Best Curling Iron of 2020
If you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to styling tools to give your hair the perfect curl or wave, then we think the Hot Tools Professional Series 24K Gold is a great option for most people. It's available in a variety of different barrel sizes, allowing you to pick the one that is best for your desired curls and has a long cord and ergonomic handle. This, along with its safety tip, makes it easy to style without accidentally burning yourself. It has a wide temperature range for different types of hair and provides very even clamping pressure. Hair slides through it almost effortlessly and the cord pivot and integrated stand make it one of our all-time favorite styling tools.
However, this tool can be a little more expensive than some of the other options, further compounded by the need to buy multiple tools if you are going for multiple curl or wave sizes. We also aren't overly enamored with the interface on this tool. The power and temperature adjust knobs feel overly sharp — enough to be a bit disconcerting if you grab them too hard. Overall, these are fairly trivial flaws in our minds and we highly recommend this to anyone searching for a top-tier tool when it comes to curling and styling.
If a motorized curler is your styling tool of choice when it comes to curling your hair, then we think it is 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 quite a bit more expensive than many of the other products, making it a bit of a poor 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.
If you are shopping on a budget and looking for a great value option, then we think the MiroPure Instant Heat Curling Iron is a great choice. It is convenient and easy to curl with, offering a particularly long cord and a very easy to read digital display. 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, then we would suggest you consider the Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic Curling Iron. This model might not be our absolute 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 did appreciate that this product offers lots of adjustability when it comes to setting the curling temperature, we did find 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 when it comes to hair styling tools.
If you are looking for the ease and efficiency of a motorized option when it comes to curling your hair but don't want to spend the money for a premium option, then we would suggest you check out Conair INFINITIPRO Curl Secret. This motorized tool makes it quick and easy to style your hair, all while keeping the heated element enclosed and away from your hands. It has 2 different heat levels and 3 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 it comes to creating curls or waves, as you only have the three different timer settings. It also can take a little bit of practice to get used to how you feed your hair into the roller and control the amount of curl but we would recommend this to anyone searching for a mechanized styling tool while shopping on a budget.
If you are shopping 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 option 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 this isn't our absolutely favorite curling tool, the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Spring is 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 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 a little more uncomfortable to hold for those with hands-on the more petite side. We also found the interface to adjust the temperature to be a bit less easy to operate compared to the other models. The dial can be a little more difficult to turn and we found the Turbo feature to be a bit odd. It also is divided into arbitrary settings between 1-50 compared to the actual temperature. All in all, it's a solid option, especially if you want the higher maximum temperature.
This is a fairly typical curling iron that is a good option if you don't use one of these tools daily and don't want to spend a ton on a top-tier model. It's comfortable and convenient to use, with a high top 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 this option a little less comfortable to hold for those with smaller hands. If you can handle these issues, then the Kipozi is an alright choice for anyone shopping for a middle-of-the-road option when it comes to their next curling iron purchase.
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 Curling Iron did little to impress us. It delivered very lackluster results across our tests but we did like that it has an automatic off feature and an 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 offers a bit less versatility.
Next, 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 when it comes to 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 a 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 when it came to determining 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 Nano Titanium 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 followed, having 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 came next, with listed peak temperatures of 410°F. The CHI give you more options within its range though, 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 came next, both having 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 gives you 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 Curling Iron Instant Heat all impressed us when it comes to ease of use. These three 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 have extra long cords.
The BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium is almost as easy to use as those top models and does have the longer cord but we found it to be just a little less comfortable to hold 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 INFINITPRO 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 similar in our minds when it comes to ease of use. We do like how the Revlon Perfect Heat has an automatic shut-off feature and is dual-voltage compatible.
These tools are all about average when it comes to comfort and ergonomics, though the Conair Instant Heat does have a slightly better stand in our minds.
We hope this has been a helpful review and analysis of the top curling tools currently available. We test these products head-to-head and consulted with experts all 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