Best Curling Iron Brush For Your Hair And Budget

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CHI Amplitude Ceramic Heated Round Brush
Best Overall
  • Great for styling fine hair
  • Loads of temperature options
  • Lightweight
Conair 1 ¼″ Instant Heat Styling Brush
Budget Pick
  • Great for soft waves or loose curls
  • Ideal for shoulder-length hair
  • Turbo-boost heat feature
Sylkvia Tangle-Free Curling Iron Brush
Best Wand/Curling Brush
  • Retractable bristles reduce tangling
  • Works as a curling wand too
  • Wide barrel

I don’t know about you, but some days, curling or straightening my hair is just too much of a commitment. Like, do I really want to spend 45 minutes to get va-va voom hair when all I really want are just some subtle waves and movement for that “au natural” look?

For days like that, a curling iron brush is a perfect multi-purpose styler that makes it easy to give my hair some style without too much fuss.

Of course, there are dozens of them to choose from, so I’ve scoured the market and narrowed down the best curling iron brushes for most hair types and budgets.

Best Curling Iron Brush Reviews

CHI Amplitude Ceramic Heated Round Brush

CHI Amplitude Ceramic Heated Round Brush, Red
  • 1 ¼” Tourmaline Ceramic Barrel Styling Brush
  • Anti-Scald Nylon Bristles + Cool Tip
  • Adjustable Heat Settings Up To 410°F
  • Digital Display + Controls
  • Dual Voltage + 60-min Auto Shut-Off

Hair straighteners, curling irons, hairdryers, brushes – you name it and CHI has it!

The CHI Amplitude Ceramic Heated Round Brush has some pretty amazing features, as expected from a CHI product. 

It has a tourmaline ceramic barrel, which is equipped with Ionic Technology to smooth and defrizz your locks. Plus, it maintains a constant temperature at all times for even heating and consistent styling.

The brush has heat-resistant nylon bristles, which comb through and separate strands across the barrel without burning your fingers. 

One of the biggest advantages of the CHI Amplitude is it’s wide range of temperature options. You can set it from as low as 180°F up to 410°F with the digital plus and minus control buttons on the handle.

As someone with fine hair, having this degree of control over the heat settings is paramount so I can create waves and volume with minimum heat damage.

The 1 ¼” barrel is good for smooth, loose waves and adding volume. If you’re looking for tighter curls, you should consider a regular curling iron instead.

It also comes with a heat resistant mat, and is best used on hair that is at least shoulder length or longer.

  • 1-hr automatic shut-off
  • Dual voltage for worldwide travel
  • Fully adjustable temperature settings
  • Lightweight
  • Tip remains cool
  • Pricey

SwanMyst Curling Iron Brush

SwanMyst Curling Iron Brush
  • Tourmaline Ceramic Barrel Styling Brush
  • Anti-Scald Bristles + Cool Tip
  • 3 Heat Settings - 320°F, 380°F, 430°F
  • Dual Voltage + 40-min Auto Shut-Off

The SwanMyst Curling Iron Brush is a 1” diameter curling brush, with a long cool tip.

The tourmaline ceramic barrel generates negative ions when heated to smooth out frizz, and the anti-scald nylon bristles only get up to 120°F so you can touch them without burning your skin. 

One of the things I really like about this tool is that the temperature automatically locks on the setting you select. If you’ve ever accidentally changed your heat setting mid-way through a session, you know this is a huge plus. 

If you need to change the temperature, just double press the power button to unlock and adjust the heat.

As with all the other curling iron brushes reviewed here, the SwanMyst brush is not a hot air brush! Remember to dry your hair completely before using it.

It’s really easy to handle, even for beginners. Though I’d say it’s best for shorter lengths, as it can tangle up very long, thick hair.

You can get very natural looking, elegant looking soft curls if you hold your hair in longer, or just use it to smooth and straighten out frizz and kinks. 

On the downside, several users have complained that this appliance dies less than a year into use, so it may not be the most durable styler. 

  • 3 temperature settings with temperature auto-lock
  • Great for smoothing, straightening, and curling
  • Anti-scald bristles prevent burns
  • Convenient and easy to use
  • Seems to have a short lifespan
  • Must unplug to shut off

Conair 1 1/4″ Instant Heat Styling Brush

Conair 1 1/4″ Instant Heat Styling Brush
  • 1 ¼” Mixed Metal Barrel
  • 25 Heat Settings + Turbo Boost Option
  • 30-second Heat Up
  • Dual voltage

Before we get into it, let me just state upfront that the Conair Instant Heat Styling Brush is not ideal for long hair. You’ll more than likely get it tangled up in your hair, particularly if you wrap strands around the barrel more than once.

Otherwise, it’s great for creating soft waves and loose curls on shoulder- to medium lengths or layered styles.

It employs Conair’s Smart Technology, which ensures that the barrel maintains a constant temperature so that each strand heats and styles evenly.

The plastic bristles remain cool so you can touch them without burning yourself, and the 1 ¼” metal barrel heats up in only 30 seconds.

There are 25 heat settings to choose from by rotating the dial at the base of the barrel. It’s numbered with odd digits from 1 (lowest setting) to 25 (356°F), and the corresponding temperatures can be found on the box.

It also has a Turbo Heat boost function, which increases the temperature by 36°F instantly to deliver an extra burst of heat when you need it.

I mostly use this product for medium to loose curls or waves, but if you want tighter curls, it also comes in a ¾” version.

One thing to be aware of is there’s a groove where the handle meets the barrel that hair can sometimes get caught between. This can definitely be an issue, but if you’re careful not to place hair near the base, snagging doesn’t occur. 

Overall, this one’s a decent budget curling brush if you’re mostly looking to get some movement and loose waves, but I’d personally choose a ceramic barrel brush over a metal one if you can swing it.

  • Budget-friendly
  • Available in narrow and wide barrel versions
  • Turbo Heat boost option
  • 25 heat settings
  • Hair can get caught in a groove near the base
  • Not enough heat for some hair types

Sylkvia Tangle-Free Curling Iron Brush

Sylkvia Tangle-Free Curling Iron Brush
  • 1 ½” Tourmaline Ceramic Barrel Styling Brush
  • Retractable Bristles + Cool Tip
  • 5 Temperature Settings from 300°F to 410°F
  • Dual Use Curling Brush or Wand

I’ve always been one to be wary of “As Seen On TV” products, but with everything I heard about the Sylkvia Curling Iron Brush, I had to check it out. (Technically this one is a “As Seen On YouTube” product, so it’s not a late-night infomercial at least.)

The Sylkvia styling brush has one feature that sets it apart from all other curling iron brushes in that you can retract the bristles by pulling on a lever at the base of the barrel with your thumb.

This is huge if you normally find yourself detangling your hair from other curling iron brushes. Retracting the non-heated bristles allows the section to release pretty smoothly as you pull the brush down.

Alternatively, you can use it like a standard curling wand too if you hold the lever down the entire time.

It’s great for loose, voluminous waves with a 1 ½” tourmaline ceramic barrel that emits negative ions to eliminate frizz. 

There are 5 heat settings from 300°F to 410°F, and an LED light next to each indicates what setting you’re using. 

While the brush does make styling largely tangle-free once you get the hang of the technique, it does have a few drawbacks.

The thin bristles are spaced quite far apart, so it’s not as grippy on short, fine hair. You’ll generally have better results on medium to longer lengths, particularly since it’s a wide barrel.

  • Retractable bristles prevents tangling when releasing
  • Lightweight
  • Cool bristles and tip protects bare skin
  • Can be used as a curling brush or wand
  • Large barrel size doesn’t work well on shorter lengths

What Is a Curling Iron Brush? 

A curling iron brush is a round brush with an electrically heated barrel that allows you to set a curl or wave.

Its bristles comb through and grip hair like a normal round brush would. Some curling iron brushes have heated bristles for extra styling power, but most are generally unheated and safe to touch. 

Many curling iron brushes also have adjustable heat settings just like a curling iron, though the max temperature tends to be lower than standard curling wands. This is ideal since you can control the amount of heat you apply to your hair.

How To Use A Curling Iron Brush

Step 1: Make sure your hair is thoroughly dry and detangled before use! Remember, these are heated brushes, not hot air brushes.

Step 2: Apply a heat protectant evenly to all strands.

Step 3: Section your hair and clip out of the way if necessary for easier styling.

Step 4: Holding the iron upright, wrap a small section around the barrel and twist slowly 360°, starting near your roots and working down.

Step 5: Hold the wrapped section in place for about 10 seconds (or around 15 seconds if you want a more defined wave). You can continue twisting the iron as you move hair through if it doesn’t tangle. Carefully pull the brush down to release the curl.

Is A Curling Brush Iron Better Than A Curling Iron?

As with most things, it depends. In this case, it mostly depends on the look you’re looking to achieve, but also how you prefer to work with a styling tool.

If you want ribbon-like, defined curls that last for days, a curling iron or curling wand works better. 

However, if you want looser waves that give hair some subtle movement and extra volume, then a curling iron brush is quite useful.

A spring clamp is pretty standard for most curling irons to hold hair against the barrel while a curling wand is just a clipless rod that you wrap your locks around.

With a curling iron brush, bristles sticking out of the barrel help grip and hold strands in place, in addition to distributing hair evenly across the heated barrel. They even help protect you from burns since the bristles keep your fingers and scalp away from the high heat of the barrel itself.

Those with fine, smooth or slippery tresses may find it hard to keep hair on the barrel, however. If that’s the case, you may want to try applying some texturizing spray to your locks beforehand.

Lastly, while it’s possible to get a nice curl with a curling iron brush, don’t expect it to last more than a day without touch ups.

Do Curling Iron Brushes Damage Hair?

One of the most common concerns for most people considering a curling iron brush is whether it will damage your hair.

All heat styling tools – including curling iron brushes – can damage hair if you use too high a temperature setting, subject your strands to frequent heat exposure, or hold hair against a heated surface for too long.

The good news is that as long as you apply heat protectant and ensure your hair is completely dry and detangled before use, you shouldn’t experience any excess heat damage.

Luckily, many curling iron brushes also have adjustable heat settings so you can choose a lower temperature if your hair requires less heat or is more fragile.

Aside from the heat factor, you can also damage your hair if you get it very tangled between the bristles (and there are definitely horror stories of people needing to cut some of their hair off because they couldn’t untangle it).

Before using a hot curling brush, make sure to fully dry, comb and get rid of any tangles or knots for best results. You can even use the brush to comb your hair out before heating it up.

Hot Curling Brush vs. Hot Air Brush 

At this point, you may be wondering whether you should get a hot curling brush or if a hot air brush (or hair dryer brush) is better.

hot curling brush vs hot air brush

Aside from drying your hair while you style, a hot air brush is most effective for smoothing out frizz and adding volume to your roots. They generally have very wide barrels too – wider than you’d want for creating curls.

As a matter of fact, some use a hot air brush to straighten naturally curly hair for a polished salon-blowout look.

Some hot air brushes also auto-rotate so you can just place hair onto the barrel and let it do the work. 

You can curl in or flip out ends too, but if you want actual waves or curls, you’ll want a hot curling brush for the job.

Curling Iron Brush Buying Guide

Barrel Size and Material 

Just like flat irons and curling irons, there’s a variety of barrel materials to choose from – like ceramic, tourmaline and various metals – when it comes to hot brushes as well.

Ceramic barrels have the advantage of maintaining a constant temperature at all times so there are no hot spots on the barrel. The heat is also a gentler heat that’s less likely to damage hair over metal barrels.

Tourmaline is usually mixed in with ceramic to boost negative ion production, which cancel out the positive ions present in dry and frizzy hair. As a result, tourmaline tools leave your hair smooth and shiny.

You’ll also find some curling iron brushes with a mix of metals like copper and stainless steel. These are usually found in budget models. While they generate a good amount of heat, they can expose strands to hot spots or less uniform heating.

Lastly, most curling iron brushes come in wider barrels (think 1 ¼” or 1 ½”) than most curling irons, though you can find a few narrow barrel curling iron brushes available too.

Bristle Size and Material

For best results, it’s also important to consider the bristle material and size when looking at a curling iron brush.

First, let’s talk about material.

Bristles can be made of different materials like nylon, ceramic or silicone.

Ceramic bristles, in addition to the barrel, can be heated too, making them beneficial for styling coarse or thick hair. Heated bristles can reduce the amount of time needed to hold hair in place on the brush for more efficient styling.

Nylon and silicone bristles, on the other hand, don’t heat up. A curling iron brush with nylon or silicone bristles allows you to touch the bristles while styling without risk of burns.

Silicone bristles are also flexible and can grip and hold hair more securely on the brush.

When it comes to size – the thinner the bristles, the more of them there will be on the brush. This is good if you have fine hair, as a greater amount of bristles will allow for better grip.

Thicker bristles are generally better for longer lengths.

Temperature Settings and Controls 

For any heat styling tool, I always prefer products that have a range of temperature settings.

Having temperature options to choose from allows you to select the appropriate setting for your hair type, condition, and texture.

If you have fine hair, look for a brush that has a low setting of 300°F or below so you’re not subjecting delicate or fragile strands to excessive heat.

Should You Get a Curling Iron Brush? 

If you like natural-looking, loose curls and waves, or want a tool to tame short locks with ease, a curling iron brush is a great tool to consider adding to your arsenal.

You can even use one to brush your hair out first if you don’t turn it on.

Even if you still like your regular curling iron, a curling iron brush is great for 2nd or 3rd day touch ups – particularly when you’re running out of time and just need to tame a few errant ends or wisps that are sticking out in odd places.

Emma Lee
As long as she can remember, Emma has been obsessed with beautiful hair. Her favorite look is pin-straight, sleek glass hair. She's had multiple styles from short and permed to long and natural throughout her life, and knows full well that how your hair looks can make or break your day.

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