The choice of barrel size when purchasing your first curling iron may be very difficult. Almost everyone can relate. The size of the curling iron barrel, though, might be to blame if you’re unhappy with the lack of tight curls or beachy waves you’re aiming for.
I used to make these errors myself and would wind up using a flat iron rather than the newly acquired wand, but now that I am a famous hairstylist, I am very proficient at handling the heat. So that you can select the ideal curling iron for your hair type and desired curl pattern, let me break down all the major curling iron sizes for you.
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Barrel Size, Hairstyle, and Hair Length Correlation
The most difficult step in the hair styling procedure is selecting a curling iron barrel that is appropriate for your hair length and the desired hairdo. Let’s simplify this work for you by outlining how the barrel size relates to the length and style of your hair.
Barrel Size And Hair Length Relationship
Just keep in mind that the barrel size of your curling iron must be proportionate to the length of your hair. This means that if you have short hair, you need small barrels (3/4″, 1″, 3/8″, 5/8″, etc.) and if you have long hair, you need large barrels (1.25″, 1.5″, 1.75″, 2″, etc.).
For medium-length to shoulder-length hair, both small and large barrels work well. For hair of any length, whether short, medium, or long, a 1″ barrel is also appropriate.
Relationship Between Barrel Size And Hairstyle
For various haircuts, you need barrels of a certain size. Small barrels are used to generate bouncy curls, while large barrels are utilized to create wavy hairstyles. For beachy waves, a barrel size of between 0.75″ and 2″ is ideal. The best barrel diameters for mild waves are 1.5″ to 1.75″. While strong waves require a barrel that is 1.75″ to 2″ wide, loose waves can be attained with 1″ to 2″ barrels.
The ideal barrel size for spiral or ringlet curls is between 3/8″ and 12″. For tight curls, use barrel sizes of 1″ to 1.25″; for huge, bouncy curls, use 0.75″ to 1.5″; for big curls, use 1.25″ to 1.5″; and for loose curls, use 1.25″ to 2″. To style your hair as effectively as possible, you need also consider the kind of your hair and choose the appropriate temperature.
What Are the Various Curling Iron Sizes?
The diameter of the barrel, which will ultimately result in the diameter of the curls you produce, is what we refer to when we talk about the size of a curling iron. The smallest barrel, which is only 1/3 inch (or 9 mm) broad, will give you tight corkscrew curls, while the largest barrel, which is 2 inches (or 55 mm) wide, will let you produce a very loose wave on longer locks.
In addition to everything in between, there are barrel sizes that range from small to large, i.e., from one inch on one end to one and a half inches on the other end of the barrel and vice versa. With a wand curling iron, you would typically detect that difference in barrel size.
- 2 Inches
This barrel size popularly referred to as “The Bumper,” is ideal for longer hair lengths. This curling iron barrel may create defined waves, beachy waves, or loose waves. It also gives straight hair a little more volume.
- 1 3/4 Inches
This barrel size, which is typically hard to come by, is valuable to have if you want to give your long hair flowing, feminine waves. It’s also interesting to note that it’s the only barrel size that adds volume and creates soft curls on short hair remarkably effectively.
- 1 1/2 Inches
This barrel size is ideal for shaping long, thick hair since larger barrels result in greater curls. It works wonders for making beachy, voluminous waves as well as loose, bouncy curls.
- 1 1/4 Inches
It is advised to use this barrel size on hair that is shoulder-length or longer. Almost all kinds of curls and waves can be produced using it. The barrel of this curling iron, however, does not give your hair more volume.
- 1 Inch
This barrel size, which is regarded as the king of all curling irons, is suitable for all hair lengths and for producing practically all forms of curls. It is just right—not too big, not too little. This barrel size is ideal for creating tight curls as well as glam full-bodied waves and sloppy beach waves.
- 3/4 Inch
You must use a curling iron with this barrel size to achieve those flawless vintage curls. Shoulder-length hair is the best length for it, and it may be used on thick or thin hair. If you want to buy loose, polished, vintage, or corkscrew curls, this barrel size is the one to choose. Both straight and naturally wavy hair can benefit from it.
- 5/8 Inch
On thin, medium, or shoulder-length hair, this barrel size works well for achieving springy spiral curls. It is frequently advised for use on straight hair. This barrel size works well on naturally curly hair and aids in giving it more volume.
- 1/2 Inch
Have you got short hair? If you want to create ringlets or tight curls, you should probably use this barrel size. Long hair won’t be able to support these curls for very long, and thick hair doesn’t work well with tight curls.
This barrel size is therefore perfect for creating tight, ringlet, or spiral curls on fine, short, or bobbed hair. Your hair has more volume thanks to them.
- 3/8 Inch
This barrel size is typically advised for medium-length, short, or thin hair. Get your hands on a curling iron with this barrel size if you prefer spiral, kinky, or bouncy curls. It adds additional volume to the hair and works wonders on thin and frizzy hairs. However, using this barrel to style straight hair could take a while.
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Practical Advice for Those Who Aren’t Curling Iron Experts
No matter how you hold your curling iron, if your hair just won’t retain a curl, you’re not alone. Uncertainty about using a curling iron is perfectly reasonable.
Using the appropriate style tools, determining the ideal temperature for your hair type, and preserving your hair’s general health are just a few of the many considerations that go into curling your hair successfully.
The ideal way to utilize a curling iron or curling wand for the greatest results is what we asked a hairstylist and a dermatologist. You can find their suggestions and some practical images below.
1. Start with dry hair
Before using a curling iron, flatiron, or curling wand, you should start with thoroughly dry hair, advises Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, M.D. “Putting any kind of heat on wet hair is going to be much more traumatic compared to when the hair is dry because the cuticle is completely open and exposed. You’re going to damage it more when it’s wet,” claims Dr. Khetarpal.
Blow dryers and other hot instruments can weaken your hair. However, appliances like curling irons immediately apply heat to your hair, therefore you should refrain from using them on damp or wet hair. The next thing we’ll talk about is how to get curls while maintaining the healthiest possible state of your hair.
2. On damaged hair, avoid using a curling iron
If your hair is damaged, it could be difficult to style, according to Dr. Khetarpal. Disulfide linkages in the protein used to make the hair keep it together. (The protein is kept robust by these extremely potent chemical linkages.) These ties are unbroken in healthy hair, but Dr. Khetarpal notes that substances like sunshine, bleach, heated tools, and hair colors can weaken and disrupt the bonds.
When this occurs, hair suffers damage and loses its ability to hold a curl. Dr. Khetarpal claims that it “It just lies there.” “Think of it as almost like burnt hay. It’s just kind of frazzled, and it doesn’t hold form.” According to Dr. Khetarpal, if you discover that your hair feels drier or frizzier than usual, it may be damaged.
3. Avoid using hot tools frequently
According to Dr. Khetarpal, there is no denying that heat causes your hair to lose its natural oil and become dry. She advises utilizing hot tools no more frequently than twice a week. If you must use a curling iron every day, try to find other, healthier alternatives, such as towel drying or, if possible, air drying your hair rather than blow-drying it.
4. Use the appropriate curling iron or wand for the job
According to hairstylist Janine Jennings, head of education and training at UK hair care brand GHD, different sizes of irons produce distinct curl styles. She cites the 1.25-inch barrel as an example, which produces softer curls that are greater in size, as opposed to the 1-inch barrel, which produces smaller curls. If you desire a tousled beach wave style with a larger curl at the root and a tighter curl near the finish, use a curling wand.
5. If you can, use your curling iron’s lowest setting
“Try to use the least amount of heat possible,” advises Dr. Khetarpal. “It’s a good rule of thumb to keep your tool under 400 degrees,” she advises. Of course, each person has a unique head of hair. Generally speaking, she explains, curling the hair of someone with fine hair requires less heat than curling the hair of someone with thick hair.
Many curling irons have a temperature adjustment feature, but not all models do. Dr. Khetarpal advises curling your hair at the lowest temperature setting on the iron if your device has this function. If that setting doesn’t cause your hair to curl, progressively raise the heat until it does.
6. Always apply a heat shield
Your hot tools and your hair can be separated from one another with a heat protectant. Dr. Khetarpal adds that there are numerous solutions that you can apply to damp or dry hair before blow drying. You should always read the instructions before using any product to ensure that it is appropriate for your specific needs, hair type, and hot equipment.
“Reading the fine print is key,” advises Dr. Khetarpal. For instance, if your curling iron is set to 400 degrees, a product that only protects up to 300 degrees won’t work as well. Using a heat-protecting glove is a smart option to keep your fingers safe while using a curling wand, especially while we’re talking about heat protection.
7. To create the look you desire, section your hair
Let’s discuss saying goodbye. The way you part your hair may seem like a little element, but it actually has an impact on the final look. If you want volume, Jennings advises taking a horizontal portion and curling it while lifting from the root.
However, “use a vertical part if you want a wavy effect.” She advises those with thick hair to use 1-inch chunks at a time when curling their hair. 1.5-inch portions of hair work best for people with medium-to-fine hair types.
8. Curl your hair in several different directions
Depending on whatever way you curl your hair, you’ll get varied outcomes. Your hair will merge together if you only curl it in one direction. Jennings advises changing the direction of each curl to give your hair a disheveled appearance.
For instance, try switching it up by curling your hair in the other direction for the following area if you curled it away from you in the previous section.
9. Learn how to hold the barrel properly
Jennings advises holding a curling wand upright with the narrow end pointing downward while using one. However, you can hold a curling iron in different directions based on your desired results, she advises. As we previously indicated, hold it vertically to create a loose curl or horizontally to provide extra volume at the root.
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10. Be sure to clean your curling iron
After each usage, clean the curling iron to prevent the accumulation of black residue in the crevices. When the tool is cool and unplugged, you can remove product build-up with a moist towel. Jennings advises avoiding drinking because it could harm the technology.