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Curling Wand vs. Curling Iron: How to Choose the Right Curling Tool


I’ll be honest with you – for the longest time, I actually thought curling wands were just a fancy synonym for curling irons, but there is in fact a significant difference between the two. I can imagine it sounds confusing – why use curling wands as opposed to curling irons? What is the difference between a curling iron and a wand? How do you use a curling wand vs. a curling iron? Upon first observation, these appliances look very similar, but they have a few key features that give very different results. I’m aiming to answer all of these questions and more, while also giving you my personal review on the top products of each curler type. Strap in and let’s get started!

What's the Difference Between a Curling Wand and a Curling Iron? 

Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between a curling iron and a curling wand.

A Curling Wand Is…

…a truly magical styling tool. Unlike a curling iron,  it doesn’t include a clamp in its design, giving you free rein over how you’ll wrap your hair around the barrel. This makes for different types of curls, but it does mean you have to hold down the hair manually, with your fingers. The good news is that you won’t get any unwanted and surprising kinks at the tips of your hair strands. Additionally, since the wand doesn’t clip at the barrel, if you have particularly dry hair, it won’t create further heat damage. If you want to create messy, beachy waves, a curling wand is the right tool for the job. Curling wands are perfect for people with shoulder-length hair or long hair, but I wouldn’t recommend them for people with short hair. Unfortunately, the use of curling wands requires both hands when styling. If you’re looking for great hot tools you can use on shorter hairstyles, check out our article on the best hair curler for short hair! Of course, if you manage to equip yourself with a heat-protective glove, you should be able to experiment using a curling wand on short hair. Don’t forget, curling irons are always a great alternative. 

What Is a Curling Iron?

You’ve come across curling irons plenty of times by now. They have been around for ages, and are a popular tool adored by many professional and celebrity hairstylists. You can get all sorts of different curls with a curling iron, but most commonly, people look for defined, tidy-looking, and long-lasting curls with this tool. It’s a go-to choice for wedding hairdos precisely for the same reason. They’re also a bit more versatile in the sense that they could be used as curling wands as well if you’re after a relaxed wave, rather than precise curls. Curling irons are also great on any type of hair regardless of length or texture, but do keep in mind that they can damage the ends of your air if you often use the clamp. There are so many different types of curling irons, especially when it comes to barrel size. If you want to check out a list of curling iron sizes and what to use them for, click on the link!

How to Use a Curling Iron 

If you’re wondering how to use a curling iron vs. wand, don’t worry – it’s dead easy! I recommend you start by dividing a hair strand no bigger than an inch (for ultimate results) from the rest of your hair, then clip the end of your hair strand with the clamp. This will provide the necessary tension needed when you’re aiming for a tighter curl. Next, roll the hair up, tip to root, and hold for around 10 seconds. You won’t need gloves, as this method combined with the clamp will save you from burning your hands. Do take extra care when holding any hot tool near the roots of your hair – scalp burns aren’t pleasant. If this curling method seems a little too complicated for you, don’t worry – automatic curlers are a thing. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of auto curlers, find out more in our article on the best auto curlers of 2021!

How to Use a Curling Wand 

Now that we’ve answered what a curling wand is, perhaps the more complicated task is understanding the curling wand technique. There are five simple steps you can take to achieve the perfect curl with a curling wand.

  1. Divide hair into 1-inch hair strands.
  2. Use one hand to hold the curling wand with.
  3. Hold the strand of hair with your other hand (I recommend using protective gloves just in case).
  4. Wrap the hair strand starting from the root  and then all the way down to the tip. 
  5. Hold for around 5 seconds, and gently pull out the wand to achieve the perfect relaxed wave.

Top Curling Wand vs. Top Curling Iron

I decided to select two tools that I consider the most affordable and effective representative for each type of curler. Hopefully, this will make your search for the best product a little easier!

Best Curling Wand – Conair INFINITI PRO BY Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand

Brand: Conair | Model: CD117RRN | Type: Curling Wand | Max Temperature: 400°F | Weight: 0.85 Pounds | Auto Shut Off: Yes | Dimensions: 2.88 x 6.00 x 15.38 Inches | Material: Tourmaline Ceramic | Warranty: N/A
Conair INFINITI PRO BY Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
Make your styling routine more enjoyable with the Infiniti Pro By Conair CD117RRN 1″-.5″ Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand. This curling wand is a good choice for confident and experienced hairdressers and home users alike.
 
   View on Walmart

Let loose with this clamp-free curling wand by Conair. The Conair INFINITI PRO Tourmaline Ceramic Wand is designed to create beautiful loose curls and beachy waves. The unique tapered barrel, ranging from 0.5 to 1 inches, is made of ceramic tourmaline – the most ideal material for hair previously exposed to heat damage. Clamp-free curling will put less stress on your hair as well, and the unique Tourmaline Ceramic technology will fight to eliminate frizz, all the while nourishing and using your hair’s natural moisture to add extra conditioning on your shiny locks. There are five heat settings to choose from, suitable for all hair types. The maximum heat is 400°F, which may seem like too little for someone with coarse hair. Worry not – this is plenty of heat, and it’s not overly hot, which means you won’t be boiling the inside of your hair for no reason. I love this curling wand – it’s cheap and extremely effective.

Pros

  • Tourmaline ceramic barrel
  • Five heat settings
  • Max heat 400°F
  • Clamp-free

Cons

  • Prone to burning when not careful

Best Curling Iron – Beachwaver PRO 1″ Curling Iron

Brand: Beachwaver Co | Model: BModel 1137 | Type: Curling Iron | Max Temperature: 400°F | Barrel Diameter: N/A | Auto Shut Off: Yes | Dimensions: 14″ L x 1″ W x 1″ H | Material: Ceramic | Warranty: 1 Year
Beachwaver PRO Curling Iron
  • The Beachwaver 1″ is a dynamic tool that gives you effortless curls
  • Offers 3 different curl styles: defined, loose beachy, and glam
  • Fast/slow speed switch
  • Home button resets clamp
  • Temperature range: 290 – 410 degrees F
 
   View on Walmart

Made of ceramic, this deliciously simple styling tool has been part of my reviews a good number of times by now. Its leading feature – the adjustable heat settings between 290°F and 410°F make it extremely versatile for all hair types and hair textures. Whether you’ve got thick hair and want tighter curls, worry not! This hair curler does wonders, but I haven’t mentioned the best perk yet. It’s a rotating curling iron, which means it practically curls your hair for you. Yes, I do admit it’s more expensive, but you are getting the best of the best with this tool. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, I’ve got a number of rotating curling irons that will stun you with their design and price tag. Check out the best rotating curling irons review I wrote, and see for yourself! Meanwhile, take a look at some other pros of this amazing rotating curling iron.

Pros

  • Adjustable heat from 290°F to 410°F
  • 30-second heat up
  • Auto shutoff function
  • 8-foot swivel cord

Cons

  • More expensive

Final Verdict – Which Is Better? Curling Wand vs. Curling Iron

That’s a really tough question to answer. In my personal experience, the struggle between a curling wand and a curling iron will never have a definite winner. It all depends on context. My own personal way of looking at it is here:

  • If I’m planning on going to a fancy party, or a formal event of some kind, such as a wedding, choosing a hot tool that will keep my hair looking neat and pristine for the entire duration of the event will lead me to choose a curling iron!
  • If I’m planning a night out drinking with my girlfriends, I probably don’t want to overdo it, so a messier, looser curl will be my choice for the evening. Curling wand? Yes, please!

At the end of the day, why not get the best of both worlds? Who says you have to limit yourself to just one?

Conair INFINITI PRO BY Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
Conair INFINITI PRO BY Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
Make your styling routine more enjoyable with the Infiniti Pro By Conair CD117RRN 1″-.5″ Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand. This curling wand is a good choice for confident and experienced hairdressers and home users alike.
 
   View on Walmart
Beachwaver PRO Curling Iron
Beachwaver PRO 1″ Curling Iron
  • The Beachwaver 1″ is a dynamic tool that gives you effortless curls
  • Offers 3 different curl styles: defined, loose beachy, and glam
  • Fast/slow speed switch
  • Home button resets clamp
  • Temperature range: 290 – 410 degrees F
 
   View on Walmart

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