Skip to content Click to view our Accessibility Statement or contact us with accessibility related questions

Choosing the Right Curling Iron For Your Fav Holiday Hairstyles

Sizing up your next curling iron? Learn how the different curling iron barrel sizes determine your overall hairstyle and can completely change the shape of your curl!

Choosing A Curling Iron Size

Curling irons are a must-have tool in hairstyling, but it's important to know that the different barrel sizes of curling irons can influence your end result.

The hair-tool world has a wide range of brands and sizes available to cater to your wants, needs, or styling techniques. What might be suitable for someone else's hair style or cut may not deliver the same results for your unique hair.

A one-”inch” size fits all curling iron isn’t always the best route, pun intended! In this guide, we'll explore the world of curling iron sizes and help to give you a better understanding of which one would be best suited for your hair.

Curling Iron Measurements

Before we dive into the specifics of each size, let's first understand that every curling iron’s heating element is called a barrel and the width of the barrel can be measured in inches.

The width of the barrel diameter determines the size. The most common curling iron diameters will range from small, medium, to large.

These catagories are important when choosing your overall hairstyle. So, whether you're aiming for tight curls, loose waves, or something in between, we've got you covered.

Small Curling Irons (3/8 inch to 1 inch)

Small curling irons are perfect for those looking to achieve tight curls and defined texture. They are great for: 

  • Creating tight curls that last all day. 
  • Adding texture and definition to short hair. 
  • Styling bangs and creating face-framing curls.

Typically, the section of hair that wraps around the barrel should not exceed the size of the barrel diameter. The smaller the section of hair, the tighter the curl or ringlet will be. If you use a bigger section of hair, then the bigger the curl or ringlet.

Medium Curling Irons (1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch)

Medium-sized curling irons have the most versatility and are perfect for achieving a wide range of curls and waves. Generally, you will see this size tool used to create:

  • Soft curls for beachy waves or lived-in texture. 
  • Tight curls for a bouncier or playful style. 
  • Body and volume to fine or thick hair.

A medium size curling iron works best with medium to long length hair (roughly top of the shoulders or longer).

The fact that this barrel diameter works well on a wide range of hair lengths and supports numerous curling techniques, makes this particular size tool a hairstylist’s fan-fav to always have in their kit.

Large Curling Irons (1 3/4 inch to 2 inches)

Large curling irons are your go-to tools for achieving those big, voluminous curls and loose waves. They are perfect for:

  • Creating loose, natural-looking waves. 
  • Old Hollywood glam styles. 
  • Mimicking a salon blowout. 
  • Styling long and thick hair efficiently.

When using a large curling iron, you are able to curl bigger sections of hair making the curling time more efficient on thicker hair or longer hair.

Curling Iron Heat Settings & Heat Protection

Protecting your hair from damage and your overall hair health is always number one when heat styling.

For example: fine, dry, or chemically treated hair would need to use a lower heat setting because the hair may already be compromised or the strands have a smaller diameter allowing heat to penetrate more easily. Thick, coarse, or untreated hair may need to crank up the heat settings to manipulate the hair because the strand diameter is larger.

A general rule of thumb is to start with a lower heat setting and gradually increase it as needed, and ALWAYS use a heat protectant to shield your beautiful hair from excessive heat exposure.

Our NEW Bring The Heat bundle would be the perfect pairing to protect and sleigh your holiday hair style when using a curling iron. This easy-to-use set comes with three of our best sellers for heat protection, long lasting style memory, and infinite shine!

How to use: Start with layering Instant Recovery Serum on wet to damp hair. This priming serum will protect the hair from heat styling and help the products that are layered on top have better performance. Then use Blowout Styling Milk for the added benefit of 48-hour style memory. Once the hair is dried and styled, top it off with a few drops of Nourishing Shine Drops.

To learn more about the difference between JVN’s heat protection hero's click here.

Curling Iron Pro-Tips and Techniques

Choosing the right curling iron size isn't just about the look you want to achieve; it also depends on your hair length, texture, and personal preferences.

Here are some other Pro-tips to keep in mind when curling your hair:

  • Go to the store and hold the iron. It needs to feel good in your hand. 
  • Play with different size curling irons for multiple textures to create a unique look. 
  • Curl away from the face for extra volume and to “open up” the look. 
  • Curl in different directions for a not-so-uniform, textured, playful style.

Happy Curling!

Don't be intimidated by all the different size curling irons out there. Now that you know how to choose the right one for your hair type, it’s time to play.

Watch that “oh-so satisfying” swirl of a curl come to life and create fresh new styles!

About JVN

With a focus on science-backed, sustainable ingredients that are truly effective, JVN is nongendered haircare made for everyone.

Shop this article

Related Articles

6 Ways To Fend Off Fall Frizz With Instant Recovery Serum
Hair Ed
6 Ways To Fend Off Fall Frizz With Instant Recovery Serum
4 Min Read
Easy Steps to Frizz-Free Hair: Combating, Controlling & Styling Frizzy Hair
Hair Ed
Easy Steps to Frizz-Free Hair: Combating, Controlling & Styling Frizzy Hair
11 Min Read
Hair Foam Vs. Hair Mousse - What’s The Difference?
Hair Ed
Hair Foam Vs. Hair Mousse - What’s The Difference?
3 Min Read
Instantly moisturizing & deeply nourishing shampoo for dry hair" data-price="2400" data-compare-at-price="" data-size="10 FL OZ / 295 ML" data-featured-image="//" data-handle="nurture-hydrating-shampoo" data-bundle-products-lenght="" data-tags= "bestsellercoarse haircolor safecolor-treated hairdamaged hairdiscount eligibledry hairfrizzy hairhide_resultshide_tipsparaben freesilicone freesmoothingsulfate freevegan" data-url="/products/nurture-hydrating-shampoo" >
Instantly moisturizing & deeply nourishing conditioner for dry hair" data-price="2400" data-compare-at-price="" data-size="10 FL OZ/ 295 ML" data-featured-image="//" data-handle="nurture-hydrating-conditioner" data-bundle-products-lenght="" data-tags= "bestsellercoarse haircoily haircolor-treated haircurly hairdamaged hairdiscount eligibledry hairfine hairfrizzy hairhide_resultshide_tipsparaben freesilicone freesulfate freethinning hairveganwavy hair" data-url="/products/nurture-hydrating-conditioner" >
Ultimate deep hydrating treatment for smooth, silky, nourished hair" data-price="1600" data-compare-at-price="" data-size="2.5 FL OZ / 75 ML" data-featured-image="//" data-handle="nurture-intense-repair-mask-travel-size-75ml-2-5-fl-oz" data-bundle-products-lenght="" data-tags= "bestsellercoarse haircolor safediscount eligibledry hairfine hairgift guideleave in conditionerolaplexparaben freesilicone freesulfate freetravel sizevegan" data-url="/products/nurture-intense-repair-mask-travel-size-75ml-2-5-fl-oz" >