The numbers don’t lie: 74% of women with curly or wavy hair get compliments regularly! Thankfully, if you don’t have naturally curly hair, you can still achieve the look with a great curling iron.
But how do you choose? There’s a whole boatload of curling irons on the market, and if you’ve got thick hair, finding the right one can be a chore. Hair responds differently based on its qualities, and a curling iron that works for your fine-haired friend might not cut the mustard for you! You need a good curling iron, one that will style thick hair, instead of some wand that’ll just make it warm.
That’s why we’ve written this article! We’ve looked at every curling iron on the market, and found the ones that are best suited for thick hair. No more guesswork! Read on for a list of the best curling irons for thick hair.
Table Of Contents
- Top Seven Best Curling Irons For Thick Hair
- BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron
- Alure Three Barrel Curling Iron Wand
- Hot Tools Signature Series Gold Curling Iron
- Bed Head Wave Artist Deep Waver
- Infinitipro By Conair Curl Secret
- Kiss Products Ceramic Instawave
- Duomishu 6-in-1 Curling Iron
- A Buyer’s Guide To The Best Curling Iron For Thick Hair
- A Guide To Curling Thick Hair
- Common Mistakes While Curling Thick Hair
- How To Keep Long-Lasting Curls
Comparison Table of Curling Iron For Thick Hair
|Model||Material||Barrel Size ||Temperature||Price|
|BaBylissPRO Spring Iron||Titanium ||1.25 Inch||Up to 450F|
|Alure Curling Iron Wand||Ceramic ||1 Inch||410F|
|Hot Tools Signature Iron||Ceramic ||1"||Up to 430°F |
|Bed Head Deep Waver||Tourmaline Ceramic ||1 Inch ||Up to 400|
|Infinitipro By Conair Curl||Tourmaline Ceramic||N/A||400°F|
|Kiss Products Instawave||Ceramic ||1"||Up to 420 ° F|
|Duomishu Curling Iron||Ceramic ||1"||410°F High|
Top Seven Best Curling Irons For Thick Hair
Out of all the models on the market, these are the ones we’ve found that work best on thick hair. Here are seven different curling irons that fit the bill!
Our top choice is made by BaByliss, purveyor of hair care products since 1961, and they make products to meet professional requirements. The Nano Titanium is no exception.
It’s a fascinating thing to look at because it’s a typical clamp iron with a blue grip and gray barrel, but that grip is much longer than usual for a curling iron. In fact, it’s a touch longer than the barrel itself. It might seem awkward at first, but it’ll let you move the iron around and wrap your hair around the barrel much easier. The cord is 8’ long and tangle-free, and it connects to the base with a swivel fixture, letting you move it around quite easily.
It’s got a titanium and ceramic barrel with some interesting features. Titanium is already an excellent choice, as it’s got excellent heat capacity, durability, and heats up evenly. BaByliss also includes a little bonus with their Nano Titanium, which counteracts any frizz in your hair; you do not need to worry about your curls turning out all frayed.
The Sol Gel technology is a coating that goes on top of the barrel, the same way as other curling irons use tourmaline. It does quite a bit of work: it grips the hair while still providing some protection, so it doesn’t fry the hair. It also works with the Nano Titanium in counteracting frizz and keeping your hair smooth. It also eliminates clamp marks, so no more of those unsightly lines in your hair.
Heat capacity is excellent, with fifty settings available, and the maximum is 450 F; no worries of a too-cold barrel here. You also have a turbo-heat button for when you want instant heat; as far as we could test, instant is the best term for it. The heating element uses infrared heat, which penetrates further into the hair shaft without causing any damage.
The tip stays cool for handling and twisting purposes, though careful handling is still advised, and a glove might not be out of place; that heat is no joke.
It’s available in several different sizes: 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 1-1/4 inch, and 1-1/2 inch. The 1 inch and 1/12 inch are a touch cheaper than the other two, so consider what particular size fits your needs best.
There are a few downsides. One ergonomic failure is the placement of the power switch, because your hand tends to slide onto that spot, and thus you might be inadvertently turning it off. Ironically enough, it doesn’t have an automatic shutoff, so be careful where you leave it. Another is that the heat display doesn’t show the exact temperature, instead displaying the number from 1 to 50.
The BaByliss Nano Titanium is our best curling iron for long thick hair. It’s got the heat for thick hair, it’s got a few tricks the other models here don’t have, and it’ll keep your hair smooth and beautiful. There’s no beating it on this list.
If you’ve got long hair, you’ll be in for quite a long time if you aim to get curls in every last inch of your hair. On the other hand, a tight, defined curl is not the only way to go. The Alure Three Barrel is just the thing for someone looking for a wave more than a curl.
As you can tell from the name, it’s a pink curling iron with three barrels side by side. Pushing down on the thumb handle raises the two side barrels, while the central barrel remains fixed. The black grip is non-slip and ends in a swiveling power cord 7’ long, and it weighs just a bit over a pound.
The 1-inch barrels are ceramic and have insulated tips, letting you have a bit of control on the far end if necessary. Heat capacity maxes out at 410 F (210 C), and it gets there in just 60 seconds. You can also adjust the temperature to your liking, using two buttons right beneath an LED display that shows temperature. All told, it’s a pretty good curler for thick hair, as the high heat capacity means it can effectively put a curl in.
This also makes it an excellent choice if you’ve got long hair. Long hair takes a longer time to style, mainly because there’s more of it to curl, and the added weight of long hair means that tight curls tend to unravel a bit sooner. On the other hand, waves are not so finicky, and they won’t take nearly as long to put in, especially if you’re using the Alure Three Barrel.
If you’re traveling, the Alure Three Barrel is also an excellent choice, as it’s dual voltage. It’ll work no matter where you go, as long as you’ve got an adaptor to plug it in.
Of course, that’s also its main problem: it’s a specialized tool made to make waves, and it can’t do a tight curl. Mind you, it does those waves very well and it does them a lot quicker than a single-barrel iron, but there’s no denying that some styles are unavailable to the Three Barrel because of it.
But if all you need are waves or loose curls, then there’s no beating the speed at which the Alure Three-Barrel does it with.
Hot Tools is an established brand in the hair care industry, supplying professional-made tools for a professional clientele. But you can buy them for yourself as well, even if you aren’t a pro, and you can see just what kind of quality they put into their tools. Like this, their Signature Series Gold Curling Iron.
I know what you’re thinking: gold? Isn’t that a hideous indulgence more fit for people with more money than sense? Let me tell you, it may look that way, but there’s a good reason for the gold here beyond just appearance.
It’s a pretty classic hair curler in many respects. It’s mostly black and gold, with a rubberized grip that fits your hand quite nicely. The grip is also padded for comfort; since you’ll likely be holding on to it for a while, an easy grip is important. It’s powered by a 6’ cord on a swivel mount coming straight off the tail, so you’ve got some reach in case of an inconvenient outlet.
And the star of the show is the gold barrel. It’s not actually solid gold, it’s gold-plated. It’s a pretty typical clamp iron, or it would be typical if it weren’t for the gold. The gold is all about heat; you get even heat and a faster heat-up time with a gold barrel. The Signature Series Gold only needs 30 seconds to reach working temperature, half the usual time on a more typical ceramic barrel. Heat range is from 280 F to 430 F, adjusted by a dial.
You’ve got your choice of three different barrel sizes: 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 1 1/4 inch, and 1 1/2 inch. The two smaller sizes are 5 2/8 inches long, while the two larger ones are 5 3/8 inches. Overall a nicely capacious barrel to work with. We’ve linked the 1-inch version above.
At the far end of the barrel is a cool tip, though given its size, it’s more like a cool chunk. You can put a few fingers around it when necessary, so it’s much easier to roll and twist the curler around.
The thing to watch out for is that same heat capacity. Yes, you’ll need high heat to properly style thick hair, but the same virtues of the gold-plated barrel mean that you have to get used to it or risk frying your hair. Get some practice in and stick to low heat while you’re getting started with this curler.
Sometimes, it’s all about heat, and when you need it fast, even, and comfortable, nothing beats the Hot Tools Signature Series. If you want professional results, having a professional tool is an excellent start.
Sometimes a tight curl might be a bit too much, or maybe curls just aren’t your thing. If you prefer waves, there are certainly curling irons that fulfill that need specifically, like the Bed Head Wave Artist.
It doesn’t quite look like a typical curling iron. Those of us who remember the 80s might find that it looks like a hair crimper from that era. It comes in blue and purple, while the barrel is white. It’s your typical three-barrel arrangement common to wavers, but the central barrel is raised quite a way, to add a bit of sculpting to your waves. The cord is 6’ long on a swivel mount.
The barrels are ceramic coated in tourmaline, ensuring even heat while also removing frizz from the hair. The ends are capped for easier handling. Heat capacity is up to 400 F, with multiple settings possible, adjusted by a dial on the lower half. It reaches working temperature in 30 seconds; nice and quick, so no fussing around waiting for it to heat up.
Since it’s a waver, the Wave Artist does waves very well at the cost of being unable to do any tight curls. If you’re aiming specifically for waves or if you want something nice and quick, it’ll serve you excellently. The extra depth in the middle barrel is especially good for creating the beachy look; you won’t need to go down for a swim to look like you just climbed out of the water!
The plates lock together to make it easy to store, the power cord is tangle-free, and it’s dual voltage, so the Wave Artist is a nice and compact option good for travel. Just make sure to pack an adaptor in case of any plug trouble.
Its specialist nature is its main downside since any sort of proper curl is entirely outside the Wave Artist’s capabilities; it’s all waves all day. If you want options, you’re best served by a more typical single-barrel curler. However, apart from that, it doesn’t have any real downsides.
If you’re focused entirely on waves, or if you want a tool that can make waves faster than a typical curling iron, the Bed Head Wave Artist is just the thing for you.
Yes, it really does look like that, and it’s not some mutant blow dryer that’s wandered onto this list. Conair has been listening to your complaints, and the Curl Secret is specifically made to be a quick, automated hair curler.
It’s a plum thing with a chunky head, very much unlike your typical hair curler. It’s got two switches on the body that control its settings, plus the on-off switch, and it opens up for your hair.
The Curl Secret does all the work for you. Open it up, put the Curl Secret as far up as you want the curls to go, then place your hair into the chamber. Then close it and let go, and the Curl Secret winds the hair up into the chamber. You’ll hear a series of beeps, and when you get four beeps in quick succession, it’s done. Open up the Curl Secret, and out comes your hair, all nicely curled.
It’s that simple, without any fussing about winding your hair around the barrel or twisting it round; the Curl Secret does all the work for you, and all you have to do is choose your settings and feed it.
Available settings are for heat and time, with the time setting determining how tight your curl is. You have the option of 365 degrees or 400 degrees for heat, and 8, 10, or 12 seconds for loose, medium, and tight curls.
One thing the Curl Secret has over all other hair curlers is that its construction makes it a lot safer. The barrel is entirely internal, with no part of the heating element exposed, so there’s no chance of you burning yourself on it. The only possible danger is to your hair if things go wrong.
Its main disadvantage is that it’s not flexible. Two heat settings would be fine on a typical hair curler, but not when the curler is doing all the work for you, so this rather limits its capabilities. Another is that it does take some getting used to, and it’s possible to overfeed the chamber, which chokes the Curl Secret and can result in hairs getting stuck. Pay close attention to the instructions.
If you’re tired of spending too much time on styling your hair and you want to look good in no time at all, then Conair’s Curl Secret is definitely the curling iron for you.
You can always make something easier. One common risk of hair curlers is burning your fingers on the barrel; that’s why some models have the cool spot on the end. The Kiss Instawave does it differently: if there’s no reason to touch the barrel, your fingers won’t get burned.
It’s advertised as a tool for those who can’t deal with conventional curling irons. It’s a clipless wand with a 1-inch barrel. The base of the barrel is ringed with prongs, and the barrel turns either clockwise or counterclockwise to wrap your hair around. The swiveling power cord is 8’ long.
It’s not quite as automated as the Curl Secret; you’ll still have to do some work of your own, but not nearly as much as standard curling irons. Take a section of your hair and tuck it in between the tongs and the barrel, then push the turn button in the desired direction to wrap your hair around the barrel. Keep the Instawave steady until you hear a beep, which signals that the curl is done. Then pull the Instawave straight downwards, releasing the curl.
As you can see, it’s basically a curling wand with a bit of automation. The important part is that there’s no need to touch the barrel or get your fingers anywhere near it, so there’s a lot less chance of scorching yourself. It’s also got a 90-minute automatic shutdown, in case you accidentally leave it switched on.
There are only two heat settings, though the ‘high’ setting is 420 F; you’ll likely be using that most often for thick hair. It takes just under a minute to build up to working heat. Once you’ve released the turn button and wrapped your hair around the barrel, it’ll give your hair eight seconds before it beeps to let you know it’s done.
It does take a little getting used to. You need to angle the barrel just at the right angle so that your hair curls around it; this is a matter of practice, and you’ll pick it up fairly easily. The curls tend to be on the lighter side if you release when the Instawave beeps, so you might want to give it an extra second or two to set.
If you want to save time and keep your fingers unburned, nothing beats the Kiss Instawave.
Sometimes, you just want options. There’s a lot of styles out there, and limiting yourself to just a tiny list won’t do. One curling iron can’t do it all…unless you make the barrels interchangeable. That’s what Duomishu did with this curling iron.
The handle is pretty unremarkable, all black with a non-slip surface, and it plugs in with a tangle-free cord on a swiveling mount. The difference is the head, which has two locking lugs for switching out barrels, unlocked by two buttons just beneath the head.
The Duomishu 6-in-1 comes with a set of 6 tourmaline-coated ceramic barrels. Three of them are clip irons: 1 1/4 inch, 1 inch, and 3/4 inch. Two are clipless wands with a taper: one is 1 inch tapering to 3/4 inch, the other is 1/3 inch tapering to 1/4 inch. The last is a 1-inch spiral. With these many barrels in multiple widths, you’ve got a lot of room to experiment with. All the barrels except for the spiral one have cool tips for easier handling.
It comes with two heat settings. High is 410 F, low is 300 F, and it reaches working temperature in 30 seconds. The lack of options is quite a disadvantage, as thick hair is mainly reliant on the high setting; still, finer heat control would be nice, as it’d expand the list of options available to you.
The box comes with several convenient extras to help in styling. A heat-resistant glove lets you handle the barrels with ease, and two hair clips help in sectioning the hair.
There are still some concerns. It has a habit of running hot, and a frequent customer complaint is that it might even be too hot. Some report that the clamp can get hot enough to scorch the thumb handling it, and the handle itself gets uncomfortably warm far too soon for our liking. A second heat-resistant glove is essential. The cord also doesn’t swivel as well as we’d like, so it’s not as agile as other curlers.
But if you want options and the room to explore all the styles that you can put your hair to, the Duomishu 6-in-1 has all the barrels you need. No style is out of reach with it.
A Buyer’s Guide To The Best Curling Iron For Thick Hair
What makes a good curling iron? What should you look for, what features should you prioritize? In this section, we’ll take a look at the features of a curling iron, and why they matter.
We’ve given you a range of models of all sorts of types up in the list, so you’ve got an idea of how much variation there is in barrel types. These are the main types you’ll find.
Clip irons have a spring-loaded clamp that keeps the hair in place. They create a more defined and uniform curl over the entire length of the hair.
Clipless irons or wands are just the barrel, with no clamp of any kind. These will give you a beachy, natural curl.
Wavers come in different forms, but their purpose is evident from the name; they don’t do curls, and instead specialize in waves.
Marcel irons are used mainly by professionals, and we recommend that novices avoid them. They require a lot of experience to properly use.
You’ll have to consider two different things here: the length of your hair, and how you like your curls. Short hair is easier to work with if you have a smaller barrel; if you have longer hair, you may want to get a larger barrel, as it’d take too much time with a smaller one.
However, barrel size also affects the tightness of your curls. Larger barrels mean looser, larger curls, and smaller barrels give tight and small curls. Ultimately, it’s all about the trade-offs you make. Are you willing to invest a great amount of time into the style that you want? If in doubt, you can never go wrong with the middle-of-the-road option: the 1-inch barrel.
You’ll also have to consider what material goes into the barrel. The most common barrel type you’ll see is ceramic, as ceramic barrels heat up fast and have an even heat distribution. You might also see a ceramic barrel coated in tourmaline, which keeps the ceramic smooth and keeps your hair from being fried.
For thick hair, nothing beats gold-plated or titanium barrels. It might sound like an expensive indulgence, but it’s got a functional purpose. Both gold-plated and titanium barrels beat ceramic ones in terms of heat: they heat up faster, they can take more heat, and they heat up evenly across their length. They’re also a bit more durable compared to ceramic barrels.
Put another way, how hot does it get? You have to find a balance here. Too hot and your curling iron damages your hair; too cold, and the curls won’t take at all. Thick hair needs more heat to properly curl up, which is why our selected models all run to the hotter end. The highest temperature you should go for the sake of your hair is 450 F; look for a curling iron that can go anywhere between 400 F to 450 F.
Also, consider how quickly it gets up to working heat. This can be affected by barrel material, as some types heat up faster. You don’t want to spend too long waiting for your iron to heat up, especially since putting your curls in can take quite a long time.
How easy is it to use your curling iron? Don’t underestimate this factor. A curling iron might have the best heat capacity and be an absolute wonder at styling your hair, but it’s all going to be for nothing if you have to fight with the thing just to curl a section of hair.
Consider the grip. How easy is it to get a good, solid hold, and how easy is it to move around your head? Is the weight excessive? You’re going to have that in hand for a good while without anything supporting your arm. How long is the power cord, and how long a cord will you need for your grooming situation?
A Guide To Curling Thick Hair
So you’ve just bought one of the best curlers for thick hair; now how do you use it? Care is required, because the barrel is a hot surface without much in the way of protection, and our chosen models all run to the hotter end of the spectrum.
Step 1: Prepare Your Hair
While your hair should be clean, freshly-washed hair doesn’t hold a curl as well as two- or three-day hair. Curls last longer in hair that’s seen a few days between washes. Make sure your hair is clean and dry. Dry shampoo is your friend here; nothing works so well to clean your hair while still keeping it in the right state to take a curl well.
Also, you’ll want to apply heat protectant. Strong heat will damage your hair, but what does a curling iron do? To avoid burning your hair off or damaging the strands, apply heat protectant from root to tip.
Step 2: Prepare Your Tools
You can’t curl your hair without the curling iron, after all. Don’t forget your heat-resistant gloves, on one or both hands. You’ll want the protection, especially considering the heat we’re working with for thick hair. Plus don’t forget to heat up your iron, especially if it’s a model that needs some time to reach working heat. Sometimes heat-up time is thirty seconds, other times it’s a minute. You may as well fill the time and overlap with the steps before or after this one.
Step 3: Section Your Hair
Using hair clips, divide your hair into sections of about 1 inch. This will keep things much more organized since you’ll find it a lot easier to section hair before curling and just unpin the sections as the need arises. This will also help define your look: Horizontal sections give your hair volume, while vertical sections impart more of a wavy appearance.
Step 4: Start Curling
With all things prepared, then we can get on to the hot part. Bring your heated curling iron and unpin your chosen section of hair. If your iron has a clamp, clamp the section as close to the root as you prefer, then wrap the rest of that section’s length around the barrel. Always start from the root and go to the ends, because that’ll help the curl stay in longer.
Step 5: Consider Curl Direction
Consider the direction your curls are going. If you curl everything in the same direction, your hair will start flowing together and give you large, polished curls. Alternating directions gives you distinct pieces to your look, and it’s less obviously ‘done up’. Consider which look you want to go for.
An exception is for the sections that’ll frame your face. Those, you want to curl away from your face, depending on which side they’re on; doing so makes them frame your face better.
Step 6: Let Your Hair Rest
Keep the iron applied to your hair for five to ten seconds – experiment to see what duration works best for you. After you pull the iron away, don’t let your hair drop. Either pin it back with the clip or rest it in your hand. The important thing is to not let it take its own weight while it’s still warm. Keep it supported while it cools off.
Step 7: Shake Out Your Curls
Finish your look by giving the curls either a light brush or just finger-combing. Nothing too harsh, as you don’t want to unravel the curls this early; you just want to give them a little extra volume.
Step 8: Apply Hairspray
A touch of hairspray is essential to keeping those curls voluminous and long-lasting. The precise type depends on what kind of look you’re shooting for. If you want those curls to stay tight all day, maximum-hold spray is your best bet. Otherwise, other types of hairspray will be more in order. For instance, texturizing spray adds volume and texture and just a touch of hold without weighing your curls down too much, so they stay in longer.
Common Mistakes While Curling Thick Hair
So you’ve seen how to go about curling your hair; here’s a short list of things that you should avoid. Some things that seem logical at first don’t quite hold when you’re actually doing it.
Use The Right Size Barrel
We covered this earlier, but it bears repeating. For tighter curls, use a smaller barrel, and larger barrels give you looser curls. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t use the right size of curl for the style you want to put your hair into. This also covers barrel length; if you’ve got long hair, there may be too much hair to wrap around the barrel. Make sure that all your hair fits onto the barrel.
Keep Your Hair Dry
Ideally, you should be working with hair that’s a few days between washes, as we explained earlier. However, no matter what you do, never curl wet hair. If you do have to wash your hair before curling, ensure that it is completely dry before you apply any heat. And don’t skip the heat protectant. Remember, thicker hair needs more heat, and since you’ve got thick hair, you’re going to be at greater risk. If you think you can do without heat protectant, you’re quite mistaken.
Hold The Barrel Pointing Down
In the vast majority of cases, you want the barrel pointing down. That gets you better consistency in your look and it’s easier to drop the curl after you’re done. There are times when pointing the barrel a different direction may work better, but those are rare; for the most part, keep the barrel pointing downward.
Use Heat-Resistant Gloves
Again, you’re working with thick hair, which needs more heat to properly put a curl in. This can and will scorch you if you handle the iron incorrectly. Always have your heat-resistant gloves nearby (on both hands, ideally), use your curler’s cool tip if it has one, and keep the barrel away from anything flammable. That safety stand exists for a reason.
Don’t Overdo The Heat
Looking good might come with a few sacrifices, but damaging your hair is no way to go about it. Don’t hold the iron on too long; the 10 seconds we recommended earlier is the longest you should go on any stretch of hair. Also, be careful with the heat. Thick hair needs more heat, but caution is necessary whenever you’re putting something that hot onto your hair.
Clean Your Curling Iron
No bacteria or other harmful organisms are going to survive on a surface of 400+ F. On the other hand, that doesn’t exclude the non-living stuff that can build up on a curling iron, and by that, we mean hair product. Keep your curling iron clean by wiping it down with a damp cloth every so often. Avoid alcohol; that can strip the outside of the heating plates.
How To Keep Long-Lasting Curls
If the previous section was what you shouldn’t do, this section is about what you should do. Here are a few tips to keep those curls for just a bit longer.
- Hair clips are your friend: Whether it’s clips or bobby pins or anything else, use as many as you need to keep your hair pinned and sectioned. Keep the next tip in mind.
- Let curls rest: As we covered previously, don’t let a hair section hang on its own after you’ve just finished curling it. Heat reshapes your hair, and if you touch your hair while it’s still hot, it’ll be just as open to changing shape. They’ll last longer if you keep them pinned or supported while you finish the rest of your hair.
- Dry shampoo loves you: The problem with styling hair that’s two or three days old is dirt, but that’s when dry shampoo comes in. Nothing is better when it comes to cleaning out your hair without going to the full trouble of a wash.
- Style lighter: When you’re brushing out your curls, don’t go for your intended look just yet; leave the curls a little tighter than you’re shooting for. Your hair will naturally return to its normal shape over time, so we’re taking advantage of that tendency. Don’t brush the curls out too much; let time and gravity have their say. By the time you arrive at where you want to impress, your curls will have relaxed into the style you want.
- Keep your hair healthy: When you do wash your hair, keep it nourished. Moisturize and condition your hair. You can’t curl hair that’s dry and cracked, after all.
The wealth of options on the market may make it hard to choose, but with our guide and our recommendations, you can find a curling iron that’s just right for thick hair. Even in that spectrum, you’ve got a lot of choices!
Would you like the gold-plated warmth of the Signature Series? The easy and quick convenience of the Kiss Instawave? And there’s always our top choice, the BaByliss Nano Titanium in its and gel-coated glory.
These curling will help you look your best 24/7. So, whatever event you’re facing, whatever people you need to impress, these tools are here for you to make you look stunning! If you’ve been thinking about getting a curling iron, there’s no better time than right now!