How to Pick and Use a Curling Iron

Check out these tips for using the classic hair tool: the curling iron.

By: Sarah James

Do you consider one single hair product or tool in your arsenal the very best? Would it be one of your 's tranded on a desert island' picks? For some, it might be hard to narrow down the options, but I know for a fact that my favorite is the curling iron.

Curling irons can create so many different looks, depending on the way you use it and the size you purchase. First off, let's talk about the size of your iron.

Curling Iron Size
Depending on the length of your hair and the curl desired, many different sizes are available to you, from tiny barrels to jumbo. However, if you're looking for one curling iron with the most bang for the buck, the 1-inch barrel is the most versatile. Anyone with hair from chin-length to very long can use a 1-inch barrel to create slightly loose, romantic waves that rival some of the best celebrity looks.

Another option for ladies with long hair is the 1 1/2-inch barrel size. Personally, this is my favorite because the curls are super loose and casual. In fact, they look so natural that you wouldn't think a curling iron created them! You can also use this barrel size on shorter hair to create just a bit of a bend in the hair without an actual curl.

Curling Iron Techniques
Although curling irons can create a multitude of looks, let's focus on the three most popular techniques. The first one being the traditional clamp method. This is how many of us curled our hair as teenagers — just clamp the iron on the ends and roll upward or outward. I never use this method because repeated use can quickly fry the ends of your hair. So what should you do? Try the no-clamp method!

The no-clamp method doesn't use the clamp on your iron — instead, just wrap a 1 to 2 inch section of hair around the outside of the barrel. This keeps the look beachy and natural and doesn't heat the very ends of your hair. A perfect idea for summer.

The last technique is a hybrid of the first two mentioned and my favorite. Start off sectioning a 1- to 2-inch section of hair and clamp down with the iron in the middle of the hair shaft. Then start to twist the iron as you move downwards. This movement creates the most beautiful curls, and they last for days.

In time, you'll find the perfect curling iron and technique to create your signature look. In the meantime, good luck and good hair!

Quick Tip: You don't need a clampless curling iron to create beachy waves. Just wrap your hair around your traditional curling iron without opening the clamp!

Sarah can be found contributing her musings on style, beauty and parenting at her personal blog, Whoorl, as well as the popular beauty website Hair Thursday. Her blogs have been featured on “The Rachael Ray Show,” “ABC Nightlineand in The New York Times.


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