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Curling Iron vs Curling Wand: Choosing the Right Tool for Your Curls

Curling Iron vs Curling Wand: Choosing the Right Tool for Your Curls

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If you’re blessed with curly or coily hair, you understand the joy of flaunting luscious locks to the world. But if you’re between wash days, you might desire an additional boost to ensure your spirals are their most voluminous. Or maybe you prefer the precisely defined curls that only a styling tool can offer. 

Enter the curling iron—or is it the curling wand? If they produce similar results, how do you know which is right for your natural hair type?

Set aside your pros & cons list. We have all the juicy deets on the curling wand vs curling iron debate, along with tips on achieving the bouncy curls you crave.

Understanding the Basics: How a Curling Iron Differs from a Curling Wand

When comparing the curling iron vs wand, they probably appear similar. Chord? Check. Temperature dial? Yep. A barrel to curl to your heart’s content? That, too. But these heat hair tools also have a few key differences, including:

  • Design – Unlike the curling wand, which uses a barrel to curl your hair, a curling iron also has a clamp, which holds your hair in place as you craft your curls & coils.
  • Versatility – When curling hair with a wand, you simply wrap the strands around the barrel & hold them there until the curls are set. On the other hand, a curling iron offers more versatility. You can create curls using the clamp or choose to forgo it entirely, utilizing the barrel as a wand.

Pros & Cons: The Breakdown of the Curling Wand vs Iron for Stunning Curls

Each of these effective hair styling tools comes with its own set of pros & cons. Below, we’re busting out our own list, so you don’t have to.

Curling Wand

Here are the advantages & disadvantages of the curling wand:

  • Pro – Without a clamp, you’re less likely to end up with creases near the ends of your hair after styling.
  • Pro – Curl wands do not have a clamp, which means they curl only one side of your hair. This results in natural-looking curls, regardless of the size of the ringlet.
  • Con – Because you’re wrapping the hair around the barrel with your hand, it can take longer to curl your entire head.
  • Con – There is a higher risk of burning yourself since your hands are so close to the hot barrel. 

Curling Iron

In contrast, here are the pros & cons of creating & enhancing your curls with a curling iron:

  • Pro – Create a variety of curl types, from spirals to loose waves thanks to the wide assortment of curling iron sizes available today. With the help of our Interchangeable Curling Iron, which provides three barrel sizes, you can craft seamless curl styles every time.
  • Pro - Curling irons with clamps can also function as wands. For example, like Tracee, you can effortlessly achieve skinny curls using the 3/8" barrel as a curling wand.
  • Pro – Use the clamp to heat both sides of the hair, which may result in longer-lasting bouncy curls.
  • Con – They tend to produce picture-perfect curls, rather than a more “effortless” look. 

Comparing Temperature Control: Curling Iron vs Wand

With so many different hair types, the temperature you set your curling device to plays a crucial role in crafting flawless, luscious curls. Not enough heat & the curls won’t hold. Too hot & you risk excessive heat damage & split ends.

When it comes to comparing temperatures on the curling iron vs curling wand, here’s what you need to know:

  • Curling iron – Curling irons usually provide several temperature settings to choose from, depending on your hair type. Generally ranging from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the option to set the correct temperature for your hair helps achieve your desired curl goals.
  • Curling wand – While some curling wands have multiple temperature settings, others only offer one heat setting, which sometimes isn’t hot enough for curlies & coilies (and can be too hot for finer hair). 

Achieving Different Curls with Irons & Wands

Whether you’re using an iron or a wand, there are several tips you can implement as you learn how to curl curly hair using a heat styling tool:

  • Use a product like the PATTERN Heat Protectant to guard your hair from potential heat damage.
  • Alternate curl directions as you curl each section to create a more textured & natural look. For example, after wrapping one section with a forward motion, curl the next section with a backward motion.
  • Finger comb each curled section to gently separate the curls. This can help you maintain a natural texture & prevent curls from becoming too uniform.

Craft the Perfect Curls & Coils Every Time with PATTERN

The first step to crafting curls that everyone will fawn over is finding the best curling iron that suits the needs of your natural hair type. With your chosen hot tool in hand, you can achieve the curls, coils & tousled waves of your dreams whenever you desire, not just on wash day.

With the PATTERN Interchangeable Curling Iron, the best of both worlds is yours for the curling. This hair tool comes with three barrels designed to inspire creativity for your future hairstyles, provides a rotating temperature dial created with curly-haired kings & queens in mind, & you can use it as an iron or a wand—whichever suits your style preference for the day!

Unleash your curl creativity with PATTERN.


 NIH. The effect of various cosmetic pretreatments on protecting hair from thermal damage by hot flat ironing. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21635854/

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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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