How Do I Choose the Right Curling Iron Size?

B. Miller
B. Miller
A wider curling iron will create looser curls.
A wider curling iron will create looser curls.

The best curling iron size for you depends on the type of hair you have, and the style you want to create. Many women own a few different sizes of curling irons to create different looks and styles. In addition, various brands or curling iron manufacturers may sell a number of different sizes, or only a few, so your choice also depends largely on whether you want to stick with a favorite manufacturer. The curling iron size will directly correspond to the size of the curls created; for example, a small barrel on a curling iron will create small, tight curls, whereas a larger barrel can create bigger, looser waves.

A curling iron with a smaller barrel is ideal for creating small, tight curls.
A curling iron with a smaller barrel is ideal for creating small, tight curls.

The first consideration when you are choosing curling iron size is hair type and length. People who have shorter, finer hair may be able to choose a smaller curling iron than people with longer or thicker hair. Anyone who simply wants to flip the hair, such as around the bangs or the ends of the hair, can also usually get away with a smaller curling iron size. These are also capable of creating tighter ringlets, which can be nice for fancy updo styles, especially for younger kids.

Midsized curling irons are some of the most versatile. Depending on how they are used, they can create tighter curls or looser waves, and can be used on many different types and lengths of hair. For people who want to create a head full of loose curls, for example, a midsize curling iron is often the best bet. They can also help to create volume in the hair by being used to lift the roots, which is harder to do with smaller curling irons. These may be used for looser updos or other fancier styles, especially for a more mature look than tight ringlets.

Larger curling irons, with barrels that are 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) and above, are best for creating large, loose, wavy curls. For people who want to style their hair and wear it down, for example, this curling iron size is most effective. It is possible to make a midsized curling iron function in a more versatile way like a larger curling iron by wrapping the hair around the outside of the barrel, rather than under the clip. In this way it might be possible to use only one curling iron size rather than needing to make a number of different purchases.

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    • A wider curling iron will create looser curls.
      A wider curling iron will create looser curls.
    • A curling iron with a smaller barrel is ideal for creating small, tight curls.
      A curling iron with a smaller barrel is ideal for creating small, tight curls.