The 12 Best Curling Irons of 2023

Dyson and GHD and T3, oh my.

best curling irons
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Hands down, without a doubt, the best curling irons make for the most versatile hair styling tools. Whether you’re after beachy waves, a spiral, or just looking to add some definition after you air-dry your hair, there is a barrel, a heat range, and a technique that will get the job done. Curling irons, wands, and wavers work with every hair type under the sun and you really only need one solid option (okay, maybe two) in your arsenal. The key? Knowing what to look for. Lucky for you, hair pros Harry Josh and Clariss Rubenstein have decided to share their insider advice. 

It doesn’t matter if you have fine hair that you *believe* won’t hold a curl or are dealing with curly hair that is in need of some extra shaping—there's a curling iron that will work for you. From ceramic designs created to prevent tugging and mechanical damage to special barrels specifically put on the market for those with long hair, there is no shortage of options.

What to Look For in a Curling Iron

  • Barrel

“The smaller the barrel the tighter the curl,” says Rubenstein. A one-inch iron, according to Josh, will create tighter curls, while a two-inch barrel will give you more of a wavy style. Just a word from the wise: If your hair isn’t great at holding a curl, go tighter…it’s going to drop throughout the day.

  • Heat 

As a rule of thumb, the lower the heat is, the less damage you will have. But, it’s impossible to say that 350 degrees is the ideal temperature across the board. “If you have frizzy, thick, or coarse hair you will need a higher heat,” explains Rubenstein. “If you can do a curl or wave in one pass you can raise the heat—I believe this causes less mechanical damage. If you have to do multiple passes to the same section to get the result, you want to lower the heat.”

  • Clamp

There are three main types of curling irons: A marcel curling iron, a spring curling iron, and a curling wand—all of which create different types of curls. “Marcel and spring clamps will create more traditional, tighter curls,” says Josh. A wand, on the other hand? “It gives more of a beach undone wave,” says Rubenstein. 

  • Technique

The size of your barrel and the temperature obviously play a role in your final curl, but technique is an important part of the equation. How you twist your hair, how long you hold it, and your positioning all impacts the final outcome. “If you tighten the hair from the top to the bottom, you’ll get a super springy curl, but if you just loosely wrap you’ll get more of a blown-out look,” explains Josh. 

Shop Deals on Curling Irons

Dyson AirWrap Multi-Styler Complete Long, $660

Dyson AirWrap Multi-Styler Complete Long, $660 $600 at Nordstrom

This topaz-colored Dyson Airwrap is currently on sale for $600 right now thanks to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. 

T3 SinglePass® 1.25-Inch Ceramic Curling Iron, $170

T3 SinglePass® 1.25-Inch Ceramic Curling Iron, $170 $114 at Nordstrom

This sleek white curler from T3 is the perfect width for classic ringlets and beachier waves alike—it just depends on how much hair you use when dividing your head into sections. Shop it now for less.  

GHD Soft Curl 1 1/4-Inch Curling Iron, $205

GHD Soft Curl 1 1/4-Inch Curling Iron, $205 $137 at Nordstrom

This curling iron from ghd is the one for you if you love shiny, healthy-looking locks. It heats up in 25 seconds and has universal voltage, so it's great for traveling. Shop it now for less in the Nordstrom sale. 

The Best Curling Irons