Hairstyle Guru

Best Curling Iron: How To Get Salon Quality Curls at Home

Many women want to add some curl or volume to their hair during the styling process, which is almost always done with the help of a curling iron. (Some hair straighteners can also get the job done, but that’s a different article.) The traditional barrel curling irons with basic clips can be perfectly effective at curling the hair, but these days there are different options for every hair type and desired outcome. A lot of curling irons are now designed with unique shapes and even moving parts to make the styling process easier and more effective than ever.

What Should I Look for in a Curling Iron?

When you are looking for a new curling iron you will want to take into account the desired end result. Are you looking for a curling iron to create traditional spiral curls, or perhaps you’re looking for a product that can quickly create some beach waves. Maybe you even want something that can multitask and create a variety of different looks. This is probably the most important thing to consider.

What Do I Need to Know About Heat?

Good question. Curling irons all get pretty hot, but there is some range between them. Different types of hair will respond to different heat settings, so it’s not a one size fits all situation. Courser and thicker hair will usually need higher heat that thin, fine hair for example. That being said, the hotter a curling iron goes the more damage it can potentially do to the hair.

If you’re planning on going hot it might be worth investing in a curling iron that is build to reduce the amount of damage to the hair. Any heat you apply to hair has the potential to create frizz or damaged ends, and even fade your color faster. But technology these days makes it possible to curl the hair without sustaining damage even when the hair is already compromised or dried out.

I Don’t Have a Lot of Styling Time, are these Easy to Use?

The simple answer to that question is yes. Some of the more advanced models of curling iron might take some getting used to on a learning curve, but once mastered they will definitely save time. When a curling iron works quickly at creating a lasting curl, it can shave time off your styling routine and also help protect the hair by applying only as much as necessary.

Read on for out top five picks of the best curling irons for getting salon quality curls at home.

They include classics and new designs, and they each have distinct differences that make them all worth considering.

Conair Instant Heat Curling Iron

The Conair Instant Heat Curling Iron has been around for a while, and the fact that the classic remains unchanged should be a good clue that’s a quality product. This curling iron has a simple barrel design and a traditional clip. The barrel comes standard in the one inch size, which is the size that most people go for when they’re trying to create medium, everyday curl styles.

The curling iron has 25 easy to see and change heat settings which makes it a good option for any hair type. This curling iron is only around $29 but it still has safety features such as auto shut-off if you walk away and leave it heated on your counter. This curling iron boasts a 30 second heat up so you don’t even need to think about planning in advance as you’re styling. It also has a design within the barrel that helps to keep the heat evenly distributed while styling.

This curling is a fan favorite for straightforward curls, but it not be the best option


  • Long cool tip so that you don’t burn your fingers
  • Non-slip grip
  • Heats up quickly
  • Trusted model


  • The barrel clip can crimp the hair
  • Not great for varying the curl size or style

Beachweaver Co. Beachweaver S1

Beachweaver Co.’s S1 curling iron is awesome for creating three different styles of curls and volume in the hair, defined curls, loose beachy waves, and glam waves.

This curling iron differs that a traditional one-inch rod since it’s barrel clamp is very small. This allows the user to grasp onto only the end of the hair while it’s heating up on the iron, as opposed to clamping down on the whole thing. This dramatically reduces the odds that any crimping will take place, and it also allows for more freedom to change the direction that the hair is laying on the barrel.

Perhaps even more unique is the fact that the curling iron actually spins around with the touch of a button, which completely takes the effort and guess work out of winding up the hair. The button options left or right, as well as fast and slow. A home button will return the clamp to the home position so you don’t have to do try and figure that part out either.

This curling iron has a digital heat screen that allows you to select your preferred heat at the start of use.

The ceramic barrel on the curling iron is great for making sure that the heat is distributed evenly. This not only helps to style your hair in the preferred look, but it’s also safer for the hair as well. Unevenly distributed heat can mean burning, which we obviously want to avoid at all costs. Speaking of cost, this curling iron rings in on the higher end at $129.


  • Provides options as far as style outcome goes
  • Has a unique spinning barrel
  • Small clip to avoid kinks
  • Heats up to 410 degrees


  • A bit on the pricy side

Sultra Bombshell Cone Rod Curling Iron

The Sultra Bombshell Cone Rod Curling Iron looks a bit different than the average curling iron but don’t let that scare you off. For one thing, the entire thing is black, even the heated rod. And speaking of the heated rod, this one is all bumpy looking sort of like a pickle or something. Those bumps are there to provide texture, which will completely eliminate the possibility of the hair slipping off mid curl. Slipping hair is one the main reasons that people get burned while they’re using a curling iron, so in this case it also functions as a safety mechanism. You’ll never have to reach up and grab the hair as it slides away mid curl, which can save styling time as well as protect those fingers.

This curling iron also a tapered handle which helps for the grip of the base hand as well. They really took things to the next level in preventing slippage of any kind. This curling iron has no clip at all, which makes it different than the first two curling irons on the list. Instead you simply wrap the hair around the hold it. The end result is loose, gorgeous, beachy looking waves without any kinks whatsoever. Going clip free can actually make the entire curling process go more quickly, believe it or not.

The ceramic iron uses Far Infrared Rays to heat the hair, which makes it safe to use on any hair type. Even dyed, over processed, and damaged hair can use this curling iron without doing any further damage to the hair. This is unique for curling irons, since the direct and very hot heat can be a major offender to hair that is already compromised. This curling iron is $130, but fans just can’t get enough of them.


  • Will not damage the hair
  • Non-slip in multiple ways


  • Expensive
  • Sometimes you have to get on a waitlist to snag one

Hot Tools Curl Bar

The Hot Tools Curls Bar has a 24k gold barrel and is shaped like more like an “L” than a traditional curling iron. The ergonomic design simply makes the curling process easier on you and can totally remove the wrist, elbow, and shoulder strain that go along with winding and holding those things through the hair. It’s hard enough winding the hair onto a curling iron when you’re at a weird angle, but then holding it there while the hair heats can be a pain. This curling iron design has totally done away with that type of annoyance.

Something else that is unique about this curling iron is that it actually offers a built-in curl timer to let you know when to release the hair. The curling iron will vibrate when it’s time to move on to the next piece, which completely takes out all the thinking involved. Sometimes people try to protect their hair by not leaving the curling iron too long, but then there isn’t enough heat to provide a real curl. Leaving the heat on too long, on the other hand, can totally burn the hair and in some cases burn it right off the rod.

Having that timer function is almost crucial in this case since this curling iron heats up to a whopping 450 degrees F. In addition to the vibrating timer it also comes with a heat resistant glove that you can wear on your free hand so you don’t burn your hand while you use the curling it. This product also has a safety function that leads to an auto shut-off after two hours. You probably don’t want to leave a 450-degree curling iron for too long sitting around unattended.

This curling iron can be found for around $89.


  • Unique ergo dynamic design
  • Heats up to a high heat
  • Durable product


  • Might feel awkward to use for some or take a while to get used to the design.

Drybar 3-Day Bender Curling Iron

You might be familiar with the Drybar name due to how they played a part in revolutionizing the salon blow dry industry. The salons offer basic services like blow outs and curling sessions without the hair cutting and coloring element. The salons are just for styling, which means that it’s easy and fun to get in and get out when you just need a quick fix. Since they specialize in heat styling it makes sense that they would also have their own heat styling tools and products. One of those tools is their 3-Day Bender curling iron, which promises to deliver longer lasting curls than those other curling irons on the market.

This curling has a rotating barrel for easy curling, as well as infrared heat and ionic technology. They use NanoIonic™ technology, which uses 32 different minerals to create the negative ionic conduction. This is supposed to keep the hair healthy and create shine throughout the styling process.

The 3-Day Bender can be used to create traditional curls or softer waves. Traditional curls can be created by holding the barrel of the curling iron vertically, and then wrapping the hair onto the shaft about midway up. From there the hair will be twisted onto the barrel, and then it will release when the curl is done. To create a wave instead of curl the main styling difference is that you hold the curling iron vertically and wrap the hair away from the face.

These are the same curling irons that the professional hairstylists use at the Drybar salons, so you know they are a good product. It costs $135 to add on of these bad boys to your home collection.


  • Has a rotating barrel for easy curling
  • Cute yellow color
  • Can be used for multiple hairstyles


  • Expensive
  • Uses a clamp which can crimp fine hair or when the user has improper technique

Kate Ferguson

Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer, who utilizes as much wit and personal anecdote as possible across a variety of genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Keep up with her on her social media @KateFerg

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