Even the best automatic hair curler may not have much in common with the curling irons or even rotating curling irons that you’re used to seeing, but that’s not such a bad thing.
Part of that difference is innovation; manufacturers are getting creative about ways to make curling easier. Of course, some of that innovation isn’t as useful as we’d all like it to be. Here’s my buying guide and top picks for an automatic curler.
The main benefit of using one of these, is that it saves you effort. If you can master it, they are simple to use, and give you a lot of options. You can get different types of curls with less work and know-how than a manual device would require. Depending on your hair type and what settings you use, they can also save you a lot of time.
Another factor I prefer is that you don’t have to come in contact with any heated elements. All the heating is going on in the chamber, so you’re not holding your hands to the fire the same way you would be with a curling iron.
These devices aren’t going to work for everyone, and if you’re experienced with styling, you may still prefer the manual route for the control you get. However, these devices are still worth considering.
The major complaint with these devices across the board, is that hair gets tangled. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that when the device is used correctly this isn’t an issue, however until you master the device, you may encounter this problem.
One thing that comes up in the reviews for these tools, is that if your hair does get tangled, there’s no easy way to get it untangled, since it’s in the chamber. And even if you do shut off and unplug the device, the element will still be hot for a while. If your hair get’s caught in there, you stand a good chance of burning it.
These issues concern me as well, frankly. Nobody wants to cause damage to their hair while styling. After looking at these devices, my suggestion is to use only small sections of hair at first. Really small! This will help you learn how the device can be used safely, and also lessen the risk to your hair overall if you do happen to mess something up. Also, make sure you use it with a heat resistant glove, at least at first. This way, if your hair does have an issue, you can carefully extract it with less risk to yourself. (Note that a heat resistant glove is not going to protect you fully. You still have to use caution, and with any device, don’t grab the heated elements, or touch them for a long time.)
There are plenty of buyers who enjoy these devices and use them successfully. The point is to be cautious, and to follow the manufacturer’s directions closely.
Features to Look for
Many automatic curlers use steam to help perfect the curls. I personally don’t think steam adds all that much, but if you like it, there’s plenty of options available. If you don’t like it, make sure you read the product descriptions carefully.
Most of these devices are not cheap, even for the ones that come from brands that usually have low prices. If budget is your main concern, I would definitely stick to manual.
These devices don’t have the same level of temperature control that you would get with a manual device. Most only have two-to-three temperature options. This means you’ll need to pay attention to the max temperature, as you may be using it by default.
Here are the devices that I preferred, based on function and reviews.
BaByliss PRO Miracurl
- Three curl settings: left, right, and alternate
- Three temperature settings
- Three timer settings that determine how long your hair will be heated
- Max temperature of 450 degrees
- Motor automatically stops and reverses if there’s a jam.
I found the functionality of this BaByliss automatic hair curler impressive. Depending on your time and temperature settings, you can go for anything from waves to well-defined curls. You can play around with all the options to see what works best for you, but know that the listing also comes with a guide to help you out.
The motor is another a good point. It’s durable, but more importantly, it stops automatically if you put in too much hair and jam the machine. It also reverses, which should spit the hair back out. Theoretically, this function should prevent your hair from getting stuck in there.
Finally, I like the curl alternating options. Switching curl directions helps give your curls a natural look. With a manual device, alternating can be difficult to keep track of, particularly as you move from one side of the head to the other.
If you’re in the market for one of these devices, I think this is a good option. You have more options for timing and temperature than you do for some similar products. You can even shut off the timing presets and simply hold the curl for as long as you want. Based on the way it functions, you should also be able to use it with short hair, although I personally still wouldn’t purchase it for anything shorter than a medium bob.
Of course, the motor is the best feature in my opinion. As someone with thick hair that’s more likely to overload the chamber, this gives me peace of mind.
- The listing comes with three options: the miracurl, miracurl 3, and the steam miracurl. The above review is for the miracurl.
INIFINITIPRO CONAIR Curl Secret 2.0
- Interchangeable chambers: 1 inch and 1 1/4 inch.
- Two temperature settings
- Six timer settings (3 for the 1 inch chamber, and 3 for the 1 1/4 inch chamber)
- Three curl directions: left, right, and alternating
- Max temperature of 450 degrees
The highlight of this device is the interchangeable chambers. They have one chamber for big curls, and another for tighter curls. The different chambers even have different timing presets, so there’s a lot to play around with. You should be able to come up with a few different styles that you like.
Like the previous device, this one also has a curl alternator, and timing presets. However, this device has only two temperature settings.
I think the different chambers are a smart addition since it gives you more options for what you can do. It’s fairly unique among the devices I’ve seen. It might be fun to try for an experienced user who’s in the market to replace their automatic curler.
That said, the max temperature might be too high for people with fine hair. If you have fine hair, I would either go with a different purchase, or be very careful when using this one. Of course, you can use the lower temperature setting, but you may have a more difficult time getting the curls to hold if you do.
- Note that this listing comes with multiple versions as well. The above review is the for the secret curl 2. If you get confused, check to see whether or not the device comes with interchangeable chambers.
While they can certainly be helpful, these devices are not for everyone. A wide portion of the poor opinion is based on the fact that hair gets tangled or trapped while using the device, which is obviously a huge concern. The key is to put in the right amount of hair, so that the device can function optimally. However, as other negative reviews pointed out, this means that curling your hair takes more time.
I think this device would be best for someone with thin hair, who doesn’t like manual curling irons. Especially people who find the heated barrels unappealing or unsafe. The exterior of this device still gets hot, but it’s different than having an exposed, heated surface.
Overall, the best automatic hair curler is the one that’s going to fit your hair type, and makes curling easier for you.