What Size Curling Iron Should You Buy? It Depends On The Wave You Want

Buying a curling iron seems like the easiest of tasks, but it's not exactly fool-proof. There are so many different sizes, and even though it doesn't seem like a huge difference between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch — the kind of curl you'll get is definitely different. If you're wondering what size curling iron you should buy, I'm going to break down exactly what each size does, so you can make sure you get the wave that you want.

It's a no brainer that for different types of curls, you're going to need different tools, but if you've never used varying size irons before, you may not be sure what's best for your hair. Trial and error always works, but having to spend money on multiple different hair tools definitely adds up, so it's probably a good idea to know exactly what each iron does before you decide which to invest in. Do you want beachy, undone waves? That's going to be a different size than full, voluminous curls. It's more than just the method you use to curl your hair (clamp vs. unclamp, for example), size definitely plays a huge factor in how your curls turn out.

If you want to learn what each size curling iron does, these tutorials will show you the kind of curls you can expect from each iron.

1/2 Inch

coralcutie88 on YouTube

Infiniti Pro by Conair, $13, Amazon

If you want tighter, ringlet-esque curls, choose a 1/2 inch iron.

3/4 Inch

Sofia Rose on YouTube

Helen of Troy Ceramic Titanium Curling Iron, $32, Amazon

A little bit more polished than the bigger irons, but not as tight as the 1/2 inch, a 3/4 inch iron is great for vintage-style curls.

1 Inch

Xara 1” Infrared Professional Ceramic Curling Iron, $25, Amazon

If you want soft but beachy waves, go for a 1 inch. This size iron is ideal for those with medium or shorter hair.

1 1/4 Inch

Beauty At Tiffany's on YouTube

Hot Tools Professional 1110 Curling Iron, $30, Amazon

This is the most popular size iron, so when in doubt, choose this one. It's your go-to for the classic, loose curls.

1 1/2 Inch

Sarah Sori Kim on YouTube

Remington Studio Salon Ceramic Curling Wand, $25, Amazon

Want voluminous curls? Go for this bigger barreled iron.

2 Inch

lauren taylor on YouTube

Hot Tools Gold Plated Salon Curling Iron, $40, Amazon

If you don't want curls but just want some bend and volume, choose the largest iron: a 2 inch. It's perfect for faking a blowout.

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