Curling irons have been women's bane for decades, with seemingly little improvement in the product category. Yet the recent resurgence of bouncy curls and beachy waves on celebrities like Taylor Swift, Gisele Bundchen and Kim Kardashian have brought about a few small revolutions in the hair-curling world.
For starters, there are two new players in the hair-curling game: hair wavers and curling wands. Wavers function much like a flat iron, but they have plates that crimp rather than straighten. Their functionality is more limited than that of curling irons, which can create different styles based on how they're used, but owners who seek wavy locks find hair wavers practically error-proof and far easier to use.
Clipless curling wands are another popular option for women who are sick of crimp marks at the ends of their curled hair. Users simply wind hair around these clamp-free barrels and hold it in place with their fingers. Wand irons require a heat-resistant glove (usually included) and take some getting used to -- with many getting burned during the learning period -- yet many users consider them far superior, thanks to their more natural-looking results. These irons can have a tapered or straight barrel, with tapered barrels offering a variety of different styles and straight barrels being a bit easier to use and better for very long hair. Still, traditional curling irons get the most reviews from pros and consumers, and they remain the easiest option for users accustomed to a classic iron.
Materials in curling irons have also improved. Ceramic and tourmaline are popular options, as they're said to transfer heat well without damaging hair as much as other materials. An overwhelming majority of consumers agree, though there isn't much scientific evidence to support this. That said, several reviewers prefer Hot Tools Professional curling irons, which have a barrel plated with 24-karat gold, saying that the curls look better and last longer.
In general, you don't need to worry too much about seeking out fancy, techy-sounding names. Farrah Fawcett's of the past likely will be relieved to hear that we found very few reports of singed, dried-out locks in recent curling iron reviews, regardless of iron material. It's important to note that the overall appearance of hair (styled or otherwise) is affected by many factors, including individual skill and overall condition of the hair.
ConsumerSearch has selected the best curling irons based on a variety of professional and consumer reviews. Each curling iron is rated on performance, ease of use and safety. We checked in with major beauty, fashion and lifestyle publications, including InStyle magazine, Redbook magazine, Allure, RealSimple magazine, Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. We also tapped beauty blogs, including Temptalia.com, and beauty product consumer review sites, including Folica.com and MakeupAlley.com, along with sites where users offer helpful information, including Amazon.com and Target.com.