Best Curling Iron Sets

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
139 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best curling iron sets

Last Updated June 2019

From Shirley Temple to Beyoncé, beautiful curly hair has always evoked envy in those of us born with poker-straight locks. But you can flaunt your curls with the best of them if you receive a little help from a curling iron set.

Picking out the best set isn't easy, though, especially if you've never bought any sort of curling device before. Between barrel shapes and sizes, coating materials, heat settings, and more, the whole process can seem a little baffling.

We at BestReviews have written this guide to cut through the jargon and make it easier for you to buy your perfect curling iron set. We’ve also included some of our favorites. Read on and you'll soon be sporting swoon-worthy curls.

If you can't choose between loose beachy waves and tight ringlets, a curling iron set will give you the versatility you require.

What’s a curling iron set?

The difference between a curling iron set and a standard curling iron is a simple one. While a curling iron has a single fixed barrel, a curling iron set comes complete with a number of interchangeable barrels of different shapes and sizes.

Why would you want several different barrels? Well, barrels of different diameters and shapes produce various styles of curls, making a curling iron set much more versatile than a standard curling iron.

Rave reviews

If you want great results every time, the Irresistible Me 8-in-1 curling iron set is what you need. With so much versatility at your fingertips, it’s easy to create the effect you want with these cool-tip tourmaline barrels — beachy waves, tight ringlets, or something in between.

Key considerations

Clamp vs. wand

Until recent years, curling irons generally had a clamp to hold the end of your hair in place while you curl the rest of the length around the barrel. However, there's been a recent trend for curling wands, or curling rods, which do away with the clamp. Instead, you wrap your hair around the barrel using your hand. As a rule, clamp-style curling irons are better for creating tight ringlets, while curling wands are better at creating loose, casual curls and waves. Curling irons with clamps tend to be easier to use, but the clamp can sometimes cause a kink at the end of the hair.

Barrel sizes

Curling iron sets feature barrels in a range of sizes, but you still need to check that the sizes offered will create the styles you desire. Smaller barrels create tighter curls and larger barrels create looser curls.

  • 3/8-inch diameter gives you tight curls with loads of volume

  • 3/4-inch diameter give you curls that are still tight but slightly less springy

  • 1-inch diameter gives you full midsize curls

  • 1 1/2-inch diameter gives you fairly loose, bouncy curls

  • 2-inch diameter gives you very loose curls or waves
     

However, you also need to think about your hair length. A two inch barrel will give you a long mane of loose curls if you have waist-length hair and a Charlie's Angels-style feathered look if you have chin-length hair.

Barrel material

Once you've decided what range of barrel sizes you require, you'll then need to consider barrel material. The most common materials are ceramic, titanium, and tourmaline.

  • Ceramic is a common material for curling iron barrels. It holds heat well but doesn't become too hot, which minimizes hair damage. It's generally best for people with fine or medium hair.

  • Titanium can get much hotter than ceramic, which makes it an ideal material for people with very thick hair that won't curl at lower temperatures.

  • Tourmaline is a coating that you can find on either ceramic or titanium barrels. It produces extra negative ions to leave your curls frizz-free for a very smooth, sleek look.
     

Barrel shape

  • Cylindrical: Standard curling iron barrels are cylindrical – the same width along the entire length. These are great for creating curls of a uniform size.

  • Cone: If you'd like some smaller and some larger curls, or curls that vary in diameter from top to bottom, opt for a cone-shaped barrel. You can use it at different points along the length of the barrel to create differently sized curls.

  • Spiral: You may also see curling iron barrels in the shape of a spiral or resembling a series of bubbles. These are ideal for producing evenly curled spirals or waves of hair.
     

Heat settings

Curling iron sets should have a range of heat settings. The lowest settings generally start at around 200°F to 250°F. Depending on the model you choose, it may reach a maximum heat of 450°F. However, just because your curling iron can reach 450°F it doesn't mean you should crank it right up. As a rule, the thicker and coarser your hair, the higher the temperature you'll need to curl it. For fine or medium-thick hair, start at a much lower temperature. That said, higher temperatures set your curls more effectively, so they stay curled longer. Ultimately, you need to find that middle ground between a temperature so low it won't set your hair effectively and a temperature so high it scorches your hair.

EXPERT TIP

Use a heat-protectant spray on your hair before curling it to help avoid heat damage, especially if you use your curling iron set regularly.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you sometimes forget to turn off your curling iron before leaving the house, choose a model with auto shut-off.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

You might need to use a heat-resistant glove with a curling wand to keep from burning your hand.


Staff  | BestReviews

Curling iron set prices

Due to the extra barrels, curling iron sets cost a little more than a single curling iron of a similar quality.

Inexpensive

Expect to pay at least $30 to $40 for a basic curling iron set. One of these is fine for occasional use, but it won't give you the best results and might not last too long with regular use.

Mid-range

You can find some excellent curling iron sets that cost $50 to $90, made with quality materials and featuring a wide range of barrel types to achieve plenty of styles.

Expensive

High-end sets can cost as much as $100 to $250. These sets will give you salon-quality results at home.

Curls on the go

Thanks to the handy travel case and dual voltage system, this Xtava set is perfect for taking on vacation. With five barrels from 0.3 to 1.25 inches in diameter, you can create everything from tight ringlets to loose waves. The included glove protects your hand from burns when using the wand.

Tips

  • Check the heating time of your chosen curling iron set. While curling your hair isn't a particularly quick task, a slow heating time can be annoying.

  • Learn about timing. The amount of time you apply heat to each section of hair makes a big difference in how your curls turn out. Around 5 seconds gives you loose waves, around 7 seconds gives you loose curls, and 10 to 12 seconds gives you tight curls.

  • Consider your hair type. The perfect curling iron set for someone with thick hair won't necessarily suit someone with fine locks, so choose accordingly.

  • Check the included accessories. Handy extras include a glove to protect your hand from the heat and a case for storage or travel.

Other products we considered

Although our product matrix represents our top five curling iron sets, we considered plenty of others that only just missed the mark. They're still excellent products that are worth putting on your shortlist. The BESTOPE 5-in-1 Professional Curling Iron Wand Set features five barrels, including a spiral for creating tight, springy curls. The maximum temperature of 410°F is hot enough for most applications. What we love about the PARWIN PRO Curling Iron Set is the range of useful accessories that come with it, including a glove, clips, and travel case. The no-cool tip gives you even results all the way down the barrel. If you're looking for a top-of-the-line option, try the T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand, but be prepared to spend top dollar. This high-end set gives you salon-quality results with larger barrels suited to big, bouncy curls, beachy waves, and other on-trend styles.

Some curling irons produce negative ions that cancel out the positive ions between hairs and help create smoother, frizz-free curls.

FAQ

Q. What hairstyles can I create with my curling iron set?

A. While you can achieve all kinds of curls, from tight ringlets to subtler loose curls, curling irons are also great for casual tousled and wavy styles. Depending on the barrels included with your set, you have a huge range of possibilities.

Q. How long will my curls last?

A. This varies widely depending on a range of factors, including your hair type, the heat setting you use, the type of curls you choose, and any setting products you put in your hair before or after curling. Although they may start to droop toward the end of the day, you should get a good 8 to 10 hours from your curls, at least. Under the right conditions, your curls can stay put for more than 24 hours.

Q. Can I use my curling iron set in other countries?

A. Yes, with the right adapter and voltage converter, your curling iron set will work perfectly in another country. However, if you travel frequently, consider buying a dual voltage model to negate the need for a voltage converter.

The team that worked on this review
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