I have been curling my hair since long before I should have been messing around with a hot iron but hey, that’s what us girls do in the name of beauty! Anyway, I have never been very good at it so my years of experience haven’t exactly benefited me. For whatever reason I could never get the hang of pretty spiral curls, and every attempt I made ended up turning into crimpy disasters or Shirley Temple monstrosities!
I know there are a lot of people out there who are pros with curling irons, so I wanted to find out how they do it and what I was missing. During the process I learned a lot about the differences in various technologies and what that means for people who want to get it all curled out!
Curling irons are one of the oldest heated hair tools. In fact, they have been used for centuries by heating a rod over a fire (not the safest method in the world for your hair or your skin)! However, their staying power clearly proves there is something to them. They tend to be less expensive than a lot of the newer options because even the high end ones have been around for a long time.
A curling iron has a “clamp” or “flipper” that contours to the barrel, and this helps you hold the hair in place while you’re creating a curl. In general, they don’t get as hot as newer designs, and they require more contact between the barrel and your hair to get the curl to set.
With a curling iron you pick a section of hair, push the tab on the flipper to move it away from the barrel and wrap your hair around the length of it. Then, you close the flipper on your hair to hold it in place. Usually, people hold this position between 5 and 15 seconds. It all depends on your hair type and the heat level it requires.
Curling wands on the other hand, are missing one big thing– the flipper! They are literally just a straight or tapered tube that is most often covered in ceramic. It gets very hot and usually requires a glove to protect your hand due to the lack of a clamp.
With a wand, you use your second hand to wrap the hair around starting with the base of the iron and working up toward the tip. When curling though, the tip should be facing straight down and the base should be up in the air. This can take a little getting used to especially if you’re using a wand for the first time.
The idea behind a curling iron and wand is similar, but the outcome can be very different. Wands are more user friendly, and they are less likely to cause crimps or breaks in curls. Irons on the other hand, are much more geared toward professionals who have had a lot of practice.
Obviously there are perks to both options and there are a lot of curling irons that do a spectacular job, but I believe the reason wands have taken off so well is because they take out one of the variables. I have tried to curl my hair for more years than I care to admit to, and I always ended up with a weird crimp to certain parts of it which is something that tends not to happen with a wand.
Regardless, it’s a matter of personal preference. There are some “ride or die” curling iron fans out there as well as an emerging contingency of wand lovers. No matter where you fall on the list, I’m leaning toward a wand because of the ease of use and because I’ve never been able to get the clamp on an iron to work for me.