I have thin hair… That’s right, I said it. If you’re reading this article, you probably have thin hair too. Girls like us have special needs when it comes to the hot tools we use in and on our hair. When it comes to curling irons, there are a lot of things to consider; barrel size, heat settings, build materials, technology, etc. I am going to help you figure out the best curling irons and wands for thin hair like ours. We’ll be looking at these five models today:
First, let’s talk about what makes a good curling iron. You can’t always assume that more expensive means higher quality. A lot of designer brands just slap their name and favorite color on a curling iron that already exists and double the price. To know what is good, we need to know what technology or materials the iron is using and what heat options it has. Here is a breakdown of the basics.
Usually what is meant by technology, when talking about hair tools, is what material is it made from. There are metal irons like gold and titanium which sound luxurious but have less even heat dispersion. These should typically be avoided for people with thin hair.
Ceramic and tourmaline are better options for thin hair because they distribute heat evenly to help prevent damage. If you choose a less expensive curling wand, take note of whether it is made of your desired material or just coated in it. If it is coated, it will likely wear faster which may cost more in the long run.
Since thin hair is more easily damaged, it is incredibly important to make sure your curling iron has temperature controls. Fine hair dries more quickly than thick hair so you want to make sure you can adjust the temperature as low as 300F or so.
A common question that I get is “what size curling iron should I use?”. To be honest, the answer has more to do with your hair length and desired curl size than your hair thickness. The table below shows that the longer your hair is, the larger the barrel you can use.
⅜ inch curling iron
short shoulder-length hair
½ inch curling iron
short bob-cut hair
⅝ inch curling iron
medium shoulder-length hair
¾ inch curling iron
thick shoulder-length hair
1 inch curling iron
any hair type
1 ¼ inch curling iron
medium shoulder-length hair
1 ½ inch curling iron
1 ¾ inch curling iron
2-inch curling iron
Given the information above, the best kind or curling wand or curling iron for thin hair would have the following characteristics:
- Made of ceramic or tourmaline
- Temperature control down to about 300F
- Close to a 1” barrel depending on how large you want your curls
- Easy to hold and use
I am going to recommend a few of my favorite curling irons but any that have these features would work great you.
I might be preaching to the choir here a little bit but let’s talk about the challenges we have with thin hair.
- Your hair heats quickly and therefore, can get damaged easily
- Volumizing products are less than effective
- It feels impossible to hold curls. Curls? What curls?
- You have carpal tunnel syndrome from twisting hair ties into your hair… Why. Won’t. They. Stay!
- By the end of the day, your hair looks like you washed it in Crisco.
- Tangles. Tangles. Tangles.
Some of these are meant to be funny, albeit true, but the main concerns when curling your hair are damage and longevity. We don’t want to damage our hair and we do want the curls to stay.
Dry (if necessary)
If you washed your hair before curling, which we would advise against, you want to make sure that your hair is completely dry before attempting to curl it. Trying to curl it wet will likely lead to damage.
Prep & Protect
Once dry, you’ll want to section your hair to ensure a consistent curl and make sure you get back all the way to the roots. Another pro-tip is to use a curl enhancing spray. Finally, its always a good idea to use a hair protectant like Moroccanoil Perfect Defense.
As we mentioned above, you also want to make sure that your curling iron is set at around 300F.
Mara Del Russo from PopSugar.com recommends not curling for more than 7 second. That said 4-5 seconds is even better.
Since we are curling for a short amount of time to prevent damage, you’ll want to give each section a spritz of strong hold hairspray so that it can cool and set while you are finishing the rest of your hair.
Finally, you can head to the
beauty pagent grocery store and collect your winnings buy your groceries.
Most people think the heat equals damage but that’s not strictly true. The truth is that excessive heat equals damage. You’re probably wondering what I mean by excessive heat. Well… I think of it as a function of heat plus time. I would define excessive heat as anything over 450F for any amount of time or a lower temperature (let’s say 300F for more than ~8 seconds). As previously mentioned, for thin hair, we agree with Russo and recommend 300F to 320F for no longer than 7 or 8 seconds.
The Black Gold curling wand/iron is the flagship curling iron from the popular brand Helen of Troy (HOT) Tools. To me, it has a very classy and high end look with the combination of flat black, glossy black and gold accents. The curling iron has great reviews and many consider it to be one of the best mid-tier metal iron (titanium and gold) curling irons on the market. It is also adjustable from 280F to 455F so you can dial to about 310F which is perfect for thin hair.
- Temperature adjustable from 280F to 455F
- Very attractive black and gold design
- Auto shut-off feature
- The barrel and clamp design isn’t great for really long hair
- Metal iron construction (gold and titanium)
Invented by celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, the Beachwaver Pro 1 has a unique feature not found in other curling irons. It has the ability to auto rotate with the touch of a button; in either direction. This makes it very easy to curl your hair and get the beach waves you desire. Their curling irons are made in Korea (arguably better than China for electronics) and have a digital temperature adjustment starting at 310F – perfect for thin hair.
- Temperature adjustable from 310F to 450F
- Heats in 30 seconds
- 6.5″ Protective Ceramic Tourmaline Rod
- Auto rotating barrel
- Weak manufacturers warranty
- More moving parts means more things that can break
Foxybae seems to be the new kid on the block for mid-tier hair tools. They have a great design with black and pink and a rose gold wand. The packaging is really nice as well. Very minimalist with their pink and black color scheme. As for the curling wand, Foxybae claims to give you the longest lasting curls but we found it to be on par with any other decent curling wand.
- Temperature adjustable from 300F to 405F
- Best looking hair tool in your bathroom
- Auto shut-off
- Metal iron construction (titanium)
Winner of the 2017, 2016 and 2015 Allure Best of Beauty Award, the T3 Whirl Trio is a juggernaut to contend with. The curling wand has great, clean design; white and copper/pink accents. It comes with three interchangeable barrels, a storage tote and a heat resistant glove so you don’t burn your hand. The whirl trio is very well reviewed and people commonly praise their long lasting curls and the ease of use. This is the curling wand that I personally.
- Temperature adjustable from 260F to 410F – although it only has 5 settings
- Includes a 1″ straight barrel, a 1.5″ straight barrel, and a 1.25″ – 0.75″ tapered barrel
- Ceramic Tourmaline Barrels
- Auto shut-off
- Includes storage tote, heat-resistant glove
- More parts (interchangeable barrels) means more things that can break
- High price
Conair is probably the most well known hair tool brand on the planet – well maybe just the US. The conair double ceramic 1” curling iron is an entry-level curling iron with a lot of great features for the price. It is my pick for the best budget curling iron for thin hair. Unfortunately, the conair website doesn’t tell us much about it and I haven’t used it personally so I have used reviews from Amazon, Youtube, and Reddit to make this determination. Conair has a great warranty and based on reviews, this curling iron will do a great job curling your hair, at a more than fair price.
- Well known, easy to trust brand
- Turbo Heat – Up to 27°F burst of heat for difficult-to-style spots
- 30 preset temperature settings
- Ceramic barrel
- Auto shut-off
- Exact temperatures for the temperature presets are not listed
We looked at five curling irons and wands in this article but we tested and/or used real reviews to look at over 30. We think each of these five is a fantastic choice depending on your needs and your budget. Personally, I use the T3 Whirl and wholly recommend it. I believe it to be the best curling iron that we looked at. That being said, it is also the most expensive by quite a margin.
Our budget pick would be the Foxybae Rose Gold 25mm but if you are looking for something to travel with or if the Foxybae is still out of your budget; the C