Think a curling iron is just for curling your hair? How quaint. The newest models have more bells and whistles than a Brazilian carnival. Here’s how to tell which ones you need.
LOOSE AND BEACHY
Rotating wands, like the Beachwaver by Sarah Potempa, produce the kind of loose, undone waves we associate with Gisele (Blake Lively deserves props, too). Press the left or right button (whatever side you’re working on), tuck your ends into the mini clamp, press Go, and the iron automatically rolls hair away from the face while keeping the tips straight.
SLEEK AND GLAMOROUS
Weave two-inch sections of hair back and forth between the barrels of a two-pronged iron, like the Rsession Tools Nalu Waver, in a figure-eight pattern and hold for 45 seconds for deep waves, like Jessica Alba’s. For tight curls, wrap hair around one rod; for wide, loopy waves, go around the perimeter of both.
Tapered or conical irons, such as Sultra’s Bombshell Cone Rod Curling Iron, form waves that are looser at the roots and tighter at the ends, like Salma Hayek’s. “This iron is also good for spirals,” says Hawkins. “Its textured barrel grips the hair, so you can twist it evenly around for perfect corkscrews.”
The Tigi Bed Head Curlipops 1″ Tourmaline Ceramic Hourglass Styling Iron, which narrows in the center, can create ultrasoft beach waves or lanky ones with just the slightest bend and movement, like Kate Bosworth’s. “They’re good for messy, undone looks—not much volume at the root,” says Fugate.
NARROW AND POLISHED
“Putting waves in short hair can be tricky, because it can easily start looking big and retro,” says Hawkins. But irons with oval-shaped barrels, such as Remington’s T-Studio Pearl Ceramic Waving Wand, encourage waves to fall rather than expand, he explains, imparting bends suitable for bobs like Reese Witherspoon’s.
The hills and valleys of the Goody Heat Wave Creator “give the most natural-looking, undulating waves,” Hawkins says—if you use it right. To get the inconsistent, tight-loose-tight-loose effect Jessica Biel has, make sure hair is spread evenly over the full length of the rod—it’ll want to collect in the dips—then roll the iron up toward your face.