Curling Wands and Curling Irons

What is a curling wand? Is it really different from a curling iron? How do you use each of them? Do you even need both? Read on to discover the beauty of the curling wand and the curling iron.

First, some definitions. A curling iron has a clasp and creates polished ringlets. The tightness of the curl depends on the size of the iron. A curling wand has no clasp and is used to create natural waves.

Curling Iron Features

Heating: Heating speed in a curling iron is usually only a couple of minutes. The barrel heats to give the hair beautiful curls.

Heat Settings: Some irons have only one heat setting. However, there are many types of irons with more than one setting allowing you the option of determining how hot to heat your hair.

Barrel Size: With this tool, the size will determine the tightness of the curls. If the barrel is narrow, the curls will be smaller and tighter. A wide barrel means bigger curls.

Heating Plate: There are three basic types of heating plate materials: ceramic, tourmaline, and simple metal. Occasionally you’ll find a combination of ceramic and tourmaline used. The ceramic and tourmaline models are more expensive and protect the hair strands while heating causing the hair to resist damage. The metal ones are far less expensive and offer less protection.

Interchangeable Barrels: Some models will allow you to change the barrels. This means you can work with one sized barrel one day and then change it to another size barrel another day. This means you would only need one iron for multiple different styles.

Curling Wand Features:

Heating: Heating is really fast with these. Be sure to use the safety glove so you don’t burn your fingers.

Wand Barrel and Shape: The shape of the curling barrel is tapered in the front of wands. This makes the curls tighter and smaller at the ends of the hair strands.

No Holding Clip: Because there is no clip to hold the hair in place like the iron, the curls come out even and smooth without the mark of the slip at the tip of the strand.

Durability of Curls: Curls done with the wand stay all day and night because the heating is so strong.

The curling iron always created polished curls. However, the curling wand can create anything from tight curls to voluminous waves to piecey waves. When the curling wand does create ringlets, they can be broken up using your fingers to look more like waves.

Differences Between a Curling Iron and a Curling Wand:

Structural: There is no clip in a wand which makes curls without the clip mark. With an iron, this mark can appear in every strand unless you are very careful.

Speed: The wand heats up faster giving results faster than the iron.

Smoothness: Curls are smoother and shiny when done with an iron. However, a wand gives gentle curls that are less polished.

You hold a curling wand differently from a curling iron. With a curling iron, the cord should be down. With a curling wand, the cord should be up.

The curling wand creates natural looking waves. Think of a wavy line curving back and forth but stays flat. Thus, this tool will create natural looking waves, like beachy waves, to mimic a more natural hair texture.

When you look at the results from both tools, you can see that the curling iron created waves that are more polished and bouncy while the curling wand created more natural, relaxed waves. It is good to have both in your toolbox so you can use the iron when you want a more polished look and the wand for more casual hangouts.

Deciding on a Curling Iron or Curling Wand

There are five things to look for in a heat tool:

  • Does it get hot enough to adequately curl your hair?
  • Is it the right size barrel for the curls you want to create (smaller barrels = tighter curls, larger barrels = bigger curls)?
  • Is it easy to hold and use?
  • Will it last over time?
  • Is it the right tool for my hair type?

Best Heat Tools for African American Hair

Three Must-Have Characteristics of Heat Tools for African American Hair

  1. Barrel Size

Bigger barrels mean bigger curls and vice versa. As your hair is naturally curly or kinky, you cannot use a bigger barrel for your natural hair. Moreover, relaxed hair is somewhat damaged so you cannot use anything less than a one inch barrel. Thus, the 5/8 for natural hair and the 1/5 inch for relaxed hair is best.

  1. Material

All four basic materials for heat tools, ceramic, porcelain, titanium, or tourmaline, produce fairly even heat. The Tourmaline generates more negative ions and provides a smoother surface than the other three. Negative ions protect the hair from further damage while preserving the natural oil of the hair by sealing off the cuticles. But as Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone, it is treated with other materials to maximize the benefit at a moderate price. However, a coating of any form is cheaper.

  1. Heat Setting

Depending on the thickness of your hair, you likely don’t need to tune in to very high temperatures on a heat tool. Natural hair requires moderate to high heat. The relaxed hair needs low to moderate.

Curling Irons for Natural African American Hair

Criteria Babyliss PRO CT58S Hot Tools 1109 Helen of Troy 1509
Rule#1: Barrel Size Pass:5/8 inch Pass:5/8 inch Pass:5/8 inch
Rule#2: Barrel Material Pass: Ceramic coating barrel Fail: 24K gold plated Fail: Chrome
Rule#3: Multiple heat settings Pass: 25 heat settings
Max. 400°F
Pass: 280 to 430 Pass: Low and High
Cord Type Tangle free fixed cord Swivel cord Fixed
Cool Tip Yes Yes Yes
Probable Price Around $40 Around $45 Around $40


#1 Babyliss Pro CT58S

It has a smaller barrel making it much more effective for use with African American hair. It heats up very quickly and fulfills all the requirements for curling. With this tool, you will have smooth, beautiful curls. The Babyliss Pro CT58S allocates heat properly and suits rougher hair to avoid sticking. It also produces negative ions preventing damage to the hair.

Curling Irons for Relaxed African American Hair

Criteria Hot Tools Professional 2102 BabyLiss CT155S Helen of Troy Gold series
Rule#1: Barrel size Pass:1.5 inch Pass:1.5 inch Pass:1.5 inch
Rule#2: Barrel Material Pass: Extra smooth Ceramic Tourmaline Surface with Titanium additive Pass: Ceramic coating Pass: Ceramic coating Fail: Gold plated
Rule#3: Multiple heat settings Pass:280 to 430 degree Pass:25 heat settings
Max. 400°F
Pass: Ten settings
Max 400 degree
Cool Tip Yes Yes Yes
Cord Swivel Fixed cord Fixed
Probable Price Around $35 Around $40 Around $45


#1 Hot Tools Professional 2012

This heat tool has 1.5” barrel making it perfect for this type of hair. It can be made from ceramic, titanium, and Tourmaline, making it the best for relaxed hair because all of these have smooth surfaces and help your hair retain its natural moisture to produce shiny curls. It heats up very quickly making it perfect.

The Best Curling Wand for African American Hair

xtava Twirl Curling Wand

This heat tool has a tapered Tourmaline barrel that heats up quickly. On Amazon, it is around $27.99.


Three Top Heat Tools for Other Types of Hair

#3 Infiniti Pro by Conair Professional Nano Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

Besides its durability, this heat tool has temperature control and heats up very quickly producing perfect curls every time.

#2 Beachwaver Co. Beachwaver S1


This self-rotating wand takes all the grunt work out of curling your hair. It heats up fast and curls hair quickly. This iron gives you Victoria Secret hair and the curls can last several days.

#1 Sultra Bombshell Cone Curling Rod


One of the biggest complaints for curling wands is the tendency for hair to slip and fingers burn. You won’t have either problem with this wand as it has a unique texture to keep hair from slipping off and comes with a glove for protection. It won’t damage your hair and creates gorgeous beach waves.

Posted in Hair.

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