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14 Best Curling Irons for Flawless Curls and Waves

The top-tested and stylist-recommended irons for fine hair, thick hair and beyond.

best curling irons
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We updated this article in August 2022 to ensure all products were in stock and up-to-date, and included additional information on the extensive testing conducted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab.


There's no way to create perfect beach waves or cascading curls without a great curling iron; one that's easy to use and maneuver, heats up quickly to curl your hair fast and reaches a high enough temperature to set curls without damaging your hairand fits in your budget. But choices can vary greatly "depending on the texture of the hair and the type of curl you are looking for," says Eugene Toye, stylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City.

With so many options on the market, from titanium to ceramic, tourmaline and even clamp-less curling wands, hair rollers and heat-free hair curlers, it can be difficult to know where to begin to find the best curling iron for you. That's why we tested curling irons in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab to find the ones that are actually worth your money. Our Beauty Lab pros evaluate features like preheat time, temperature range, overall settings and ease of use. We also had a panel of at-home testers try the irons at home and report on factors such as the lasting power of the resulting curls and ease of use. All said, our scientists and beauty pros parsed through over 103 measurements and 836 survey answers to find the only curling irons worth your money.

Our top picks:


For more information on what to keep in mind as you shop for the best curling irons (including material, barrel size, temperature and more), scroll to the bottom of this article. In the meantime, these are the best curling irons you can buy.

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1
Best Overall Curling Iron
Ion
Golden Titanium Curling Iron
Ion

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Temperature settings Adjustable 300ºF to 450ºF
Barrel size 1 ¼"
Material Titanium
2
Best Value Curling Iron
Conair
Double Ceramic Curling Iron
Conair

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Temperature settings Adjustable up to 400ºF
Barrel size Available in sizes from ½" to 1 ½"
Material Ceramic
3
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT CURLING IRON
Ion
Titanium Pro Curling Iron
Ion

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Temperature settings Adjustable heat up to 450º
Barrel size Available in sizes from ¾" to 1 ½"
Material Titanium
4
Best Curling Iron for Beach Waves
Beachwaver Co.
Beachwaver PRO Curling Iron
Beachwaver

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Temperature settings Adjustable heat up to 410ºF
Barrel size Available in 1" and 1 ½"
Material Tourmaline
5
Best Curling Iron for Long Hair
Bio Ionic
Long Barrel Styler Pro Curling Iron
Bio Ionic

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Temperature settings Adjustable heat up to 430ºF
Barrel size Available in 1" and 1 ¼"
Material Ceramic
6
BEST CURLING IRON FOR SHORT HAIR
BIO IONIC
3-in-1 Styling Iron
BIO IONIC

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Temperature settings Adjustable temperature 240ºF to 430ºF
Barrel size 1 ¼"
Material Ceramic
7
BEST INTERCHANGEABLE CURLING IRON
T3 Micro
Twirl Trio Interchangeable Curling Iron
T3
Temperature settings Adjustable heat 260ºF to 410ºF
Barrel size Comes with 1", 1 ½" and 1 ¾" barrels
Material Ceramic
8
BEST CURLING IRON FOR BEGINNERS
Hot Tools
Signature Series Gold Curling Iron/Wand
Hot Tools

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Temperature settings Adjustable temperature 280ºF to 430ºF
Barrel size Available in barrels ranging from ½" to 2"
Material Steel with 24K gold plated
9
BEST CURLING IRON FOR THICK HAIR
Chi
Lava Ceramic Curling Iron
CHI

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Temperature range Adjustable temperature 250ºF to 450ºF
Barrel size 1 ¼"
Material Ceramic
10
BEST CURLING IRON FOR FINE HAIR
REVLON
Salon Long Lasting Curls Titanium Curling Iron
Revlon
Now 11% off

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Temperature settings Adjustable temperature 225ºF to 425ºF
Barrel size Available in 1" and 1 ¼"
Material Titanium
11
FASTEST CURLING IRON
FHI Heat
Heat Platform Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron
FHI HEAT

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Temperature range Adjustable from 250ºF to 450ºF
Barrel size Available in barrels ranging from ¾" to 1 ½"
Material Tourmaline Ceramic
12
BEST VERSATILE CURLING IRON
Drybar
Mixologist Interchangeable Styling Iron
Drybar

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Temperature settings Adjustable temperature 200ºF to 450ºF
Barrel size Three attachments: 1" wand, 1 ¼" curling iron, 3-pronged waver
Material Ceramic
13
Best Curling Iron/Hair Dryer Combo
Dyson
Airwrap Styler
Dyson

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Temperature settings Three heat settings plus cool shot
Barrel size Comes with 1.2-inch, 1.6-inch barrels
14
BEST CURLING IRON THAT WON'T DAMAGE HAIR
ghd
Classic Curl Curling Iron
GHD

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Temperature settings Maintains a steady temperature of 365º
Barrel size 1"
Material Ceramic
How we test curling irons
ghi testing best curling irons
Sabina Wizemann

In the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, we test curling irons for factors such as speed of preheat, whether the tools actually heat up to (or exceed) the temperature settings indicated on the tool and whether other parts of the iron get hot to the touch. We also have a panel of testers try them out at home and report on how well the curling irons create curls, how long the curls last and how easy and comfortable the tools are to use. Our scientists and beauty pros parsed through over 103 measurements and 836 survey answers to find the best curling irons on the market, and consulted hairstylists and beauty editors for additional insight on what makes the best hair tool.

How to find the right curling iron for your hair
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When shopping for a new curling iron, there are a few attributes and features you'll want to look for to ensure you're choosing the right curling iron for your hair type (and needs!). Here's what to consider before you shop:

✔️ Barrel size: "Depending on the texture of the hair and the type of curl you are looking for, then you would determine which size barrel to use," says Toye. If you want relaxed, beachy waves, reach for a larger barrel (1 ¼-inch and above). The smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl will be. If your hair is hard to curl, look for a 1-inch barrel for a curl that is less likely to fall flat through the day. Want a do-it-all size? "A curling iron with a 1 and ¼ inch barrel is a good size for everyday curls, no matter what look you are going for," says Toye.

✔️ Material: There's a lot of debate around whether ceramic or titanium is better for heat styling tools. "Titanium would be the most preferred by stylists, and tourmaline and ceramic are more popular among the average consumer," says Toye. Why? Titanium barrels are usually lighter than ceramic and can hold high temperatures longer, while ceramic barrels distribute heat more evenly and are less likely to damage hair, so they are more suitable for at-home consumers with different hair textures. That said, the GH Beauty Lab has found both ceramic and titanium curling irons are good conductors of heat and will work on all hair types, so try not to get persuaded by marketing claims that state one is better than the next.

✔️ Clamp: For ultimate versatility, look for an extended clip that spans the full length of the barrel. This way, the curling iron can also be used to straighten hair. Some models can be used as wands by wrapping hair over the clip for looser curls and waves. "Clamps tend to leave marks in the hair if they are not properly used," says Toye, which is why some "prefer a clamp-less wand: because it is more user-friendly."

✔️ Adjustable heat settings: "I recommend a curling iron with adjustable heat settings," says Toye. Lower temps are great for fine hair for those thinner hairs around the face, while higher temps are great for coarse, natural or hard-to-curl hair. As a rule of thumb, you should use low heat on fine, chemically processed or fragile hair (180ºF to 370ºF); medium heat on easy-to-curl, healthy hair (375ºF to 395ºF); and high heat on thick, wavy or natural hair (400ºF to 420ºF).

✔️Automatic shut-off: Our testers love irons with an auto shut-off feature. You'll never have to worry about remembering to unplug your curling iron because it shuts off for you.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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Deputy Editor Jessica Teich teamed with Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann for this article. Wizemann led Lab and consumer tests, analyzed the data and compiled them in a technical report, while Teich distilled the findings, gathered additional recommendations and wrote this roundup, in addition to interviewing celebrity hairstylist Eugene Toye.

An authority on (and a guinea pig for testing) new-to-market tools on curly hair, Teich has over 10 years of experience formally researching, testing and writing about haircare products, from hair tools, like hairdryer brushes, curling wands and flat irons, to styling tips, like how to get beach waves, how to use a diffuser and how to cut your own hair, and hair products, including dry shampoo and the best curly hair products. With a background in hair dye research and synthesis, Wizemann loves everything hair-related. Over her years in the Health, Beauty and Sustainability Lab, she has fashioned Lab and consumer studies on at-home hair dyes, shampoos and conditioners, hair serums, hair volumizers, hair dryers and more.

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