If you’ve never curled your hair before, it can be daunting to figure out which of the hundreds of irons out there will give you the look you want. It’s easy to just pick out the cheapest one at your local drugstore in the hopes that it will work and not fry your hair.
Well, that’s what I did at least, and let’s just say it didn’t end well as I couldn’t adjust the heat on my first curling iron. Plus, it really wasn’t the appropriate type of iron for my needs.
So I’ve put together my picks for the best curling iron for beginners in the hopes that you can avoid the mistakes I made!
We’ll be reviewing the following curling irons in this article:
- Bed Head Rock N’ Roller Curling Wand
- Alure Three Barrel Curling Iron
- CHI Spin N’ Curl
- HOT TOOLS Professional 24k Gold CURLBAR
- Conair Double Ceramic 1″ Curling Iron
Best Curling Irons for Beginners Reviews
Let’s kick off the list with one of the easiest curling iron for beginners on the market. The Bed Head Rock N’ Roller Curling Wand has a remarkably unique appearance with a “pearls” or “bubbles” design.
This design isn’t just there to make the iron stand out – it actually offers a lot of functionality, especially if you’re new to curling your hair.
The bubbles act like training wheels that guide where you should place a section of hair. If you wrap between the bubbles, you’ll get even, uniform spirals. For super defined curls, twist the section before wrapping it around the barrel.
You can also wrap hair between and over the bubbles for a less uniform, beachy wave that is more natural-looking.
The iron heats up to a max temperature of 400°F, with variable heat settings that you adjust with a control dial.
Tons of gals who can’t use a regular curling iron swear by the Bed Head bubble wand because it’s easy to learn to use and your hair doesn’t slide off the barrel the way it can with a straight or tapered rod.
It also comes with a protective glove to save your finger tips from burns, though it’s not really necessary once you get the hang of it. That, and the glove fabric can sometimes get caught in your hair while you’re curling.
This is a fantastic beginner option if you’re not sure where to start, and it’s quite affordable too.
- Heats up to 400°F quickly
- Bubble design is easy to use and hair doesn’t slip
- Tangle-free swivel cord doesn’t get in the way
- Tourmaline ceramic barrel reduces frizz and adds shine
- Doesn’t specify actual temperature settings – only low to high
If wrapping your hair around a hot rod isn’t your idea of fun, don’t despair. You can still get a beautiful beach wave with Alure’s 3 Barrel Curling Iron, which functions like a large crimping iron.
At first, it might seem a bit bulky and intimidating to use. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how easy it is to create luscious waves that last.
To use, turn the iron on and wait for it to heat to your desired temperature. Then open it by pressing the lever down with your thumb, place a section of hair near your roots or mid length between the plates and sandwich the hair between the barrels.
Hold your hair clamped for around 5-8 seconds (no more than 10 seconds), then move the iron down and continue on til you’ve reached your ends.
Top tip: to make the hair look as blended and natural as possible, try alternating the direction of curl by holding the iron vertically and then horizontally between sections.
It heats up pretty quickly, reaching up to 410°F in less than a minute, and the ceramic barrels are gentler on hair than a metal curler. It even comes with a lifetime warranty for a worry-free purchase!
You’ll need to do a bit of temperature conversion if you live in the U.S. though, as the readings display in Celsius only.
- Ceramic barrels produce gentler, even heat
- Great for creating natural-looking beach waves
- Dual-voltage capability + lifetime warranty
- Easy-to-adjust temperature settings with LCD display
- No hair wrapping required, just a clamping technique
- 3 barrels takes up extra space in your drawer or luggage
Maybe you’re just not that coordinated and are looking to get something that will curl your hair with the press of a button. If so, what you want is an automatic curling iron like the CHI Spin N’ Curl.
It can curl in either direction (as well as alternate), plus it beeps to let you know when to release hair from the chamber.
Start by setting the temperature to the appropriate amount for your hair (start below 300°F if you have fine hair, 350°F for medium, or 400°F for coarse locks). Or, use the preset temperature settings if you’re not sure what temperature to use.
Once it’s ready, feed a 1” section of hair between the barrel and the inside of the chamber while holding the iron vertically. Then, press the button with the curl direction you want, which will automatically wrap it around the barrel for you.
Of course, you might be worried about getting your hair caught in the contraption, which is perfectly understandable. The Spin N Curl has a safety feature where it stops rotating and beeps if you’ve either inserted too much hair or it gets tangled up inside so you can safely pull the iron down and release your strands without damage or breakage.
The main downside to getting the CHI Spin N Curl is that it costs more than a traditional curling iron. But it can be a worthwhile investment for those who truly can’t curl their own hair to save their life!
- Auto-rotating barrel wraps hair for you with the push of a button
- All-digital controls and beep alerts
- Fully customizable settings for heat, curl direction, and timing
- Creates perfect spirals and professional-looking curls
- Anti-tangle safety feature + 1-hr auto shut-off
- More expensive than a traditional curling iron
It can get really tiring to curl a full head of long hair with a curling iron. Holding both arms above your head for 45 minutes at a time isn’t for the weak, let me tell ya!
The Hot Tools Curlbar has an L-shaped bent design that makes it way easier for a newbie, especially when working on the back of your head where things get awkward trying to hold your iron at the right angle to curl.
It’s lightweight and even comes with a built-in timer to let you know when to release the curl.
It has one of the highest temperature points with a max of 450°F, so it’s great for style-resistant hair types (but don’t use the highest setting if you don’t need it). There’s also a 2-hour auto- shutoff in case you forget to turn the iron off.
The 24k heated 1” barrel creates some amazing curls from loose waves to elegant spirals depending on how much hair you wrap at a time as well as heat and timing.
The ergonomic design makes it quite easy to use, and even pros like using it, especially since it comes with a long 9’ swivel cord. The L-shape does make it somewhat challenging to store away if you have narrow drawers though.
Another option to consider if you like the L-shape is the Kristin Ess Pivoting Wand. This one is convertible between an L-shape and a straight curling wand, but comes with a wider barrel size at 1 ¼”.
- Ergonomic L-shaped design makes curling easy and less tiresome
- Can handle coarse, thick hair with a max temperature of 450°F
- Rotating dial controls both heat and timer settings with digital display
- Long swivel cord gives plenty of slack for far away outlets
- The non-pivoting design makes it a bit difficult to store
- Metal barrel can be more damaging to fine or delicate hair
Lastly, if you want a traditional clamp curling iron with a clip, the Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron is a tried-and-true champ for beginners.
The 1” barrel has a double coating of ceramic for even heat, and has a spring clamp that holds hair against the barrel while you rotate it around.
Now, when I first started out with a clamp iron, I tried to curl my hair by clamping the ends and rotating up towards my head. This didn’t give me a great look, plus it’s bad for your tips as the heat can further damage and create split ends.
A better method is to start near your scalp or midway down your hair instead and wrap down the length towards your ends. You’ll need to slightly open the clamp to allow hair to pass through while you rotate the barrel.
The Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron is easy to take out of the box and use with it’s control dial and power buttons. There’s a handy Turbo Boost button that will give you an extra shot of heat for those hard-to-curl sections too.
If you’ve got fine to medium hair types, this is a good choice since ceramic’s gentler heat is less likely to damage your hair and you can control the amount of heat you use. Available pretty much anywhere, it’s a good beginner iron that’s both economical and user-friendly.
- Very affordable
- Cool tip to hang onto while curling
- 30 heat settings up to 400°F
- Turbo Heat feature boosts the temperature an extra 27°F for stubborn areas
- Pretty rose gold color
- Button placement not ideal – can accidentally power off during use
- May not curl very coarse hair as effectively
How Hard Is It to Learn How to Use a Curling Iron?
There’s a bit of a learning to curve to curling your hair, much like anything else. But it’s not too complicated, and there are plenty of online video tutorials that break it down for you these days.
Here are a few curling iron techniques that go over how to prepare your hair as well as ways to create different types of curls from curly cue spirals to flat ribbon curls.
Tips and Tricks for Beginners
- If you’re using a manual curler, practice wrapping your hair around the barrel with a cool iron first. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the motion, then plug it in and try it with a heated iron.
- Evenly apply a heat protectant before styling. Don’t forget to lift the top layers up and spray some on the bottom layers too.
- Section your hair into 2 or 3 areas and clip away so you can work on one section at a time.
- Alternate between vertical and horizontal curling with 3 barrel curling irons to create a more natural-looking wave.
- Horizontal waves will give your hair more volume at the root while vertical waves will give a nice beachy vibe.
- Wait until your hair cools down before brushing or tousling it.
What to Look For in a Curling Iron
One of the most important things to consider when buying a curling iron is the barrel material makeup. Barrels are coated or made from a variety of materials such as ceramic, tourmaline ceramic, titanium, as well as metals like chrome or gold-plating.
Ceramic and tourmaline ceramic are great at providing even heat using infrared, which minimizes hair damage as it can style at lower temperature ranges. For this reason, ceramic is a great choice for pretty much all hair types, particularly fine to medium textures.
Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that’s often mixed in with ceramic to boost the production of negative ions that help counter frizz and static for smooth results.
Titanium has a high heat capacity and heats up extremely quickly. It’s also very lightweight and durable, so it’s super efficient and effective on style-resistant hair. If you have thick, coarse strands, you may need a titanium curling iron to get curls that stay.
Adjustable Temperature Settings
Some people need just a touch of heat to style their hair while others practically need a blazing hot rod to get any sort of curl to happen.
For this reason, you’ll want an appliance that has adjustable temperature settings so you can adjust to your needs. You’ll find curling irons that have anywhere from a few preset heat options to ones that offer full digital control that allow you to set a specific temperature.
Basically, anything with just an On/Off button means you won’t have control over your heat settings, so be sure to look for some sort of dial or additional controls that isn’t the power button.
Barrel Size (And Shape)
Finally, it’s probably pretty obvious that the bigger the curling iron barrel, the bigger the curl you’ll get and vice versa.
So you’ll want to know what look you’re trying to achieve before you go and pick out a curling iron.
The standard 1” is pretty versatile, so it’s never a bad idea to start with this. You can create pretty ringlets, bouncy ribbon curls, or looser waves by changing up the amount of hair and time you place and hold against the barrel.
Finally, as we’ve seen, there are different barrel shapes to choose from too. Wands and curling irons generally come in either a straight (cylindrical) rod, or as a tapered (conical) barrel where one end is narrower than the other.
My Hair Is Hard to Style
If you’ve never tried to curl your hair with a curling iron before, you might find that what works well for your best friend or sister won’t work for you at all.
So just keep in mind that you’ll need to experiment with some trial and error to get a feel for what products and appliances work for you.
If curls don’t stay in your hair for very long, try applying a flexible hairspray to each section before curling.
Also, when it comes to curling individual sections, less is more. Use smaller sections at a time and hold a bit longer in one pass rather than grabbing a large chunk of hair, not getting much of a curl, and redoing the same section over and over.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Curling!
There you have it! It’s time to pick a curling iron and see what you can do.
If you’re just starting out, don’t expect impressive results your first few attempts no matter which iron you end up getting.