Striking a balance between pretty curls and healthy hair can sometimes feel like an existential struggle. (I know, drama much.)
But seriously, if you can’t live without your curling iron, it’s a definite concern when it comes to making sure you don’t ruin your tresses. So without further ado, let’s check out the best curling irons that won’t damage your hair.
We’ll be reviewing the following curling irons in this article:
- BabylissPro Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron
- BabylissPro Nano Titanium Curling Iron
- INFINITIPRO by CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
- Remington Pro Professional Titanium Ceramic Curling Wand
- T3 SinglePass Curl 1 ¼” Professional Curling Iron
5 Best Curling Irons That Won’t Damage Hair
One of the best things you can do to prevent damage is picking a curler with a ceramic barrel. Ceramic is excellent for almost all hair types because it heats evenly and produces a gentler heat than metallic irons.
The BabylissPro Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron fits the bill perfectly with it’s smooth surface that lets your hair glide on and off without snagging.
The porcelain barrel construction is beneficial due to it’s hard, high density makeup that distributes heat evenly and is more durable than standard-grade ceramic. It also produces negative ions to help smooth out your hair to create shiny curls.
Adjustable heat settings from 200°F up to 430°F make it gentle enough on fine, fragile strands as well as hot enough for thicker, coarse hair.
It’s available in ¾”, 1″, or 1 ¼” barrel diameters, and the 8’ swivel cord gives you plenty of room to work without getting caught or twisted.
- Curls last all day
- 30 adjustable heat settings
- Porcelain ceramic reduces heat damage and leaves hair shiny
- Very smooth surface doesn’t pull or snag hair
- No auto shut-off
- On/Off button placement is a bit awkward
Yes, Babyliss heat stylers are so good that another one of their curling irons is on this list. The BabylissPro Nano Titanium Curling Iron is made of both titanium and ceramic for a best-of-both-worlds combination of power and protection.
One standout feature is its turbo heat button, which boosts the temperature on demand for those strands that just don’t want to cooperate with you.
The curler comes with 50 different heat settings controlled by a dial that gets up to 450°F, so there’s plenty of power for those who need it, and gentle enough for those with delicate or fragile strands.
(Despite the impressive heat range on the upper end, do yourself a favor and don’t ever use the max setting on this iron. Anything over 430°F is too hot for human hair.)
Like the porcelain ceramic iron, the nano titanium iron has a very smooth glide and leaves a very smooth curl.
One concern about this product is that the handle takes a while to cool down. Also, the tip does get hot, so you’ll need to be careful if you like hanging onto it while you curl.
- Turbo heat feature that boosts heat instantly
- Smooth surface and not-too-tight clamp makes curling easy
- High-quality nano titanium/ceramic barrel
- Handle has a non-slip grip
- Extensive customizable heat settings
- Tip gets hot
- Heat settings don’t specify actual temperature
Up next is the INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand – a clipless, conical wand that’s wider at the base and narrower at the tip.
It’s one of the most budget-friendly wands around that still packs a punch in terms of what you get.
The ½”-1” barrel creates tighter curls, but if you want looser waves, there’s a ¾”-1 ¼” size available too.
There are 5 heat settings from 310°F to 400°F, though the lowest setting is labeled “Power”, so as far as I’m concerned there are really only 4 settings. It heats up quickly, and also features an LED indicator to let you know once it’s ready to be used.
The nice thing about this wand is it works quite well on shorter lengths, even short bobs. It’s also a great wand for beginners since you’re not investing a ton of cash on a high-end iron that may or may not work for you.
In terms of cons, the placement of the power and temperature control buttons make it easy to accidentally press and turn off or change the temperature while you’re holding the handle.
- Clipless, conical shape allows you to create tighter curls or looser waves
- Adjustable heat settings
- Auto shut-off feature
- Fast, 30-second heat up
- Great for shorter lengths
- Power/control button placements are easy to accidentally press in use
- Flimsy 3-finger glove included not very useful
The Remington Pro Professional Curling Wand is another economical choice that comes in a cylindrical 1” barrel. (It also comes in a conical barrel if you prefer a tapered wand.)
The rod is coated with a combination of both titanium and ceramic, making it ideal for generating even, consistent heat and producing lots of shine and smoothness. It’s also got 4 times the ceramic content compared to other Remington curling wands.
One of the best things about this particular wand is how light it is compared to other irons – it weighs less than a pound – which is nice for saving your arms when you’ve got a whole head of hair to curl.
There’s a digital temperature control and display, which is very impressive for a budget-friendly model, with a range of heat settings from 270°F to 410°F.
Like the InfinitiPro curling wand, the power and control buttons are easy to accidentally press when styling, so it may turn off or move to a different heat setting if you’re not careful.
Another design flaw that I’m not too fond of: the plastic barrel tip has a small ledge for holding the wand off your countertop, which can catch on your hair when releasing the curl. It’s not a total dealbreaker, but it can be an issue if you normally slide your curl off the end of the barrel.
- Combination of titanium and ceramic coating
- Easy to maneuver and use
- Adjustable digital controls and temperature display
- Easy to inadvertently change heat setting during use
- Hair can get stuck on the tip when releasing
Last but not least, we have the luxurious T3 SinglePass Curl 1 ¼” Professional Curling Iron, which is a true work of art.
The name of the game with the T3 is smoothness. Incredible, sleek, smoothness, both on the barrel, and on your hair.
As the name suggests, it’s able to produce shiny, polished curls in a single pass, even on hard-to-style, thick, or frizzy hair.
Since it’s a 1 ¼” curling iron, it is best on medium to longer lengths and is perfect for voluminous, bouncy waves.
It offers five adjustable heat settings from 260°F to 410°F, which is controlled by twisting the base of the handle. There are 5 LED light circles at the base that illuminate when you twist it on, and as you cycle through the different temperature settings.
Aside from the beautiful design and ease of use, what makes the T3 SinglePass exceptional is the ceramic and tourmaline barrel combined with an internal heater that contains a microchip to monitor and maintain a consistent, even temperature throughout your session.
So what’s the downside to the T3? Well, as you might expect, high quality materials and design doesn’t come cheap. You will pay a pretty penny for it, but it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about curls and keeping your hair healthy at the same time.
- Creates soft, shiny, smooth curls
- Great for thick hair
- High-quality tourmaline ceramic blend barrel
- Lightweight and ergonomic design
- Long 9’ swivel cord + dual voltage capability
- Can give hair an off-putting smell
The 2 Most Important Features to Reduce Heat Damage
It should be pretty clear by now that the best choice for fragile or damaged locks is a ceramic iron. If you’re fighting humidity and frizz, tourmaline is another great addition to the mix for smoothing the cuticle layer of your hair and giving it shine.
As a non-metallic material, ceramic heats evenly and produces far-infrared heat that warms strands from the inside out, which is less damaging than direct heat applied to the outer layer.
Heated ceramic also produces negative ions, which help combat frizz. As a result, the hair shaft loses less moisture, sparing strands from the drying effects of heat.
Adding tourmaline to ceramic amplifies the benefits by generating even more negative ions to counteract frizzy hair’s positive ions.
On the other hand, titanium has more heat capacity and is able to straighten hair more efficiently. This is because it transfers heat more efficiently while also having a quicker recovery time between passes.
While you might think you should avoid titanium altogether if you’re looking to limit damage, that’s not necessarily the case.
For healthy, medium to coarse hairs, or especially thick manes, you’ll likely need some additional power to crank out curls or waves that last.
A great compromise is to get a titanium and ceramic blend barrel that combines both the gentler heating capability of ceramic alongside the more robust styling efficiency that titanium provides.
Adjustable Heat Settings
When looking for any curling iron, it’s important that it has adjustable heat settings. You need different settings for different types of hair to help get the curls you want.
The more heat settings a curling iron has, the better. That way, you’re in control of the temperature you apply to each strand.
If your hair is particularly fragile or thin, look for an iron that gets below 300°F.
Even if your hair is generally healthy and takes heat styling well, you still want a choice of settings since weather, humidity, and your hair’s condition (i.e., freshly washed or 3-day old) are different on any given day.
Other Ways to Protect Your Hair
Apply Heat Protectant
Applying heat protectant to your hair before starting is a great way to help shield it from the damaging effects of heat.
Heat protectant is a spray that you can apply to your hair before any sort of heat styling. The important thing is to make sure it coats all strands evenly to ensure adequate protection.
Use the Appropriate Heat Setting for Your Hair
It’s tempting to run your curler extra hot to bend your hair to your will, but it’s better to use the right temperature for your hair type and condition. When in doubt, always start off low and gradually increase the heat til you find the right setting for you. In general:
- Fine Hair – No more than 320°F
- Medium Hair – No more than 380°F
- Coarse, Thick Hair – No more than 430°F
Use Smaller Sections at a Time (And Don’t Hold the Curl Too Long)
By using smaller sections of hair (~1″ wide), you’ll get curls that are more defined and last longer. While it might seem like it’s less efficient, you’ll actually save time overall because you won’t have to re-do the same section a second or third time to get it to curl.
Also, by using 1″ sections, you won’t need to hold your hair against the barrel as long. It’s not a good idea to hold any curl for over 10 seconds, as your hair can start to overheat or burn. If you find yourself doing so, use smaller sections at a time.
Don’t Heat Style Every Day
The best thing you can do for your hair if you’re concerned about damage is to give it a break. The fact is, curling or straightening your hair isn’t good for it, so limit the amount of styling you do if you start to get overly dry, fried hair.
Any of the above curling irons are great for reducing the amount of damage you inflict on your hair.
If you already have healthy hair, the BabylissPro Nano Titanium Curling Iron is an optimal choice for efficient curling, a smooth glide, and a handy turbo boost option to help tame those difficult areas.
Otherwise, the BabylissPro Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron is the perfect choice for thin, fragile, or delicate strands that are more easily damaged by high temperatures. Combined with heat protectant and proper use, you can still create luscious curls without fear.