The Best Hair Curler for Soft, Bouncy CurlsThe Best Hair Curler for Soft, Bouncy Curls

The Best Hair Curler

Or how to get locks to rival the Kardashians.
Elese Dowden
Words by 
Elese Dowden
Updated 
Apr 8, 2021
Category -> 
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At a glance

Mermaid locks never go out of style, and with a curling iron in hand, you can style your way to a great hair day. The best hair curler is easy to use, with ample heat settings for different hair types. It should have a long cord, with ceramic or tourmaline plates for gentle, even heat. We've combed the web for Australia's best hair curling wand, and here's what we've found.

How we picked

We usually begin with CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, but they haven't reviewed hair curlers. Instead, we started with ProductReview.com.au to get the opinions of real Aussies. With heaps of quality curlers on offer, we weighed up availability, cost, quality and ease of use. This made a solid dent in our picks, but there were still a few gaps.

Next, we turned to trusted consumer comparison site Canstar Blue. While Canstar doesn't have in-depth curling wand reviews, they've surveyed hundreds of Aussies to find the best hair curler brand. One brand came out on top, so we added it to our list. But there was still a gap, so we settled on one styling tool with impressive reviews across the board. That's how we picked Australia's best hair curler.

The 6 best hair curlers in Australia

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How we picked

We usually begin with CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, but they haven't reviewed hair curlers. Instead, we started with ProductReview.com.au to get the opinions of real Aussies. With heaps of quality curlers on offer, we weighed up availability, cost, quality and ease of use. This made a solid dent in our picks, but there were still a few gaps.

Next, we turned to trusted consumer comparison site Canstar Blue. While Canstar doesn't have in-depth curling wand reviews, they've surveyed hundreds of Aussies to find the best hair curler brand. One brand came out on top, so we added it to our list. But there was still a gap, so we settled on one styling tool with impressive reviews across the board. That's how we picked Australia's best hair curler.

Best for most -> ghd Curve Classic Curl Tong

ghd curve classic curl tong

If you want a tried and true hair curler from a reputable brand, you can't go past the ghd curve classic curl tong. Its 26mm barrel is ideal for soft, bouncy curls, and you won't find fiddly heat settings either.  Similar to what we reckon is Australia's best hair straightener, the ghd curve heats to 185ºC to suit most hair types. This curler also has 'ultra-zone technology', which ghd says recognises each section of hair and ensures constant heat.

The ghd curve is a classic curling tong that's easy to use, with a spring-activated lever to hold hair as you curl. You won't get a heat mat with this one, but it does have a safety stand so you can put it down while hot. It also has a protective cool tip at the end to prevent burnt fingers, and a 2-year manufacturer warranty to back up ghd's reputation for quality. All in all, this is a great all-rounder curling tong that'll take anyone's hair from 'meh' to 'magnificent'.

Choose this if...

You want easy-to-use curling tongs from a household name.

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Best for budget -> VS Sassoon 19mm Ceramic Curler

VS Sassoon 19mm Ceramic Curler

For curls without the salon-brand price tag, the VS Sassoon 19mm Ceramic Curler ticks more than a few boxes. You'll find these curling tongs at major retailers for under $30, which is solid bang for buck. With 10 heat settings from 135°C to 180°C, you can curl nearly any hair type. This is a great temperature range for fine to normal hair. If your hair's longer or coarser you may need a couple of extra seconds to 'set' your hair.

We like that the VS Sassoon 19mm Ceramic Curler has a built-in stand, swivel power cord and auto shut-off to make curling as pain-free as possible. And Aussies agree - its sister model, the larger 26mm Ceramic Curler, scores just over 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. Aussies rate the smooth barrel and clip for easy curls. It might not have all the bells and whistles of a pricer model, but with a 2-year warranty and everything you need, this is the best curling iron you'll find in Australia for under $30.

Choose this if...

You need an affordable hair curler for easy curls.

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Best hair curling wand -> Cloud Nine Wand

Cloud Nine Wand

If you're going for beachy waves over Shirley Temple ringlets, it could be time to invest in a Cloud Nine Wand. While curling irons or tongs have a clip to hold hair as it sets, curling wands are clamp-free for dynamic curls. If you find the clamp part fiddly, a curling wand may be easier to use, though you'll have to hold the tip of your hair as it sets. Wands like the Cloud Nine leave you with a larger, softer, 'woke up like this' curl to envy the Kardashians. 

The Cloud Nine Wand has heat settings between 125 - 175°C to suit every hair type and a mineral-infused ceramic barrel to help prevent heat damage. The Cloud Nine Wand comes with a heat-resistant styling case, and a 3-year warranty when registered online on Cloud Nine's website. To make sure you’re getting true Cloud Nine quality, they also use RFID-chips in their styling tools to prevent counterfeiting. 

We love that Cloud Nine has a recycling scheme for old, broken and unwanted styling tools too. Cloud Nine products are well-loved across the globe, and you'll find them recommended by beauty gurus everywhere. Cloud Nine reviewers love their curling wands, saying their curls last for days.

Choose this if...

You want loose beachy waves rather than tight ringlets.

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Best automatic hair curler -> VS Sassoon Curl Secret Optimum

VS Sassoon Curl Secret Optimum

Automatic hair curlers like the VS Sassoon Curl Secret Optimum take the hassle out of at-home curls by making the machine work for you. After sectioning and combing hair to remove tangles, you take a tip of sectioned hair, place it into the funnel, and hold the handle closed until it stops beeping. Too easy, right? 

With 6 heat settings from 180°C to 230°C, and 3 curl directions, this curler gives you heaps of options for any look from tight romantic curls to soft waves. It's also one of the hottest curling wands we found, so it'll work best for normal to coarse hair. The VS Sassoon Curl Secret Optimum has safety features like anti-tangle protection, auto sleep mode, and auto-shut off. It comes with a heat mat to protect the vanity surface too. 

The VS Sassoon Curl Secret Optimum scores around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. Aussies say it's quick to heat up and easy to use once you get the hang of it, though a couple say there's a slight learning curve. They like that the element is less exposed to prevent burns, and reckon it creates great volume, too. While it might be a little too hot for fine or damaged hair, the VS Sassoon Curl Secret offers heaps of styling options without the hassle.

Choose this if...

You want easy curls without the sore arms.

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Best for short hair -> Dyson Airwrap styler

Dyson Airwrap styler

Because there's less length to wrap, curling short hair can feel tricky. The Dyson Airwrap styler solves this problem with the 'Coanda effect', which Dyson harnesses to attract hair around 30mm and 40mm curling barrel attachments. But this machine is more than just a one-hit wonder. The Airwrap styler does it all - from drying through to straightening and curling. 

The Dyson Airwrap includes firm, soft and round volumising brush attachments and a pre-styling dryer head, adding volume to short hair. You can start styling as soon as you get out of the shower, saving you time in front of the vanity. We also rate the Dyson Airwrap styler because it monitors airflow temperature to keep it under 150°C. This helps prevent heat damage, and dries wet hair without making it flat. 

The Dyson Airwrap styler has 3 airflow speeds, 4 heat settings and a 'cold shot' to help set your curls. It's pricey at just under $800, but it comes with several attachment brushes for different styles. Dyson also throws in a heat resistant mat and storage case so you can keep things tidy. This styler scores around 3.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au. 

Aussies say the Dyson Airwrap styler gives a great 'blow wave' effect, and works well even on thick hair. One person says their hair condition has improved after switching to this styler. Because it's designed to work at a lower heat setting, curls may not hold as well for longer-haired folks. But if your hair's short to mid-length, this could be your dream styler.

Choose this if...

You want a gentler styler to curl short hair with a 'blow wave' effect.

Best for long hair -> Remington Keratin & Argan Oil Nourish

Remington Keratin & Argan Oil Nourish

The Remington Keratin & Argan Oil Nourish curler is ideal for long hair because it lets you curl at high temperatures while minimizing heat damage. The weight of longer hair means curls drop faster, so you'll need a higher heat to 'set' your style. The Remington curler has variable temperature settings up to 210°C. This is a solid heat range for long or thick hair because higher heat makes for a longer-lasting curl. 

The barrel of the Remington Keratin & Argan Oil Nourish wand is coated with 'advanced ceramic', infused with Keratin and Argan oil for a lasting, even heat that's gentler on hair. The conical wand measures 25mm at the base and tapers to 13mm at the top. This gives you a range of options when it comes to curl sizes for your long locks.

The Remington Keratin & Argan Oil Nourish curling wand also has a clipless barrel for natural-looking waves and soft curls, heating in only 30 seconds. It has great safety features too, with an auto-off function, swivel cord, and heat protective glove. This wand scores around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au and Aussies say it makes for lasting curls. It's affordable at around $40, and even comes with a 2-year warranty. What more could you want?

Choose this if...

You need a high-heat curling wand that’s kind to long hair.

Frequently asked questions

What's the difference between a curling wand, a curling iron, and an automatic hair curler?

There's more than one way to curl your hair, so your choice of tool makes a big difference depending on what you're after. A curling iron is probably the most common kind of hair curler. These curlers have a long barrel, usually made from ceramic or titanium, with a clamp that curves around the barrel to hold hair in place as curls set.

Similar to curling irons, curling wands also have long barrels, though they’re usually made from ceramic over other materials. The major difference between them is that curling wands don't have a clamp, while irons do. While an iron will give you tighter, more 'set' curls, a curling wand will create softer, dynamic curls with more natural movement.

Automatic hair curlers are a newer type of styling tool. It's easy to burn yourself when winding hair around a hot barrel, not to mention the time it can take for people with long or coarse hair. Automatic hair curlers generally have a clamp or funnel to place hair into. The magic happens inside with a rotating barrel mechanism. While you'll need to brush hair thoroughly to prevent tangles, automatic hair curlers can save you from burnt fingers and sore arms. 

How hot should I have my hair curler?

Hair curlers on our list range in temperature from 125 to 230°C. While some designs are more effective than others, thicker hair generally needs more heat, while thinner or damaged hair requires less. You'll also need higher heat for tighter or more 'set' curls, which tend to hold longer than loose waves. 

If your hair is fine, frizzy or damaged, it's best to go for a curler with a lower heat range. High heat can make frizz and damage worse, and fine hair can be more responsive to heat. Anything up to 180°C should do the job, though you'll want to keep the temperature as low as possible to protect your hair.

If your hair type is normal, most short to medium-length hair can be curled at a slightly higher temperature, usually up to around 190°C. Coarse or thick hair usually needs a little more convincing, so opt for a curler that offers a higher heat range. Long hair can be heavy, so sometimes benefits from a little more heat and setting product to give your style more strength.

What features should I look for in a hair curler?

Hair curlers might look similar, but there are a range of features to help you get the most out of your styler. Here's what to look for when buying a new hair curler. 

  • Wand, iron or automatic - if you want looser waves or natural-looking curls, go for a wand. For more defined curls, opt for a curling iron. If you curl frequently and want a quicker, simpler way, an automatic curler may be your best bet.
  • Safety features - auto-off, sleep mode, and safety stands can all help prevent burns. Some models come with heat gloves, carry cases and heat mats, too.
  • Barrel size - the bigger the barrel, the bigger the curl. If you want options, look for a curler with a tapered barrel.
  • Cord length - most curlers we saw had swivel cords around 2.7m. It can be helpful to think about the distance between the wall outlet and your mirror.
  • Heat up time - if you often style your hair in a hurry, you're likely to get more use out of a curler that heats in 1 minute or less.
  • Barrel material - while most hair curlers have ceramic barrels, some are 'infused' with additional minerals to further prevent heat damage. 
  • Temperature range - if your hair's fine, damaged or frizzy, choose a curler with a lower heat range. If your hair's long or normal to coarse, you'll get away with a higher temperature range.
  • Cost - you can pick up a cheaper hair curler for under $50. Mid-range curlers are priced between $150 - $250, with higher-end models coming in at around $500 - $700.
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