Best for Fine Hair
Best No-Crease Iron
Best Snag-Free Iron
Curls and waves are a timeless style statement. From loose beach waves for a casual hangout to elegant ribbon style curls for a more elaborate affair, it’s a style you can hardly ever go wrong with.
But the best part? You don’t need to invest in a separate curling iron to get those curls, because even a flat iron can do the job.
It does require some practice and the right hair straightener, of course. Here are my picks for the best flat iron for curling:
- Best Hair Straighteners for Curling Reviews
- Why Use a Flat Iron to Curl Hair?
- Flat Iron Buying Guide for Curls and Waves
- How to Curl Hair with a Flat Iron
- Curling Hair with a Flat Iron vs. a Curling Iron
- Best Hair Straightener for Curls and Waves
Best Hair Straighteners for Curling Reviews
Best for Fine Hair: BIO IONIC 10x Pro Styling Iron
The BIO IONIC 10x Pro Styling Iron has plates infused with volcanic rock minerals, which lock in moisture and prevent hair from drying, making it an ideal choice for fine hair.
It features vibrating plates, which separate each strand of hair and ensure even heat distribution, so you can quickly style fine hair without too much heat exposure, leaving them smooth and shiny.
To use the vibration feature, simply press the power button once (after you’ve already turned it on) and then press the plates together. You’ll know it’s engaged once you see the flashing °F icon in the digital display.
The sonic vibration really helps glide hair smoothly without gripping or pulling. You also don’t need to apply a lot of pressure to keep finer strands from slipping out while passing hair between the plates.
Of course, if you find that vibrating plates aren’t exactly your cup of tea, just don’t activate it.
The 10x Pro is lightweight and supports dual voltage so it can be easily carried with you when you travel anywhere in the world. It also heats up quickly and has fully adjustable heat settings up to 450°F, making it suitable for different hair types.
The tapered tip design allows you to get close to the roots, and the rounded, smooth barrel makes it easy to create gorgeous curls and waves.
While the BIO IONIC 10x Pro Styling Iron is quite expensive, the quality and advanced technology make it worth the investment if you can afford it.
- Unique vibrating plates help distribute hair evenly and ensure constant contact
- Ergonomic design and lightweight
- Dual-voltage capability
- Full temperature control from 280°F – 450°F + digital display
- Vibration can be turned off
Best 2-in-1: FURIDEN 2-in-1 Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron
As the name suggests, this flat iron by FURIDEN is both a hair straightener and a curler. It is specially designed in such a way that it is equally functional for both straightening and curling your hair.
A rounded outer shell on both sides makes it excellent for curling without tugging or pulling at hair, and the beautiful golden color makes the iron appear incredibly luxe.
The floating plates combine the quick and even heating of ceramic with the frizz-reducing benefits of tourmaline, requiring fewer passes to style.
The box is impressively packed with various accessories, like a heat resistant glove, pouch for storage, salon comb, and two salon pins.
With its five heat settings, you can choose a temperature that will efficiently style without frying your hair. This flat iron heats up in no time at all, saving you precious minutes when you are running on a tight schedule in the morning.
The auto shut-off feature allows you to run out of the house in a hurry and not fret all day about whether or not you turned off your iron before leaving, and the 8’ long swivel cord gives you plenty of freedom.
- Heats in only 15 seconds
- Elegant and functional design
- Great value
- Floating plates provide secure grip
- Creates perfectly circular ribbon curls or loose waves
- Bit of a learning curve when using for curls
- 6-month warranty on the short side
Best No-Crease Iron: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Prima 3100
A titan in the world of hair straighteners, the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Prima 3100 1” flat iron features heavy-duty, aircraft-grade titanium plates. (BaByliss connoisseurs may know that there’s a Prima 3000 version as well, which has 1 ¼” plates.)
Its plates are built with ion multiplier technology (good for fighting frizz) and a ceramic heating system for even, consistent heat. Together, these specifications allow quick, even heat distribution and give hair shine, significantly smoothing the cuticle layer down while you style.
The convex-shaped outer barrel is designed to heat up, making it similar to a curling iron since strands wrapped around the casing continue to be heated while styling.
This dramatically enhances its curling efficiency, though it does make it more of a burn hazard if you’re not careful. For this reason, the Prima is somewhat of a love-it-or-hate-it appliance.
To avoid burning yourself, only grab the silicon finger pads at the tip when in use. There’s an included 3-finger heat protectant glove, which doesn’t have much utility. Better to pick up a full-handed glove for better protection.
It has all the standard features of any good flat iron, such as a swivel cord and a lock to hold plates closed together when not in use. It heats from 300°F to 465° F, so it does get screaming hot.
While this flat iron doesn’t give off a burning smell like some other irons, it does sometimes make a slight sizzling noise, which can be startling at first.
- Cutting edge titanium technology for efficient styling
- Gets extra hot to tame even the most coarse, thick hair
- Leaves hair extra smooth and shiny
- Curved yet streamlined casing built for curling
- Rather heavy
- May result in accidental burns if not handled carefully
Best Snag-Free Iron: CHI PRO G2 Digital Titanium Infused Flat Iron
CHI is regarded as one of the market leaders when it comes to flat irons, and the CHI PRO G2 Digital Titanium Infused Flat Iron lives up to that reputation.
This flat iron by CHI is a perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality. Part of it’s superior styling capabilities come from the titanium-infused ceramic plates.
The combination of ceramic’s even, gentle heat plus the superior efficiency and durability of titanium is pretty unbeatable, leaving hair moisturized and shiny. Hair passes between the plates smoothly without any snagging or tugging – a big plus when you’re wrapping it around to create curls.
It’s even great on colored or damaged hair. The heat-up time is 40 seconds and the quality build retains heat well through the years.
One thing I appreciate is the location of the power and temperature control buttons, located on the inside panel so there’s no chance of accidentally turning the iron off while using it.
Its digital temperature settings are adjustable up to 425°F and are also color-coded by hair type to help you select an optimum setting for your hair right away.
A thermal mat is included in the packaging so you don’t have to worry about burning your countertop or table.
There really isn’t too much to complain about with this tried-and-true CHI flat iron, whether you’re straightening or curling.
- Doesn’t dry hair out, reducing heat damage and promoting shine
- Snag-free glide, including on the smooth exterior
- 60 min auto shut-off
- Works well on fine and thin to coarse and thick hair
- Super-long, 11’ swivel cord
- Some users note that the iron goes to the highest heat setting automatically when trying to adjust heat
- Edges not as rounded as some of the other models
Why Use a Flat Iron to Curl Hair?
Flat irons are an extremely versatile tool and can be used for not just straightening but also curling. Although it can take some time and effort to learn the perfect technique, once you do, there’s no stopping you from sporting gorgeous curls or waves.
Having one tool for creating multiple hairstyles saves space on your vanity and in your luggage when traveling. When going on a vacation, you only need to throw in your flat iron, and all your hairstyles will be sorted!
Flat irons incorporate a lot of latest technology, like infrared heat and negative ions, which smooths frizz and can thus style hair elegantly while also protecting them.
If you choose the right flat iron, it can be an amazing addition to your styling tools.
Flat Iron Buying Guide for Curls and Waves
How you style your hair plays a big part in making or breaking your look, so it’s important to choose an appliance that will both style well and protect your locks from damage. There are two main things to look for when buying a flat iron:
- Plate Material
- Temperature Controls
The best flat iron plates are composed of ceramic, tourmaline or titanium, or a combination of these materials.
Ceramic plates produce gentle and consistent far-infrared heat that distributes across the surface evenly, in addition to generating negative ions that counteract the positive ions found in dry, frizzy hair. These are best suited for fine, fragile, or delicate hair types.
However, ceramic plates are more prone to breaking if you drop your appliance. It is also essential to understand the difference between solid ceramic plates and ceramic coated plates.
Many ceramic flat irons have plates that are only coated in ceramic, which can wear or chip away with time, exposing the metal underneath. The problem with this is it leads to an uneven distribution of heat and potential hair damage.
Titanium plates are strong, heat up very quickly and can conduct an increased amount of heat. These are more suited for thick, coarse hair and are more durable.
Tourmaline – a gemstone that gets crushed and infused – is great at generating lots and lots of frizz-taming negative ions. It provides an amplifying effect that complements other materials to smooth the cuticle layer and lock in moisture, leaving hair even more healthy-looking and shiny.
You’ll mostly find it infused into ceramic plates, as they make a great pairing.
Adjustable Temperature Controls
Aside from plate material, the other thing you should always look for in a good flat iron is adjustable temperature settings.
Some flat irons come with one or a few predetermined heat settings, while others allow you to set the temperature to anything between the minimum and maximum settings.
It doesn’t matter whether you get one with a manual control dial or one with digital control buttons that let you set exact temperatures – as long as you can adjust the heat to your needs, it’s all good.
Other Features To Look For
Plate width is a crucial factor to consider when investing in a flat iron for curling hair, as it will directly impact how your curls look.
For loose curls or beachy waves, the standard 1” models of flat irons work best across most hair lengths and types. If you have short hair or you prefer tighter curls, get a ½” or ¾” model.
Generally, smaller widths work better for fine hair. And with any iron bigger than 1”, the curls will be too loose and won’t hold up that well.
Design and Housing Shape
If you are choosing a flat iron to use as a curler, you must give some thought to the design of the iron.
Flat irons with beveled or rounded plate edges ensure that hair doesn’t get snagged or pulled. A round or curved outer shell will give more natural-looking and effortless curls, without any creases or dents.
If the shell of your straightener is more angular, you might get some dents or crimps while passing hair through and over the external housing.
A streamlined and smooth exterior will allow the iron to glide over your hair smoothly without tugging or breaking hair.
A 360° swivel cord can move in any direction as you move. The most significant advantage of this is that when you flip or twist the iron during curling, the cord will also rotate automatically and won’t get tangled or stuck.
Fortunately, most flat irons these days feature a swivel cord as well as decent cord lengths.
How to Curl Hair with a Flat Iron
Flat irons are exceptional in that they can be used in two ways, both for straightening and curling. But before you start, it is essential to evenly and thoroughly apply a heat protectant before using any heat styling tool on your hair.
Thermal protectants coat your strands and help minimize heat damage to your strands while also adding luster and shine.
There are two main ways to curl hair with a flat iron:
Bending and lightly clamping several times to press hair into Old Hollywood style S-waves like this:
Or, the more common way, which starts off the same way as you would if you are just straightening your tresses. The only difference is instead of pulling the flat iron straight down after clamping, you’ll twist the entire unit 180° before pulling down.
This will give you a loose ribbon curl or beach wave:
Curling Hair with a Flat Iron vs. a Curling Iron
All this discussion might have you wondering if you really need a curling iron after all. There is no clear yes or no answer, and it all depends on your hair type and usage.
Flat irons have the advantage of being a multi-use appliance since you can use the same tool for two purposes instead of one. But since flat irons are not primarily meant for curling, it can take a bit of time and practice to master the technique.
Curling irons, on the other hand, are specifically designed for curling, so they are more beginner-friendly and easier to get used to. With a curling iron, you can get a greater variety of curls from tight, bouncy spiral corkscrews to looser, voluminous waves.
Whether to invest in a curling iron separately or not largely depends on your needs and usage, but flat irons do a great job at curling too!
Best Hair Straightener for Curls and Waves
There’s no shortage of styling tools to choose from when it comes to curling your hair.
If you’ve decided on using a flat iron for the job, my favorite is the CHI PRO G2 Digital Flat Iron.
It’s smooth, snag-free glide makes it a breeze to create gorgeous beach waves or ribbon curls, and the combination of titanium and ceramic plates make it both powerful and gentle enough on pretty much all hair types.
Add in the extra-long 11’ cord for unparalleled freedom of movement, and you’ve got a real winner for wavy, curly or heck, even straight hair. 😉