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If you want to achieve textured beach waves, you can skip drenching your hair with salt water and you can forgo employing hot tools like a curling iron or your mom’s rollers from the ‘70s. Instead, curling wands, a popular hot tool you've likely come across in the hair aisles of beauty stores and big-box retailers, can help you create tousled hair from the comfort and safety of your home. Despite their similar appearances — and names — curling wands and curling irons serve different styling purposes and involve different learning curves.
Since wands are clamp-free, hairstylist Amy Abramite of Maxine Salon considers the design easier and "more intuitive" than traditional irons with a clamp. Curling wands produce soft beach waves compared to the uniform ringlets you can achieve with curling irons.
We asked hairstylists about the most important factors to consider when shopping for a curling wand, got some specific recommendations and gathered some highly rated curling wands.
SKIP AHEAD How to shop for a curling wand
Best curling wands
Curling wands are available at Shopping reader-favorite shops, ranging from Sephora and Target to Walmart and Amazon. Below, experts share their go-to picks — we also rounded up two top-rated options worth considering.
Kasey Bertucci, hairstylist and founder of Salon 120 West, called this model one of her “favorite” curling wands because it has five heat settings, maxing out at 430 degrees Fahrenheit. Hairstylist Courtney Foster noted the durable titanium barrel heats up quickly while ionic technology helps to minimize frizzy hair. Regardless of the brand, you stand to gain the most from a titanium hot tool if your hair has minimal damage, hair stylist Stefan Bertin previously said in our guide to the best flat irons. The BaBylissPRO earned a 4.2-star average rating from more than 40 reviews at Ulta.
Abramite called this set a "great" and "very luxurious tool" for anyone who wants to create waves and curls with one interchangeable product. This 4-piece beauty gift set includes a Power Base, plus three interchangeable curling wands: a 1-inch iron for classic curls, a 1.25- to .75-inch tapered barrel for loose curls and waves and a 1.25-inch straight barrel for voluminous waves. The T3 Whirl Trio Set garnered a 4.7-star average rating from more than 410 reviews at Ulta.
Abramite called Remington’s curling wand a “good starter iron” for shoppers on a budget and noted it is “simple and effective.” It also earned an impressive 4.4-star average rating from nearly 21,050 reviews on Amazon. The tapered barrel heats up to 410 degrees and is available in two sizes: 1- to 1.5-inch and 0.5- to 1-inch.
This curling wand sports “professional” features that can help you “look as if you just stepped out of the salon,” said Abramite. For starters, it sports a vibrant yellow ergonomic handle and a reverse-taper ceramic barrel that heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It also automatically powers down after 60 minutes and features a 9-foot extension cord. DryBar’s The Wrap Party Curling Wand received a 4.5-star average rating from 115 reviews at Ulta.
Foster has relied on her InfinitiPro by Conair Curling Wand for a few years and appreciates the price point, which is why she called it “consumer-friendly.” This iron has multiple preset temperatures, maxing out at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also two ceramic barrel sizes to choose from: 0.50- to 1-inch and 0.75- to 1.25-inches. The InfinitiPro by Conair Curling Wand earned a 4.5-star average rating from nearly 15,350 reviews on Amazon.
Dyson is a perennial favorite brand among Shopping staff and contributors who have previously lauded the company’s high-end hot tools, including the Supersonic hair dryer and Corrale flat iron. This top-rated curling wand is the sole model on our list that dries and styles damp hair simultaneously. It is compatible with multiple attachments, including a 0.8- 1.2- and 1.6-inch barrel. The Dyson Airwrap boasts a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 1,600 reviews at Ulta.
Notably, it takes 25 seconds for the ghd curling wand to heat up to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. The 1- to 1.5-inch tapered barrel features a cool-tip design that is beneficial for more control while styling. As a safety precaution, Curve Creative Curl Wand enters sleep mode after 30 minutes of use. It earned a 4.5-star average rating from nearly 70 reviews at Sephora.
How to shop for a curling wand
Experts say the two most important factors to consider when shopping for a curling wand are the barrel size and material.
Experts say hair length determines your ideal barrel size. The longer your hair, the larger the barrel you can use (at least 1.5-inches) and vice-versa. If you use a smaller barrel on longer hair, you’ll achieve tighter curls, similar to Taylor Swift during her country music era. When you use a larger barrel on shorter hair, you’ll create tousled waves. Foster considers a 1-inch barrel a universal size that works on all hair lengths. She suggested those with short hair opt for a 1-inch or smaller barrel while those with medium hair opt for a 1- to 1.25-inch barrel.
Foster said brands behind curling wands, flat irons and curling irons all use similar materials to make barrels or plates, the three most common types being ceramic, tourmaline and titanium.
- Ceramic barrels “heat up fairly quickly,” although they do not get as hot as their tourmaline and titanium counterparts, Bertin previously said in our guide to flat irons. He recommended ceramic barrels for anyone with damaged, dry or fine hair.
- Tourmaline barrels have the best heat distribution and will help to smooth the hair cuticle and leave the hair silky and frizz-free, Foster previously said.
- Titanium barrels heat up the quickest, Foster previously said. Bertin considers this a salon-quality material and noted that unless your hair is healthy — minimal heat or chemical damage — you should probably skip this barrel material for at-home use.