Curling Iron

All about hair curling irons and hot rollers

There was a time, throughout the 1980s and into the early '90s, when big curly hair was the fashion -- for both men and women. Thankfully, those days are gone, but some of us wouldn't mind a little curl in our hair, even just on occasion.

Perms are still a viable option for obtaining relatively permanent curl, but if you want curl just for the day or evening, or if you'd rather not go through the hassle and expense of a perm, a curling iron or hot rollers are an easy, affordable, temporary alternative.

Getting Curly Hair: Curling Irons vs. Hot Rollers

Both curling irons and hot rollers provide temporary curl to hair, and which you choose may ultimately be a matter of preference, but there are a few differences to keep in mind:

  • Curling irons provide immediate results, whereas hot rollers require time to set.
  • Hot rollers let you curl all of your hair at once, while curling irons require you to go piece by piece.
  • Curling irons are convenient and versatile; hot rollers require time and electricity.
  • Curling irons are less expensive than hot rollers.
  • Hot rollers tend to provide a longer-lasting curl than curling irons.

The results you get from curling irons and hot rollers will differ depending on your hair type and how clean your hair is (sometimes really clean hair resists curling, so you might consider washing it the night before). In general, curling irons will give bouncier curls and allow you to control the form of the curl more precisely. Hot rollers, on the other hand, tend to give a stronger curl and provide uniformity.

Types of Curling Irons

Not all curling irons are created equal. There are large curling irons for gentle curl, small curling irons for tight curls, and even spiral curling irons for corkscrew curls.

Aside from the size and shape of the barrel, though, you'll also need to choose between materials. The cheapest curling irons have barrels plated with chrome or another metal. These tend to weaken and break hair, so they are not recommended for regular use. Teflon-coated barrels have an additional layer to help protect hair, but even that's not enough if you intend to curl regularly.

The best choices are tourmaline and ceramic curling irons. They are widely used by hairdressers because they heat quickly and evenly, and they give off negative ions to counteract the positive charge that creates frizzy hair, resulting in a sleeker, smoother curl.