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Curling Wand vs Curling Iron: This One Wins

Last Updated: October 11, 2022

Curling your hair can be a delicate process, but choosing which tool to use can be even more difficult. 

A curling wand will give you a messy curl, something light and natural, while a curling iron will provide you with a distinct curl. 

We compared the two hot tools to give you an in-depth look at which one will fit your needs. Read our curling wand vs curling iron guide to pick the best tool for you. 

Curling Wand vs Curling Iron Overview

Curling irons have been around forever and can probably be found in any mom’s bathroom drawer. However, there is another effective option these days: curling wands. 

Each styling tool offers a great curl, but what kind of curl? We’ve broken both tools down into their strong suits below:

Curling WandCurling Iron
Gives a natural curl

– Does not have a clamp to hold hair in place

– Best for beachy wave look

– Heats only one side of hair

– More user friendly

– Heats faster

– Offers tapered-off look 
Gives a tighter curl

– Has a clamp to hold hair in place

– Best for a bouncy curl look 

– Heats both sides of hair

– Can create cramps in hair if not done right

– Heats slower

Offers even-sized curls

Curling Wand vs Curling Iron

What Is The Difference?

Curling Wand

The curling wand doesn’t have a clamp, so only one side of the hair is heated, and there is no chance of crimping or creating lines or crunchiness in your hair. 

Curling Iron

The curling iron, on the other hand, will heat your hair on both sides to hold the curl in place with a clamp. Paired with hairspray, your curls will last the night. 

RELATED: How to Curl Short Hair in 5 Easy Steps

Barrel Size

Curling Wand

The wand offers a tapered barrel style, so you can get curls that gradually get smaller at the end. For effortless curls, use a barrel size between 0.5 and 1 inch in diameter. 

We recommend either the Drybar Wrap Party Wand or, for a more budget-friendly option, the BaBylissPro Titanium Curling Wand.

Curling Iron

The curling iron offers traditional even-sized curls. For a tighter curl, use a smaller barrel up to 1 inch in diameter and for looser curls, use a larger barrel no smaller than 1.25 inches.

We love this Ceramic Curling Iron from Kristen Ess!


Curling Wand

A curling wand heats up faster and does have a higher risk of burning your skin if you aren’t careful. A curling wand should be brought to a temperature of 180ºF-370ºF for fine hair and 400ºF-420ºF for thick hair. 

Curling Iron

A curling iron is slower to heat up and has a lower risk of burning your skin with a clamp to hold the hair in place. A curling iron should be brought to a temperature of 180ºF-370ºF for fine hair and 400ºF-420ºF for thick hair. 

How To Use Each One

Curling Wand

  1. Section hair into two-inch sections.
  2. Begin at the front by holding the tool vertically and pointing the tip of the wand downward and at the root, wrap the hair around the barrel. Leave space at the end to hold on to hair with your fingers.
  3. Hold in place for several seconds and release hair by pulling the tool upward.
  4. Allow the curl to set and cool off in the palm of your hand before releasing.

Curling Iron

  1. Section hair into two-inch sections.
  2. Begin at the front by grabbing a piece of hair no wider than the width of the tool, near the roots, clamp the curling iron down with the clamp pointed downward and facing you in the mirror.
  3. Pull the iron through to the end of the section and roll upward by holding the iron horizontally and wrapping the hair evenly around the barrel. 
  4. Hold for 10 seconds then turn the iron vertically and gently open and close the clamp and pull downward to release the section. 
  5. Release and allow the curl to set. 
  6. Repeat for the remaining sections.

How To Wear Each Style 

Curling Wand

A curling wand is a perfect way to create spiral curls or wavy natural hair. If you want a messy beach curl or a tapered-off wave, this is the tool for you! 

Curling Iron

A curling iron will give you very defined, tight, and elegant curls. It’s perfect for a black-tie event or any formal setting. 


The look you are trying to achieve will determine the tool to use. We recommend a curling wand for a daily natural wave in your hair. It’s a quick and easy approach to styling your hair. 

However, the curling iron has its place for formal events and special days for that more refined curl.

Both are easy to use, but we think the curling wand is more user-friendly. There is no chance of crimping your hair at the ends because the wand doesn’t have a clamp. Just be careful not to burn yourself, the wand heats up twice as fast!

Overall, we’ve heard great things about the Dyson Hair Wrap! If you want to give it a try, check it out here!

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