You don’t have to be a celebrity or certified hair professional to create loose, long-lasting curls – you just need the right tool. The best curling irons for loose curls are, in general, larger in size, easy-to-use, and have a barrel that heats quickly without causing too much damage.
Keep in mind, not every curling iron or wand is right for loose curls — and the best choice for you will depend heavily on your hair type and length. If you have damage-prone or really thick hair, you might consider investing in a top-of-the-line, professional-quality curling iron that will protect your hair from damage and reduce styling time. If you want to create beachy waves on long hair, you might prefer a rotating iron that requires less effort. If you have short hair, a smaller barrel size (and wand) is often a better choice to give you the soft, cascading curls you’re after.
Either way, choosing the best curling iron for your hair without testing it first can be confusing. Below is a list of some of the best tools for loose waves that money can buy, including options for every hair type and budget, and for frequent flyers, too.
1. Best Overall: A Cult-Favorite Curling Iron With A Rotating Barrel And Legions Of Celebrity Fans
The Beachwaver, which was created by celebrity stylist Sarah Potempa, is a cult-classic iron for easy beach waves, and (fun fact) is the same tool that's used backstage at the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows. The easy-to-use, rotating, 1.25-inch barrel makes styling your hair into loose, beachy waves essentially effortless. It may be on the pricier side, but it's absolutely worth the investment.
2. Best Value: A Budget-Friendly Curling Wand With A 1.5-Inch Barrel
Wands like the Remington Pro make styling easier and healthier because you don’t have to worry about clamps that crimp your hair or cause you to leave strands on the iron too long. Also, a medium barrel (sized at about 1 to 1.5 inches) is ideal for loose curls because anything bigger will cause them to fall out too easily. It heats up in 30 seconds and has auto shut-off, for added safety. This hair tool is also offered at a truly excellent price, especially given its four-star rating with over 7,000 reviews.
3. Best For Short Hair: A Clipless Curling Iron With A 1-Inch Barrel
If you have short hair, don’t attempt to work with an iron that has too big of a barrel. In order to create a soft, beachy look, you want to be able to wrap your hair all the way around the iron, sometimes twice. The NuMe Classic Curling Wand is a professional-grade wand whose barrel is just below 1-inch, perfect for easy-to-create, loose curls on short hair.
4. Best For Hair That Struggles To Hold A Curl: A Reverse Tapered Curling Wand For Voluminous, Natural-Looking Curls
This interestingly-shaped curling wand may look odd, but all it really does is create curls that last longer, have more volume and look more natural. The Le Angelique Tapered Curling Iron has a reverse tapered shape, which is perfect for anyone with stubborn hair that won’t curl, or who wants their style to last longer than one night. It has a near-perfect rating with plenty of reviewers to back those two claims up.
5. Best For Travel: A Mini Clipless Curling Iron For Under $20
If you’re a frequent traveler or prefer having your iron with you on-the-go, try the Conair Mini YOU Curl Ceramic Clipless Curler. The tool itself is only eight inches tall (which makes storing and packing it a breeze), and unlike other travel-friendly curling irons, it’s clipless. Without the clip, you have more freedom to wrap your hair around the small barrel and create beautiful, loose curls. Every order includes a heat-resistant glove and storage pouch.
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