Long hair provides the wearer with many style options. Not knowing the best tools for the task at hand can turn this wonderful advantage into a curse. While anyone with hand dexterity can use ponytail holders and hair clips, it takes a certain amount of product knowledge to choose the best curling iron for lengthy tresses. This article will review the considerations needed when choosing a curling iron, as well as the following products:
Curling irons give you several options. Knowing which look you want to achieve is key when choosing your iron. Is your objective loose, beachy waves that boost volume near your roots, or are you looking to add a tousled curls to an updo for a special occasion? Are you going for more of a defined, classic wave, or are you channeling your inner Shirley Temple with ringlet curls?
Once a style is decided, curling iron options begin to narrow. The size of the iron’s barrel–the part of the iron the hair wraps around–determines the type of wave or curl it can achieve. While any barrel size can be used with long hair, it is important to understand that not every size can deliver every style. Ulta notes that, for beachy waves, a 2 inch barrel is needed, while tousled curls require, at maximum, a barrel of 1.5 inches. 1 inch barrels produce classic curls, while tight, ringlet curls require a 0.75 inch barrel.
Curling iron barrels are made of several different materials, including ceramic, tourmaline, titanium, and gold. Each material interacts with hair in a different way in order to achieve the desired curl or wave.
Hair Glamourista notes that ceramic curling irons offer an even heating surface, decreasing the likelihood of sporadic heat damage. Ceramic’s use of negatively charged ions stimulates the hair’s natural oils, leaving curls looking soft and lustrous instead of frizzy and dry.
Like ceramic curling irons, tourmaline curling irons use negative ions in order to protect the cuticle of each hair. Tourmaline curling irons offer more protection than ceramic, shielding even the most coarse hair from heat damage. The tourmaline curling iron is also lighter and easier to handle than ceramic curling irons.
Titanium curling irons also depend on negative ions to provide protection from heat damage. However, barrels made from titanium hold their desired temperature longer than those made of tourmaline or ceramic. While this is an advantage for the seasoned ironer, those new to the curling iron may unintentionally damage their hair by leaving it at high temperatures for too long.
Ulta suggests that barrels made from gold provide the best styling experience. Gold barrels work for even the most stubborn, coarse hair types, and they protect hair by offering a source of even heat. The barrel both heats and cools quickly, protecting hair from accidental damage.
The type of clip chosen is another aspect that depends on the preferred style. Ulta points out that curling irons come with spring loaded clips or no clip at all. Curling irons without clips are referred to as wands. For tight, traditional, or precise curls, spring loaded clips work best. Wands are preferred for loose, beachy waves. To see both in action, check out this video:
How Hot is Too Hot?
Every curling iron worth its weight offers temperature control. Controlling the temperature to which hair is exposed is critical when curling. But how hot is too hot?
Ulta suggests that the temperature used depends on the thickness and quality of the hair. Hair that is fine or has been chemically treated in some way should not be exposed to temperatures higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium textured, healthy hair can go up to 380 degrees Fahrenheit, while curly, thick, or coarse hair should be styled between 350 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Hair should not be heated at temperatures over 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Xtava Twist Curling Wand comes with two barrel options: 1 to 1.5 inches and 0.75 to 1 inch. This wand produces traditional, tousled, or ringlet curls. Its barrel is ceramic, which helps it to control static and eliminate frizz while locking in moisture to produce healthy-looking curls. The Xtava takes temperature control seriously, allowing 22 different settings with the option of keeping its tip cool. It does not go over 410 degrees Fahrenheit in order to protect the health of your hair. Unfortunately, though, 410 degrees may not be enough heat to curl coarse hair.
As a bonus, the Xtava has an 8-foot cord is designed to swivel 360 degrees to keep it out of your way. It also has a safety shut off that powers the wand down after 60 minutes of non-use. Included in the packaging is a heat resistant glove to protect your hand from burns.
The Mr. Big Curling Iron certainly lives up to its name–it has the longest barrel on the market. Its 9.5 inches long, 1.25-inch wide barrel can handle 30 inches of hair at once, delivering traditional curls in half the time. It has a triple plated ceramic barrel with a clip and heats between 180 and 430 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the triple plating on the long barrel adds extra weight to the iron and could possibly make styling a tiresome chore.
The Mr. Big boasts a rotating tip to help people curl more efficiently. It houses a 360-degree swivel cord and was specially made for hair at or past shoulder length. Mr. Big shuts off automatically after 60 minutes.
Kiss’s Instawave is a ceramic curling iron made specifically for those who have trouble using both traditional curling irons and wands. It has a Curl Dial, which features comb-like prongs that detangle the hair as it is curled. It has two heat settings that allow the temperature to reach a maximum of 420 degrees Fahrenheit and shuts off automatically after 90 minutes.
What sets Instawave apart from its competitors is the fact that it curls automatically. To use, separate a 1 to 2-inch section of hair and place Instawave behind it. Press the button and continue pressing until the entire length of hair is weaved around the wand. When it beeps, slowly pull Instawave down to release the curls. While the feature makes it easier to use, those with long, coarse hair would find that it may be time-consuming. If this is a feature that you are interested in, I would recommend looking at the Beachwaver Co.’s line of curling wands instead.
Like the Instawave, Chi’s Air Spin and Curl does all the work for you. It has three temperature settings, 370 degrees Fahrenheit for fine hair, 390 degrees Fahrenheit for medium hair, and 410 degrees Fahrenheit for coarse hair. Unlike the Instawave, it does not detangle hair; instead, a button will beep for you to reset the hair by manually removing small sections from the machine. Its prime directive is to deliver spiral curls with its 1-inch barrel.
Miropure’s Professional Curling Iron is made of tourmaline ceramic. When one of its six heat options are chosen, it reaches its desired heat in 30 seconds and keeps the same heat intensity until manually changed. Miropure’s temperature tops out at 410 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the integrity of your hair; however, this may not be enough heat for those with thick hair. It has a 1.25-inch diameter barrel with a clip to achieve flowing waves or traditional curls, but due to the barrel size, tight spiral curls are not an option.
Miropure’s Professional Curling Iron comes with a heat resistant glove to protect your hand, as well as a silicone storage cover and hairpins. It also has a 360-degree swivel cord and a 60-minute auto shutoff timer.
The best overall curling iron for long hair is Mr. Big. It not only has a 1.25-inch diameter barrel that lends itself to a variety of waves and curls, but the barrel is also supersized at 9.5 inches long. The combination of curl variety with the efficiency of being able to handle up to 30 inches of hair at once deems it the best product for those with flowing tresses. Additionally, Mr. Big allows for 20 degrees higher heat, which could make a difference for those with more coarse hair.
However, the budget pick should not be underestimated. The Xtava Twist Curling Wand comes in two sizes that can form tight, precise curls or bold, beachy waves. It has 22 heat setting for a more individualized experience but cuts you off at 410 degrees as to not damage their hair.
Both the overall and budget picks are solid choices for those with long hair in search of a curling iron. Both allow a variety of styles while protecting the integrity of the hair by not going over 450 degrees Fahrenheit. While Mr. Big may save time, the Xtava adds more variety in its barrel sizes, coming in both a large and small barrel at a fraction of the price. Either way, both curling irons provide you with a sturdy, reliable tool suitable for long hair.