Curl Power - Curling Irons 101
|Curling Iron Types: Marcel, Spring Iron, Clip-Free Iron, Tapered Rod, Spiral Spring Iron and a Three-Barrel Wave Iron|
There are many ways to create curl and wave but curling irons and wands are the most popular and versatile. They come in a wide variety of barrel sizes and shapes, and iron types to give a wider array of hair bending options. Let's take a look at some of the options.
Marcel n’ Me
Marcel curling irons were originally designed for salon professionals and are best suited for styling someone else’s hair, unless you are super-coordinated. Instead of holding the iron closed with a constant grip like with spring curling irons, marcel irons offer the ultimate control with a lever design and a locking mechanism to hold the hair around the barrel. They offer exceptional styling control and speedy curl creation for those experienced with the tool. Higher temperatures, quicker recovery times and professional grade materials give salon quality results but usually come with pro-oriented pricing. If you chose to go this direction, be ready for an investment.
Spring curling irons are easy to use and are the most popular type of curling iron available. They are great starter tools that offer a spring arm or clamp to maintain a firm hold on hair. You simply use your thumb to open the clamp arm and release sections of hair as you work.
Spring irons come in a wide variety of barrel widths from super small at 3/8-inch or ½-inch, small at 3/4 –inch, medium at 1-inch, large at 1.25-inch, 1.5-inch or even 1.75-inch, or the extra large or “Bumper Irons” at 2-inches. If you are just starting out and looking for a good basic iron, a 1-inch or medium is the most versatile. If you have shorter hair, you may want to step down a notch as you want to be able to wrap the hair all the way around the barrel of the iron at least once.
Because spring irons are so very popular, it’s no surprise that they come in a wide array of sizes, barrel shapes (like round, oblong, triangular, etc.) and qualities, which naturally translates to pricing. If you are looking for a good basic iron, invest well in a high quality, current technology iron in a size that will work for creating a wide variety of styles. For specialized irons that you are less likely to use on a regular basis, you may wish to be more frugal.
Regardless, don’t get caught up with all of the gimmicks, but do look for an iron with adjustable heat settings, a ceramic barrel and heating element, a beefy cord, a comfortable grip, and a decent warranty from the manufacturer. A one-year warranty is standard and expected for a good iron.
Clip-free Curling Irons, Rods or Wands
It can take a little bit of practice to get the hang of clip-free curling irons, also known as rod and wands, but once you do the curling opportunities are endless. No clip or clamp means that you curl your hair by draping it around the barrel, wrapping the ends of your hair last, versus first. Most of these irons come with or require a heat glove to use effectively, but do be careful as it’s easy to get burned. These tools are great for creating volume at the base (root) and pieciness at the ends, best known as beachy waves or curls. The barrels of these tools come in a variety of sizes but the 1-inch is still the most popular and versatile. If you really want to mix it up, consider a tapered iron, which will provide a variety of curl sizes using one tool.
Specialty Irons - Notched or Ridged Curling Irons
Spiral or ribbon curling iron are relatively new on the scene irons have raised ridges on the barrel that guide hair around into precise spirals. It makes for quick styling for that specific type of curl. These irons are fun to work with, but may be a bit limiting to some users.
Multiple Barrel Curling Irons Double-barrel curling irons allow you to create figure-eight loops or simple waves while triple barrel or wave irons press your hair into an oscillating pattern for beachy waves. These types of irons work with larger sections of hair at one time and make for fast styling and predictable results.
Where to Start
Not sure what to get? Start with a good basic like a 1-inch spring iron and play around with different sections of hair to see what sort of results you can achieve and then add to your collection as you see fit. If not, consider an iron with interchangeable barrels or play around with a tapered wand. Just remember: the size the iron is proportionate to the size of the curl while the size of the section of hair being curled is in proportion to how tight the curl is. For tighter curls, use smaller sections, for looser waves, use larger sections.
Now get out there and make some waves (or curls)!
BTW: Folica seems to have a nice assortment! www.folica.com
Disclosure: No compensation was offered or taken to be in this feature article.