The 10 best curling irons for bouncy waves and curls

Photo illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailer

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There are many ways to get bouncy curls, bouncy curls, or more glittering Waves you want. You can try one of the many heat-free TikTok hacks, which include leggings, socks, and bathrobes, or you can put them back in the drawer and grab a curling iron. To help you choose a product for your hair type and styling needs, we turned to hair care experts Nick Stenson, Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, Sarah Potempa, Devin Graciano and Mia Santiago.

It varies depending on your hair type. The pros recommend starting with a lower temperature. Graciano recommends 280 degrees as a good starting point. If your hair can handle a little more heat, Stenson and Taylor recommend temperatures of 350 to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. “If you have thicker, coarser hair, you may need to increase the setting,” explains Taylor. “However, I would not recommend reaching temperatures above 450 degrees as this will damage your strands and natural curl pattern.”

If you’re still unsure, Potempa recommends testing a low temperature on a section of hair to see how well the curls work, then trying to increase the temperature from there. However, don’t forget to use a heat protectant to avoid damage.

Preventing your curls from falling flat comes down to technique, hairspray, and a good tool. Potempa recommends getting as close to the root as possible and twisting the curls at a 90-degree angle.

Once your curls are fresh from the curling iron, it’s best to let them sit for a minute before you start styling. “Once the curls are set, do not brush or shake them out. Instead, do this after the hair has completely cooled,” explains Graciano. “Once the hair loses its heat, the curls remain.”

For short hair, Potempa recommends a 0.75-inch barrel, but for the blowout look, a 1.25-inch barrel is suitable.

It depends on your ability and time commitment. There are many different types of curling irons, including curling irons (which come in all sorts of shapes, from traditional round to canonical to bubble barrel), curling irons with clips (including the Marcel curling iron) and sophisticated multi-stylers that are essentially a blow dryer, hair straightener and curling iron in one. If you’re a beginner, Santiago recommends a standard healing wand with interchangeable barrels. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the dynamics of twisting your precious hair around a red-hot rod before attaching a clamp, allowing for more advanced styling methods.

If you’d rather not have a closet full of different sizes of curlers, T3’s Switch Base is your best choice. A Stenson favorite for its versatility, the base allows for easy switching between barrels, which you can purchase together or individually. Other benefits of the T3 styling tools include automatic shut-off after one hour, heat control, and glassy results, according to Stenson.

Advantages: Three interchangeable barrels from 0.5 to 1.25 inches, nine temperature settings, heat-resistant glove, swivel cord | Disadvantages: Expensive, takes time to cool down

We can’t underscore the importance of having tools that just work (unless singed hair is your thing). Graciano recommends T3’s Curl ID Smart Curling Iron, which takes the guesswork out of choosing the right temperature with personalized temperature settings for your hair texture. While the brand makes wands all the way to half an inchThis larger 1.25-inch barrel is great for creating bouncy curls or everyday waves.

Advantages: Heats up quickly, ceramic cylinder ensures shiny hair, versatile size | Disadvantages: The digital interface can be difficult and is not intuitive enough to understand without reading the manual first

If you color your hair and touch up your roots regularly, the last thing you want to do is damage them with excessive heat – and with this tool, you won’t have to. Graciano counts it among her favorites because it has a setting just for color-treated hair, “which helps maintain hair color.” She explains, “In addition, it has a stainless steel barrel and ceramic heater to ensure better heat distribution.”

Advantages: Unique “Color Treated Heat” setting, safety tip to prevent finger burns, heats up quickly | Disadvantages: The temperature depends on the hair type and does not indicate degrees Fahrenheit

All of Beachwaver’s styling tools are rotary, cutting your styling time in half. So the real challenge is choosing the right one for you. For looser waves or a incorrect-Blowout look, Potempa recommends the 1.25 inch barrel. She recommends the Pro Series for a high heat range and a longer barrel for easier styling. If you’re a beginner, the Beachwaver B1 is the best option with simpler features, says Potempa.

Professional: Two-way rotation, ergonomic handle, longer rod length (6.5 inches), rotating cable, ceramic iron ensures shiny hair | Disadvantages: Expensive, no replaceable heads

The expensive Dyson Airwrap is somewhere between a curling iron and a blow dryer, but is a favorite for professional looks with lower heat and therefore less damage. Despite its reputation for requiring a million tutorials before you can get started, Santiago attests that the Airwrap is “phenomenal” and a great option for both beginners and advanced hair lovers. There is a learning curve involved as the device comes with six attachments as well as the option of long or short attachments depending on the length of your hair. It works on all hair textures and types, and the only problem you’ll have with the tool is that it’s not exactly travel-friendly. (Check out the huge, albeit highly organized Storage box.)

Professional: Six attachments that you can move from wet to dry, two barrels that rotate in both directions, use a lower heat temperature to prevent damage, materials with a luxurious feel, storage box included, a great gift | Disadvantages: Not as intuitive as other popular tools, very expensive

Our senior shopping editor Bianca Nieves has just started her curling iron ventures. Since she now has short hair, she wanted one that would let her create her natural waves and curls, and this interchangeable option from DryBar was a godsend. Nieves raves about how she can easily choose a barrel depending on how lazy she is about styling her hair. Your favorite option? The 1-inch barrel stick because it’s easiest to style the front of her hair (aka the only part she wears). more effort in).

Professional: Three attachments, including a curling iron, a flat iron with a clamp, and a curling iron (the only one on this list that includes one) | Disadvantages: Some reviewers say they received faulty tools that shut off during use

On the other hand, Santiago—a celebrity hairstylist who often works on editorial shoots—says that most professionals would probably lean toward a “Marcel” curling iron. Named after a French inventor and stylist, these irons feature two prongs, a handle, and a rotating shaft that allows the user greater control. Although it all sounds very complex, Santiago realizes that the hot tool is actually just a clamp iron without a springboard. “[This] allows me to move fluidly and prevents my hair from creasing when I curl it,” says Santiago. She adds that you can create different wave patterns with seamless transitions and that there is a size for all lengths and curl patterns.

Professional: Affordable and reliable styling tool for applying the traditional Marcel technique | Disadvantages: Requires advanced hair styling practice

Another favorite from Santiago is Amika’s aptly named “Chameleon,” which includes five interchangeable wand heads. She recommends it specifically for beginners as it features a base with easily interchangeable barrels that can help newbies explore different styles without having to master different techniques; Therefore, it is more of a “kit” than a single tool. The curling irons are made of lightweight titanium, which can get very hot (hello, smooth, long-lasting curls), and all have a rubberized edge to prevent burns on your fingers. To prevent things from getting too sharp, the set also includes a three-finger glove.

Professional: Five interchangeable barrels, titanium heats up quickly and clips in easier compared to other tools | Disadvantages: Expensive, reviewers would prefer a five-finger glove to the three-finger glove

Professional hairstylist Roger Marquez recently used this curling iron on Bianca’s hair and raves about how he’s been using it for ten years. Marquez admits that it might be difficult for beginners since the device has no tension, but that’s exactly why he loves it. With the Hot Tools curling iron, however, you have better control and precision over the iron and can customize your curls regardless of the size of the curling iron.

Professional: Affordable and reliable styling tool for applying the traditional Marcel technique | Disadvantages: Requires advanced hair styling practice

Dealing with a short or heavy (or heavy and short) cable is enough to put off styling for another day, and that’s exactly why Taylor prefers this tool. Not only is it wireless and rechargeable, but also easy to use. With a 1.25-inch titanium tube and heat settings up to 450 degrees, Taylor prefers it for more volume and texture. “You can play around with the wand to find your favorite style for each hair type.” She explains, “The wand is also versatile, so you can create any look, from tight curls to loose beach waves.”

Advantages: Compact, travel-friendly, wireless | Disadvantages: The battery lasts 45 minutes, which may not be enough for people with thick or long hair

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