As alternative curling irons, like wavers and wands, grow in popularity, and the quality of all curling irons improves, it grows more difficult to find a single traditional curling iron that stands out. However, one iron still garners the necessary critical mass of positive reviews to be named a ConsumerSearch top pick: Hot Tools Professional 1" Spring Iron 1181 (Est. $35).
This iron has a basic 1" gold-plated barrel. It has a tight clamp that holds hair well and, thanks to its traditional style, is very easy to use. But don't let the ease of use fool you; it's not called "professional" for nothing. It gets very hot -- 430 degrees Fahrenheit -- very quickly. This is due to patented "pulse technology" which heats up and keeps the iron hot for long periods.
An electronic sensor in the barrel detects heat loss and increases heat as needed to keep temperatures consistent. Some owners say the iron can be damaging, but this may simply be due to using too high a temperature. While it's relatively inexpensive compared to many professional irons, some stylists say they've used their Hot Tools Professional 1" Spring Iron for years. And for a basic iron, it offers some nice features, like a cool-touch tip and extra-long cord.
For at-home stylers who like to use less heat, the Infiniti Pro by 1" Conair Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron's (Est. $33) highest temperature setting is 395 degrees Fahrenheit, and it also receives a fair number of positive reviews from consumers and experts. Owners say the Infiniti Pro offers many high-end features and yields pretty solid results without breaking the bank.
On the other hand, some owners simply don't find this iron effective at any temperature -- it's hard to tell whether their models are in good working order or whether they've malfunctioned, as there are several owners who reported that their irons abruptly stopped working. Consumers also reported that the cool-touch tip actually got hot. Meanwhile, the Hot Tools iron was praised for its extra-long cool tip. What the Infiniti Pro offers that the Hot Tools iron lacks is an auto-shutoff and heat-resistant sleeve for storing the iron right after use.
The classic nature of Hot Tools Professional 1" Spring Iron 1181, its fast heating ability and more consistent positive reviews garnered it the top pick for best curling iron over the Infiniti Pro.