These are our favorite hot tools to help you master that fresh-from-the-salon look.

By Rachel Wermager
Updated September 04, 2020
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Not all curling irons are created equal, and not all of them will work for you. When you're perusing hot tools, there are a few things you need to be looking for, but the most important is the size. If the barrel is too big, your hair won't curl at all. But if it's too small, you're going to be left with very tight girls that you probably don't want. Basically, you need the Goldilocks of curling irons—not too big, not too small, but one that's just right. But before you start perusing your favorite beauty store or getting lost browsing through all the options online, we did all the hard work for you. Here are our favorite curling irons and wands at different sizes and price points so you can find the best one for your hair.

2 inch curling iron
Credit: Courtesy of Target

2-Inch Barrel

Want loose, textured waves and volume that could fake a blowout? Reach for a 2-inch barrel, which creates glamorous curls and adds fresh-from-the-salon volume to hair. For best results, only buy a 2-inch barrel if you have medium to long hair, which is at least a few inches past your shoulders. However, this option will still give shorter hair some bounce.

hot tools curling iron
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

1.25-Inch Barrel

You can recreate your stylist's gorgeous beach waves; this 1.25-inch barrel can give you the look all year round. This option is best for medium-length hair (around the shoulder) and is designed to give you flowy, loose curls that last.

1 inch curling iron
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

1-Inch Barrel

Want a curly 'do with some serious bounce? Use a 1-inch barrel to create pretty, tight ringlets. (Note: The shorter your tresses are, the looser the curls will be as there is less hair to wrap around the barrel.) The ionic technology tames your hair for less frizz and more shine.

bed head wand
Credit: Courtesy of Target

1.25-Inch Wand

If using a curling iron doesn't come naturally to you, consider a curling wand instead. A 1.25-inch wand is ideal for ultimate texture. Try a quick-heating ceramic tool like this, which will cut back on frizz and help you achieve loose, shiny waves in no time.

conair curling wand
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

1-Inch Wand

A 1-inch wand size is great for creating the perfect-size waves on bobs and shorter cuts. Look for a tapered barrel design, which will give you more flexibility with styling (in other words, you can keep curls tight or loose). This ceramic wand can heat up to 400 degrees within 30 seconds and has five heat-styling settings.


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