Curling irons exist in nearly as many versions as there are hair types. The features to consider when choosing one depend on your hair type and the style desired.
One basic consideration in choosing a curling iron is the barrel size, which will determine the type of curl you get. The smaller the barrel, the tighter and smaller the curls it produces. A wide barrel will create waves instead of tight curls. Some feature multiple barrels, often a smooth barrel and a brush attachment, which is a bonus if you like changing your look.
Another factor to consider is the type of heat setting. Different types of hair need varying amounts of heat. For hair that is difficult to curl, a high heat setting is necessary. For damaged or fragile hair, a lower setting is appropriate. Fortunately, some curling irons have adjustable heat settings.
Ceramic curling irons are a relatively new technology. Such an iron produces a shiny, smooth finish by using infrared heat to protect the hair's moisture. Manufacturers claim that they curl hair faster, also.
Other features include steam, a safety tip, and an automatic shut off. Steam will help lock the curls in place, important for those with hard-to-curl hair; steam is also less damaging than dry heat. A safety tip allows the user to use both hands to steady the iron. An automatic shut off is a safety feature that is important to some individuals. Some are equipped for 120/240V dual voltage, which means they are adaptable for international use.
Some other models feature instant heat, which means you don't have to wait the few minutes it takes other irons to heat up before use. If the iron does not feature instant heat, you might want to choose one with a ready indicator or light. A swivel cord is helpful if you find that you get tangled while styling your hair.
Many other hair appliances are similar to curling irons. Curling brushes are a combination of a brush and an iron; they generally provide a less precise curl and more volume. A spiral curling iron creates tight, ribbon-like curls. For creating volume and waves, use a triple barrel curling iron.