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Know Your Tools- Choose the Best Curling Iron

BlogBeauty Student Advice, Beauty Tips, How To's | March 13, 2012

Curling irons have not gone away. Quite the contrary- they are back in style with more variety and options than ever before! You can easily create an array of bounce, curl, and volume to your limp locks with this great hair tool. The challenge remains with the choice. Get the wrong one -and live on with flat, blah hair. It doesn’t have to be that way! You need the right curling iron for your hair type and styling need. Get it right, and it just could be one of the best beauty tools you own.Curling Irons

So, let’s get educated, and make that curling iron choice a rewarding one. Start now to create a new look that will have heads turning!

What Size Curl Do You Want?

For tight, spiral curls and ringlets: Get a skinny, small barrel diameter iron, around 1/2-3/4 inches. This also works well for very short hair.
For spiral curls on medium to long hair: A 1-inch barrel is ideal, and this size will create cute, lasting curls on shorter hair as well.
For larger, bouncy voluminous curls: Try a large barrel iron, up to 2-inches wide. It gives a loose wave to long hair, and curves the ends of any bob cut.
For beachy waves, just like Taylor Swift’s: Use a double/triple barrel iron. It presses waves and figure-eight type loops into long hair.

Handles and Clips Explained…

Spring-Loaded: The most common type, especially for home use. Very user-friendly, but prone to break easily. Also, can make a dent mark in hair where the clip clamps down.

Spring Iron1

Marcel Handle: Named after the inventor of the curling iron (way back in 1890!), Marcel Grateau. These irons are used often in beauty school and by professional salon stylists. There is no spring, so the manual operation and extra handle gives master control to the stylist.


Clipless Irons: Basically a heated rod, these can be tricky but give great results once you get the hang of them. The ends wrap around the barrel last, so there’s less damage. You can get to the roots first for volume. They even come with a heat glove to protect your fingers!

tool used at Beauty School1


New Curling Iron Materials- No Longer Teflon Only!

Ceramic: The #1 type used by professional cosmetologists. This iron gives even heat distribution, eliminates damaging heat spots, and infuses moisture by emitting negative ions. After continued use, it can lead to shiny, soft, and healthier hair.
Tourmaline: This iron magnifies the benefits of ceramic, as it emits six times more negative ions to smooth hair cuticles. The outcome is extra shine, and seriously healthy hair!
Titanium: This tool is the favorite among top styling pros because of its slick surface that eliminates snags and stickiness. It’s also top-notch in durability and heat distribution.

Which Barrel Shape Is Right for You?

Cylinder: This iron produces a spiral curl quickly and easily.

Cylinder Iron

Conical: Creates a tight curl at the ends; wide curl near the roots.

Cone Shape

Reverse Cone Shape: Makes wide curl at the ends; tight curl by the roots.

Reverse Cone Shape

Double Barrel: Creates tousled, loose waves- like you live at the beach!

Double Barrel

Triple Barrel: Creates a repetitive wave pattern that resembles hair that was in braids for days and then loosened.

Triple Barrel


For more information, click on this Curling Iron Guide for charts, guidelines, and the latest recommended models to buy for your hair type.

Remember, flat irons may be the “in” tool of the moment, but the curling iron has been around forever and can really be fun to master. Learn to use it correctly and you’ll never go without it. Get a few different irons to create a variety of looks- the possibilities are endless!
We will always have love for the curling iron. What’s your favorite tool? Have a tool you want us to explore in a future post? Let us know and we will break it down.

Written by Empire Beauty School

Empire Beauty School is a leading cosmetology and beauty educator with 89 beauty schools and cosmetology schools in the United States. Empire Beauty School offers a variety of beauty programs and cosmetology courses including cosmetology, esthetics, make-up artistry, and cosmetology educator training.


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