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Best small curling iron

Which small curling iron is best?

There are innumerable ways to style your hair depending on which products and tools you have access to. One of the most commonly used and affordable tools for hairstyling is the curling iron. Small curling irons, in particular, are an excellent way of adding a tight curl.

One of the best small curling irons is BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron. The titanium barrel is the best money can buy, plus this small curling iron features 50 heat levels for precision styling.

What to know before you buy a small curling iron

Barrel types

Curling iron barrels come in many forms besides the basic straight barrel, including spiral, spherical, conical and various specialty barrels. 

  • Spiral: Spiral barrels utilize grooves on the barrel that your hair is placed into to guide your hair into curls.
  • Spherical: Spherical barrels are similar to spiral barrels, except they use a barrel spaced by equally sized spherical bulges instead of etched grooves to guide your hair.
  • Conical: Conical barrels are wide at the base and narrow at the tip, giving you a greater range of possible curl sizes and shapes depending on where you wrap your hair.
  • Specialty: Specialty barrels vary. Some options include automatic barrels, multipronged barrels to create unique shapes and interchangeable barrels with a compatible base.


There are two elements of heat to understand before purchasing a small curling iron: speed and temperature.

Speed refers to how quickly your curling iron reaches its styling heat. Low-cost curling irons can take as long as several minutes, while high-cost options can reach their styling heat as quickly as a few seconds.

The temperature of a curling iron considers the minimum/maximum range of available temperatures and how many settings a given curling iron has to offer. Most curling irons have ranges between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit with setting options between only one and as many as 50.

What to look for in a quality small curling iron

Barrel material

Curling irons use one of four materials for their barrels. Listed in increasing quality, they are: metal, ceramic, tourmaline and titanium. Metal barrels easily damage your hair and are only found in the cheapest options. Ceramic and tourmaline barrels more evenly heat the barrel, decrease frizz and the chance of hair damage and they're more durable. Titanium barrels can be expensive but provide the best results across the board.


Some curling irons include more than just the iron, with a common inclusion being heat-resistant gloves to protect your skin against accidental contact with the hot barrel. Others include a stand to hold the iron away from your counter while hot or various features like automatic shut-off or cool-tipped barrels.

How much you can expect to spend on a small curling iron

Curling iron prices range anywhere from $10-$100 or more depending on the quality, size and range of features. Curling irons less than $20 aren’t recommended for more than occasional use, while those $50 and above are a better bet if you're going to use them frequently.

Small curling iron FAQ

Is there a difference between a curling iron and a curling wand?

A. Curling irons and curling wands accomplish similar tasks, creating curls and waves, but they use different methods, which affects the finished look. Curling irons utilize a clamp that holds the hair in place during styling and create a tighter curl. Curling wands require you to wind and hold your hair around the barrel using only your hand and create a looser curl.

What does a curling iron barrel's width mean for my hair?

A. The width of the curling iron barrel determines how tight of a curl you can create. Small curling irons have barrels measuring between 3/4 inch to 1 inch to create tight curls. Some measure up to 2 inches in width, creating loose waves rather than curls. Some ultra-small curling irons, as little as half an inch, can be used to create ringlets instead of curls.

What's the best small curling iron to buy?

Top small curling iron 

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

What you need to know: This small curling iron from BaBylissPRO is on the pricey side, but it's a high-quality, effective option.

What you’ll love: This small curling iron is available in 3/4-inch and 1-inch lengths. A combo package is also available with a flat iron and the 1-inch curling iron. The titanium barrel provides exceptionally even heating along the barrel, with several heat levels to choose from.

What you should consider: There are some rare reports of consumers receiving faulty curling irons. The curling iron can become hotter than is comfortable, to the point of burning finer hairs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top small curling iron for the money

Conair InfinitiPro Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

What you need to know: This low-cost small curling iron option from Conair provides maximum value and performance at half the cost of the BaBylissPRO option.

What you’ll love: This small curling iron is available in 3/4-inch and 1-inch lengths. Five heat settings and an auto-off function safely manage the dangers of a curling iron. The tourmaline ceramic barrel offers even heat distribution and frizz reduction. 

What you should consider: Some consumers reported discomfort with the high strength of the clamp, and there are rare reports of the curling iron ceasing to function after a few months of use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Duomishu 6-in-1 Curling Iron Set

What you need to know: This six-in-one curling iron/curling wand set covers nearly all your needs at an excellent price point.

What you’ll love: The accessories included are two small curling irons (.74-inch and 1-inch), a medium curling iron (1.25-inch), two small curling wands (. 35- to . 7-inch and .74- to 1-inch) and a small spiral curling wand (1-inch). Ceramic ensures an even distribution of heat and durability.

What you should consider: There are only three available heating options, which cover 300-410 degrees Fahrenheit. The included heat-resistant glove is low-quality compared to the curling iron set.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jordan C Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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