Curling Wand vs Curling Iron: What’s the Difference?

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Rocking curls is one of the easiest and most effective ways to change your look. Most curling irons are affordable, so there’s no need to spring for a boutique hairstylist. Today, a full blowout at the stylist can easily cost up to $300 or more! In contrast, you can purchase a great curling tool for less than $60 and DIY. 

Pretty big difference, right? 

So, do you want a curling rod or curling iron? That depends! In this article, we’ll look at curling wand vs curling iron, and explain the similarities and differences between the two. We’ll also recommend a few great tools in each category.

No matter which you choose, as long as you’re patient and willing to learn, you can easily achieve a professional look at a fraction of the cost. No need to tell anyone you’re doing it yourself!

Curling hair has been a popular beauty techinque for millennia. But with the advent of electricity, curling hair became a fairly simple, fairly safe process. As curling irons became a common staple, the companies manufacturing them started to create variations, including: 

  • Thin barrels for tight curls
  • Thick barrels for larger curls and a wavier look
  • Curling wands that provided a more natural appearance
  • Automatic curling irons
  • Mini curling irons for easy transportation
  • Flat irons for different types of curls
  • And more! 


Curling Wand vs Curling Iron: The Main Difference

The main difference between curling wands and curling irons is the appearance that they create. Curling irons are probably a bit more popular due to the fact that they create a more dramatic look, whereas curling wands create a more natural appearance. 

Curling Irons


Curling irons feature a cylindrical barrel with a spring-loaded clamp on the side. The clamp is designed to hold strands of hair tightly against the barrel. This ensures that every piece of hair gets exposed to heat, and results in that tightly-curled appearance.

You can produce different curl shapes by varying the size of the barrel and the temperature level.

Curling irons can create everything from tight, bouncy curls to large, thick curls. They’re obviously great if you have long hair. But you can even use them with short hair.

Curling Wands

Remington Curling Wand

Curling wands typically feature a cylindrical barrel (although there are other barrel types) without a clamp.

Since they don’t have a clamp to hold the hair tightly against the heat source, the curls that a wand creates are far less dramatic. They tend to have a more natural feel.

With a wand, you’ll get a lot more variation from one hair lock to another, again leaning into the natural look. The variation can depend on how you wrapped your hair around the wand, how long you left it there, and how much pressure you applied. 

Natural Waves or Polished Curls? 

Ultimately, most people’s answer to the issue of curling wand vs curling iron comes down to the type of hairstyle they’re aiming for.

If you want something easy for beginners to use, doesn’t create super dramatic curls, and produces a natural look (like you were born with curls), then a curling wand is your best option. Note that you may want to check out flat irons, too!

If you’re looking for a tool that can dramatically change the way that your hair looks and give you those beautiful tight, bouncy, ring-like curls, then a curling iron is the way to go. 

If you’re the type of person who likes both looks and regularly switches up their appearance, then why not buy one of each?

Most curling irons and wands are very affordable! Consider using both.

Differences In Hair Type

You also need to keep in mind what type of hair you have. If you’re working with hair that is already naturally curly, then you may find that a curling wand isn’t strong enough to make a significant difference in your hair. 

For instance, if you have more ethnic hair, then you’re probably going to want to go with a curling iron or potentially a flat iron. The tight clamp and higher temperatures will help ensure that your hair curls the way you want it to.

However, if you have straight or wavy hair, a curling wand can give you some pretty dramatic results. 

If you’re still unsure, it never helps to ask a friend what they use for their hair type! 

Difference In Using Each Curling Tool

Another key difference to keep in mind is how each different curling tool is used. Curling irons should always be used with the cord and handle pointed down.

Typically, you’ll wrap your locks of hair around the barrel, clamp them down, and then slowly twist and pull the curling iron down and away from you.

Curling wands are used differently. With a curling wond, you’ll usually want to make sure that the handle and cord end is pointed upwards. Since wands don’t have a clamp to hold the locks of hair down, they rely on the pressure and twisting motion applied by your other hand as well as the natural weight of gravity.

It’s a slight difference, but something to keep in mind. 

Although curling wands create a less dramatic effect, they can sometimes require a bit more physical work on your end. You’ll have to actively use both hands. With a curling iron you’re really just using the iron itself.

Here’s a short video showing how to use both of these hair tools.

Curling Wands

Let’s start off by taking a look at curling wands. Curling wands usually tend to be a bit longer than curling irons, so you may be able to wrap more hair around them and curl more strands in one go.

The downside of this is that they can be a bit more bulky and hard to store if you’re working with limited storage space. 

Since curling wands aren’t quite as strong as curling irons, they may not be the best choice if you have extra-curly, thick, or ethnic hair. You’ll have to spend a lot of extra time trying to get your curls just right.

However, if you’re working with straight or naturally wavy hair, then a curling wand is perfect

Our Top Curling Wand Picks

Enough talk! By now, you know everything that you need to know, so it’s time to take a look at some of the best-selling curling wands on the market. 

Bed Head Twirl Junkie Digital Curling Wand | Tight Curls and Waves, (1 in) 

Bed Head Twirl Junkie 1

The Twirl Junkie by Bed Head is easily one of the most futuristic-looking curling tools on the market. Its bright colors and blue chrome-plated titanium barrel give it loads of style and pizazz. 

We particularly like how this model features a digital display with easy + and – buttons to give you full control over the temperature. You can select the perfect level of heat depending on the type of styling that you’re going for. 

What makes this different from most of the other curling wands on the market is that it features Bed Head’s “Shine Master” plating on the barrel. This plating is designed to increase the speed at which it heats up. It ends up leavingyour hair looking ultra-smooth and shiny. 

While competitors’ ceramic barrels perform well, the ceramic coating can break down over time. This can cause strands of hair to stick and burn. 

Overall, this is one of the coolest straight-barrel curling wands we’ve come across, so it’s definitely worth a look! 

Key Features:

  • Available in 1-inch or 1.25-inch sizes.
  • A fully digital LCD temperature gauge takes the guesswork out of temperature control.
  • Barrel coated with Bed Head’s “Shine Master” coating to leave your hair with a bright sheen. 
  • Barrel heats up quickly and cools down just as fast. 
  • Bright neon blue and green colors ensure you’ll never lose your wand. 
  • Temperature variable up to 430-Degrees Fahrenheit for multiple hair types. 
  • Features a built-in auto-shutoff and dual-voltage functionality so it can be used in other countries. 
  • The barrel has a cooled tip to prevent burns. 
  • It comes with a swiveling cord, so you never have to worry about tangles. 
Bed Head Twirl Junkie Digital Curling Wand | Tight Curls and Waves, (1 in)
  • TWIRL JUNKIE: Shine master plated...
  • EASY-TO-USE: Digital controls give you...
  • ADVANCED: Clamp-free design for...
  • MULTIPLE TEMPERATURES: Digital control...
  • TRAVEL READY: Lightweight and universal...

CONAIR INFINITIPRO Tourmaline Ceramic 1-Inch to 1/2-Inch Curling Wand, Tapered wand produces beachy waves 

INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand

CONAIR’s INFINITIPRO curling wand features a more traditional design than the Twirl Junkie we just looked at. Instead of a titanium barrel, this wand is crafted with a combination of tourmaline (a hard crystal) and ceramic.

This provides a smooth surface and ensures that the heat is distributed evenly along the barrel. 

The INFINITIPRO features a tapered barrel as opposed to the Twirl Junkie’s straight barrel. This allows you to experiment with different sized curls for a more variable hairstyle.

The one drawback is that if you only want one size curl, you’ll have to do a little bit more work than if you had a straight barrel. 

We really like the handle design on this wand! It features plenty of little grooves and ridges so that you can keep a steady hold on it no matter what crazy position you’re holding it in! 

Key Features:

  • Features a tapered barrel for more variability over curl size. 
  • Available in two sizes: 1-inch to .5-inch and 1.25-inch to .75-inch.
  • The barrel features even heat distribution, which ensures there are no hot spots. 
  • The barrel is made out of CONAIR’s high-quality tourmaline and ceramic blend. 
  • It has a cooled tip to prevent accidental burns. 
  • Comes with four temperature settings: 310, 330, 360, and 400-Degrees. 
  • Extra ridges on the handle make it easy to hold, even in awkward positions. 
  • Features an automatic shutoff in case you ever forget to unplug it. 
Bed Head Twirl Junkie Digital Curling Wand | Tight Curls and Waves, (1 in)
  • TWIRL JUNKIE: Shine master plated...
  • EASY-TO-USE: Digital controls give you...
  • ADVANCED: Clamp-free design for...
  • MULTIPLE TEMPERATURES: Digital control...
  • TRAVEL READY: Lightweight and universal...

Curling Irons

Although they may look similar at first glance, curling irons have one defining feature that wands don’t: the clamp. The extra hair clasp is designed to hold your hair tightly in place. You get those sharp edges and extra-bouncy curls with ease. However, you do want to watch out for excessive heating and frizzy hair if you push too far.

Let’s check ‘em out! 

Our Top Curling Iron Picks

If you’re looking for a curling iron, we’ve got your back! Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at two of the highest-reviewed irons on Amazon. 

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1 inch Spring Curling Iron , Professional Spring Hair Curler for Long Lasting Curls & All Hair Types 

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron

BaByliss has a great reputation in the styling world for its high-quality products and innovative design technology (we love their flat irons!). This curling iron is baby blue and features one of the most high-tech barrels we’ve seen.

The company uses a patented “Sol-Gel” material that combines both titanium and ceramic. The ceramic ensures a smooth surface and even heat distribution while the negatively-charged titanium binds to the positive ions in your hair to create a shine like no other. 

Unlike some of the wands we just reviewed, this iron features 50 different temperature settings that go as high as 450-Degrees for maximum control. Some may say this is overkill, but most people like to have options! 

Key Features:

  • Available in four sizes: .75-inch, 1-inch, 1.25-inch, and 1.5-inch.
  • Hair clasp is secured with a tough titanium spring for maximum durability and long-lasting use. 
  • The barrel is made from BaByliss’s Sol-Gel composite- a concentrated blend of ceramic and titanium that’s supposedly more concentrated than the typical curling iron barrels.
  • Features over 50 heat settings that go all the way up to 450-Degrees. 
  • Comes with a tangle-free cord featuring a swivel head at the base of the handle. 
  • Features an 8-foot cord so you never have to struggle to find an outlet. 
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium 1 inch Spring Curling Iron , Professional Spring Hair Curler for Long Lasting Curls & All Hair Types
  • The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring...
  • The Nano titanium barrel offers even...
  • Use this spring barrel curling iron for...
  • Instant heat up and recovery up to 450...
  • Nano titanium barrel

Hot Tools Pro Artist 24K Gold Extra Long Curling Iron | Long Lasting, Defined Curls (1 in) 

HOT TOOLS Professional 24K Gold Extra-Long Barrel Curling Iron

If you’re the type of person who appreciates a flair of luxury, then you’ll love Hot Tools’ 24-Karat gold-plated curling iron. Aside from just looking fancy, the gold plating provides near-perfect levels of heat distribution, which means that you’ll get perfect curls from any angle. 

Another reason to love this curling iron is that it comes with an extra-long barrel (about 2-inches longer than standard curling irons). While it does make the unit a little bit bulkier, it’s perfect if you have long hair as you’ll be able to wrap more hair around it for a quicker curling experience! 

The manufacturer is also kind enough to throw in a free heat-proof mat so you can lay your curling iron down wherever you’re doing your hair without having to worry about burning your carpet, bed, or counter surface. 

Key Features:

  • Available in three sizes: 1-inch, 1.25-inch, and 1.5-inch. 
  • 24-Karat gold-plated barrel. 
  • Includes a protective heat mat so that you can set your iron down anywhere.
  • Variable temperature control ranging from 230 to 430-Degrees. 
  • Swiveling cord head to prevent tangles and knots in the cord. 
  • Features an extra-long barrel that’s perfect for long hair. 
Hot Tools Pro Artist 24K Gold Extra Long Curling Iron | Long Lasting, Defined Curls (1 in)
  • 24K GOLD BARREL: This versatile gold...
  • LONG-LASTING: Go for the gold for...
  • VERSATILE STYLING: Whether you choose to...
  • ALL HAIR TYPES: A high heat reach of up...
  • EASY STORAGE: Foldaway safety stand for...

Should I Buy a Curling Iron or a Curling Wand? 

All four of the products we looked at above perform at top levels and are used by professionals and home stylists around the country. If you talk to most professionals, they’ll usually recommend buying one curling iron and one curling wand, so you have options for different styles. 

However, if you can only afford to get one, then we would suggest getting the best one for your hair type and desired style. Remember, curling wands provide a more natural look and strain the hair less, while curling irons provide a more polished appearance and put your hair under a little more strain and pressure.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).