The Lowdown on Curling Iron Sizes

Curling iron, blower and straightening iron

Photo by Shari Sirotnak on Unsplash

Many factors play a role in perfect curls. From too many split ends to slightly damp hair, plenty of things can keep you from getting long-lasting curls. Another thing that can affect your curls is the variety of curling iron sizes. If you want perfect curls, finding the right size of iron is key.

Use the wrong curling iron size, and your curls won’t last past lunch. On the other hand, if you use the perfect curling iron, your curls can last for days. Here’s what you need to know so that you get those perfect curls.

Whether you want beach waves or tight ringlets, a curling iron is the perfect styling tool. Yet to get that variety, we need a variety of curling iron sizes.

Loose waves and tight coils require different curling iron sizes because the size of the individual curls will be different. You can’t expect to get smaller curls with a larger curling iron, and vice versa for looser curls.

There are a few common curling iron sizes that you should know about. Each size works well on different hair and for different styles. Before you buy your next curling iron, make sure you choose the right size for you.


If you want loose curls with some volume, you need a 1.5-inch curling iron. This is the perfect curling iron size for a loose, wavy style. However, your curls may not last long.

Throughout the day, your curls will fall out, but your hair will still have some volume to it.

This size is perfect for long hair. When using a 1.5-inch curling iron, keep your hair sections small. If you make the sections too big, the curls really won’t hold up.

To get a tight curl with a larger curling iron, consider dividing your hair into sections from the bottom, middle, and top to get better curls.


The 1.25-inch curling iron is best for messy waves or loose waves that last longer than with the 1.5-inch curling iron. This size is perfect if you want a celebrity-inspired look.

Its slightly smaller barrel means your curls won’t fall out as fast as if you used a larger barrel. However, it’s large enough to give you loose waves.

Like other large curling iron sizes, the 1.25-inch barrel works well with long hair, but it’s also suitable for medium hair. And as with the 1.5-inch barrel, dividing your hair into more sections will give you more volume, and your curls will hold up better.


If you only want one curling iron for the rest of your life, go with a 1-inch curling iron. You can use this size for smaller ringlets or larger waves.

The 1-inch barrel is excellent for short and medium hair because of that style variety. However, you can use it with long hair, too. The barrel is still big enough so that you won’t lose too much length.

With a 1-inch curling iron, you can wrap your hair enough times that you get a secure curl. But unlike smaller curling iron sizes, your hair won’t end up in coils or ringlets.


The last of the common curling iron sizes is the 3/4-inch curling iron. This size is great for long lasting curls because they will loosen up over time.

Of course, you can use this size for tighter curls, but you can also use it to get voluminous curls. You can curl your hair so that each side is symmetrical, and that can give you the look of larger curls.

So if you want the ability to do both styles, a 3/4-inch curling iron is perfect. You can use this size regardless of your hair length. It’s also a helpful tool for fixing stubborn sections of hair that won’t hold a curl.

Other sizes

If you want even looser waves or tighter ringlets, consider these less common curling iron sizes. Maybe the 1.5-inch curling iron is too tight for your ideal style.

For that, there’s the 2-inch curling iron. This size is fantastic for giving longer hair the look of a blowout.

However, you can also go smaller. If you want textured curls, try a 5/8-inch curling iron. This is the perfect size for styling your hair and giving it a more polished look.

Finally, there’s the 3/8-inch curling iron. If you want to tame your curly hair, you can use it to give your natural ringlets some definition.

As Unique as You

There are so many curling iron sizes available. No matter your hair type or length, there’s a curling iron for you.

But what makes one curling iron size better than another? What makes one hair type better for a particular size?

There are a few factors to consider when deciding between different curling iron sizes.

Why curling iron sizes matter

From the descriptions, it seems like multiple curling iron sizes can do the same thing. However, different curling iron sizes will be better at different things.

Sure, a 1-inch curling iron and a 3/4-inch curling iron can both achieve loose and tight curls. But a 1-inch curling iron can only go so tight, and a 3/4-inch curling iron can only go so loose.

If you want the most flexibility when it comes to curling your hair, having a variety of curling iron sizes will make your life easier. While you don’t need every size, different sizes are simply better at different styles.

Not one size fits all

It may seem like anyone can use any curling iron they choose. However, some curling iron sizes just don’t work on certain hair types or lengths.

That’s why the different curling iron sizes are nice to have. You can choose the curling iron sizes that work best for your needs.

And if you’re shopping for a salon, you can have different curling iron sizes on hand to fit the needs of your clients.

Get the perfect curl

Just because you use the best curling iron for your hair, you still need to use it correctly. Of course, you can’t get tight coils with a 1.5-inch curling iron, but you can still follow some rules to get the best curls possible.

First, avoid curling from the end of your hair. That can damage your hair and cause split ends. What’s more, is that curling from the ends means the heat won’t reach near your roots.

So be sure to start from the root of your hair, and keep the heat near the base of your curl.

Next, hold the curl in place with your hand after you remove the curling iron. Let the curl cool down before you release it; that way, your hair will maintain the curl longer.

How to Choose the Right Curling Iron Size

Of course, there are many curling iron sizes to choose from, but that doesn’t mean every size will work for you. Instead, you need to consider your hair type, hair length, and ideal hairstyle.

There are other factors you can look at, like your overall budget for curling irons. If you have more money to spend, you can get a few sizes. On the other hand, you might want a versatile curling iron when you’re on a budget.

Here are a few important factors to contemplate when deciding between curling iron sizes.

Hair length

The first thing you need to think about is your hair’s length. If you have short hair, a larger barrel just won’t do anything for you. You won’t be able to wrap your hair around it enough to get a good effect.

On the other hand, if your hair is longer, you should use a larger barrel. It will take you forever to style your hair with a smaller curling iron.

If your hair falls around your shoulders, you can use just about any curling iron. Conversely, a 1-inch curling iron works well with any hair length.

Hair type

Similar to the length of your hair, you should also consider your hair type. If your hair is naturally straight, a smaller barrel may not be the best choice.

People with finer hair might also want to stick to a larger barrel or one that doesn’t damage your hair.

Style goals

The next big thing to consider is what style you’re going for with a curling iron. Do you want loose, beach waves? Perhaps you want tight ringlets. Maybe you want something in the middle.

If you want tighter curls, you should choose a smaller barrel. But if you want looser waves, stick to a larger curling iron.

Effortless Style

A person is curling the blonde hair of a woman

Image via Flickr

Curling your hair can be an excellent way to switch up your style without doing something permanent. However, you want to make sure the curls will stay in place and will look good on you.

Fortunately, there are different curling iron sizes you can choose from. Curling irons have barrels as big as two inches, and others are less than half an inch.

Of course, the best curling iron sizes for you will depend on your hair and your ideal style. The bigger the curling iron, the looser the wave. And the smaller the curling iron, the tighter the curl.

However, not every size works with everyone’s hair. Bigger curling irons won’t work on shorter hair, and smaller curling irons aren’t effective on long hair.

The good news is, there’s a curling iron that will work for you and your hair. Have you found your perfect curling iron yet? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image: Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels