Curling Iron Sizes – A Comprehensive Guide for Choosing the Right Size

by Leah Williams | Updated: 07/09/2020

My mid-length fine hair is usually tied up in a bun for lack of styling. I tried curling it with my blow dryer and curling iron, but it appears that I was using the wrong product. I was surprised to learn that there were different curling iron sizes which made me realize that I need to find the right one for my type of hair.

How to Choose the Right Curling Iron Size

Based on my research, I learned that curling irons come in different sizes. It appears that their size matches certain types of hair length too in order to achieve certain hairstyles. For example, a small barrel will not be appropriate for those who have thick hair because the length and width will not be able to handle the thickness, while a big sized barrel will not work on those with short fine hair because it will not be able to hold the strands well.

The Definitive Guide to Curling Iron Size

Understanding the different sizes for curler for hair can help you land the right one based on your hair type and length.

2 Inch

A 2 inch barrel curling iron is suitable for those who have thin to thick long hair. Among the hairstyles that you can create with this are defined, beachy, as well as loose waves. A perfect example of this hairstyle is the iconic Victoria’s Secret runway waves.

1 1/2 Inch

For a curling iron that has a barrel size of 1 1/2 inch, it can be used by those who have straight, thick, wavy, and curly hair as long as they are between medium and very long length. Using this barrel size can create loose curls or beachy waves that appear to come undone, just like the way Whitney Port’s hair looks like.

1 1/4 Inch

This curling iron size is ideal for all hair types and from medium to very long strands. You can use this 1 1/4 inch barrel to create loose or tight waves. A good example here is the romantic waves that you will see on Lily Aldridge.

1 Inch

This size for curling iron is a top favorite among customers and is dubbed as the standard for this type of hot tools. You can use this 1 inch barrel regardless of your hair type and can work with any hair length, although it can be too much of a chore when using it on very short or very long hair. It is quite versatile too given that you can create different types of curls with it from loose to tight curls. Think Taylor Swift kind of curls.

3/4 Inch

The 3/4 inch curling hot tool is also versatile and can work on different hair lengths, but works best for those who have shoulder-length to medium length. It can be used on long hair too, but the style may not hold for long. This styling tool can produce corkscrew to retro curls just like how Amanda Seyfried’s hair looks like.

5/8 Inch

This curling iron can work on short to medium-length hair that can be thin, straight, or wavy even. It can be used on thick hair but it will be too much of a chore. You’ll get more volume with this barrel size if you have thin hair which is one of its best features. If you love Selena Gomez’ hairdo then you’ll be happy to know that you can achieve the same curls with this styling tool.

3/8 Inch

The 3/8 inch barrel is the shortest in the market today and best suits those who have thin to coarse hair type. It does work with short to medium-length hair as well and is especially useful to those who are trying to achieve kinky or tight curls on their mane. You can use this to add more details to your already curly hair too which is a plus. Beyonce’s curls can be achieved with this size of curling iron.

Curling Iron Basics

If you are in the hunt for the best curly iron, you will need to know the basics first:


Clip Type

Heat Settings:

NOTE: Always apply heat protectant on your hair before you curl it to minimize hair damage. This is recommended especially to those who have thin hair strands. Also, avoid using heat settings that are above 450 degrees as extreme heat can lead to burned or damaged hair.

9 Tips for Using a Curling Iron

Creating curls doesn’t have to be that hard especially when you follow these tips:

  1. Choose the right tool
    You will need to decide whether you will go for a curling wand or one that has a clamp based on the type of curl that you want to have.
  2. Start with freshly washed hair
    You should wash your hair first using shampoo and conditioner that can help tame frizz.
  3. Blow dry hair
    Once your hair is halfway dry, use a blow dryer until it is completely dry.
  4. Apply hair protectant
    Do not forget to apply a heat protectant serum to your strands prior to curling it.
  5. Section hair
    Sectioning your hair makes it easier to produce even curls.
  6. Start curling
    Grab a section of your hair then place the clamp near the root then pull it towards the end, making sure that the clamp is lightly closed on your hair strands. Once in the end, curl the wand towards your head and hole for 5 to 8 seconds or more depending on your hair type.
  7. Release the clamp
    Gently release the clamp and slide it down to let the curl loose. Repeat with other sections.
  8. Mind the angle
    If you want to add more volume to your mane, start at the root then hold the iron perpendicular to the section that you are working on. On the other hand, if you prefer detailed curls, hold the curling iron straight down.
  9. Smooth strands with oil
    To lessen the appearance of frizz and flyaways, smoothing serum on your strands can help seal in the moisture while adding shine to your mane.


Adding a curler hair tool to your arsenal of styling equipment is a great idea as it lets you play with your hairstyle. With different barrel sizes to choose from, you can replicate your favorite actor’s look by creating kinky or loose waves depending on your mood.

About the Author

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.