When it comes to heat-styling your hair, if you’ve ever tried to achieve tight ringlets or the not-so-effortless beach waves, you know that it takes the right kinds of tools. We tested some of the most popular curling irons and wands, plus ones that are newer to the market.
Our other favorites included the more traditional curling iron InfinitiPro by Conair(available at Amazon) for producing easy-to-execute spiral curls at a value price and the decidedly not traditional Dyson Airwrap Styler Complete(available at Sephora) for being a virtual hair stylist in a box.
All of these hair tools are perfect for tossing waves into a pin-straight style or for an elegant ‘do complete with cascading barrel curls. Not interested in curling your hair? Check out our guide to the best hair straighteners).
These are the best curling irons and wands we tested ranked, in order:
GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand
InfinitiPro by Conair Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron 1-Inch
Dyson Airwrap Styler Complete
Remington Pro 1-1 ½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology
T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand
Bio Ionic Long Barrel Curling Iron NanoIconic MX
Bed Head Curlipops 1” Tourmaline Ceramic Styling Iron
Chi Spin N Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler
Hot Tools Salon Gold Curling Iron/Wand
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium™ 1" Spring Curling Iron
Tyme Iron Pro
InStyler Airless Blowout Revolving Styler
GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand
When I think of my ideal curling wand, it’s one that grants me room for creativity. The perfect wand is also intuitive, heats up quickly, and makes the sometimes painstaking process of styling my hair all-around easier. In every way, the GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand is exactly that. Whether I want soft beach waves for an undone look or tight curls for a classic-yet-voluminous style, I can achieve that with the GHD.
The GHD has a unique design, with a tapered barrel that starts off round and graduates to a flat oval at the top, tapering from 1-inch to 0.9-inch. Both of these traits keep the curls from molding into a strategically tapered curl, which can sometimes look too perfect and unnatural. The slight taper and the gritty finish of the barrel keeps the hair from sliding down as it can do with a barrel that has a super-glossy finish.
The most impressive feature, though, is that it heats up in about six seconds—faster than any other iron I tested—and alerts you with a loud chime when it reaches 365ºF. The only downside is that the iron doesn’t have heat adjustability—it can only hold a steady 365ºF. That temperature is appropriate to give a great curl to pin-straight hair, but the option of adjustability for other hair types—you may want to turn the heat down if you have super fine hair or even turn it up for thick hair—is ideal. Another (smaller) bummer: It only comes in the one barrel size.
In terms of mechanics, the GHD has a single power button, which you have to hold down for a good two seconds, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally turning it off mid-style. The wand is lightweight and has a cool-tip end to keep you from burning your neck and forehead (we’ve all been there). It has a well-placed kickstand that prevents the hot iron from teetering or tipping onto your vanity. For safety purposes, the iron automatically shuts off after 30 minutes. Heat adjustability or additional sizes could improve this iron, but it’s a clear winner.
InfinitiPro by Conair Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron 1-Inch
My first-ever curling iron was one from Conair. That’s no surprise: The brand makes quality products at reasonable prices, and they’re typically very beginner-friendly. All of this is the case with our Best Value pick, the InfinitiPro by Conair Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron 1-Inch.
This iron features an extra long, straight barrel with a clamp that spans the length of the iron. You can clamp the ends of your hair and spin the iron upward toward your head, wrapping long hair around the barrel to create a perfectly round ringlet, which can then be finger-brushed to look more tousled. Because the clamp is almost flush to the barrel, you can easily wrap your hair around the barrel and clamp as if it's a wand, if you prefer that technique. I find that I can work more quickly with a wand because it requires zero coordination (if this sounds silly to you, I’m guessing you’ve never accidentally curled the wrong way and ended up with a crimped ridge in your hair). I achieved the best curls when I used smaller sections of hair with this iron, which makes sense because it’s able to evenly distribute the heat to the hair when you use small amounts and place the hair against the ceramic iron.
The iron heats up quickly—Conair claims in 30 seconds, but there wasn’t an indicator of when the iron was done, so I couldn’t time it accurately—at the touch of a button and it has four temperature settings ranging from 310°F to 400°F, which is average for a hot tool. Conair claims that the iron shuts off automatically for safety, but it doesn’t specify after how much time—my curling sessions lasted about 30 minutes, and it was still going strong.
This iron became an obvious choice for the Best Value pick, as you can use it to your specific needs, like me mostly using the clamp during testing to see the iron’s capabilities but also using it as a wand when I struggled to achieve my desired look. And, of course, it’s priced reasonably for a hot tool, costing in the double digits.
The Dyson Airwrap Styler Complete is the unicorn of our curling iron and wand testing. The pricey kit includes the following attachments: two 1.2-inch Airwrap barrels (for spiraling curls), two 1.6-inch Airwrap barrels (for looser curls and creating volume), a firm smoothing brush (for a straight style), a soft smoothing brush (a blow-dry-like finish), a round volumizing brush (for volumizing blow-dry), and a pre-styling hair dryer to remove excess moisture when you intend to style just-washed hair that’s reminiscent of the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer—unlike other products, you may use the Dyson on damp hair. For this guide, I tested the 1.2-inch barrels, as they are the closest comparison to the other wands and irons on this list in size and promise to create voluminous curls or waves.
The kit includes two of the same size barrel because each creates curls that spiral in opposite directions—you switch attachments when you approach different sides of your head, depending on whether you want the curls to twist toward or away from your face. Unlike a heated curling wand, the Dyson uses a continuous flow of air (sort of like a targeted tiny hairdryer) to blow the hair around the barrel to form “voluminous curls and waves without extreme heat.” To an onlooker, it appears like the Dyson is sucking up your hair, like one of the brand’s beloved vacuums, but it’s actually pushing air out to create a current that your hair follows. While in use, the air is heated (to below 302°F degrees, which is less than the typical curling iron barrel) but there is a cool shot button, like on the hairdryer, that sets your curl into place. Using air instead of a ceramic barrel limits the amount of heat on your hair and greatly reduces the risk of burning yourself.
Despite creating beautiful curls, the Dyson is not our overall winner because it has a steeper learning curve than other products to achieve the same results and you have less control over the style and placement of the curls it creates. It also takes longer than I—and I’m sure others—would like to spend on their hair.
But if you are a hair tool enthusiast, a hairstylist, or someone who wants a lot of versatility in their hairstyling, this kit (with its variety of attachments) may be your dream.
I’m Jessica Kasparian, the lifestyle writer at Reviewed, and I’ve tested everything from makeup to hair tools. I naturally have medium-length, wavy-curly hair that I either let air dry or that I blow-dry and straighten. If I’m doing the latter, I sometimes add in curls using a basic one-inch wand from Conair that I’ve had for approximately 10 years. I prefer a loose, tousled curl to a tight ringlet, and I attempted to create that look when I tested the irons and wands on this list.
Because there is a daunting amount of curling irons and curling wands on the market—we pared them down to top-rated picks at all price points to see which wands have the best features, usability, and of course, which best allowed me to create my desired style. We tested both traditional curling irons, which consist of a round heated barrel and a clamp that holds hair to it, and curling wands. A curling wand (sometimes called a “tong”) is essentially a clipless curling iron. Instead of clamping hair with the hot iron, you use your hand to physically wrap sections of hair around the tool. The method creates a more natural-looking wave or curl than the coiffed Shirley Temple-esque ringlets that a traditional curling iron produces.
I tested the irons and wands the same way you might: I curled my hair with each one and let the style breathe for the day. Unlike you, though, I teamed up with Reviewed’s senior scientist to score and weight results on a scientifically calibrated rubric. To find which wand really is best, I considered the different aspects of the process, including:
Setup: How sturdy does the wand feel? How long does it take for it to heat up? Is there a notification when it’s ready, so you're not sitting around waiting? Are there adjustable heat settings for varying hair types?
Usability: How comfortable is the wand to hold throughout styling? How easy are the buttons to understand and use? Are they well-placed so you don't accidentally change settings mid-style? Are there any safety features, like an auto shut-off, for peace of mind?
Style: How long did it take to achieve the desired style? How was the overall experience?
What You Should Know About Buying Curling Irons And Curling Wands
The most important distinction between a curling iron and a curling wand is that the former includes a clamp that holds the hair in place for you while your hair is wrapped around the barrel. You can either clamp the end of your section of hair and spin the curling iron upward toward your roots or you can open the clamp and wrap your hair around the barrel and then set the clamp down onto the hair. A curling wand requires you to hold the section of hair between your fingers, wrap it around the barrel, and hold it there while the curl is formed.
When it comes to staying power, there was no difference in all of the different wands and irons that we tested. Instead, the longevity of a curled style largely depends on your individual hair type and the products you use before and after styling.
With that in mind, you want to choose a tool based on objective facts, like how adjustable the heat settings are, the barrel size, and heat-up time. You’ll also want to factor in safety features, like the kickstands, barrel sleeves, or gloves that accompany the tool.
Other Curling Irons And Wands We Tested
Remington Pro 1-1 ½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology
If you’re looking for a simple, effective, and affordable curling wand, the Remington Pro is a great choice. We tested the 1.5-inch wand that tapers to 1-inch and my only complaint is that I could have used a thinner barrel, as I have medium-length hair and could only fully wrap my hair around it twice (you could probably get one full wrap with short hair) and I felt like the wand was a bit large for me to manage. However, I’m confident that I’d be singing a different tune had I used one smaller in diameter. Nevertheless, this wand created beautiful loose curls and I liked the end results of the Remington and GHD the best of all the wands.
In terms of technicalities, the Remington has nine heat settings ranging from 266°F to 410°F and claims to heat up in 30 seconds, but it actually took more like two minutes, according to the light-up bars that become solid when the iron is at the desired temperature. The buttons were straightforward: one to turn the iron on, one to increase the temperature, and one to decrease it. I successfully avoided hitting the buttons while styling my hair, so I’d deem the placement just fine, although I did not struggle with this for any of the curling irons or wands.
The T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand comes with three interchangeable barrel sizes: a 1-inch, a 1.5-inch, and a 1 ¼-inch that tapers to ¾ inches. I used the “Undone 1” Barrel” because it’s the most similar to the other models on this list. The wand has five lights that each indicate a heat setting, though I wasn’t sure how many degrees each one reaches, and the instructions don’t clarify other than to say that the maximum temperature is 410°F. I chose the second setting closest to the top because I typically choose the second or third highest heat range and watched the lights cascade upward until they reached my chosen (but unknown) temperature.
The wand was easy to wield and wrap my hair around, and the result was spiral curls that I finger-combed for my desired tousled, curly waves. I enjoyed the glossiness of the barrels, which are undeniably beautiful in white with rose gold trim. I’d be happy to use this again, but it didn’t make it to the top of our list because there are less complex models that offer similar results.
Bio Ionic NanoIonic MX Long Barrel Curling Iron (1.25")
The Bio Ionic curling iron offers six labeled heating settings ranging from 250°F to 430°F, increasing in increments of 30°F. I chose 360°F, which the brand recommends for “normal hair.” The longer, 1.25-inch thick barrel makes it easier to curl larger sections of hair at once without forfeiting your desired style. And while clamps can sometimes leave kinks in the hair that force you to redo a lock of hair, this one left zero crimps.
I enjoyed using this iron, but some with short or medium-length hair may find it bulky or unnecessary for achieving their desired style. On the other hand, if you have long hair that makes it difficult to get an even, tight curl from root to tip, this extra-long curling iron could be your solution.
The Chi Spin N Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler is the oddest looking curling tool I’ve ever seen. It’s one that makes you—dare I say—pull out the instruction manual. If it delivers amazing results, though, I don’t mind consulting the instruction manual before diving into a beauty or styling tool. The Chi is incredibly easy to use once you practice with one or two strands of hair, it feels very durable, and the mechanism it uses keeps you from burning yourself.
If you’re looking at the tool and scratching your head, we get it. Here’s how it works: Take a small section of hair and drape it over the open chamber, then press one of the arrow buttons (depending on if you want to curl toward or away from your head) and the tulip-looking device pulls your hair in and twirls it around a ceramic barrel to form the curl. When it’s done, the device beeps to let you know you can pull the iron away from your head, releasing your curl with it. Yes, you read that right: you’re curling your hair without any tugging, wrapping, or burning.
The downside of this device is that it only creates loose waves, unless you leave the same section of hair in the chamber for a second or third spin, or if you make good use of styling products. You may also have better luck creating tight curls if you increase the temperature; this tool goes up to 450°F (the highest any of our curling tools went to) but I used it at 350°F, which was on par with the setting I used on most of the other irons and wands. The Chi heats up in about 40 seconds and automatically shuts off after an hour.
If you’ve had negative experiences with traditional curling irons and wands, or if you have fine hair that curls easily without being held tightly to a ceramic barrel, I’d suggest giving this one a try.
The Bed Head Curlipops wand is yet another head scratcher. The wand looks ordinary, but it offers a single on and off switch with zero heat settings or ways to adjust the temperature. You need to look at the instructions to learn that the temperature heats up to a high of 400°F. When I flipped the switch, it lit up green, but with no blinking or changing of colors that indicated it was ready to use.
Despite the puzzling setup, I enjoyed using this iron because it’s so simple. It left me with zero choices to make and it’s a standard, easy-to-use wand. The hot barrel formed solid spiral curls that looked beautiful and shiny even after I combed through my hair. If you have fine hair and are worried about heat damage, you may opt for a product that allows you to choose a lower temperature, but I liked the fuss-free nature of this and wouldn’t hesitate to use it again.
Hot Tools Pro Signature Salon Gold Curling Iron/Wand (1.25")
My experience with the Hot Tools curling iron was just so-so. The iron has a dial that can be placed on 280°F, 330°F, 380°, 410°F, or anywhere in between those designated temperatures. I chose 380°F, which t is the top of the range that the brand recommends for “normal” hair. The dial does not have any notches or produce any clicking noises to indicate moving from one temperature to the next. There was also no light or chime to indicate when the iron reached its temperature, though the instructions say to “allow the appliance 60 seconds of heating time.”
My hair curls came out looking smooth and shiny, but it took going over the same spots a few times to see these results. I started curling smaller sections of hair at a time and saw an immediate improvement. You could call this user error, but, for comparison, curling irons with larger barrels can handle more hair at once. Ultimately, this gets the job done, but the ones listed above provided a better experience at a faster rate.
The BaBylissPro reminds me of the Conair iron that won our Best Value spot in both looks and feel—except it has a much heftier price. It features a turnable wheel that is labelled with 250°F, 285°F, 330°F, 390°F, and 430°F, each of which represents the bottom or top of the heat range the brand recommends per hair type. I chose 360°F, as it was in the middle of the recommended temperature range for “normal hair,” but this was probably my first mistake, as my hair didn’t hold a curl with this iron as well as it did with other ones where I chose 380°F.
The same wheel that spins to control the heat settings is also a button that has the instructions “push in for turbo heat” above it, but there is no additional information about what “turbo heat” actually means in the iron’s included leaflet. There was no audible or visual notification when the iron reached its temperature. These two attributes prompted more questions than answers in the setup stage. In the end, the iron produced fine-enough curls, but they fell over a 30-minute period. With the right hairspray, this iron may work fine, but there are plenty of better options on this list.
If you’ve seen this iron pop up in your Instagram advertisements, welcome to the club. This device claims to give you voluminous curls or sleek straight hair, and all you have to do is change how you position the wand before running it through your hair from root to tip. Of course, we only factored in its curl efficacy for the purposes of this list, but who doesn’t love a dual-purpose product?
Unfortunately, though, the Tyme Iron fell flat during our curling tests. It has a clunky design that is difficult to maneuver even on the front pieces of hair, let alone the back of the head. It heats up quickly and, like the T3, allows you to choose from five different heat settings, but there’s no way to tell exactly what the temperature is from looking at the wand. According to the pamphlet that accompanies the iron, the temperatures are 300°F, 325°F, 350°F, 375°F, and 400°F.
If I hadn’t seen the advertisement, I would assume that this iron is only supposed to create undone ringlets because that’s the best I could do, but the Instagram ad shows a woman using the iron to make voluminous curls. The worst part, though, was how bad the iron smelled of burning before I even put my hair in it. I had to go over the same pieces of hair to achieve a curl I liked, but I didn’t even want to do one pass through my hair because of the odor.
Like the Tyme Iron, the InStyler Airless Blowout Revolving Styler can be used as a tool for straight or curly hair. To achieve curly locks, you wrap your hair around the barrel and then clamp down so the brush part is keeping the hair in place. According to InStyler, the idea is to avoid “crushing hair between two scorching hot plates.”
The InStyler is a simple design, with a single on/off button and four heat settings that, again, do not specify a temperature. It worked fine as a curling iron, but only because you are wrapping your hair around a hot barrel, which you can do with any of the ones previously mentioned on this list.
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