Curling Iron Basics

See how the features of your curling iron can benefit your hair type and texture—because everyone can rock amazing curls!


  • In addition to ceramic, tourmaline and titanium, curling irons are also made of gold
  • Gold-plated irons are ideal for coarse, thick hair types
  • Gold irons emit quick, high and even heat

Barrel Size

  • Best for long hair:
    1¼” to 1½” barrel
  • Best for medium hair:
    1” to 1 ¼ ” barrel
  • Best for short hair:
    ¾ ” to 1” barrel

Clip Type

  • Spring-loaded clip curling iron: traditional tool captures hair in a clip to curl
  • Wand curling iron (no clip): uses the barrel to create loose curls or beachy waves

Heat Setting

  • Love your fine hair by curling it with a lower heat setting
  • To avoid damage, never curl any hair type above 450°
  • Always apply a heat protectant before curling

Heat Index

Discover the ideal curling iron temperature based on your hair type.

Fine or chemically treated hair: up to 300°

Healthy or medium textured hair: 300-380°

Coarse, curly or thick hair: 350-450°

Barrel Size

Want to find the best barrel size for your hair type and style goal? Give these a whirl.


    Long hair
  • For beachy waves
  • Volumizes at the roots


    Long to medium length hair
  • For tousled curls
  • Adds grip to an updo


    All hair lengths
  • For classic curls
  • Creates defined waves


    All hair lengths + short
  • For corkscrew curls
  • When you want a vintage look

Images courtesy of Hot Tools.

Style Inspiration

Love these looks? Try the tips below.

Volume Curls

Choose a bigger barrel to create volume and waves.

Beachy Waves

Choose an automatic or wand barrel for a boho look.

Curly Locks

Choose a spring barrel to create buoyant, bouncy curls.

More Hair Tool Guides

Get to know our other top tools and find your match.