Best Hair Curler in 2020

After conducting thorough research, we nominated the CHI Spin N Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler as the best hair curler you can buy today. We liked that it featured an interior one-inch barrel that’s perfect for creating curls on most hair lengths. It also had directional controls so you can create consistent curls on both sides of your head and a digital temperature display.

To determine the best hair curler, we looked at the following key features: curling mechanism, heat settings, heat protection, hair type compatibility, barrel size, and materials. There are countless ways to create curls and we included the most popular options such as automatic curlers, flat irons, wands, and wavers. We also focused on picks with more robust temperatures and precise controls, as well as prioritizing one-inch barrels. Keep reading to learn more about our criteria and to shop from our recommendations.

Top 7 Best Hair Curlers

 #1  CHI Spin N Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A smart automated curler that can create curls in two directions with a digital temperature display makes this the best curling iron for straight hair.

Pros
  • 1” barrel ideal for most lengths
  • Directional buttons to create specific curl patterns
  • Digital temperature display
Cons
  • Limited to 3 heat settings
  • Risk of hair tangling if large sections of hair are inserted

One of the classic complaints about traditional curling irons is that people don’t like how long it takes to wind their hair around the barrel. An automated curling iron like this pick from CHI is the perfect solution. Cut down on styling time with what we believe is the best curling iron for straight hair. With this pick, you can create curls in two directions thanks to the easy to use buttons. The curler draws hair in with its automated mechanism and heats the curls around a ceramic barrel for even and consistent heat.

While this pick only has three heat settings, you can shift between 370, 390, and 410 degrees Fahrenheit. But the one-inch width of the internal barrel makes this a pretty good option for most hair lengths. However, we did note that — as is common with automatic hair curlers — the learning curve can be a little steep depending on your comfort level with using hot tools. Likewise, it’s best to use small sections when you insert hair in it because putting too much hair into the chamber can encourage tangling. If you’re worried about how using heat will affect the health of your hair, take a look at our guide to the best hair clay too.

 #2  InfinitiPro by Conair Hair Curler

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: An automatic hair curler with a manageable chamber that can instantly create curls in varying widths depending on the time setting you choose.

Pros
  • Tourmaline ceramic chamber for even heat and reduced frizz
  • Automated curling mechanism reduces work
  • Can create a range of curl widths with one device
Cons
  • Limited to two heat levels
  • Not ideal for very long hair

Conair is a dependable brand when it comes to hair care, and especially for its hot tools category. The Curl Secret is the brand’s entry into the automatic hot tools hair curler category and might be a better choice for someone who finds the more traditional options a little too bulky or cumbersome to use — especially at the back of their head. This automatic hair curler can heat up to 400 degrees and depending on the timer setting you choose, you can create loose, medium, or tight curls.

Again, this is another option with limited heat settings since you can only shift between high and low. But we do like that this device has a beeper that lets you know when the timer is done and it’s time to remove your hair from the chamber. And you’ll like that the chamber is made from tourmaline ceramic so that you get even heat with negative ions that help to smooth your hair and leave it shiny instead of frizzy. Still, it’s best to use smaller sections of hair to reduce the risk of tangling. In some cases, we noted that very long hair (i.e. past mid-back length) shouldn’t be put into this device as tangling is more likely. If you just need to dry your hair, you should read our guide to the best hair dryer.

 #3  Alure Three Barrel Hair Curler

Award: BEST FOR BEACHY STYLES

WHY WE LIKE IT: A triple barrel curling iron with a digital screen for precise temperature adjustments that can heat up to 410 degrees in a minute for perfect beach waves.

Pros
  • Digital screen for precise adjustments
  • Heats up to 410F in just 60 seconds with an LCD
  • 1” ceramic tourmaline barrel
Cons
  • Barrel width not ideal for shorter hair lengths

If you’re frustrated by brands that don’t give you enough control over temperature settings, you’ll love this pick from Alure. The Alure Three Barrel Hair Curler is perfect because it heats up to 410 degrees Fahrenheit but also comes with an LCD temperature display so that you know that you’re using the right temperature.

We like that this deep waver styling tool is safe for all hair types and has stay-cool tips so you don’t need to worry about burning your fingers. Another feature we liked is the built-in heat stand so you won’t accidentally burn surfaces when you put it down. This is another pick that’s best for medium to long hair since the barrel is one inch wide. And as is common, this is another tourmaline ceramic glaze barrel for better heat control and improved shine. Now you can have your hair perfectly curled for your next photoshoot with your best mirrorless camera.

 #4  Furiden Flat Iron Hair Curler

Award: MOST VERSATILE

WHY WE LIKE IT: A two-in-one hair tool that lets you easily shift between straight and curly hair, with 20 heat settings and floating titanium plates makes this the best curling iron for fine hair.

Pros
  • 20 heat settings up to 450F
  • 1” floating titanium plates to reduce pulling on hair
  • Rounded exterior makes this a 2-in-1 hot styling tool
Cons
  • Learning to curl hair with a flat iron can be difficult for some

If you’ve ever wondered how people could use a flat iron to curl their hair, this pick is proof that it’s possible. We love that this is a two-in-one option that lets you shift between straight or curly hair with one device — and that translates to less clutter on your vanity. The Furiden flat iron is also incredibly user friendly.

You can toggle between multiple heat settings by simply rotating the base right or left. It heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for all hair types. The titanium plates are also designed to float so it won’t snag over your hair as you use it. And finally, and possibly most importantly, we think this is the best curling iron for fine hair because it has a rounded exterior to create gorgeous curls thanks to the one-inch width of this flat iron. Stay cool tips also give you more control as you work through your hair. If you need a new place to get ready, you should also read our guide to the best-lighted makeup mirror.

 #5  Kiss Instawave Automatic Ceramic Hair Curler

Award: BEST FOR BEGINNERS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple curling wand with guides and an automated mechanism that works in two curl directions is the best curling iron for beginners because it’s a semi hands-free solution.

Pros
  • More traditional barrel style has lower learning curve
  • Automated curler is easier for those who struggle with traditional curling irons
  • Heats up to 420F with 2 curl directions
Cons
  • Limited to 2 temperature adjustment settings

Traditional curling wands can be intimidating, especially if you’re afraid of burning yourself while using one. From the trusted beauty brand Kiss, the InstaWave is a hair curler that we believe is the best curling iron for beginners. It relies on an automated mechanism and smart guides to feed hair around a one-inch ceramic ionic barrel — all while keeping your hands safely away from the barrel.

This pick also heats up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit, making it safe for all hair types. However, we didn’t like that you could only make two temperature adjustments. That’s a bit limiting and means that with two preset temperature controls, many people may find that this pick is too hot or not hot enough to properly curl their hair. Compare this curling iron to those found in our guide to the best curling iron to make sure you’re making the best choice.

 #6  Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go Adjustable Hair Curler

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A smart adjustable waver from one of the best hair curler brands is designed with a covered backplate to prevent accidental burns and a tourmaline ceramic barrel.

Pros
  • Tourmaline ceramic barrel that produces shine
  • Barrels can be adjusted to create different wave patterns
  • Covered backplate reduces risk of injury
Cons
  • Bulkier design might be difficult for some people to use

Bed Head is considered one of the best hair curler brands, and best hair care brands for good reason, whether you need a hot tool, styling tool or styling products, this brand makes premium products. This unique A-Wave-We-Go waver is our Best Quality recommendation because it’s unique.

While it looks like a standard three-barrel waver, Bed Head ups the ante by creating an adjustable barrel. With a twist of the knob, you can raise or lower the center barrel to create more dramatic or low profile waves. This means some days you can have beachy waves, and other days you can go for a deep wave 1980s-era crimp-like style. But we also like that the back of this device features a covered backplate so you won’t accidentally burn yourself. And as is fairly common, you can reach temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as 250 degrees.

 #7  Revlon Salon High Heat Hair Curler Wand

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple bubble wand with a cool tip grip, one-inch width, and included heat resistant glove makes this one of the best curling wands for the budget-conscious.

Pros
  • 1” barrel is great for variety of lengths
  • Bubble wand design takes guesswork out of proper spacing for waves/curls
  • Cool tip grip and included heat resistant glove
Cons
    • Some people may feel this is a more laborious way to create curls

Whether you don’t use hair curlers that often or aren’t sure if you want to get one of the more complicated models, this bubble barrel curling wand from Revlon is a budget-friendly option that will still give you the control and style payoff that you want. This tourmaline ceramic wand can reach up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit and gives you 30 adjustable settings.

It heats up in just 30 seconds, and also comes with a heat resistant glove. That will come in handy since curling wands require more manual work to create bouncy curls. But we like that the bubble design helps you create perfect waves and curls, proving that this pick from Revlon is one of the best curling wands for everyday use.

How We Decided

Hair curlers come in a variety of styles and the one you pick is going to depend on what features are most important to you and how willing you are to learn new methods for styling your hair. To create our guide, we focused on the following features — curling mechanism, heat settings, hair type compatibility, barrel size, and materials.

Curling mechanisms can vary widely with hair curlers. In our guide, we included three automated picks, two hair wavers, a flat iron, and a curling wand — all of which can create curls. The version you pick is going to depend on which you find easiest to use. Although, we did note through our research and throughout our recommendations where limitations could make using the automated devices more difficult for select users such as those with very long hair or trying to put too much hair into the chamber at one time.

All of the recommendations in our guide could achieve at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit — with some going as high as 450 degrees. So, officially all of our picks are safe for all hair types. However, temperature controls varied greatly between our nominations. Preference should be given to options that let you precisely control the temperature as opposed to general “high” and “low” type settings which can still leave some people using too much heat for their hair.

The barrel size is going to impact how large or small your curls will be, and whether you’ll end up with waves instead of curls. Most of our recommendations, including the automated curlers, featured one-inch barrels which is a universal width that will work on most hair lengths. But our hair wavers such as the Best Quality recommendation may be harder for those with very short hair to use.

And finally, we looked for options made from high-quality materials. Tourmaline, ceramic, and tourmaline ceramic barrels or chambers were the most popular option. These two materials are known for creating even heat and releasing negative ions to help smooth the hair, produce high shine, and reduce the risk of frizz.

Best Hair Curler Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Curling Mechanism
    These days, you have a few options when it comes to using a styling tool to curl your hair. While traditional curling irons will still do the job, today you can also choose from automatic curlers with a rotating mechanism that does the task of winding the hair around the barrel for you. And in some cases, you can even use a flat iron to curl your hair, but that will require you to master the technique of curling hair with a flat iron.
  2. Heat Settings
    Decide whether you want a heat styling tool that lets you adjust the temperature in increments of 10 or 20 degrees, or one that has a few settings. If you’re concerned about heat damage, a heat tool that shows the actual temperature and allows you to adjust it to a precise temperature setting is going to be better. Meanwhile, styling tools with a simple “high” and “low” setting are designed to be more universal for a wider range of hair types. A quality styling tool will feature a temperature range between 250 to 400 or 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Hair Type
    Make sure that your hair curler can be heated to temperatures that are safe for your hair type. Those with fine or thin hair should opt for lower temperatures between 250 to 320 degrees while people with coarse or thicker hair can use higher temperatures.
  4. Barrel Size
    Do you want tighter curls or loose waves? Also, consider the length of your hair as you shop for a hair curler. People with shorter hair should focus on barrels no larger than an inch. And if you’re going to use a flat iron as a hair curler, don’t pick an iron with plates wider than one inch as it will be much harder to maneuver the iron through your hair and achieve waves or curls.
  5. Materials
    With hot tools, you won’t even heat and materials that will help minimize the risk of frizz. The most popular options are tourmaline, ceramic, and even a tourmaline ceramic blend because you can get the best of both worlds — reduced frizz and provide even heat.

Hair Curler FAQs

What is the best hair curler to buy?

The best hair curler is one with a mechanism that’s easy for you to manage and a temperature range that’s compatible with your hair type and the health of your hair. In our guide, we showed a range of mechanisms from automated curlers to wavers and even included a curling wand and a flat iron. Our Top Pick from CHI is great if you’re short on time but still want to create a gorgeous head of curls.

What should I look for when buying a curling iron?

First consider the materials, the most popular options are ceramic, tourmaline, or a combination of the two. Also, think about the temperature controls — can you control the temperature with precise adjustments, or are you limited to a handful of settings? Consider how easily you can use the iron or curler. You’ll want something that’s easy to maneuver through your hair and doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Finally, consider the length of your hair and the type of curl pattern you’re looking to achieve. Shorter hair should be paired with curling tools no wider than one inch whereas longer lengths can even select curling irons as wide as two inches.

What size barrel is best for beach waves?

A one-inch barrel tends to be the most universal since it will work on shorter and longer hair. But for longer hair, you can opt for a 1.5 or two-inch barrel to achieve a slightly looser curl or wave that looks more natural.

What size barrel is best for curls?

This is going to depend on your style goals. But in general, styling experts will always recommend that everyone have at least a one-inch barrel on hand. For very short hair, a ¾ inch barrel is best since you’ll have more control. Likewise, longer hair can be paired with larger barrels ranging from one to two inches.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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