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There are so many hair styling tools on the market today, that sometimes it can feel daunting to pick the right one for you. There’s so many options for barrel widths, lengths, and clips. Don’t even get me started on all the funky shaped wands they have to make beach waves. It’s easy to get lost in the hair care aisle, looking at iron after iron, trying to puzzle out which one is best.
If you want to get into curling your hair and aren’t really sure to begin, here’s a breakdown of the basic techniques and tools.
Different Types of Curling Devices
As I said, there are a lot of heated styling tools to get your hair curly or wavy. For beginners, my suggestion is to cut through the noise and stick to the basic shapes. You can get more into the spiral and bubble wands when you’ve mastered the general technique. Here is some information on the differences between the basic curling wands/ irons.
Standard Curling Iron
These are the classic irons that we’re all used to seeing. They consist of a cylindrical barrel, and a little clip on the front that you open and close to either hold hair in place, or let it slide through.
The benefit for these irons, is that you get the most uniformity in curl shape. When you master using one, you’re going to get a perfect spiral from root to tip, every time.
The downside is that they can be a little tricky to master. The technique requires you to wrap a portion of the hair around the barrel, and then wrap the remaining hair around the clip. Then you slide the hair through the clip, moving slowly and pausing where necessary to get maximum hold.
This can definitely be confusing at first, and if you’re not skilled, the clip can leave an indentation mark in your hair.
For this device, I recommend watching a few tutorials before you’re first use.
Regular/ Cylindrical Curling Wands
A regular, or cylindrical, curling wand is essentially a curling iron without the clip. Instead of sliding the hair around the barrel, under the clip, you just wrap your hair around it and hold it there for a few seconds to get a curl.
These devices are exceptionally easy to use, although they are a little more dangerous. You’ll be handling the hair directly over the heated element, so be sure to use caution.
The benefit of a regular curling wand, is that you get almost the same uniformity you would with a curling iron, just with slightly less work.
These are great for large curls, which you can also brush out into waves. I also recommend them for anyone with longer or thicker hair. The larger surface area and better control can help you judge if you’re getting a curl that will hold down the length of your hair.
One potential downside, is that you may end up with a little “tail” at the end of the curl. Tails occur because it can be difficult to get the very ends of your hair wrapped around the barrels when you’re holding them. For everyday use, this isn’t really a problem, and when you get the hang of using a wand, you’ll be able to make it less noticeable. However, if you want and absolutely perfect finish, you may want to stick to a curling iron.
Tapered/ Conical Wands
A tapered, or conical, wand is basically a regular curling wand that starts out wide and then gets narrow towards the top.
These are great for anyone who has short hair, or for anyone who likes to change up their curls.
Because of the barrel shape, you can do multiple curl styles with one device. If you wrap your hair towards the base, you’ll get larger curls. Wrapping your hair towards the tip will get you tighter curls. If you use the whole barrel, tapered wands give you a wide curl on top, that becomes a tight spiral at the bottom. It’s a more natural look than the perfect, consistent shape of a regular barrel or traditional iron.
These are also perfect for short hair, as you can utilize only the top portion of the barrel to curl your hair. You won’t have to restrict yourself to thin curling wands just because you don’t have enough hair to wrap around the barrel.
Choosing the Best Tool
When it comes time to choose between these three different types, you’ll need to think about what you want to get out of your device. When you’re shopping, think about…
- the type of hair you have: thick hair needs a wider, longer barrel for waves and curls. A thinner wand will take much, much longer to style your hair. Regular irons or wands are best for this hair type. For shorter hair, stick to a tapered wand.
- the look you want: for a polished, salon look, a regular curling iron with a clip is probably best. For a more natural look with a faster styling time, go for a wand. Particularly the tapered wand, since you’re curls won’t be as perfectly uniform.
- the future of your hair: obviously you can’t predict the future, but it’s worth trying. If you are planning on either cutting your hair or growing it out, I think the tapered wand would be the better purchase, since it works with multiple hair lengths.
When you’ve purchased the iron or wand for you, and you’re ready to go, here are some styling tips to get you going in the right direction.
Before You Curl
Before you start to style your hair, makes sure you do the following:
- Use a heat protectant spray.
- Section your hair into at least three main parts, starting from the top of your head, moving downward. Leave the bottom out so that you can start there. As you curl, clip off the sections of hair that are done, setting them apart, and letting down the next, unstyled section as you finish. This will help you make sure you get each and every strand of hair.
- If the device comes with a heat resistant glove, use it! It’s there for a reason. If the device doesn’t come with one, consider purchasing one, especially if you’re using a curling wand. (You wear the glove on the hand that will be handling the hair. That way, if you slip up and accidentally touch the barrel, you won’t be burned.)
When using your iron, you always want to start near the scalp. (If you want only the bottom portion of your hair curled, start towards the middle.)
The device should be pointed downwards, away from you when you’re curling. Wrap your hair around the base first, and then work your way up to the tip.
Short hair requires the same technique. Wrap the hair around whatever section of the wand you’re using, starting from the bottom up. At times, you may find it easier to hold the device horizontally.
While styling, make sure you rotate. Wrap one section clockwise around the barrel, another section counter clockwise. This gives your curls a more natural look.
I hope this helped you chose the curling iron or wand that’s right for you. Always remember to consider the health of your hair, by using heat protectant and watching the temperature of your device. When you make a purchase in the future, remember to think about the needs to your hair, and also what kind of style you want to achieve.
With a some practice and a little patience, you can get the look that’s right for you.
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