WANTED: Curling Iron...but which one???

Vodana_MarcelGrateauIts a little known fact that curling irons have been around for over 100 years; we can thank a Frenchman, Marcel Grateu, who in 1875 developed the technique of using irons for waving and curling the hair.  Modern day curling irons have evolved into countless variations of wands, irons, straighteners, crimpers, and wavers, so which one should you use?

While on the hunt for your ideal curling iron its important to decide what kind of curl you ultimately want to wear, this will help you decide on the right iron for you.  Traditional curling irons are pretty simple -- the smaller the barrel the tighter the curl or the larger the barrel the larger the curl.  I recommend Hot Tools CeramicTI Tourmaline curling irons that come in various barrel sizes from 3/4" to 2" ranging in price from $49.99-$59.99 at http://www.ulta.com.  Also, how much hair you place in the iron will change the look of your curls -- the more hair you place in the iron will result in a looser curl.  If you're looking for something different in your curls check out the below irons.

If your desired look is SPIRAL CURLS, I would recommend a small barrel curling iron (1/2") or a spiral curling iron.  An iron that is smaller in diameter and is a spiral iron is Conair's Ceramic Instant Heat 3/4" Spiral Styler -- the barrel is 25% longer, has uniform heat recovery for consistent curls, and only $15.99 at http://conair.com.

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If your desired look is SMOOTH TAPERED CURLS, I would recommend a wand curling iron (I prefer the ones that come with a full glove to reduce the chance of burning yourself). Remington's T-Studio Ceramic PEARL curling wand fits the bill -- heats up to 410 degrees, comes with a full glove, comes in 2 sizes 1/2" -1" and 1"-1 1/2", and each is $29.99 at http://www.ulta.com.

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If your desired look is BEACH WAVES or LOOSE CURLS, I would recommend a waver or a deep waver iron.  One of my favorite models is Revlon's Ceramic 3-Barrel Jumbo Waver -- it has several heat settings, a long cord, and is well-priced at $24.99 at http://www.ulta.com.

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Curling Iron FAQs:

  1. Your hair type should determine your heat setting, and you’ll need an iron with variable heat settings in order to control it.  If your hair is fine, fragile or color treated, use a low heat setting (below 200 degrees) to avoid burning or  damaging your hair. If you have curly, coarse or thick hair, you can go higher (200-300 degrees).  Aveda’s Smoothing Fluid is a great prep before applying heat to hair that has been dried. It will give the hair slip—leaving a smooth, shiny finish.
  2. Curling irons come in different material types and knowing which each does can help you achieve a better curl.  Starting from the safest for your hair to the least safe:  Ceramic and tourmaline irons:  These are the first choice of professionals because they are the healthiest for your hair. Ceramic irons disperse heat through your hair more evenly while tourmaline releases negative ions that close the cuticle down and lock in moisture, which controls frizz.  Gold and titanium irons: These are good conductors of heat, but won’t protect against frizz.  Chrome irons: These can be purchased at any drugstore for a low price, but they don’t always heat up evenly, don’t protect against frizz, and can also snag fragile hair.
  3. For bouncy curls start by dividing and clipping your dry hair into manageable sections. Working from the nape of your neck up first, grab a one-inch section and comb through it. Pick up the section at the ends and mist with a light-hold hairspray to create lift such as Aveda’s Air Control. If your iron is a spring barrel iron (meaning it has a clamp) clamp hair at the ends and roll up until it is completely around the barrel. If you are working with a clamp-less iron, wrap section around the barrel starting at the roots. Hold hair on the iron for 10-20 seconds. Continue working in sections until your entire head is curled. Finish by gently fingercombing curls and misting entire head with hairspray.
  4. For loose, flowing waves start by sectioning and clipping dry hair into diagonal sections, which will give hair a softer look.  Grab a two-inch section of hair and comb through it. Lift up the section from the ends and mist with light-hold hairspray to create lift such as Aveda’s Air Control. Then carefully wrap the hair in a spiral manner around the barrel of the iron (from roots to the tips), pointing the iron downward toward the floor. Let hair sit on iron for 10-20 seconds, holding the ends tightly around the barrel the entire time. Release hair and mist section lightly with hairspray. Continue until your entire head is curled.  For more glam, softer waves, brush through curls with a natural bristle brush. To get a piece-y, beachy feel, simply shake out the curls with your hands.
  5. Be sure hair is 100% dry before curling your hair. Wet or damp hair should never be curled. Besides the fact that wet/damp hair won’t hold a curl well, it can cause serious damage to your hair.  Hair should be prepped for heat while wet and then dried prior to curling — I recommend Aveda’s Brilliant Damage Control.
  6. Allow curls to fully cool before styling and don’t overuse hairspray or an extra firm hold hairspray while setting because this can cause the curls to be weighed down.
  7. Don’t over-style your curls. The less combing and brushing you do the longer they will stay and less frizzy they will look.
  8. Try alternating the way you wrap the curls on the curling iron. Wrapping the curls forward or backward can give you a completely different look. Experiment with the way you wrap your curls to achieve the look you desire.  I do recommend curling the hair around your face backwards away from the face.
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