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12 Best Curling Wands of 2022, Tested By Beauty Pros

Whether your hair is thick or fine, get perfect curls with one of these expert picks.

best curling wands
ulta, sephora

Loose and dreamy beach waves might look effortless, but typically require a top notch hot tool — and a fair amount of elbow grease. You can use curling iron to achieve dream-girl waves (some even use a flat iron to curl their hair), but a curling wand is a clip-less hair tool that gives gorgeous, versatile curls and waves without looking overdone.

But are wands better than curling irons? When it comes to curling your own hair, "most people doing their hair at home would prefer a clamp-less wand because it is more user-friendly; you simply wrap the hair around the wand," says Eugene Toye, hairstylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. Wands can be easier to use than traditional curling irons because "clamps tend to leave marks in the hair if they are not properly used," he explains.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab regularly tests the best hair tools on the market. When we test curling irons and wands, we start by rounding up the newest products on the market and then whittling down the field based on an initial pre-screen process conducted by Lab experts who also look into products' claims and availability. In our most recent test, we considered each product's ease of use and performance, as well as quantitative measurements like weight, cord length, barrel thicknesses, plus the tool's time to reach its highest temperature.

Our top picks

After 103 measurements taken and 836 survey answers tallied, we found the only curling wands worth your money:

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    best curling wands
    Sabina Wizemann / Good Housekeeping
    Best Overall Curling Wand
    Lava Curl Shot
    CHI
    Chi

    A novel twist on a curling wand, CHI’s 1-inch tool is angled to easily reach the back of the head, with testers noting "the handle makes it easy to use it upside-down." The highest powered of all the wands we tested, it scored top for creating the desired look, being lightweight and not pulling hair. It also got the highest scores for being ergonomic and feeling safe to use, with one tester saying there's “no learning curve," even on short hair, which is notoriously difficult to curl with a wand. This wand features a cool shot that blows cool hair onto hair to set the curl more quickly, which one tester said made curls "look much more complete ... and I don’t have to worry about accidentally disturbing them before they cool down like with traditional irons."

    Barrel size: 1-inch
    • Cord length:
    11 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable heat 180ºF to 410ºF, plus cool shot
    • Auto shut-off: 1 hour

    • Angled configuration makes for foolproof styling, even on short hair
    • Top scores in Lab tests for ease of use and final look
    Best Value Curling Wand
    INFINITIPRO Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand
    Conair
    Conair
    Now 33% off

    "This was the first curling wand I ever bought and I still use it when I travel," said a former Good Housekeeping editor. "It's inexpensive, so I don't worry if it gets bumped around in my luggage or accidentally left at a hotel. It's super no-frills, but it gets the job done!" It has over 6,800 reviews on Amazon and an average 4.5 star rating and a quick preheat time.

    Barrel size: 1-inch to ½-inch taper
    Cord length: 5 feet
    • Auto shut-off: 1 hour
    • Heat settings: 5 adjustable heat settings up to 400º

    • Tapered barrel for perfectly undone waves
    • Budget-friendly
    Best Interchangeable Curling Wand
    Professional 4-in-1 Pro Ceramic Clipless Curling Set
    Cortex
    Cortex

    This wand has four interchangeable barrel sizes and styles, so it's many tools in one at a reasonable price point. The medium and large barrels work for polished bouncy curls and beach waves, and as for the thinner barrels, nothing works better for fine-tuning natural curls. While we haven't put it to the test in the Beauty Lab, one of our editors has used it nearly every day for over 10 years!

    Barrel size: ½-inch tapered barrel; 1-inch tapered barrel; 1½-inch straight barrel; 2-inch straight barrel
    Cord length: 11 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable up to 450º
    • Auto shut-off: Programmable

    • 4 attachments for versatile styling
    • Great for curly and straight hair

    • No tone once temperature is reached
    MOST POPULAR CURLING WAND ON AMAZON
    Pro 1-1.5" Curling Wand
    Remington
    Remington

    While we haven't formally tested this pick in the Lab, it boasts over 14,000 reviews on Amazon, this ceramic coated wand is a crowd fave. The graduated barrel comes in a smaller ½-1-inch size for tighter curls and a larger 1-1½-inch size for looser waves. Reviewers love that this affordable curling wand will "curl your stick-straight hair into submission." One of our editors says the finish on this wand is super smooth and because it also has a tapered end, you'll have to hold hair in place carefully to prevent it from sliding off.

    • Barrel size: 1-1½-inch taper
    • Cord length:
    5.9 feet
    • Heat settings:
    9 adjustable heat settings up to 410º
    • Auto shut-off
    : 1 hour

    • Tapered wand for an undone finish
    • Budget-friendly and reviewer-approved

    • Super smooth ceramic coating may be too slick for fine or soft hair
    Best Tapered Curling Wand
    Professional 24K Gold Tapered Curling Iron
    Hot Tools
    Hot Tools
    Now 15% off

    Perfect to an undone beach wave, this Hot Tools model spans ¾-inch to 1 ¼-inches for an undone look and curls that stay put. The lightest of the winners (0.73 pound!), the tool was compact and simple to operate. “It gave me natural-looking curls,” an expert evaluator said.

    • Barrel size: ¾-inch to 1 ¼-inch taper
    • Cord length
    : 8 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable temperature 280ºF to 430ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : No

    • Lightweight and easy to use
    • Created gorgeous, natural-looking curls in Lab tests

    • No auto shut-off
    Fastest Curling Wand
    The Wrap Party Styling Wand
    Drybar
    Drybar

    For curls that look natural (not cookie-cutter uniform), the unique taper on this wand is reversed for curls that bell out at the bottom and are tighter at the top. This one was the quickest to heat up in Lab tests (from 0 to 435ºF in 60 seconds, flat) and it nabbed the best expert score for having easy to use controls, a clear, bright display and being easy to maneuver.

    • Barrel size: 1- to 1 ¼-inch reverse taper
    • Cord length: 9 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable temperature up to 450ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : 1 hour

    • Fastest preheat time for quick styling
    • Reverse taper gives a unique curl
    Best Curling Wand for Long Hair
    Nano Titanium Curling Wand
    BaBylissPRO
    BaBylissPRO

    The extra-long 16-inch barrel on this one-inch wand makes it perfect for even super-long hair that has a tendency to wrap around itself on traditionally-sized curling wands and irons. Our Lab experts were wowed by the quick heat-up time and found the wand easy to maneuver and the controls intuitive to use (even without looking at them). The longer-than-average length of this wand takes some getting used to, so be particularly careful when using it at first.

    • Barrel size: 1-inch
    • Cord length: 8 feet
    • Heat settings:
    5 settings up to 430ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : No

    • XL 16-inch barrel for long, thick hair
    • Intuitive to use and maneuver
    Best Curling Wand for Thin Hair
    Guide 1.25" Styling Rod Curling Iron
    Paul Mitchell
    Paul Mitchell Neuro

    With adjustable temperature that goes all the way down to 160ºF, this wand is ideal for fragile, fine or damaged hair. The wand has a retractable comb attached that grips hair and evenly lays it onto the barrel, which created curls that look "nice and soft right away." One tester added, "I didn’t think I would care for the built-in retractable comb, but I find it very useful." Moreover, this iron scored best for lasting curls and highly for releasing easily without pulling or snagging. Testers also loved that the digital display shows the temperature and type of hair it's suitable for and also reflects any changes in temperature during styling.

    • Barrel size: 1 ¼-inch
    • Cord length: 8.5 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable temperature 160ºF to 450ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : Customizable up to 2 hours

    • Comb attachment to carefully place hair on barrel
    • Top scores for long-lasting curls
    Best Curling Wand for Thick Hair
    3-in-1 Styling Iron
    BIO IONIC
    BIO IONIC

    A novel design that incorporates a flat iron mode along with a curling wand and a curling iron, this 1 ¼-inch rod scored moderately well across the board from ease of use to performance to user satisfaction. It scored high for having a wide temperature range, plus it got a perfect score for curls that lasted throughout the day making it perfect for thick, coarse or coily hair that tends to frizz. Even short-haired testers loved its versatility, noting "it was the safest curling tool I used: Easy to maneuver and keep from touching the face or scalp."

    • Barrel size: 1 ¼-inch
    • Cord length: 9 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Adjustable temperature 240ºF to 430ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : 1 hour

    • 3-in-1 capability
    • Created long-lasting curls in coarse hair

    • Switching between mechanisms can take some getting used to
    Best Curling Wand for Beach Waves
    Curve Creative Curl Wand
    ghd
    ghd

    An editor favorite for waves and curls, not only is this curling wand tapered in size, but its shape graduates from circular to oblong for the perfectly tousled, undone wave. Its silicone tip stays cool to mitigate the risk of burns. This brand is known for hair tools that heat up quickly and maintain a constant temperature of 365ºF, which the brand says is safer for hair: The trade-off is that you can't adjust the settings for finer or thicker hair types.

    • Barrel size: 1-inch round to .09-inch oval taper
    • Heat settings:
    N/A
    • Auto shut-off
    : 30 minutes

    • Tapered barrel creates perfectly undone curls
    • Fast heat-up time

    • No adjustable temperature settings
    Most Versatile Curling Wand
    Airwrap Complete Styler
    Dyson
    Dyson

    "I admire the genius air jet design, which makes hair strands, as if by magic, wrap themselves around the curler attachment,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the GH Beauty Lab. The result: Bouncy bends that rival a professional blowout. "It gives salon-level styling using lower heat, which can minimize damage as well," she explains. You can use this genius tool as a traditional curling iron by wrapping hair from the ends and working upward, or you can manually wrap hair around the shaft like a curling wand for a more beachy effect. Its versatility is a huge selling point.

    • Barrel size: Two 1.2-inch barrels; two 1.6-inch barrels
    • Cord length:
    8.5 feet
    • Heat settings:
    3 adjustable heat settings and cool shot
    • Auto shut-off
    : N/A

    • Dries and curls hair at once
    • Innovative design curls hair quickly

    • Very expensive
    Best Pivoting Curling Wand
    1 ¼-Inch Soft Wave Pivoting Wand
    Kristin Ess
    Kristin Ess

    If you've ever had A+ waves on one side of your head, so-so waves on the other, you're not alone. The wand on this hot tool helps fix that with a pivoting handle that rotates between 180° and 90° to easily reach every strand and fix a common beginner gripe. When we tested it in the Beauty Lab, our pros thought the rotating mechanism was a bit difficult to use, adding that the "barrel felt wobbly in both the 90º and 180º positions."

    • Barrel size: 1 ¼-inch
    • Cord length:
    9 feet
    • Heat settings:
    Four adjustable heat settings up to 425ºF
    • Auto shut-off
    : 30 minutes

    • Barrel twists from 180° to 90° for easy styling
    • Innovative design

    • Rotating mechanism can be tough to master
    How to shop for a curling wand
    ghi line

    ✔️ Heat settings: Toye says you'll want to prioritize adjustable heat options when shopping for a curling wand. This allows you to tailor your heat to varying hair thicknesses not only across users, but on your own head. If the heat is too low, hair won't curl; too high and you risk damaging your hair. For example, you may want to dial down the temp on the fragile pieces along your hairline, but turn up the heat on the thicker hair at the middle of your head.

    ✔️ Barrel size: The size of your wand's barrel will have the greatest impact on the way your hair looks once you're finished styling. Generally, a smaller barrel results in a tighter curl and a larger barrel results in a larger curl. One-inch barrels are great for helping hard-to-curl hair maintain its shape through the day, or for creating messy beach waves. For bouncier, looser curls, try a barrel that's 1 ¼-inch or larger — just steer clear of these larger barrel sizes if your hair is fine or resistant to holding curls. Barrels under one inch are best for creating tight spirals and fine-tuning natural curls.

    ✔️ Barrel shape: Some wands have a cylindrical barrel that's the same width from base to tip while others are tapered to a smaller point at one end. The difference? Tapered wands create different a curl that changes in size from top to bottom for a messier, more natural look. Some wands even change in shape along the length of the barrel, like GHD's Creative Curl that graduates from a circle to an oval for a less uniform, more undone result. As for which is better — it's all a matter of preference.

    ✔️ Material: Toye says stylists tend to prefer wands made of titanium for the material's ability to heat up quickly and evenly, though "some people feel that ceramic is smoother than the titanium." He adds that ceramic (and its "high-grade" iteration, tourmaline) "are popular among the average consumer to use at home." Mane Addicts stylist Sabrina Porsche says that ceramic tends to "provide faster results in less time, meaning less heat on your hair, [which helps to] protect it from heat damage." Our Beauty Lab tests confirm that great heat tools come in all types of materials, including titanium and ceramic and many more, so don't get too obsessive over what material is "best."

    best curling wands
    Sabina Wizemann / Good Housekeeping
    How to use a curling wand
    ghi line

    Curling your own hair at home can actually be super simple once you get the hang of it. First, you'll want to prep hair: "When your hair is completely dry, use a heat protectant spray ... before going through the hair," says Toye. "This helps protect the cuticle from excessive heat." He adds that your hair texture will dictate the temperature you should use. Our Beauty Lab pros suggest 180°F to 370°F for fine or damaged hair; 375°F to 395° for normal thickness or generally healthy hair; and 400°F to 420°F for thick hair.

    Before you get started, to avoid burns, Matilde Campos, a celebrity hairstylist in Los Angeles, suggests using a heat-proof glove in case your hand accidentally bumps up against the rod while you're getting the hang of using it.

    When it comes to styling, you can either hold the want horizontally or vertically. "If you wrap horizontally, you get more bounce and body, such as a Hollywood glam look. If you wrap vertically, the hair tends to be looser such as beach and texture waves," says Toye. If you hold the wand vertically, you'll want the tip pointing downward to the floor.

    Working in sections, wrap a one-inch piece of hair around the barrel (starting near the handle) and continue twisting hair around the barrel away from your face until you reach the ends of the strand. Be sure to leave out at least half an inch at the ends to avoid getting burned! After holding hair for 10-20 seconds, let go of the ends and catch the curl, letting it cool before you let go to set the style (or, you can pull the curl while it's still hot to elongate it for more of a wave). Repeat until all hair is curled and mist with hairspray to set.

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