Is it Better to Curl Your Hair with a Straightener or Curling Iron?

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 07/03/22

Curls and waves are timeless, versatile hairstyles. So are the tools used to create them-be a curling iron, a curling wand, or even a hair straightener. You might wonder, is it better to curl your hair with a straightener or curling iron? Both are proven to work in giving you fantastic hair, but which one is better?

Here at Lucky Curl, I’m sharing with you tips and tricks to get long-lasting curls with either tool and help you decide which hot tool shall be your go-to for styling waves and curls.

I’ve used both styling tools in my career and though I don’t play favorites, one certainly is better than the other. Still, a gorgeous hairstyle is doable with any of these two!

Ready to get exciting results? Read on:

Curling Iron vs. Flat Iron for Curling Hair

There’s no contest that a curling iron is the best tool for curls and waves. Different barrel sizes allow for different-sized curls. It’s great to have one with interchangeable barrels rather than a single-size curling iron.

Flat irons work best to straighten hair, as it’s the way they’re made. They can help you achieve the perfect curl but are not as efficient as curling wands or irons. Also, not all flat irons work great in curling hair. It’s hard to curl short hair with one, especially a flat iron with square edges.

So which is better? A curling iron, of course. It still depends on what hair tool is available to you.

Heat and Curling

Both tools use heat in styling hair. How does it work? Let’s take a look at how heat can make the hair curl.

Applying heat temporarily breaks the hair’s hydrogen bonds. When the bond breaks, it follows the style and shape of the hair tool used. Curling irons are typically for making curls and loose waves while using flat iron makes for sleek, straight tresses.

As a hairstylist, I’ve run into instances when I don’t have my preferred styling tool, like a curling iron. Newbies might panic, but not someone as experienced as me. Hairstylists know flat irons can be as good as a curling wand or curling iron once you master the techniques.

Though not intended to curl hair in the first place, I can wield a flat iron to produce tight curls or beachy waves, taking into account that heat can change the shape of the hair. Heat is the key to creating effortless waves and big curls!

Curling Iron Curls

Curling irons and curling wands are specifically made to curl hair. That said, expect that they are the best hot tools to create curls.

Curling hair with a curling iron helps achieve gorgeous curls in no time. The cylindrical shape of the curling iron barrel molds the hair in place. Some curling irons have a metallic barrel that helps heat evenly penetrate the hair. Held by a clamp, hair takes on the shape of the barrel faster.

For beach waves, a curling iron is used the same way; wrap hair around the barrel more loosely.

A curling iron is great for:

Flat Iron Curls

A good old hair straightener can do the curl job, too! It is a versatile tool that can straighten and curl at the same time.

Though not intended for curling, you can undoubtedly use flat iron heat to make bouncy curls or loose curls. It just needs some practice using a flat iron this way.

You can get different curls with the right technique using your flat iron. However, there are some disadvantages, too.

One disadvantage of using a flat iron to curl hair is that it’s hard to get smaller curls. The flat iron can cause creases in your hair, which doesn’t look soft and natural.

Flat irons also have one heat setting, so you can’t adjust the heat. To minimize damage, it’s best to move the iron quickly while curling.

A flat iron is excellent for:

Our Final Hair Say

It all depends on the results you want and what’s available. Whether curling wands, curling irons, or flat irons, you can still create a fantastic hairstyle for different hair types. Just know how to use each tool and what styles they are suitable for.

Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. Remember also to use the right styling products for the best look.

We recommend starting with a curling iron as it’s easier to use if you’re a beginner. But if you’re experienced or in a pinch, then use that flat iron to curl your locks!

Is curly hair not your style? Maybe you want to break from your naturally curly hair without using chemicals? Check out our recommended best flat iron for curly hair and enjoy your lovely straight locks.

Leah Williams

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.

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