Your Comprehensive Guide to Curling Irons

Do you know the difference between ceramic and tourmaline? Let us teach you.
Chances are, you don’t take the time to think about your curling iron.
And when we say that, we mean you probably aren’t sitting there thinking about what it’s made of, its dimensions, its clip. Until, you need to buy a new one.
If you haven’t browsed the aisle of curling irons in a while, it has a huge range! If you’re buying online then you’ll find it’s a great option. If you’re going the online shopping route, you have even more options. So if you’re in the market for a new curling iron and are hoping to get your hands on one, fear not, because we caught up with renowned hairstylist Dyana Nematalla, owner of Sirène and Tinte salons in Atlanta, to break it all down for us.
But before we dive into the specifics of curling irons, now seems like a good time to remind you of the fact that you should never use curling irons on your hair without first applying some kind of heat protectant ( or any hot tool).
We’re fans of Living Proof Hair Perfecting Day Heat Styling Spray, which is lightweight and silicone-free. This is a great option if you want to spray your hair right before using your curling irons. We also love JVN’s Complete Blowout Styling Cream. Suitable for all hair types, this product helps you achieve a smooth blowout while also protecting against heat.

Types of Curling Irons

Hot Tools Professional Gold Curling Iron

According to Nematalla, the gold curling iron is “the OG of curling irons”. They can tolerate extreme heat for extended periods of time and are best for thick or coarse hair. Typically, gold-plated curling irons are more affordable than other options, but home users must be aware of their heat levels.

Gas’ Ceramic Tourmaline 1″ Curling Iron, Black

Tourmaline is the newest of all types of curling irons you can find on the market. Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone that is crushed and used as a coating for irons, and since tourmaline produces six times the negative ions of ceramic, it’s even gentler than ceramic options and can help reduce frizz and prevent damage.

T3 SinglePass Curl 1.25″ Professional Ceramic Curling Iron

Ceramic curling irons are the bottom line when it comes to hair styling at home. They work great on all hair types, lengths and are easy to use. You can find irons with a ceramic coating or a ceramic plate, and since the coating can chip or wear, an all-ceramic plate is usually a better choice. The infrared heat generated by the ceramic penetrates deep into the hair to help lock in moisture and shine, and it also emits negative ions that counteract the positive ions in frizzy hair. It also provides a smoother surface, so you can easily slide the iron out of your hair while it’s still gripped to create smooth, flat ends, which is a trend in many styles right now. All of this means less damage to your hair.

Titanium alloy
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Alloy Spring Curling Iron

Titanium is one of the strongest metals in nature and will give you the hottest heat of all the options (which is why people often use gloves when working with titanium). This makes it a great option for thick hair or those who are resistant to frizz. Professionals often turn to titanium because they can rely on the steady heat that titanium irons provide, but home users should be careful. “I love titanium for extremely thick, textured hair, and when I use keratin treatments, I use titanium curlers,” Nematalla explains of her professional use.

curling iron size

The size of your curling iron directly determines the type and size of curls you get.
¾” barrel: Ideal for creating corkscrew curls or rings, or for those with tighter curls to style their natural curls. Not for long hair.
1″ Roll. This size is the most versatile and can be used on hair of all lengths and textures.
1 ¼” barrel: Use this size barrel to create volume at the roots of short hair and on mid-length hair.
1 1/2″ barrel: The larger barrel size makes it easier to curl long hair, and this size is good for creating loose waves on mid-length hair. You can use this size iron on short hair, help Achieve the ’90s hairstyle with big waves.

shape selection


Tapered or tapered wands are wide at the base and narrow at the top, making them great for creating shaggy, beachy waves. “I love using them to create ‘S’ waves for an old Hollywood effect, and they’re super easy to use,” says Nematalla. “If you wrap your hair vertically over it, it gives you goofy beach waves.”

Tongs/curling irons

Curling irons were all the rage a few years ago, and while some of the hype has died down, they’re still a useful tool. “Anyone who has a little difficulty using a curling iron, and if there are pinch marks with the curling iron, will be fine with a curling iron,” says Nematalla. Since you wind your hair around the rollers with your hands and hold the ends, they are a great option for those with dry, damaged ends who want curls but need to avoid damaging the ends For heat styling.

Hair iron

Two- and three-barrel curling irons are often a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of them, they’re a great way to create mermaid-style waves and save a lot of time for those with long, thick hair. “I also like people with naturally wavy hair who just want to fix a few straight pieces to blend with their natural waves,” says Nematalla. She also warns: “They can get very hot, so I would avoid using them on the highest heat setting.”

Marcel Curling Iron

If you’ve ever seen a professional stylist use a curling iron with a long shaft that extends almost the length of the curler, it’s a Marcel curler. Hairstylists are taught to use these irons in hairdressing school, and they are turned on and off manually, rather than having a spring-loaded closure like the curling irons we’re used to. “Most pros prefer to use Marcel because that’s what we’re taught and we get the most control and styling flexibility,” explains Nematalla. “But it’s just a professional tool. There’s no reason for the average person to have it.”

The Best Heat Settings for Every Hair Type

Curly/thick hair: 350 to 450 degrees. “If you have thick hair and you’re going fast, you can use higher heat levels,” says Nematalla. “But if you’re slow, you need to keep the temperature down.”
Healthy/Medium Hair: Anywhere from 300 to 380 is your sweet spot.
Fine/thin/damaged hair: 300 degrees or less. “You could damage the hair so much that it won’t even stay frizzy anymore,” warns Nematalla. “A great way to curl fine hair without extra heat is to clip it while it cools. This helps your curls hold the best they can.”
As for how long you should leave the curling iron on your hair no matter what your hair texture is? Nematalla says three to five seconds at most.






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