11 of the Best Curling Irons, According to Hair Stylists

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The best curling irons are versatile enough to produce a number of unique up and down ‘dos—from Shirley Temple-style ringlets to flowy beach waves. Beyond the size of your curling iron (which can size up from a skinny wand to a thicker barrel, depending on how tight or flowing you want your curls to look), and the style of the hot tool (i.e. whether you want to use a curling wand or traditional iron with a clamp), hair stylist and Ulta Beauty Pro Team Member Danielle Keasling tells SELF that you have to think about your hair type itself.

“Before styling any hair type, I recommend accessing information like the elasticity and density of your hair, as well as its ability to hold a curl,” she explains. “Your product choices will play a factor in the longevity of your style as well, but for hair types that drop curls quickly, I suggest using a smaller-sized curling iron to start.”

For looser, more relaxed hairstyles, experts recommend lookin for a curling iron with a larger barrel for a shorter amount of time. “As a general rule, if I’m using an iron as a wand and doing a wrapping technique, then I’ll go with a one-inch barrel,” says celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. “I control the amount of wave seen in my clients’ hair based on the length of time I hold sections of it around the curling iron. If a section has gotten a little too wavy, I typically shake it out with my fingers, then tussle the piece while giving it a quick blast with the blow dryer.”

Although the size of the barrel can play a role in how well your curls will hold, other factors can also come into play, like how you wrap your hair to preserve a style, the amount of time you hold a hot tool in your hair, as well as external weather conditions. And while it may be tempting to add new curls to your hair everyday once it starts to lose its bounce, professionals advise being mindful of using too much heat, too.

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