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Curling Iron Sizes: Which One Is Best For You? - Bows and Bands

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When it comes to finding the perfect curling iron, it's important to check for the best curling iron sizes for your hair length and type. There are a variety of curling iron sizes, some more versatile than others, that can create any look you want to achieve. Types of curling irons can vary from wands, to interchangeable, or gold.

A wand curling iron (which is one of the best when it comes to varying curling iron sizes) creates multiple curl styles with a simple wrist twist. An interchangeable curling iron enables you to change barrel sizes for many looks while using the same tool. The gold plated curling iron means you can create beautiful curl styles with less frizz.

When searching for the best curling iron, you should look for:

  • Material
  • Clips
  • Heat Setting
  • Barrel Size

Curling Iron 

different tools for hair

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Curling irons are made from many different types of material, such as ceramic, tourmaline, titanium, and gold. The variety is indicative of the hair texture and what will curl (or even straighten) hair the best. Ceramic, for example, is typically used in most curling irons and is useful for all hair types. However, gold is best for thick and/or coarse hair types.


Clips are used in curling irons to grab onto the hair as you curl. If you're using a wand-style curling iron, they don't come with clips. Instead, they use a barrel, which comes in a variety of curling iron sizes.

Heat Setting

It is important to look for heat settings appropriate to your hair, because using too low of a setting will produce inadequate results, whereas too high can damage hair. If you have thin, fine hair, a lower heat setting works best. But if you have thicker, coarser hair, a higher heat setting is needed. Fine hair should use up to 300 degrees and medium textured hair should use 300-380 degrees.

Coarse, curly, and/or thick hair should use 350-450 degrees. The health of your hair matters, as well. Hair that is damaged or chemically treated, such as bleached hair, should only use up to 300 degrees. It is recommended that you never use a heat setting higher than 450 degrees.

Barrel Size

Barrel size, the curling iron sizes, are used to measure the type of curls you want and are based on hair length. Some curling iron sizes work with all hair types, but others are best with a particular length to achieve the best style. Barrel size is also important in avoiding damage to your hair. Curling iron sizes are not all created equal.

Curling Iron Sizes

hair blower hair iron and curling iron

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There are many varieties of curling iron sizes. They include:

  • 3/4 Inch
  • 1 Inch
  • 1 1/4 Inch
  • 1 1/2 Inch
  • 2 Inch

Typically, 1 1/4 inch to two-inch curling irons work best with long hair, One inch to 1 1/4 inch curling irons work best with medium hair, and 3/4 inch to one-inch curling irons work best with short hair. 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch curling irons are best for thin hair, and 3/4 inch to two-inch curling irons work best for thick hair. It isn't recommended to use larger curling iron sizes for thicker hair. One inch curling irons work with all lengths, thin, and thick hair.

3/4 Inch

The 3/4 inch is the smallest of the curling iron sizes and is fit for all hair lengths, including short hair. Its versatility makes it a perfect size to have on hand. Your hair can go from long to medium to short, whenever you decide, and having this curling iron size handy means not having to purchase a new tool. This is one of the curling iron sizes that are great for naturally curly hair, as it will give you similar curls to what your hair already has.

While small curling irons give you a tight curl, you can also achieve a loose, curly look with an easy curl technique. Simply curl your hair away from your face! If you divide the hair into 6-8 pieces, then you can achieve a bigger curl. For tighter ringlets, separate hair into one-inch sections and curl toward your face, and to add a retro look, brush out the curls.

This one of the best curling iron sizes for short hair, such as a pixie cut. Shorter hair requires a tighter curl in some areas that can't be created with a larger barrel size. The 3/4 inch barrel size allows you to grip short hair and create a curl while also having the ability to curl a bang or any part of the cut that has more length. No matter what hairstyle you have, this 3/4 inch curling iron size is useful and can be used in many different ways.

1 Inch

Just like the 3/4 inch, the 1” is one of the most versatile of curling iron sizes, as it works with all hair lengths, including short hair. It helps you create a classic curly look as well as voluminous curls. It's one of the best curling iron sizes to have on hand at all times. It gives you a variety of styles including waves, beachy curls, and ringlets. You can create a super tight curl style, or you can wear a looser look.

This is one of the curling iron styles that can create multiple styles without having to purchase more than one curling iron. This size is used for a classic style, mermaid curls, spiral curls, natural waves, loose curls, flipped ends, and more.

1 1/4 Inch

The 1 1/4 “is one of the curling iron sizes for larger waves, and it works best for medium to long hair. The barrel creates big waves that can be worn on any occasion. It gives a tight spiral without decreasing hair length. You can create a deep, wavy look by twisting hair away from the face. Although this size isn't always listed as the best option, it's perfect for long hair. It is a great size in-between the one-inch curling iron and the two inch. This size is best for big waves.

1 1/2 Inch

The 1 1/2 inch is one of the curling iron sizes for longer hair. It's suited best for long to medium length hair and can create tousled curls and will give lift at the roots. This curling iron size is great for loose curls as opposed to super tight looks, and helps add body to hair. The downside is that these large curls last only a few hours and eventually fall.

For curling, it's best to separate the hair into small sizes unless you plan to keep curls extremely loose. It is recommended that you separate hair into three sections to help add lift to the roots. This is another great option for long hair that's not as small as the one-inch and not as large as the two-inch. It's also one of the great curling iron sizes for heavier hair. A smaller sized iron will have difficulty holding heavy hair, and the heat may not penetrate it enough to actually curl. This size is used for loose curls, blowout waves, and undone waves.

2 Inch

The largest of the popular curling iron sizes are the two-inch curling irons. They are made for long hair and will give you beachy waves, amongst other styles. The size is similar to that of a round brush, which can assist with creating a faux blowout. To create these styles, you should separate the hair into large sections and wrap the hair around the barrel. This size is used for beachy waves.

Other Sizes

smartphone hair iron and a magazine

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There are other varieties of curling iron sizes, such as 1 3/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch, and the 5/8 inch barrel size. 1/2 inch curling irons work similarly to the 3/4 inch. The 1 3/4 inch curling iron size is rare and used to create soft, loose curls.

The 3/8 inch curling iron works well with natural, kinky curls, and the 5/8 inch is also best for natural curls of a wide variety. These curling iron sizes are versatile and can work with any hair length; however, they work best with short hair. If your hair is two inches or less, it would be best to use a 5/8 inch barrel size as opposed to the 1/2 inch, for example.

Although a 3/8 inch barrel size can work with longer hair, giving it ringlets and tighter curls, it could make the task much more difficult. It can add unnecessary time and effort when the same style can be created with large curling iron sizes. Always look for the curling iron sizes that work best with your hair type and health.


When it comes to your hair type, curling iron sizes are one of the most important aspects to look for when purchasing tools. It's recommended to always do the right research before making a curling iron purchase, especially since there are curling iron sizes that work with all types of hair, as opposed to one length in particular. These curling iron sizes can be found at many different beauty supply stores. Be sure to grab the best curling iron for those bouncy curls you love.

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