Best Curling Iron of 2021
The Hot Tools Professional Series 24K Gold is an excellent option for those seeking a premium styling tool to produce the best wave or curl. This model has an ergonomic handle, a long cord, and comes in multiple different barrel sizes so you can achieve the exact curl you're looking for. There is a safety tip, which helps prevent unfortunate burn incidents. The pressure of the clamp is nice and even, and the temperature has a wide range and can be adjusted to suit your hair type. Sliding your hair through the tool feels effortless, and the integrated stand and convenient pivot for the cord make this one of our all-around favorite styling tools.
An important consideration for this tool is the higher cost and the need to buy other additional styling tools if you want multiple wave or curl sizes. Its interface also isn't the best we have encountered; the controls for temperature and power can feel a little sharp to the touch. Still, we don't consider these dealbreakers, and we highly recommend this offering from Hot Tools if you want a top-of-the-line tool for your hairstyling needs.
If a motorized curler is your styling tool of choice for curling your hair, we think it's hard to go wrong with the CHI Spin N Curl. This option can make fast work of even the thickest and longest hair, expediting your morning routine considerably if you curl your hair every day. The 1" barrel can heat up to 410°F, locking in your curls, all while being almost completely enclosed by guards, making it very hard to burn yourself. It's also compatible with 110-240 VAC, making it a great travel option, and has a very long swivel cord, so you aren't caught short.
We did find that there can be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using this product. It can feel quite foreign — and a bit intimidating — if you are used to a traditional curling iron or wand, as you are feeding sections of your hair into a motorized roller. This product is also much pricier than many of the other contenders, so it's not a great choice if you infrequently style your hair with one of these tools, and it is a bit heftier than other irons, due to the motor. Despite that, we think it's hard to beat if you want a motorized option to mechanize your curling routine and don't mind paying a little extra for it.
The MiroPure curling iron is an excellent value pick if you're looking to purchase a new styling tool but have a tight budget to stick to. It has an easy-to-read display, an exceptionally long cord, and creates simple, effortless curls when styling your hair. It has one of the longest barrels of the bunch, allowing you to easily get multiple wraps on, and has a handy stand built-in that is quite stable. The clamp provides uniform pressure across the length, and it's even available in different colors to match your style.
However, we did find a few flaws with this product. It has a lower maximum heat setting than many of the other options, and it only has six different temperature settings — much less adjustability than other options. Despite that, we think this is a great bargain option if you want a solid curler without spending a ton of cash for a premium option.
If you rarely use a curling iron and are hoping to spend as little as possible on one, consider the Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic. This model might not be our favorite, but it costs considerably less than many of the top-tier models — in some cases, you could buy all five sizes of this tool for the same prices as one of the premium options! We also like that the Revlon is dual-voltage compatible for all of your international travels, will automatically shut off after a period of time, and offers 30 different heat settings to fine-tune your curler to your hair type.
While we appreciated that this product offers lots of temperature adjustability, we found it to be a little odd that the dial is marked in increments ranging from 1-30, rather than by temperature. The cord on this curling iron is also a little on the shorter side, and the stand is a bit less stable than the top options, but we think it's a great option if you are shopping on a slim budget.
If you want the ease and efficiency of a motorized option but don't want to spend the money for a premium tool, check out Conair Infinitipro Curl Secret. This motorized curling iron makes styling your hair quick and easy, and keeps the heated element enclosed and away from your hands. It has two different heat levels and three timer settings to customize your curls. The Curl Secret is also quite comfortable to hold and user-friendly once you get the hang of using it.
The Curl Secret is a little heavier than a traditional curling iron, and this model also has a slightly shorter cord. It also doesn't give you quite as much adjustability when creating curls or waves, as you only have the three different timer settings. It takes a bit of practice to get used to how you feed your hair into the roller and control the amount of curl, but we'd still recommend this to anyone searching for a mechanized styling tool that won't break the bank.
If you're on the hunt for a top-tier curling iron and aren't bothered by a shorter cord, then the Hot Tools Signature Series Gold is a great option. This model is almost identical to one of our all-time favorite products, the Hot Tools Professional Series, except for its shorter cord. It's comfortable and easy to use, with an ergonomic handle, a safety tip to minimize the chance of burning yourself, and a built-in fold-out stand. It provides very even clamping pressure and has a decently high maximum temperature to give you plenty of options while styling.
This tool is also available in fewer barrel diameters than its Professional Series sibling, notably omitting the smallest and the largest options. We also found the dials to adjust the temperature and turn this iron on or off to be a little spiky and harder to turn than some of the other options. However, we still would easily recommend this tool to anyone looking to save a little money and isn't bothered by the shorter cord and smaller range of available barrel diameters.
While not in our list of favorites, the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Spring is still a solid curling iron in our books. It has many of the features that we like in the top-tier products — including a longer cord — but we just didn't find it quite as easy or user-friendly when it came to curling. It offers very uniform clamping pressure across the length of the barrel and has a stable stand, as well as a safety cap to minimize accidental burns while in use.
The Pro Nano Titanium Spring has a longer handle and a higher clamp that can make it somewhat uncomfortable to hold for those with smaller hands. We also found the interface to adjust the temperature isn't as easy to operate compared to the other models. The dial can be harder to turn, and we found the Turbo feature a bit odd. It also is divided into arbitrary settings between 1-50, instead of displaying an actual temperature. All in all, it's a solid option, especially if you want the higher maximum temperature.
The Kapozi is a fairly typical curling iron and a decent option if you just need one for sporadic use and prefer not to shell out the money for a top-tier model. It's comfortable and convenient to use, with a high max temperature to accommodate just about every type of hair. We like that it has a dual-voltage input, making it a great travel companion if you need a curler on your next international trip. We also found the lengthy cord and integrated stand make this a very convenient curling option.
However, this model is only available with a 1" diameter curling barrel, so you will need to pursue other options if you are looking for tighter or looser curls. The handle for the clamp is also a little on the smaller side, requiring a bit more force to open or close compared to other options and making it a little less comfortable to hold for those with smaller hands. If you're not bothered by these issues, the Kipozi isn't a bad choice.
The Conair Instant Heat 1 ½" is far from our favorite curling iron but at least is usually one of the least expensive. It has a decently comfortable and easy-to-hold handle, with a built-in stand that securely balances this styling tool when not in use. It has typical curling performance and a solid amount of adjustability when it comes to the temperature, along with a Turbo button — though we didn't immediately find this to be particularly useful.
While this product does offer a wide range of temperature adjustability, the dial to set the temperature feels a little awkwardly placed. It also is marked with a scale from 0-25, compared to actual degree settings. We also think the clamp lever could be a little more comfortable to use, particularly for anyone with a smaller grip. It's a cheap curling option that might be fine for very occasional use, but we would suggest spending a bit more for a different option if you use one of these regularly.
Finishing at the back of the group, the Infinitipro by Conair Nano Tourmaline Ceramic did little to impress us. It delivered very lackluster results across our tests, though we did appreciate its automatic off feature and the included heat shield to cover the heating element.
Our biggest complaint with this product lies in the design and feel of the handle and interface. The buttons are small and more difficult to press, and this product is limited to only five different temperature settings. The clamp handle and the grip also are far from our favorite. On top of all that, the stand doesn't balance quite as well or offer any adjustability compared to the top-tier models. Overall, it will curl your hair, but we would generally suggest sticking with an alternative option.
Why You Should Trust Us
Taking the lead with our curling iron review, David Wise uses his extensive experience rating and ranking consumer products and his mechanical engineering background to compare and score these hair styling tools. We also consulted with professional stylists and a diverse panel of judges with a variety of different hair types to test out and give feedback on each curler.In addition to the feedback of our testers, we also conducted some side-by-side objective tests. We used a piece of paper as a feeler gauge to compare clamping pressure across the length of the barrel, as well as using a thermocouple to compare and score the thermal characteristics.
Analysis and Test Results
We split our comprehensive testing process into three different metrics, each with a handful of different assessments. We looked at the curling performance, temperature characteristics, and ease of use for each of these styling tools, with standout performances of different products in each metric highlighted below.
Of all the styling tools that we tested in this review, the Hot Tools Signature Series, the Hot Tools Professional Series 24K Gold, and the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium are some of our favorites when it comes to curling performance. Hair slides smoothly around the barrel of all three of these models and wasn't prone to kinking or creasing in our tests. Additionally, we like that the clamps on these three models provide very even and uniform pressure across the length.
The Hot Tools Professional Series is available in the most diameters of this group, with 0.375", 0.5", 0.625", 1", 1.25",1.5", and 2" options available to suit your styling preferences. The Hot Tools Signature Series and the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium are only available in 0.75", 1", 1.25", and 1.5" options.
We also like the performance of the MiroPure 1.25". This product also made some top-tier curls and has one of the longest barrels of the entire group. However, it is only available in a single diameter, so it offers a bit less versatility.
It's worth mentioning the pair of motorized curlers, the Conair Infinitipro Curl Secret and the CHI Spin N Curl. Practiced users were able to curl very well with these products, but novices took a little time to get the technique and settings dialed in before they could achieve their desired results.
The Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic is about average in our list regarding curling performance. It's available in a handful of different diameters from 0.5" to 1.5" and usually doesn't crease or kink hair. It has fairly uniform pressure, but you can tell the difference when you compare the extreme ends of the clamp.
The Kipozi 1" and the Infinitipro by Conair Nano Tourmaline followed in our ranking. We found there to be a slightly more noticeable gradient in clamping pressure as you moved away from the pivot, and these products are only available in a single diameter. The Conair Instant Heat finished at the back of the group, hurt by the noticeable difference in pressure across its length. Small sections of hair that would be securely clamped on one end would slide right through with little to no resistance at the other.
We looked at the claimed maximum temperature and the amount of adjustability of each product to determine scores for our temperature metric.
If you are looking for a curling iron that can get as hot as possible, then the Kipozi 1" and the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium are good options to consider. These both have a maximum temperature of 450°F, but we like the BaBylissPRO slightly more, as it gives you 50 different temperature settings, compared to the 10 of the Kipozi.
The Hot Tools Signature Series and the Hot Tools Professional Series 24K Gold both have listed peak temperatures of 430°F. These models have a continuous dial as well, offering the complete spread of temperatures from 280°F-430°F. The CHI Spin N Curl and the MiroPure have listed peak temperatures of 410°F, but the CHI offers more options within its range, with 10°F increments from 180°F to 370°F, then 5°F increments up to 410°F. The MiroPure ranges from 310°F to 410°F, with 20°F increments through that range.
The Conair Instant Heat and the Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic both have a listed top temperature of 400°F. The Conair Instant Heat gives you 25 different settings, along with a Turbo boost, while the Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic offers 30 different settings.
The Conair Infinitipro Curl Secret and the Infinitipro by Conair Nano Tourmaline are also listed with a maximum temperature of 400°F. However, the Infinitipro by Conair Nano Tourmaline only gives you 5 different temperature modes, and the Curl Secret offers only a low and high-temperature option.
Ease of Use
For our ease of use metric, we rated and ranked each styling tool on how comfortable they are to hold, how long their cord is, if it swivels, how well the stand works, if we found it to be easy to accidentally burn yourself, and if it is dual-voltage to make it more travel friendly.
The Hot Tools Signature Series, the Hot Tools Professional Series, and the MiroPure all impressed us with their ease of use. These models are all quite comfortable to hold, with easy to actuate levers and stands that hold them securely. We also particularly like that both the MiroPure and the Hot Tools Professional Series feature extra long cords.
The BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium is almost as easy to use as those top models and does have a longer cord, but we found it to be just a little less comfortable in hand, and the dial to adjust the temperature is a bit clunky.
These four tools all have safety tips to prevent accidental burns, and we generally didn't find them prone to accidentally burning us. However, they can't beat the motorized curlers when it comes to avoiding burns. Both the CHI Spin N Curl and the Conair Infinitipro Curl Secret make it very easy to avoid burning yourself, as the heated barrel is almost entirely shrouded in a guard.
We also found these motorized options to be very easy to use once you got some practice with them, though they both have shorter cords. However, only the Spin N Curl is compatible with dual-voltage inputs, making it a better travel option.
The remaining curling irons — the Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic, the Conair Instant Heat, the Kipozi Ceramic, and the Infinitipro by Conair Nano Ceramic are all fairly average when it comes to ease of use. However, we do like how the Revlon Perfect Heat has an automatic shut-off feature and is dual-voltage compatible, and out of this group, we feel that the Conair Instant Heat has a slightly superior stand.
We hope this has been a helpful review and analysis of the top curling tools currently available. We tested these products head-to-head and consulted with experts to help you find the best, regardless if you are searching for a top-tier styling tool worthy of a professional, a basic budget model for occasional use, or a motorized option for quick and easy curling.
— David Wise