The Best Curling Irons and Wands of 2018

By Jessica Teich

If you’ve heard the term “beachy waves,” longed for a messy-chic hairstyle on Pinterest, or seen a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, you’re probably well-acquainted with The Hair of the moment. There’s really only one way to get it: with a curling wand.

Wanding in action.

We rigorously tested some of the most popular wands and found the best curling wand is the Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron (available at Dermstore for $129.00), which features an impressive rotating mechanism that removes the labor and time-intensity from styling.

Our other favorites included: the GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand ($200), which offers unkempt, gorgeous waves that stay put, thanks to its innovative barrel shape; and the Sedu Icon Interchangeable Curling Iron ($195), which comes with three barrel sizes to achieve any style you could dream of.

I swear by my wand to fine-tune my curly hair or throw volume into a straight style. But there is a daunting amount of wands and curling irons on the market—so we culled them down to top-rated picks at all price points to see which wands have the best features, usability, and of course, create the longest-staying curls and waves.

Here are the best curling wands, in order:

  1. Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron
  2. GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand
  3. Sedu Icon Interchangeable Curling Iron
  4. Conair Jel-FX Taper Wand
  5. Remington Pro 1-1 ½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology
  6. T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand
  7. Nume Lustrum

(To learn how we tested and selected the wands, jump to how we tested or scroll to the bottom of the article.)

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated November 18, 2018

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The best curling iron and curling wand best overall
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron

  • Editors' Choice

Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron

best overall

Our main takeaway: An awesome rotating wand with a tiny clamp that cuts styling time in half.

Safety features: 30-minute auto shut-off.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 410ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Live temperature reading on LED screen.

The details: This iron is a non-hyperbolic game-changer. To use, secure hair using a tiny clamp (I know, it’s not exactly a wand, but bear with me) and press a button to send the entire barrel and your piece of hair spinning. It takes the grunt work out of styling: With most wands, you have to manually wrap your hair around the rod. Thanks to this clever invention that curls your hair for you (at two different speeds and in two different directions), your styling time is cut in half.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Beyond its infamous spinning technology, the iron is easy to use. It has a well-designed handle that’s comfortable to hold, has adjustable heating settings and auto shut-off, and it rests sturdily on any countertop. The little clamp doesn't kink or pull hair, either. As a die-hard wand user, the motorized Beachwaver is something I didn’t even know I was missing until I tried it. Now, it’s hard to look back.

The best curling iron and curling wand best true wand
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand

  • Editors' Choice

GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand

best true wand

Our main takeaway: A unique design that keeps curls from looking too uniform and unnatural, with a crazy-fast preheat.

Safety features: 30-minute auto shut-off, heat-resistant glove.

Heat settings: Just one, 365ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Chimes loudly when ready.

The details: We typically prefer a wand with interchangeable barrels for styling versatility, so the fact that this wand has one single barrel and still scored so high is saying a lot. Its unique design sets this iron ahead of the pack: At the base, it starts as a round barrel and graduates to a flat oval at the top. That shape keeps curls from looking too perfect and unnatural. Also, the barrel is tapered only slightly—from 1-inch to 0.9-inch—so hair doesn’t slip frustratingly to the skinny end. Its finish is just gritty enough to keep hair in place, instead of sliding off a super-glossy finish like we experienced in other tests.

Here’s the best part: It heats up in a hard-to-believe six seconds. There is a downside though. Despite a quick preheat, the iron doesn’t have heat adjustability but rather stays at a steady 365ºF. Even though that temperature was enough to hold a lasting curl in pin-straight hair, some adjustability for different hair types is always ideal.

The trade-off is that it only has a power button (which you have to hold down for a good two seconds, so don’t worry about accidentally turning it off mid-style). The wand is lightweight and balanced with a nice, long cord and 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 forward onto your vanity. Some heat adjustability or additional sizes could improve this iron, but it’s very solid as is.

Sedu Icon Interchangeable Curling Iron

Sedu Icon Interchangeable Curling Iron

best versatility

Our main takeaway: A versatile wand with three size options: 1¼-inch, 1-inch, and tapered 1-inch to 1¼-inch.

Safety features: One-hour auto shut-off, heat-resistant glove.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree, up to 450ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Live temperature reading on LED screen.

The details: As far as size-adjustable curling irons go, this was by far the best one we tested. Its heat adjustability paired with its various barrels makes this the most versatile one, too. It takes a mediocre 55 seconds to preheat to 360ºF, and its super-long cord is more of a braided cable, so it won’t fray or kink like most plastic wires. Its kickstand is perfectly balanced, which keeps even its heaviest barrel safely lifted off your countertop.

However, it’s not perfect: Its only control (for on, off, and heat adjustability) is a very touchy wheel that’s placed in an easily-bumped spot. I accidentally upped it 30 degrees while styling. Because of its placement, there’s no real way to avoid it. It still reigns supreme over the other interchangeable wands we tested.

Conair Jel-FX Taper Wand

Conair Jel-FX Taper Wand

Our main takeaway: A silicone-coated wand that keeps hair in place and has adjustable temperature.

Safety features: None.

Heat settings: Adjustable dial up to 430ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: None.

The details: This iron definitely looks a little outdated, with its fuchsia coloring and its plasticky, ridged handle—but when it comes down to curling, it actually works pretty well. That’s largely due to its textured barrel, which is coated in non-slip silicone to keep hair from sliding off the end.

The trade-off is that hair takes noticeably longer to curl due to the added layer on top of the heating element. Luckily, there’s heat adjustability up to 430ºF to counter that. The wand has a well-balanced kickstand that keeps it stable on your countertop, even if you bump it. It looks and feels a little cheap, but it definitely got the job done better than our other drugstore pick—and even better than some irons more than three times the price.

Remington Pro 1-1 ½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology

Remington Pro 1-1 ½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology

Our main takeaway: A budget pick that seemed promising but couldn’t perform.

Safety features: One-hour auto shut-off, heat-resistant glove.

Heat settings: Adjustable up to 410ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Bars on digital screen oscillate until it's up to temperature, then remain steady.

The details: At first glance, it seems like this budget buy has all the right stuff: Auto shut-off, heat adjustability on a digital screen, even a notification when it’s up to temperature. Its score tanked, however, because it’s so difficult to actually use.

The finish on the barrel is so glossy and smooth that no matter how hard I tried, my hair constantly slipped to the narrow end of the barrel, rendering the tapered shape not only useless but extremely inefficient. All of its budget-friendly and consumer-minded bells and whistles are pointless if you can’t even get your hair to curl. It also takes nearly two minutes to heat up to 360ºF, and its kickstand is poorly placed so that the hot iron will still bow forward onto your (meltable!) countertop.

T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

Our main takeaway: Not worth the high price—the numerous barrel sizes are all difficult to work with.

Safety features: One-hour auto shut-off, heat-resistant glove.

Heat settings: Five options from low to high; no exact temperatures.

Ready-to-use notification: Lights on the handle oscillate while it’s preheating, then remain steady when it’s at temperature.

The details: It’s hard to see the value in this $270 investment piece. Yes, it has a nice range of barrel sizes (three, spanning from a 1-inch straight barrel to a 1 ¼-inch to ¾-inch tapered one), but the barrels' finishes are so glossy and sleek that hair slips right off. The device also only has vague heat adjustability, so it's difficult to know which setting to use for your hair type. Sure, it’s an absolutely beautiful product but it's just not worth the hefty price tag.

Nume Lustrum

Nume Lustrum

Our main takeaway: Five diverse barrel sizes aren’t enough to make up for the poor design.

Safety features: Heat-resistant glove included.

Heat settings: Just one, 410º.

Ready-to-use notification: None.

The details: It’s great to have a variety of sizes, and while Nume does offer that with five very diverse barrel sizes, that doesn’t change the fact that the iron is hard to use to the point that it sometimes even feels dangerous. There’s no kickstand to keep the hot tool off your countertops, and the lack of stand means it rolls and slides around perilously. Additionally, you can’t adjust the temperature and it lacks a notification for when it’s ready to use, so it feels like you’re styling in the dark. It’s not worth the stress, especially at the still-high price.

How We Tested

The best curling iron and curling wand
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

A curling wand (or 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.

After testing the top-rated curling wands on the market, I was surprised to find that there wasn’t too much difference in staying power across brands—instead, the longevity of a curled style is largely dependent on barrel size. The bigger (and smoother) the barrel, the more quickly the curl will fall out.

The bigger and smoother a curling wand's barrel, the more quickly the curl will fall out.

Having discovered that, testing became much more a question of objective facts (numbers and stats, like “is the heat adjustable?” and “how long does it take for the curling iron to heat up?”) instead of subjective input (questions like “how long does the curl last?” and “do you like how the curl looks?”).

The best curling iron and curling wand
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Teich

From left to right: 1-inch, 1.5-inch, and 1-inch tapered barrels.

I tested the wands the same way you might: I curled my hair with each one and let the style breathe for the day (or night, depending). 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 answered questions like:

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 does the curl hold? How long did it take to achieve your desired style?

Wands up, gals.

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