picking the right size from the different curling iron sizes

Important Things to Know about Different Curling Iron Sizes

If you keep facing disappointment when you try to style your hair with a curling iron, the issue may not be your skill; it may be that you aren’t choosing the right size curling iron. There are many types and sizes of curling irons you can choose from, and each will give you a different style for your hair. So, choosing which is right for you depends on how you’d like your hair to look. Here you will find all the important information you need to know about the different curling irons on the market.

What Is a Curling Iron?

A curling iron is a styling device for your hair. It is a heated rod that rolls hair into curls. It uses high heat to make the curls and it generally works within a minute to get the hair into a curl shape. Of course, the type of curling iron, brand, and size, as well as your hair type, will all change how quickly your hair is curled. These factors can also change how your hair will curl.

HOT TOOLS Professional 24k Gold Extra-Long Barrel Curling Iron

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How to Maintain the Curls

To get the best results, you should start by spritzing your hair with a heat protection spray. This will keep the heat from the curling iron from damaging your hair, and it will help keep your hair smooth as you curl it. After your hair is curled, you will want to use other styling tools (like brushes and combs) to make them look neat and flattering. Then you will want to set the curls with a spray, hair gel, mousse, or cream. For best results, a setting spray will hold the curls longer, but the styling product you use depends on your hair type and the results you want to achieve. Remember: How long the curls will last depends on a number of factors, such as your hair thickness, texture, weather, and the type of products you use.

What Are the Different Curling Iron Sizes

There are various sizes and brands of curling irons on the market. The sizes include:

  • 3/8 inch
  • 5/8 inch
  • 3/4 inch
  • 1 inch
  • 1 1/4 inch
  • 1 1/2 inch
  • 2 inch

Each of these curling iron sizes will give you a different look, and each of those looks can be customized based on the styling tools you use after you curl your hair. For example, if you choose to use your fingers, you can get a more natural look. If you choose to use a comb, you can get a more polished look. Also, the type of setting sprays and other products can drastically change how your hair moves and holds after you have curled it to the size you prefer.

What Difference Does Size Make?

As stated, the size of the curling iron makes a huge difference in how your hair looks. There are several styles that you can get with different curling iron sizes.

Spiral or Tight Curls

If you use a curling iron that is 3/8 an inch to 3/4 an inch, you will get very small, tight curls. These curling iron sizes can help those with naturally tight curls bring life back to dry and frizzy curls, or they can help those with short hair get a tight curl look. To use these, wrap your hair tightly around the curling iron, hold for up to 30 seconds, then release. Use a pick comb and a styling cream worked through with your fingers, then set with hairspray.

If you want a messy tight curl look, skip the styling cream, use a soft bristle brush to gently brush the curls, then spritz with sea salt spray and a setting spray. All tight curls will expose your hair to lots of heat, so be ready to use a heat protecting spray before using the curling iron, or get ready to deep condition your hair to keep it in good shape.

It is best to use these curling iron sizes if your hair is not very long and thick, because long, thick hair may not get the tight look you want. That is not to say that you cannot use this size if you have thick, long hair. Just be aware that your look may not be what you imagined and it will take longer to do all of your hair. If you have short hair, you will not have as much hair to wrap around the curling iron barrel, but you can still get a tighter curl with these curling iron sizes.

Loose Curls

Again, your hair length and thickness will determine whether you get loose curls from certain curling iron sizes, but for medium length hair and longer, the best bet for looser curls is a curling iron sized 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch. If you have shorter hair, this is the size to use for waves.

As always, you can change the curl shape and size with the way you style the curls and use the curling iron. For example, you can roll your hair around the curling iron, leave out the ends, use a pomade or cream at the roots, and finger comb the curls for loose, messy curls. You can also use a flexible hold setting spray before curling your hair, then curl your hair as tight as you can around the curling iron. Once you release the curls, brush them gently with a pick comb to shape them, then finish with a setting spray. This will give you full curls.


Waves are best with longer hair, but short hair can rock them, too. For shorter hair, you will need around a 1 or 1 1/4 inch curling iron, but if you have medium or longer hair, you will want to use curling iron sizes that range from 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches.

To get beach waves, spray with heat protecting spray, loosely wrap your hair around the curling iron, clip that piece out of the way, and continue until all hair is done. Let the curls sit for 10 minutes, brush them with a paddle brush, spritz with sea salt spray, and set with light hold hair spray. You will get a look that says you just came from the beach!

If you like a more polished beach wave, loosely wrap your hair around the curling iron, but do not get the roots or ends. Hold for 20 seconds, release, and then blow dry your hair when all of it is curled. Set with loose hold hairspray.

Accessories and Hair Parts

If you like parting your hair a certain way, or if you want to use accessories in your hair, it is always a good idea to plan this before you curl your hair. Part your hair the way you want before curling so you get the look you imagine and don’t mess your curls too much by moving your hair around to part it. If you want to pull your curls up in a ponytail or half ponytail, do this before curling. If you want to use headbands, bows or clips, you can add those after you curl your hair. Spray your hair after you place your accessories.


From big beach waves to tight spiral curls, curling irons can give you a variety of hairstyles, each depending on the curling iron sizes that you choose, how you use the device, and how you style the curls after. No matter what style you want for your hair, you can get it with the right curling iron.
For larger waves, choose a larger curling iron, wrap hair loosely around it, and use your fingers to brush out your hair before spraying it with a setting spray. If you like tight curls, choose a small curling iron, wrap hair tightly around it, and use a pick comb to smooth and shape the curls. You can also choose curling iron sizes in between these two to get another look, and mix and match sizes to get a custom look.

Of course, it is important to remember your hair length and thickness when choosing what curling iron sizes to purchase. For example, if you have short hair, you don’t want a large barrel curling iron, because it won’t fit your hair length. Additionally, if you have very long and thick hair, it won’t react well to small barrel curling irons because the outer layers of your hair will not get the heat needed to curl it properly. It will also expose your hair to a lot of heat and take a long time to curl all of it. Knowing your hair type and what style you want will help you choose the perfect curling iron for your needs and styling desires.

Finally, the products you use will help give you the look you want. You will almost always want to spray your hair with a heat protection spray before curling it and set your curls with a setting spray after to keep your curls looking great all day long.

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