're always in a rush, it's definitely something to think about.