Women with thick and curly hair are seen as more adventurous, fun, and wild than their straight-haired counterparts. In fact, according to global hair loss statistics, roughly 25% of women deal with self-esteem issues because of thinning, lifeless, fine hair.
But, just because you have straight hair doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way – all you need is a good curling iron. However, there are a ton of curling irons on the market, and it can be pretty difficult to find the one that suits your needs.
Thankfully, we’ve done all the work for you. In this guide, we’ve sifted through all the top products on the market to find the best curling iron for fine hair. We’ve also included a comprehensive buyer’s guide and a beginner’s guide to curling hair.
If you’re looking for a reliable curling iron that can add volume and texture to fine and thinning hair, then keep reading!
Table Of Contents
- Best Curling Iron For Fine Hair – Comparison
- Top Ten Curling Irons For Thin Hair
- BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron
- HOT TOOLS Signature Series Gold Curling Iron
- Paul Mitchell Pro Tools Express Ion Unclipped 3-in-1 Curling Iron
- Sultra The Bombshell Rod Curling Iron
- The Beachwaver Co. Dual Voltage
- Alure Three Barrel Curling Iron
- Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver
- INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Curl Secret
- Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go Adjustable Waver
- Kiss products Ceramic Instawave 1” Automatic Curling Iron
- A Handy Guide To Curling Irons And Thin Hair
- How To Curl Fine Hair: A Step-By-Step Guide
- What Not To Do When Curling Fine Hair
- Some Tips To Keep Your Curls Lasting Long
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Curling Iron For Fine Hair – Comparison
Top Ten Curling Irons For Thin Hair
We’ve narrowed down the selection to the top ten on the market. Read on for a complete overview of all ten products, and what we think is the best curling iron for fine hair.
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron
The first item on our list comes from a veteran maker of hair tools and similar implements. BaByliss has a reputation for providing excellent products, and this curling iron is indicative of their signature quality.
On its face, the Nano Titanium is a standard clip iron. The grip is longer than usual and is the same length as the barrel, which gives your hand more room to work with. It also runs off an 8-foot tangle-free cord on a swivel mount.
The barrel is BaByliss’ NaNo Titanium combined with ceramic and coated with gel. This means you get all the best features of both; including the high heat capacity and durability of titanium and the even heat of ceramic. The in-house Sol Gel coating works the same way as tourmaline on other curling irons, meaning that it reduces frizz and it helps the barrel grip your hair. We wouldn’t normally recommend a titanium barrel for fine hair, but this combination of elements makes up for the normal downsides of titanium.
Heat-wise, the maximum temperature of 450 F (232 C) is too much for fine hair. Expose your hair to that much heat, and you risk burning it. To make up for that, it has excellent heat control, with 50 available settings controlled by a dial on the side. Once you’ve chosen your heat setting, you can also press the dial like a button to activate turbo heat, giving you working temperature instantly. Even better, the heat is in the infrared range, giving you better penetration into your hair while minimizing damage. Start from the lowest setting and raise that temperature slowly, and you can curl fine hair without risk of damaging it.
As usual, the barrel tip is insulated for handling, but don’t forget your heat-resistant gloves. Titanium barrels can get extremely hot. As far as size goes, you can get it in any of four barrel sizes: 1-1/2 inch, 1-1/4 inch, 1 inch, and 3/4 inch. The 1-inch and 1-1/2-inch barrels are slightly less expensive than the other two sizes, but not enough to tip the decision one way or another; consider your needs and intended style to figure out which barrel size is best for you.
However, there’s still room for improvement. Ergonomically, the on/off switch could be placed better, because it’s just where your hand can slide onto it and accidentally turn off the device. Another downside is that it has no automatic shutdown, and therefore it eats up your electricity and is a fire hazard if left unattended.
But those are minor downsides that don’t interfere with its magnificent performance. With just the right level of heat, the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium is our top pick for the best curling iron for short fine hair.
HOT TOOLS Signature Series Gold Curling Iron
Gold has properties beyond being just shiny and pretty; it’s also an excellent conductor of heat and an excellent material for curling irons. Hot Tools has supplied professional hairdressers for twenty-five years, and their Signature Series Gold is effective, versatile, and it doesn’t cost as much as you’d think!
Design-wise, it’s a black clip iron with a gold barrel. The grip is shaped to fit your hand and the soft-touch comfort grip means it’s comfortable to keep in your hand. The cord’s on the shorter side, being only 6 feet long, but it’s tangle-free and usable. It’s also built to withstand the workload of a professional hairdresser, so you can rely on it to keep working no matter how much hair you’re curling.
Strictly speaking, the barrel is gold-plated, not pure gold. The heat ranges from 280 F to 430 F (137 C to 221 C); for fine hair, you’ll mostly spend your time on the low settings. If you need to go higher, the dial on the grip adjusts the temperature. The device reaches working temperature in 30 seconds, much faster than most curling irons. Best of all, the gold barrel distributes heat evenly, with no hot spots that might burn thin hair.
One interesting feature is that the insulated tip covers so large an area that you can almost get away with not wearing heat-resistant gloves. However, it is still recommended that you keep the gloves because accidental contact with the barrel is still painful.
You have your choice of four barrel sizes to play with: 1-1/2 inch, 1-1/4 inch, 1 inch, and 3/4 inch. The two smaller barrel sizes are 1/8th an inch shorter than the two larger ones, but overall there’s lots of room on the barrel, which makes it efficient.
However, sometimes it heats too well for fine hair. You’re best served by sticking to the lowest setting, and experimenting with care to make sure you don’t go overboard. That gold barrel is no joke, so be careful not to scorch your hair. Also, it’s not very travel-friendly, as it’s only 110V; you’ll need to bring a voltage transformer to use it in a 240V country. Safety-wise, it doesn’t have an automatic shutdown, making it a fire hazard if you leave it alone.
The Hot Tools Signature Series Gold is a luxurious and surprisingly affordable tool. Best of all it’s one of the most comfortable curling irons on the market and it’ll provide you with professional results.
Paul Mitchell Pro Tools Express Ion Unclipped 3-in-1 Curling Iron
Sometimes you want to have options. Just because you like a style now doesn’t mean it’ll always be the style you want the next time you go out. This product from Paul Mitchell continues their forty years of service in providing excellent salon-quality hair products.
Unlike the previous two, the Express Ion Unclipped is a curling wand. It’s got a waisted shape to better aid in grip, with four buttons and a temperature display just above the tail. Its most notable feature is that it’s interchangeable: the grip is separate from the barrel, letting you switch out barrels to fill different needs. All this is powered by a 9-foot cord, which gives you lots of room to move.
It comes with three barrels, all of them ceramic. One is a standard rod barrel, 1 inch wide; the other two are 1-1/4 inch and 3/4 inch, both tapering to a narrower diameter at the point. These three barrels give you lots of options for style. Want something loose and voluminous? Stick on the 1-1/4 inch. Need tight, curly ringlets? Switch in the 3/4 inch. Not sure what you want? The 1 inch solves all problems.
Otherwise, these are typical barrels. They lock into place quite easily, all you need to do is push them onto the grip and twist to lock. Finally, the barrels have guide arrows on them to be sure you never forget which way they go.
This device reaches working temperature in 90 seconds, which is a bit longer than most curling irons, but it’s not that much of a downside. Temperature maxes out at 410 F (210 C), and is adjustable by the + and – buttons, giving you excellent control. For fine hair, we recommend keeping the temp at around 300 F (148 C) to avoid damage; but as always, experiment to see what temperature your hair can take. The good news is, ceramic means a nice and even heat that isn’t too hard on fine hair, so you don’t need to worry much.
There are two notable downsides. One applies only to beginners: the lack of a clamp, as common to all curling wands, means that you have to wind your hair around the barrel yourself. This means that you shouldn’t forget your heat-resistant gloves, because even the recommended temperature for fine hair can cause damage if you’re not careful.
Price-wise it goes for about twice as much as the standard for most curling irons, though we think it’s worth it since it includes three barrels. If you want to create a lot of styles with just one device, it’s hard to beat the Express Ion Unclipped. It gives you a lot more options and variety than the other options on this list, and we think it’s a strong contender for the best curling wand for fine hair.
Sultra The Bombshell Rod Curling Iron
Sultra was founded in 2008 by a veteran hairstylist, and because of that, all of their products are designed with a stylist’s needs in mind. Each product is made for high performance, delivering results every time, and this curling iron is no exception.
The Bombshell is a curling wand, with no clip to hold your hair. It comes only in black, with a waisted grip to help you hold on to it. The only button on the body is the on/off switch plus an indicator light right above. It’s fed by a 9-foot power cord on a swivel mount.
The barrel is 1 inch wide, and it’s made of Sultra’s Advanced Care ceramic. This is good news for fine hair: it ensures even heat all over the barrel and prevents you from burning or damaging your locks. It’s only got one temperature setting at 380 F (193 C), but that’s a fairly good temperature for fine hair. Finally, the barrel heats up quickly, so no need to wait too long for it to warm up while you get ready.
It comes with two helpful accessories: a heat-resistant glove and a pad that you can place the iron on to keep it from burning anything. Both are quite useful in keeping you and your possessions safe and unburned. The Bombshell also comes in 1-1/2 inch and 3/4 inch sizes, in case you’d prefer a barrel of that size instead. The price is the same no matter what size you get.
The Bombshell’s lack of heat control makes it nice and simple to use. There’s no fussing about with any heat settings: all you have to do is let it warm up, and then curl. Ceramic takes a bit of time to heat up, so you can get started a little before it reaches working temperature. This is especially valuable for fine hair, because you should always take it slow and easy.
The biggest downside is price. The Bombshell goes for about twice as much of the usual price for curling irons, so it’s a pretty expensive unit. Another problem is that it has no heat control; 380 F is on the high side for fine hair, so you’ll have to be careful about how long your hair stays on the barrel. This is an issue because some people prefer the option of lower temperatures, just to be on the safe side.
But with those little caveats aside, the Sultra Bombshell is a nice, simple, and high-quality curling iron, and is suitable for all hair types.
The Beachwaver Co. Dual Voltage
If you want a curling iron with a pedigree, look no further beyond the Beachwaver. It’s designed by Sarah Potempa, who’s a celebrity hairstylist. She’s worked with Emily Blunt, Ana de Armas, and Camila Cabello just to name a few.
Right out of the box, it’s a typical clip iron. The grip is available in black or white, and it’s waisted to give you a nice natural grip. On the tail end, you’ve got three buttons and a digital temperature display. On the far end of the narrow portion, three more buttons control the barrel. All this is powered by a swiveling 8-foot-long cord.
The Beachwaver’s main attraction is its rotating barrel. It’s a standard ceramic barrel with an insulated cap, keeping it at gentle, non-damaging heat that’s good for fine hair. You’ve got a wide range of heat capacity available to you, ranging from 290 F (143C) to 410 F (210 C). Heat control is in the two buttons below the temperature display, and that display can also switch between Fahrenheit or Celsius depending on which scale you’re more comfortable with. For fine hair, we recommend staying on the lower end, around 300 F (149 C); this is to avoid damage.
The rotating barrel makes handling a lot easier. All you have to do is secure one end of your hair on the clip, then press the large circular button on the correct side to rotate the barrel. This winds your hair around the barrel and saves you the trouble of doing it manually. It also means that using the Beachwaver is a lot safer since you can’t scorch your hand. Above the direction buttons is a home button. This turns the barrel back to its standard orientation.
We’ve linked the 1-1/4-inch barrel above, and the Beachwaver is also available in 1-inch and 3/4-inch sizes. All three are the same price, so it’s up to you to decide what size you want the barrel.
There are two major downsides. One is practical: you may need some time to get used to the rotating barrel. It’s not too bad, but some practice is necessary to make sure you’ve got it. The other is the price tag. The Beachwaver is the most expensive curling iron on this list, and it will take a chunk out of your budget.
With all that said, the Beachwaver is one of the best curling irons on the market, and the excellent temperature control is just the thing you need for fine hair.
Alure Three Barrel Curling Iron
A curling iron isn’t restricted to just curls; it can also do waves, and there are some curling irons designed to make nothing but waves. This curling iron from Alure is exactly one of those, using the same principles as a more typical single-barrel curling iron to go on a slightly different path.
The Alure Three Barrel is pink, with a black non-slip handle and a temperature display just beneath the barrels. It’s powered by a 7-foot-long cord on a swiveling mount. It’s a pretty light thing, weighing only a little above 1 pound.
It makes waves by sandwiching your hair between its three barrels. The thumb tab that would normally control the clamp on a clip iron instead controls the outer two barrels on the Alure Three Barrel. Push down and the outer two barrels rise, then you can place your hair in between all three, and press down for waves.
Those three barrels are typical of most curling irons. They’re ceramic with a tourmaline coating to reduce frizz and damage to fine hair, with insulated tips for handling. Its heat capacity maxes out at 410 F (210 C), and it reaches working temperature in just 60 seconds. Two buttons below the display let you adjust temperature. Our recommendation for fine hair is to stick around 300 F, going higher or lower depending on exactly how tough your hair is.
If you need to travel, the Alure Three Barrel is dual voltage, so all you need is an adapter in case of differing socket type. It doesn’t even need a travel lock since its resting position is already closed. It won’t even take that much space in your luggage!
As a waver, it specializes in waves and will do them a lot faster than a typical curling iron. It also won’t damage fine hair as much, since you’re not wrapping it tightly around a barrel. That’s also its biggest downside: it only does waves. If waves are all you want to do with your hair, then this isn’t a problem, but it means that it lacks flexibility. If you want to try a different style, you’ll have to grab a different curling iron. It also doesn’t have an auto-shutdown, so it can be a fire hazard if you leave it alone. Don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done.
It’s a specialist tool, and these tools are very good within their specialized niche. When you want to make waves, few curling irons that beat the Alure Three Barrel.
Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver
Continuing on the theme of wavers, here’s a product from Bed Head, a company whose curling irons are all specialized in making waves. This is their top-rated product and for very good reason.
Since it’s a waver, it doesn’t have the typical curling iron silhouette. It’s a purple body with pearl-white plates on the business end. These plates are the barrels, applying heat and shaping your hair just like typical barrels; and it’s all powered by a 6-foot cord.
Just like typical barrels, the plates are ceramic coated with tourmaline, thus delivering good heat while also removing frizz and staying gentle to fine hair. Temperature goes up to 400 F (204 C), and there’s a dial on the lower half of the body to adjust the temperature to something less damaging to fine hair. It reaches working temperature in 30 seconds. It also has an automatic shutdown that triggers after 60 minutes of inactivity.
It also travels quite well. There’s a latch for a travel lock on the top side to keep both halves together. This means it takes up less room in your baggage. Even better, it’s dual voltage, so all you need is an adapter in case of plug issues, and you’re good to make waves anywhere in the world.
On the bright side, since it’s specifically designed for waves, it devotes all its design to making that task easy and safe for your hair. All you have to do is press your hair between the plates. No more troublesome twisting and potential scorching of your hand like you would on a normal curling iron. Even better, it’s quite cheap; if you’re fine with making some room in your budget, you can get the Wave Artist as a second curling iron for when you want to do just waves, and leave the tighter ringlets for a more standard device.
The bad news is that it can only ever do waves. If you’re quite certain that waves are all you want to do, then that’s fine, but if you’re looking to experiment or vary your look a bit, the Wave Artist falls quite short. It’s the inherent downside of a specialist tool, really; it does very well in its narrow niche, but it’s a lot less competent outside of it.
Yet that takes nothing away from its proficiency in creating wavy hair. The Wave Artist lives up to its name.
INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Curl Secret
It may look strange, but the Curl Secret is a curling iron, it’s just not the usual type. Most curling irons come with two main downsides; firstly, they take a lot of time to wind your hair around the barrel, and second, they always come with an inherent risk of burning yourself. However, the Infinitipro Curl Secret was made to address both of these problems.
It looks like a strange-looking blow dryer, with a snail-like cylinder on the end of the grip instead of a barrel. You can get it in black, pink, or purple. There are three buttons on the grip, one each for heat, time, and power.
The barrel works the same way as a typical barrel, being made of ceramic and tourmaline. This ensures even heat and reduced frizz, and also means it won’t scorch fine hair as long as you stick to the right temperature. Speaking of temperature, the heat selector button lets you choose between 365 F (185 C) and 400 F (204 C). You can also set the timer button for 8, 10, or 12 seconds; this determines how tight the resulting curls are. If you want tighter curls, all you have to do is set a longer time.
Usage is quite simple. First, set your heat and time settings; for fine hair, the only choice for heat is 365 F. Then feed the Curl Secret: take a 1-inch section of hair and bring the Curl Secret to where you want the curls to start. Place your hair into the groove, then close the Curl Secret. It’ll draw your hair into the cylinder and start curling. When you hear the beep, it’s done. Open up the Curl Secret to reveal your newly-curled hair.
The real downside here is heat control. Its low setting of 365 F is rather high for fine hair, so you may want to be cautious when using the Curl Secret. Another downside is that you can only put so much hair into the Curl Secret, and if you feed it too much, it may choke and get stuck on your hair, which is not a fun experience.
But there’s no denying its benefits: it’s fast, it removes a lot of hassle, and there’s little chance of burning yourself on it if used properly. This hair curler is best used for those times when you just want to curl your hair as fast as possible, and there’s no beating the Curl Secret when it comes to that.
Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go Adjustable Waver
Our second product from Bed Head is another waver. While the Wave Artist is your classic deep waver, the A-Wave-We-Go is an adjustable waver.
The design is pretty typical of Bed Head. The hinge is close to the tail, and it’s purple with white barrels. Outside on top is the temperature display, showing you just how hot it is. This is an important feature for women with fine hair since you don’t want your curling iron running too hot. On the inside are three control buttons for power and temperature. Speaking of power, it’s dual-voltage, and it runs off a 6-foot tangle-free cord on a swivel mount.
For best performance, the three barrels are augmented with two plates on the ‘resting’ side, and they’re all tourmaline ceramic. This makes for a good heat level while also reducing frizz. You’ve got six available heat settings from 250 F to 400 F (121 C to 204 C); for fine hair, we recommend sticking to the lowest two settings of 250 F and 280 F. As a safety feature, it also includes an automatic shutdown.
What makes the A-Wave-We-Go adjustable is the middle barrel which is raised or lowered by a knob on the tip. This lets you vary what style it produces. Want your waves loose and airy? Turn the middle barrel low. Or you can raise it as high as you can get for a more defined look. This helps with the lack of flexibility that plagues all wavers. With the A-Wave-We-Go, you’re not limited to just one style of wave.
Its major problem is that for all its adjustability, it’s still a waver, and it’ll only do waves. It also could use some ergonomic improvements; there’s no travel lock, it’s open by default and it’ll stay open. It also doesn’t have a stand, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t also top-heavy. Combine the two issues and you really can’t leave the A-Wave-We-Go sitting somewhere since it can fall over easily. It also means it’s not a good traveler, despite being dual-voltage.
But ultimately, the Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go is just the tool you need to explore the breadth of different styles you can achieve with a high-quality waver.
Kiss products Ceramic Instawave 1” Automatic Curling Iron
There are two ergonomic problems most curling irons have. The first is that you have to spend some time getting your hair onto the barrel. The other problem is that the business end of a curling iron is a large surface that’s beyond the boiling temperature of water, and handling it is inherently risky. These two problems are exactly why the Kiss Instawave was made.
On its face, it looks a lot like any other curling iron. It’s got a white body and black barrel, nothing special appearance-wise. For controls, you’ve got two buttons plus an indicator light for barrel temperature. The button directly beneath the heat indicator rotates the barrel, and the switch beneath that controls power and heat settings. All that is fed by an 8-foot power cord.
The barrel itself is 1 inch wide and made of ceramic, so it’ll provide even heat that won’t stress fine hair. It’s surrounded by several prongs that catch your hair and wrap it around the barrel as it turns. The heat on the high setting is 420 F (215 C), so best to stick to low heat. Anything over 400 F is too hot for fine hair, and you don’t want to risk damage.
Like most other curling irons, the barrel tip is insulated for easier handling, but this largely won’t be necessary once you’ve gotten used to the Instawave. With no need to even get close to the barrel, you can keep your fingers unburned. Once you’ve wrapped your hair around the barrel, it’ll give you a beep after eight seconds to signal that your hair’s done curling. And in case you forget to turn it off, there’s an automatic shutdown that kicks in after 90 minutes.
There are two significant downsides with this machine when it comes to fine hair. One is the lack of heat control, and the other is that the clamp has trouble catching fine hair. But nothing beats the Instawave for convenience or ease of use. Many users who have reported difficulty with more traditional curling irons have left rave reviews of the Instawave; it’s that simple.
A Handy Guide To Curling Irons And Thin Hair
Now that you’ve seen our top ten list of curling irons, you may be wondering what our thought process was. That’s the purpose behind this guide. We’ll lay out exactly what you should look for in a curling iron for fine hair and why it matters.
Iron Design And Shape
Clip Irons: These feature a typical grip and barrel with a clamp to hold your hair in place. The clip might extend the entire length of the barrel, or it might cover just the base of the barrel. The clip makes it easy to use: just secure one end and twist the rest of your hair onto the barrel. You get tighter curls thanks to the clip, but some clips that grip too hard may leave marks on your hair.
Curling Wands: Also known as clipless irons, these curling irons dispense with the clamp. Most wands also taper to a narrower diameter at the tip. They make looser, more natural curls, but they’re also a bit harder to use, as you have to wind your hair around the barrel yourself.
Wavers: These are entirely specialized in making waves. These generally achieve their wave shape in a three-barrel format. While they can’t do any other style beyond some form of wave, they do make those waves faster and easier than a curling iron does. If you’re certain you want to do just waves, then a waver does best.
Between these three, you can use any type to curl fine hair. If you’re concerned about breakage, you may want to avoid clip irons since a clamp isn’t so easy on thin hair. Note that these aren’t the only types of curling iron that exist, but they’re the most common ones that you’ll encounter. Other types are a bit more specialized.
What material is the barrel made of? This affects how well it applies heat to your hair and a few other concerns.
Ceramic is the most common, for a lot of reasons. It heats up quickly and evenly, and it’s also cheap. Just about every hair type from fine to thick will benefit from a ceramic barrel. You’ll frequently see ceramic barrels coated with tourmaline, a semi-precious gemstone. A tourmaline coating helps reduce frizzy hair, leading to a much neater look.
You may also see titanium barrels. These are much tougher when compared to ceramic barrels, and will have a much longer service life. As a metal, it also conducts heat quite effectively; in fact, perhaps too effectively. Titanium barrels may have hot spots that conduct heat too quickly to your hair. This isn’t so bad with thick hair, but it can be a concern for fine hair.
There are other barrel materials (most notably gold) but these two are the most common that you’ll encounter on the market. Between these two, we recommend ceramic; it’s much more forgiving of fine hair. Titanium tends to run hot, and that can damage fragile hair.
To safely curl fine hair, you need to find a very delicate balance: just hot enough so that the heat permeates your hair and gets it curling, but not hot enough that your hair gets damaged.
What you want is heat control. Max temperature is less important than having temperature settings. Our recommended temperature is approximately 300 F (148 C) for fine hair. If in doubt, too cold is better than too hot. You can always give your hair another go on your iron, but there’s no saving burned hair.
How wide is the barrel? This is usually expressed in inches, with 1 inch being the standard barrel size for most curling irons. Barrel size affects two things. One is that a larger barrel has more surface area, and thus you can curl more hair in a single pass. If you’ve got long hair, you’ll spend more time curling your hair because there’s so much of it. A larger barrel will also cut down on time.
But you’ve got to balance that against the other thing: Barrel size also affects style. A smaller barrel produces tighter curls. Wider barrels make them larger and looser. Consider what kind of style you’re going for. If you want tightly-curled ringlets, you’ll have to accept the extra time it takes to produce them.
Fine hair tends to have trouble growing out long, so you might not have all that much hair to wrap around the barrel. In which case, you can freely choose whichever barrel size works best for you. If in doubt, 1 inch is an excellent medium of size and tightness.
We can’t emphasize this enough: a curling iron’s normal working temperature is well above the boiling point of water. Not only should you never touch it, but you should always remember that it’s a fire hazard.
You need to consider the safety features on any prospective curling iron to prevent accidents. One that’s common to all designs is a stand just below the barrel to keep it off any surface. You’ll also want an automatic shutdown. This ensures that if you accidentally leave your curling iron on and then forget about it, it won’t accidentally burn anything down.
You might need to take your curling iron with you while you travel, so here are two factors you need to keep in mind.
The more important of the two is dual voltage capability. The US runs on 120V, but many other countries are 220V-240V, which is entirely too much voltage for a 120V-only device. If your travel plans take you to a 240V country, you’ll need a device that’s dual voltage. You may need an adapter in case of plug incompatibilities, but that’s a minor expense. If your device isn’t dual voltage, you’ll need a transformer for it to work.
Beyond voltage, you also must consider bulk. Your bag can only fit so much stuff in it, and if your curling iron is too bulky, it might not even fit in your bag. For wavers specifically, check if they have a travel lock or if they’re closed by default.
How To Curl Fine Hair: A Step-By-Step Guide
So you know what the best curling irons for fine hair on the market are, and you know why they’re good. Now, let’s get into how to use a curling iron.
Step 1: Prepare Your Tools
Make sure that you have everything ready before you start your curling session; that way everything is on hand and you don’t have to hunt down anything that you forgot. It can be rather irritating to have to get up and go fetch what you need when you’re mid-curl. So make sure you have your curling iron, more hair clips than you think you need, heat-resistant gloves (one or both hands, depending on how cautious you want to be), and some hair product.
Step 2: Prepare Your Hair
Make sure that your hair is clean before you get started, because curling dirty hair isn’t a fun experience. But if you’ve just washed your hair, dry your hair thoroughly, up to and including a blow-dry. We’ll explain why later, but you absolutely do not want to curl wet, especially if you have fine hair. You should only ever curl your hair while it’s dry.
Step 3: Pre-Spray Your Hair
Curls need products to stay on for a long time or else they’ll unravel when you walk out the door. This is why heat protectant spray and setting spray was invented. Heat protectant spray is especially important if you have fine hair because your hair is fragile. Heat will damage your hair as you’re wrapping it around the barrel, so heat protectant will keep it intact. Setting spray will give your hair a bit more hold and ensure your curls don’t disappear before you need them.
Step 4: Divide Your Hair Into Sections
Curling goes a lot faster when you take it in sections. Using your hair clips, section your hair off into 1-inch sections. This will keep things organized, and you can see which sections you’ve already curled and which ones you haven’t got to yet. It’ll also keep stray hairs from being accidentally curled and thus looking awkward. Plus those clips will come in handy later; you can use them to pin already-curled sections to your head.
Step 5: Apply The Curling Iron
Now, it’s time to get to curling! How you do it depends entirely on the curling iron you have. Start by securing a lock of your hair with the clamp, then roll up the rest of the hair around the barrel. With a clipless wand, wind your hair around the barrel, and do so carefully; make sure you have your heat-resistant gloves on. With a waver, place your hair between the barrels and then press.
Remember to start from low heat and work your way up to hotter temperature. Don’t apply maximum heat straight off and let your hair have time to adjust to the heat. This is especially important for fine hair, because your hair is fragile. Don’t overdo the heat, or you risk damaging your hair.
Step 6: Styling Tips
Consider what kind of look you’re going for. Consider the direction your curls are going. Curling them all in the same direction gives you a more polished, flowy look, but it’s not as natural, so you may want to alternate the directions. For any curls that will drop to frame your face, curl them outward; they look better that way. If you have a clip iron, you could also try not using the clip if you want to get a more natural look.
Step 7: Shake Your Curls Out
Hair that’s right off the iron will always look tightly curled, and will naturally loosen out as time passes. Help this process along by brushing them out, but not too hard; vigorous brushing will remove the curves. Finger-combing will also do nicely. It’s always a good idea to curl your hair a little bit tighter than the style you’re intending because your hair will loosen out over time. By the time you get to where your hairstyle needs to count, it’ll be just right.
Step 8: Apply Hairspray For Hold
Yes, hairspray. Your hair needs some help to hold curls for a long time, and hairspray is just the thing for that. Thankfully, not all hairspray is made the same, and you can skip the heavy-duty stuff that turns your hair into an immobile rock; texturizing spray will do. That’ll give your hair a bit of extra hold while adding no weight that might ruin your curls.
What Not To Do When Curling Fine Hair
Our guide took you through how to curl your hair and make it look good, but there are some things you may be doing that are working against you. Here are some common mistakes beginners make that you can avoid.
Keep Your Heat Under Control
This is always the case when you’re handling a curling iron, and it goes double for fine hair. Remember, fine hair is fragile. Thin hair is far too easy to damage, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up burning it on your curling iron. Don’t apply full heat directly to your hair; start low and slowly turn the heat up. Watch your curling iron’s temperature indicator, and experiment with care.
Don’t Skip Your Heat Protectant
We’re saying it again: fine hair is fragile. Your friends with thick hair can handle barrel temperatures of 400 F or higher, but fine hair is not so tough. Put on some heat protectant to keep your hair from being scorched by the barrel. If you skip it and end up scorching your hair, you’ll be a lot worse off than when you started, so save yourself the trouble.
Use Water-Based Hair Product
Fine hair is a lot less porous than thick hair, so oils tend to collect on its surface instead of being absorbed. This applies to both your natural oils and anything from oil-based products. With this in mind, go for water-based hair products instead like hair mousse, gel, and sea salt spray.
You should opt for a product that won’t weigh your hair down as much as oil-based ones will. This isn’t to say you should drop oil-based products entirely. You can use a very small amount of it after you’ve applied the water-based products so that they can combine on the hair shafts and hold better.
Don’t Curl Wet Hair
You might be tempted to curl while your hair is still wet to save time, but don’t do it. Curling wet hair is a terrible idea, and even more so on fine hair. Remember, a curling iron is a surface whose normal operating temperature is beyond the boiling point of water. If you apply that much heat to wet hair, the water will evaporate with force and damage the hair. That’s bad enough on thick hair, but it’s disastrous on fine hair. Make sure your hair is 100% dry before you curl.
Don’t Skip Heat-Resistant Gloves
Many curling irons have insulated tips for easier handling of the barrel. However, this won’t help you one bit against accidental contact. We can’t emphasize this enough: a curling iron’s working surface is more than hot enough to boil water. It will burn your hand if you touch it. Don’t skip your heat-resistant gloves. Wear them on one hand or both, depending on your preference, just as long as you’re wearing them.
Some Tips To Keep Your Curls Lasting Long
Now that we’ve covered what not to do, here are a few tips on how to keep your hair curled for a long time. After all, what good is a curl when it’ll fade away in an hour?
- Leave your hair for a few days: It might seem odd, but some hairstylists advise leaving your hair unwashed for two or three days. This lets your hair’s natural oils come back in, which will give your hair more texture and hold, and thus keep a curl for a while longer. To keep your hair clean without having to get it wet, we highly recommend dry shampoo.
- But moisturize too: What you have to avoid is the overuse of oil, which generally happens when you’re using too much hair product that dries your hair out. Some oil is good; too much oil will make your hair heavy. Avoid this problem by getting a shampoo that also moisturizes.
- Dealing with damaged ends: The ends of your hair are a lot more fragile than the roots, and this goes double for fine hair; there just isn’t enough substance in your hair to take much damage the same way thick hair can. If you start curling from the ends, they’ll end up damaged. Start from the roots instead. Some hairdressers even advise just not curling the ends at all to save them from damage; others also advise cutting off the damaged ends to keep your hair strong overall.
- Get more hairclips: You probably have a lot of them already, but you should still get more. It’s a good life tip for women but it’s also applicable when curling your hair. You can use hair clips to section off your hair and make it easier to curl, and you can also use them to secure a section that you’ve just finished curling, and thus have it last a bit longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Heat styling can be hard, and it can get even harder if you’ve got fine hair. Here are several common questions and some comprehensive answers.
Is a ceramic or titanium barrel better for fine hair?
We’ve covered the benefits of the two barrel materials in our buyer’s guide above. Between the two, we’d advise titanium barrels if you have thick hair, as it has an excellent ability to transfer heat and you can get much higher temperatures out of a titanium barrel, which is what thick hair needs. However, applied to fine hair, that heat capacity and transfer are just too much, and could risk damaging your hair.
Fine hair fares a lot better with a ceramic barrel. Ceramic heats up much more evenly, with no hot spots that might damage your hair. Heat transfer is also much more gentle than titanium, which means your hair can endure it better. All other factors being equal, a ceramic barrel is much better for fine hair.
What size of curling iron is best for fine hair?
When it comes to size, hair type isn’t a consideration; it’s more about intended style and curling time. A larger barrel can accommodate more hair, and if you’ve got long hair, you may wish to get a larger barrel size, so that your curling session doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time. If you’ve got short hair, you’ll want to go with a smaller barrel, as too large a barrel might not produce enough curls for your length of hair.
However, barrel size will also affect the resulting style. Larger barrels mean looser curls. If you want tight and tiny ringlets, you’ll need a smaller barrel. If you want that style, you’ll have to balance that with how much time it takes. If in doubt, 1 inch is always a good middle ground.
What temperature should a curling iron be for thin hair?
As low as you can get with your chosen curling iron. When you’re curling thin hair, you can’t crank the temperature too high, because you risk damaging your hair. However, you’re also limited by what the manufacturer allows for on the curling iron you have. We recommend sticking to the range around 300 F (154 C) as an average; most curling irons will have a temperature setting near this point.
We also recommend experimenting to see exactly how tough your hair is, and 300 F is a good temperature to stay around. You can go higher and lower based on how your hair reacts to the heat. You can also try varying how long your hair spends on the barrel; it may help to stick to a lower temperature but keep your hair on the barrel for a bit longer. Either way, we always advise care.
Fine-haired women have it tough. It can be difficult having to balance the fragility of fine hair with the intense heat of a curling iron, but don’t worry, if you have the right product you won’t run into any trouble.
With all the curling rods available on the market, every product we’ve listed above works wonders for women with fine hair. If you prefer convenience and automation we recommend the Kiss Instawave. If you prefer the brilliant waves then we recommend the Bed Head Wave Artist. And if you just want our top pick, we recommend the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium.
With the right curling iron and proper technique, you can shape your hair into beautiful ringlets that will be the envy of all your friends. There’s no more need to wait; get yours now!