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

by Leah Williams | Updated: 07/09/2020

Achieving a certain curl all comes down to the right curling iron. Beyond a certain curl style, the length of your hair can also determine what type of curling iron you should be using.

With this in mind, we have put together the ultimate guide to curling iron sizes. Below you will discover how to choose the right size curling iron, types of curling iron sizes other considerations when buying a curling iron.

How to Choose the Right Curling Iron Size

Curling irons come in all different sizes which can make it confusing to determine which curling iron size is right for you. It’s important to note that choosing the curling iron size for you, your hair length is massive consideration. For example, thinner curling iron barrel’s will achieve a tighter curls and are generally suited to those with shorter hair lengths. Those with long or thick can of course still use a thin barrelled curling iron but be prepared for long styling times.

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 curling iron is suitable for those who have thick, medium to 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. A 2 inch curling iron can also allow you to create a ‘blown out’ look without the hair dryer!

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09/23/2021 04:10 am GMT

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 curling iron barrel size can create loose curls or a beach wave look.

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09/23/2021 04:09 am GMT

1 1/4 Inch

The 1 .25 inch curling iron size is ideal for all hair types and from medium to very long strands. You can use this 1.25 inch curling iron barrel size to create loose wave or tight waves.

Conair Double Ceramic 1.25-Inch Curling Iron
$15.00

Key Features

  • Double Ceramic Barrel
  • 30 Heat Settings
  • 400 degrees Maximum Temperature
  • Cool Tip
  • Auto Shutoff Feature
  • Turbo Heat – Up to 27°F burst of heat
  • Instant Heat Up
  • Anti-Frizz Control
  • Recessed Control Buttons
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09/23/2021 04:04 am GMT

1 Inch

The 1 inch curling iron size is a top favorite among customers and is dubbed as the standard for this type of hot tools. You can use this 1 inch size curling iron barrel regardless of your hair type and can work with any hair length, although it may take a while to style long hair. It is quite versatile too given that you can create different types of curls with it from loose to tight curls.

HOT TOOLS Professional 24K Gold Curling Iron/Wand, 1 inch
$44.97
  • Versatile styling options
  • Pulse Technology ensures consistent heating
  • Fast heat-up and variable heat settings
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09/23/2021 04:12 am GMT

3/4 Inch

The 3/4 inch curling iron size 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 curling iron size can produce tight corkscrew curls to retro curls.

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09/23/2021 04:15 am GMT

5/8 Inch

The 5/8 inch curling iron size can work on short to medium-length hair that can be thin, straight, or wavy even. You’ll get more volume with this barrel size if you have thin hair which is one of its best features.

5/8 Inch Silver Curling Iron
$12.12 ($12.12 / Count)
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09/23/2021 04:13 am GMT

3/8 Inch

The 3/8 inch barrel is undoubtably the shortest curling iron in the market today. It does work with short to medium-length hair as well and is especially useful to those who are trying to achieve corkscrew or tight curls on their mane. You can use this to add more volume to your already curly hair too which is a plus.

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Curling Iron Basics

If you are in the hunt for the next curling iron, here’s what to look out for:

Materials

Ceramic

This is a classic material used in numerous curling irons because it releases negative ions to produce smooth and shiny hair. It offers even heating too and is best used for those with thin hair.

Titanium

This material is known for its durability and released negative ions to help seal moisture in hair strands. It also heats up fast which means you need to be careful when using it for the first time.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline curling irons are known to produce more negative ions that help tame frizz and flyaways. It is capable of absorbing high heat settings but makes use of intelligent technology to prevent hair from being fried.

Gold

A 24k gold barrel can heat up quickly but puts hair at risk of getting damaged.

Clip Type

Curling iron with clamp.

This is the traditional design for curling iron which speeds up the curling process.

Wand curling iron (no clip).

This is best used for those who want to have beach waves or loose curls.

Heat Settings

When purchasing a curling iron always look for one that has adjustable and varied heat settings.

Low heat

This is best used for those with thin or fragile hair. Too much exposure to high heat can make strands brittle and prone to breakage.

High heat

If you have thick hair, using high heat is recommended as it can easily penetrate the thick shaft of your hair to speed up the curling process.

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 spray or 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.

Wrap Up

Hopefully this guide has helped determine the right size curling iron for you. Whether you’re after beachy waves or a loose wave look, there is an option for you.

Always take into consideration what type of curl you want to achieve and then your hair length and type.

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.