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A Guide on Finding the Perfect Curling Iron Sizes and How to Use Them


Shopping for the ideal curling iron, you’ll often come across different barrel sizes. Curling irons come in all shapes and sizes, but how can someone distinguish the ones they need from the ones they don’t? Most of the time, choosing the appropriate curling iron size is the most challenging part, especially when going after a specific look. Depending on the length of your hair and its thickness, you’ll require different barrel sizes. I’m hoping that with this article, I’ll be able to give you some insight into the relationship between hairstyle and curling iron sizes so you can confidently choose the perfect curler for you!

Curling Iron Size Guide

Generally speaking, there’s a simple rule of thumb you can go by when picking your individual curling iron size. Start by determining your hair length. If you’ve got medium or shoulder-length hair, you’re in luck! Pretty much all barrel sizes will be suitable for you. However, if you have short hair, remember you should go for smaller-sized barrels (¾”,½”, ⅜”, ⅝”, etc.), and if you have long tresses, larger barrels are a must (e.g., 1.25”,1.5”, 1.75”, 2”, and others). The most popular, 1-inch curler size is said to be ideal for any hair type, hair length, and hairstyle, and it’s the most popular choice among customers. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the differences between barrel sizes for curling irons.

Curling Iron Barrel Sizes for Short Hair 

To give you a quick guide, here’s an explanation for each barrel size for your hair.

3/8 Inch

The smallest curling wand size is recommended for styling short hair to medium-length tresses. If you want sexy and kinky spiral curls, this is the recommended size for you. Smaller curling irons are also great for fine hair. If you’d like to check out some spiral hair curlers, take a look at the best spiral curlers review we wrote!

1/2 Inch 

Another great small curling iron type for achieving spring-shaped curls is the ½ inch. A great and affordable curling tool of this size is the InfinitiPRO by Conair ½-inch Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron. Just keep in mind that styling your hair with small curling irons can be time-consuming. Nonetheless, the results are always worth it!

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5/8 Inch

⅝-inch small barrel curling irons are great for adding extra volume to your hair. For a small curling iron, it creates fantastic tight curls! This one will also make fantastic springy spiral curls, but it’s a little more versatile and can be used on longer hairstyles. 

3/4 Inch 

A great example of the ¾-inch curling iron barrel size is featured in the Revlon ¾-inch Tourmaline Ceramic Styling Iron, which is actually amazing for creating enviable waves. ¾-inch curling irons can be used on medium- and shoulder-length hair for best results. 

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1 Inch 

Like you probably guessed already, the 1-inch size is the most commonly used for curlers. It's versatile enough to suit all hair lengths and hair types, and it’s the most popularly sold hair curler size on the market. Great, affordable 1-inch curling iron is the HOT TOOLS Professional 24K Gold Curling Iron/Wand. Also, you didn’t read it wrong – it does say gold on there.

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Curling Iron Sizes For Long Hair

As you might have guessed, there are also different curling iron sizes for long-haired individuals. Here are a few. 

1 1/4 Inches

Perfect for long, below-the-shoulder hair, this size is excellent for achieving a messy, loose wave or curl. You can get tighter curls with it too, which will last longer and look au natural.

1 1/2 Inches

Think of it this way – the thicker the barrel, the looser the curl. The fan-favorite character of Serena (played by Blake Lively) in the TV drama Gossip Girl is a perfect example of long hair and loose curls. If you want to look just as fabulous, try out the 1 ½-inch curling iron size!

1 3/4 Inches

Are you after volume and bounce? The 1 ¾-inch curling iron size is what you’re looking for. Big curling irons are especially effective on heavy and long hair, struggling to maintain their natural volume. This size is guaranteed to give you voluminous curls!

2 Inches

Also commonly referred to as “The Bumper,” this curling iron size creates a small bend and adds volume to the hair. If you want to look like you’re not trying too hard and want a relaxed hairdo or beachy waves, the 2-inch curling iron size is the right one for you! 

Tips and Tricks When Using a Curling Iron

There are many tips and tricks you’ll find on the Internet when it comes to properly using a curling iron. Over the years, I have tried many of them, so instead of wasting your time with trials and errors, let me share the most effective tricks I know:

  • Hold the curling iron pointing downward (horizontally) to end up with a natural-looking curl.
  • If you're short on time, section your hair into ten pieces, curl each one (it should only take you five minutes tops), and then finger comb through the bouncy curls to separate the hair into lovely beachy waves.
  • Hold the curl scrunched up in your hand for a few seconds while it's hot. That way, it will set better and hold in shape for longer
  • Alternate the curling directions – accept those shaping your face. They should always be curled away from your face
  • Selecting the right curling iron according to our curling iron sizes guide will greatly improve your look if you’re trying to go after a specific type of curl
  • If you have a lot of hair, you might be getting a little tired of styling every day. Did you know automatic curling irons exist? They practically do the curling for you! Check out the top automatic curling irons of 2021
  • Ditch the curling iron clamp! Curling iron wands are a great way to make sure you’re not getting that unnatural-looking kink in your hair. This article can serve as a curling iron wand size guide as well
  • Don’t apply heat on wet hair! It’s extremely bad for you and can lead to hair damage. Also, always use heat protection spray on your hair 

Now that you’ve got your hair curling sizes all figured out, why not test your knowledge, and take a look at these fabulous cordless curling irons we reviewed?

Best Selling Curling Irons

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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