No Time? My pick for the best curling iron for beachy waves is the Paul Mitchell Neuro Unclipped 1” Styling Rod.
Ahh…summer hair. Sun-kissed, ocean-bathed locks are always in season, and they couldn’t be more fun. Even if you’re not near the beach, you can still have beautiful waves in your hair all year-round. You just need the right curling iron to get natural, beachy waves.
We’ll be reviewing the following curling irons in this article:
- Paul Mitchell Neuro Unclipped 1” Styling Rod
- Bed Head Rock N’ Roller Curling Wand
- HOT TOOLS Professional 24k Gold Extra-Long Barrel Curling Iron
- BaByliss Pro Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron
- CHI Air Spin N Curl 1” Ceramic Rotating Curler
Table of Contents
Best Curling Iron for Beach Waves
Synonymous with professional salon quality, Paul Mitchell’s Neuro Unclipped 1” Curling Wand makes curling hair – even the most difficult to tame locks – not only possible, but easy and with impressive results.
The extra long titanium barrel heats up very quickly and keeps a consistent temperature while you curl. I think this is why it styles so well, since most wands lose some heat while transferring it from the barrel to your hair.
It has an embedded heat sensor that constantly monitors the temperature and keeps it at that setting throughout your session. If you’ve ever experienced inconsistent curls when going from one section to another, you’ll know how beneficial this is so you don’t have to redo different sections.
The adjustable temperature settings go from 350°F to 450°F in 10° increments. You can also set the curler to shut off automatically (the default setting is 90 minutes, but you can custom set it to a shorter time period).
In particular, this wand gets rave reviews from several users for creating beautiful beach waves. It also comes in a tapered conical barrel too.
For bigger, looser waves, wrap larger sections of hair around the rod. For smaller, more-defined curls, use smaller sections at a time.
The main downsides to this wand is it’s long cool down time after you’ve unplugged it, plus it doesn’t stand too well when placed on your counter top. It’s best to prop it up with something to keep the barrel from touching the surface underneath it.
- Extra long barrel great for long hair
- Curls thick, coarse, or hard-to-style hair easily and lasts for days
- Adjustable temperature settings to 450°F + digital display
- Large guard tip protects fingers from burns
- Smart sensor that constantly checks and regulates heat to keep the barrel at a consistent temperature
- Doesn’t stand too well when you set it down
- Takes a long time to cool down after shut off
For those of you who might need some training wheels in the curling department, a bubble or bead wand helps guide where to place your hair on the barrel. The Bed Head Rock N’Roller Curling Wand is a great beginner’s wand to create mermaid waves.
The barrel is coated with tourmaline and ceramic for frizz control and shine, and the black tip doesn’t get hot so you can hold onto it while curling.
There’s a temperature control dial on the opposite side of the handle from the On/Off switch that maxes out at 400°F. Unfortunately, there’s no temperature gauge so you can’t set it to a specific temperature – it’s only marked Low, Medium, and High (although you can set it to anything between those markers too).
For a more uniform wave, use 1″ sections of hair at a time and wrap your hair in between the bubbles and hold for up to 10 seconds before unwrapping. Otherwise, you can also wrap your strands over the bubbles, which will give you a more tousled, textured wave.
The main downside to a bubble wand in my opinion is that you can’t just release your curl into the palm of your hand easily. You have to unwind it from the barrel since it won’t slip off as easily as it would on a smooth barrel.
A swivel cord, one heat protective glove, plus dual voltage compatibility round out the extras.
- Tourmaline ceramic barrels makes hair look healthy by reducing frizz and giving it shine
- Adjustable heat settings to 400°F
- Great for beginners who need a little help with placement for even waves
- Dual voltage compatibility for worldwide use
- Heat stand to prop it up off your counter
- No temperature gauge
- Have to unwind hair from barrel
A well-known styling brand, HOT TOOLS 24k Gold Curling Iron series has been a winner for several years now. With standard and extra-length barrels as well as every width from the ultra-skinny ⅜” to the super-wide 2” diameter, you can create pretty much any type of curl or wave with a HOT TOOLS curler.
For big, beautiful beach waves, the 1 ¼” or 1 ½” irons are perfect. (Ideally you should have 12” of hair or more for these widths.) The extra-long barrels also give you an additional 2” of rod length to curl very long hair in one pass.
As the name states, the barrel has a 24k gold plating, which heats up quickly and to a high temperature. It also heats quite uniformly, which is great, since some metal irons get uneven hotspots that damage your hair.
One of the neat things about this curling iron is that you can actually turn it into a wand if you don’t want to use the clamp. The spring clamp is easily removable with pliers and a screwdriver.
There’s a large tip that stays cool and, on the extra-long version, rotates for more efficient curling. Some people have experienced the tip coming off the end, so you may want to make sure it’s secured well before using.
My main beef with the extra-long version is that the clamp doesn’t cover the full length of the barrel. If you’re planning on getting it, be aware that the clamp only goes up to the standard length portion of the rod.
- Extra long barrel (2” longer than regular irons) to curl long lengths in one pass
- Adjustable heat settings from 280°F to 430°F
- Use as a regular curling iron or without the clamp as a wand
- Heats quickly and evenly
- Comfortable handle and grip
- Barrel surface doesn’t glide hair as well as ceramic-plated irons
- Clamp doesn’t cover the full length of the barrel on the extra long version
For those of you with fine or damaged hair, fear not, you can achieve full beautiful beach waves and minimize damage at the same time.
Ceramic is your friend if you’ve got fragile hair, and the BaByliss Pro Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron is the cream of the crop when it comes to ceramic.
Standard-grade ceramic is already beneficial for producing even heat and being smooth. Porcelain is a step up, being a higher-quality ceramic that is more dense/less porous, and is even smoother.
It’s better at keeping a consistent temperature and producing far infrared waves, which heat the hair shaft from the inside out and are less damaging. Porcelain emits negative ions when heated to counteract frizz so hair looks smooth and shiny.
With adjustable heat settings from 200°F – 430°F, you can set the temperature to the best one for your hair (always start off lower if you’re not sure which setting works best for you and work your way up).
The porcelain coating is very smooth, and hair glides easily on the barrel without snagging. In the past, I’ve had issues with some curlers not grasping my hair well enough with the clamp, but this baby doesn’t have that problem.
Even fine ends are securely held down against the barrel, which is really nice.
There are a couple things that I would fault the curler for – one being that the tip of the barrel gets very hot and therefore impossible to hold onto unless you wear a glove. The placement of the On/Off switch is also not ideal because it’s where you naturally place your thumb when holding the handle.
- Porcelain ceramic barrel conducts heat more evenly and provides more damage protection than standard ceramic
- Adjustable heat settings from 200°F – 430°F works on all hair types from very fine to thick and coarse
- Heats up and cools down after shut off quickly
- Hair glides easily while clamp keeps hair (even ends) securely pressed against the barrel
- Reduces frizz and leaves hair shiny and smooth
- Tip of barrel gets hot to the touch
- Power button located where you place your thumb – can accidentally turn off while in use
If you’re a total beginner, bad at curling your hair, or klutzy and prone to burning yourself, don’t sweat. The CHI Air Spin N Curl 1” Ceramic Rotating Curler will do all the heavy-lifting (or curling) for you.
You hold it like a torch with the chamber upright, place a 1” section of hair inside, and press and hold the Spin button in the direction of curl you want. Once the length of your hair has been wrapped around the 1” barrel, let go and wait for the curler to beep 3 times to let you know when to release.
I know what you’re thinking…what if my hair gets caught in the chamber?! It’s the main concern everyone has when they first learn about the Air Spin N Curl. Particularly since the curler actually works best on long hair.
Amazingly, your hair doesn’t jam up or tangle while it wraps around the barrel as long as you don’t use large sections of hair at a time. If you do, the CHI stops automatically and beeps to let you know you should release and try again.
Beachy waves are easy to do, especially since you can easily alternate the direction of your curls with the press of a button. I love that since I get uncoordinated pretty easily when trying to switch up my curl direction with a regular curling iron. That and you won’t burn yourself because the outer shell stays cool.
You can also customize the heat either by using the preset options or by setting it to a specific temperature.
I wouldn’t recommend this automatic curler if you have short hair or layered hair, as you need some length in order for it to work well. Otherwise, it’s a great tool for creating curls and waves that last.
- No burns with outer shell that covers the hot barrel
- No curling experience needed – good for beginners
- Adjustable temperature controls and digital display
- Dual-voltage for international use
- Curls in both directions
- Doesn’t curl hair near your scalp due to the size of the chamber
- Not good for short hair
Beachy Waves: Why They’re Great
- They look fabulous on practically every age, face shape, and hair length. One of the reasons beach waves are terrific is because they look good on just about anyone! They’re incredibly versatile and easy to pull off on most hair.
- They are an easy style to create, even for beginners. Because beachy waves are supposed to look somewhat undone and tousled, you don’t need to curl your hair perfectly for them to look good.
- They are a great everyday style that doesn’t take up a lot of time. Some gals are able to create beautiful, effortless waves in as little as 10 minutes. You don’t need to spend oodles of time to get the look, which is great if you can’t spend half your morning doing your hair.
Buying Guide: How to Find the Best Beach Wave Curler
Beach waves can be created with most larger size barrels. As long as you have a curling iron or wand that’s at least 1” or wider, you should be able to create them without too much hassle.
Aside from barrel size, you should also look for the following features:
Ceramic curling irons are well-known for their ability to conduct heat evenly, which helps eliminate those annoying hotspots that can damage your hair. They’re good for smoothing hair too, and some irons are also infused with tourmaline – a crystal that helps reduce frizz by generating negative ions to counteract dry hair’s positive ions.
You’ll want a ceramic or tourmaline ceramic barrel if you have fine, damaged, or chemically-treated hair.
Metallic irons, such as chrome, gold, or titanium, are able to heat up quickly and maintain a high temperature. Metal curling irons transfer heat more effectively, so they’re best for healthy, medium to coarse hair types. Chrome is the least expensive (what you’ll usually find in drugstores), with gold in the mid-range, and titanium the most expensive.
Titanium is lightweight, doesn’t corrode, and locks moisture into your hair. If you have lots of hair that’s resistant to styling, titanium is a good choice to tame your locks.
Adjustable Heat Settings
Any good curler worth getting is one that allows you to control the temperature settings. This is particularly true if you have either very fine, fragile hair, or extremely thick, coarse hair. The reason being is that you’ll want to be able to set a low temperature for fine hair and vice versa for coarse hair.
Clamp or No Clamp?
Many curling irons have a clamp so you can clip your hair to the barrel. If you don’t like using one or the crease that can occur where it presses your hair, there are curling wands that just have a bare barrel.
This last one is optional, but if you have very long hair, you may want to consider getting an extra long curling iron so you have enough surface area to wrap the length of your strands around in one pass.
How to Prep Hair Before Creating Beach Waves
As most hair styling tutorials will tell you, how you prep your hair prior to curling is essential to getting a good end result. The same holds true for beach waves, but it might be easier than you think.
One-day old hair is actually perfect to use because you want some of the natural oils from your scalp to coat your hair and provide it with texture to hold your waves.
If you’ve just washed your hair, you can allow it to natural dry if you have naturally straight or slightly wavy hair.
If you have natural curls or kinks, you’ll want to blow dry it with a round brush so that you start with smooth hair.
Before curling, always apply a heat protectant. This is true for all hair types to reduce damage from high heat.
If you like, you can also apply a volumizer, like a mousse, to your roots for some lift. Once you’ve applied your hair products, comb to coat your locks evenly from top to bottom.
Tips & Tricks
- Since large, loose waves don’t need to start near your scalp, one easy way to create them is by tying your hair in a high ponytail. Curl sections of hair till all strands are styled and then let it down.
- Let your curls cool before you finger-comb or tousle them. This will allow the curl to set and last longer before going limp.
- Alternate curl direction as you go from one section to another so you get less uniform, more natural looking waves.
- You can create great beach waves with a flat iron too!
While the best tool for creating beautiful beachy waves won’t be the same for everyone, it’s hard to go wrong with any one of these curling irons.
That being said, the stand out appliance in my opinion is the Paul Mitchell Neuro Unclipped 1” Styling Rod. It’s extra-long length makes it easy to curl longer hair, and the titanium barrel stays consistently heated throughout your session for curls that set easily and stay.
It can handle the most resistant, coarse hair, which is huge if you’ve tried lots of curling irons but can’t seem to get one to work on your hair.
You can even get different kinds of waves by varying the amount of hair and length of time you hold it against the barrel. It’s versatility allows you to create a more defined S curl to a loose, big wave that looks like your natural hair.
Finally, it comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty in case you come across any defects. All in all, I think it’s a great tool to add to any hair styling arsenal and hope you find that to be the case too!