The 10 Best Curling Irons of All Time, Reviewed by Marie Claire Editors

These are easy to use, add shine, and actually hold.

woman with curls from the best curling irons walking on the street
(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Having a well-rounded hot tool arsenal is the key to consistent good hair days. The best blow dryers will help prevent frizz and the best straightening irons can add shine and smoothness. But 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. Lucky for you, hair pros Harry Josh, Clariss Rubenstein, and Rogerio Cavalcante have decided to share their insider advice on what to look for when selecting the best option.

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 hot tool that will work with your specific hair type and texture. Trust us: The Marie Claire team has spent the past few weeks testing curling irons to discover the best 10 out there, evaluating ease of use, versatility, hair health benefits, and durability of the curl. Our honest reviews, ahead.

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 beachy undone wave,” says Rubenstein.

The Best Curling Irons

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How Do You Curl Hair?

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.

Meet the Experts

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Clariss Rubenstein

Clariss Rubenstein is a Los Angeles based hairstylist. Born in Paris, she discovered her passion for art and style at an early age. She attended the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Los Angeles and later worked under top stylists at the renowned Chris McMillan Salon. Her talent and ambition paid off and she opened a boutique studio, Gloss, in Beverly Hills, where she currently works. Clariss’s clients include Jennifer Garner, Dakota Fanning, Mindy Kaling, Kaley Cuoco, Leighton Meester, Allison Williams and Alison Brie. Her work has been featured in editorials for Vanity FairJalouse and LadyGunn. Her advertising work includes James Perse, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Tommy Hilfiger.

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Harry Josh

Harry Josh grew up in Vancouver. He had the desire to work in the fashion world at the age of 15. He started flipping through pages of Vogue. He began his hairstyling training while in Canada and eventually moved to New York City to pursue a more meaningful career. Harry Josh started working at a casting agency coloring models' hair in his apartment's bathroom in the West Village. Amy Astley, former beauty director of Vogue Magzine , was referred to Josh. Astley approved of his work and he became and editor for the magazine. Since then, he has helped style the hair of Rose Byrne, Jennifer Garner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Christy Turlington, and Helena Christensen. He has worked with photographers among the likes of Patrick Demarchelier, Annie Leibovitz, Carter Smith, Nino Munoz, Miles Aldridge, Stephane Sednoui, Gilles Bensimon, and Walter Chin. In 2013, Harry Josh partnered with DermStore to launch his hair tool line: Harry Josh Pro Tools. The line consists of two hair dryers, two curling irons, a flat iron, a diffuser, and an array of brushes, combs and clips.

rogerio cavalcante
Rogerio Cavalcante

The Second Floor Salon was founded by Rogerio Cavalcante, an experienced hairstylist who moved to the U.S from Brazil 15 years ago and has built a clientele in NYC through his top quality service and customer service. The culture of beauty and innovation has been deep-rooted in Rogerio’s life for as long as he can remember. Since his childhood, Rogerio was surrounded by hairstylist influences in his family, with over nineteen family members working in the hair industry. Rogerio collaborated and learned alongside leaders of educational institutions including Toni & Guy, Vidal Sassoon, and L’Oréal Paris. Today he spends time traveling between New York, London, Paris, and Miami, attending to his global clientele, exchanging innovative techniques with other experts and continually pushing his style to incorporate the latest worldwide trends while perfecting his own unique skills in the Dry Cutting method. His sought-after expertise has led to contributions in trend-setting publications such as VogueCosmopolitan,  ELLE Magazine, and other online outlets.

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.