I have a confession to make: I’ve curled my hair every single day of my life. Okay, maybe there were some exceptions—like that time I was on a flight to Patagonia and there were no outlets on plane. Or that other time when I gave birth. But for most of my life, curling my pin-straight tresses has been part of my daily regimen, held in equal importance with brushing my teeth or washing my face. So believe me when I say, I know what makes a good curling iron (and what doesn’t!).
And you probably do, too, but with endless curling options on the market right now, it’s a tough task to wade the sea of wands and brushes and wack-a-doo-looking irons to find the gems that really perform. So we went ahead and did that for you because, well, we love you. And we want everyone to be able to achieve the curl of their dreams, whether it be shiny ringlets or soft beachy waves. These six options—starting at just $25—are guaranteed to make your hair look great and, given their high-functionality, they’ll make your primping process a little bit easier, too.
1. Tyme Iron
You probably recognize this iron from the many Facebook and Instagram ads, which tout it as being incredibly fast and giving you the perfect curls possible. And the promise pays off—there’s a reason this iron is called “Tyme,” as in, it gives you more free time. Both a flat iron and a curling iron, Tyme is the prettiest of our bunch—and also the priciest. But time equals money, so, we have to say the price is worth it. The downside is that learning a new technique is involved, because it’s totally different from your standard wand or clip iron. It might take you a couple of days to perfect the process. Luckily the brand offers dozens of YouTube tutorials (each boasting hundreds of thousands of views) and free one-on-one lessons with virtual stylists via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout. If that’s not A+ customer service, we don’t know what is!
2. Drybar The 3-Day Bender 1.25
There’s something about Drybar's buttercup yellow hue that is modern and darling all at once. Used by the pros at the Drybar blowout salon chain, this iron is cutting edge in that it’s got a rotating barrel—which means less stress on your wrist. The barrel is also comprised of high-tech minerals that magically make hair shinier and reduce frizz. Amen to that.
3. The Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron
The official curling iron of the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the Beachwaver is a self-rotating iron that you regulate with fast and slow speed controls. The ceramic barrel can create three types of curls—structured, loose and beachy, or high-octane glam. Created by celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, the iron brings luxury salon-quality curls to the masses in a way that is super easy to perform.
4. Hot Tools 1” Professional Curling Iron with Multi-Heat Control
Probably the most recognizable iron on our list, Hot Tools feels like the brand we all grew up with. And there’s no reason to mess with success. At just $25, this 24K gold-plated iron is beloved by stylists everywhere because it’s a beast—durable and dependable, it can deliver everything from prom curls to soft waves. The downside is that unlike some of the other “smarter” irons on our list, this one requires you to practice, practice, practice in order to get those techniques down pat.
5. Infiniti Pro by Conair Curl Secret
We’ve all got the hand, neck, and earlobe scars to prove our love of curling—but if you have a deep-seated fear of getting burned then this is the curling tool for you. Barrel-free, the Infiniti Pro instead comprises a curl chamber that hair is placed into—the amount of hair placed into the chamber will deliver loose, medium or tight curls. What’s the catch? Well, given that this is like nothing else on the market, there is a steep learning curve. But the rewards are worth the effort, and once you get the hang of it, this is the fastest tool on our list.
6. Remington T|Studio Salon Collection Pearl Digital Ceramic 1.5” Curling Wand
Great for thinner hair, this ceramic wand is amazing in that it can offer multiple sized curls (something you are usually forced to buy multiple irons to achieve!). A bargain at this price, the Remington is critically hailed for both its high-heat ceramic wand and its super lightweight feel.
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