Want to achieve those gorgeous soft curls that you’ve been admiring? The answer lies in one key question: What size curling iron should you use?
In this article, we’ll break down the mysteries of curling iron sizes, helping you achieve the perfect curls that will turn heads wherever you go.
Say goodbye to hair styling confusion and hello to fabulous, bouncy locks!
What Size Curling Iron For Soft Curls?
For soft curls, choose a curling iron with a barrel size between 1 inch and 1.5 inches in diameter. Smaller barrels create tighter curls, while larger ones result in looser curls. This size range yields natural-looking, soft curls.
Curling iron size chart for soft curls:
|Barrel Size||Curl Type|
|0.5 inch||Tight ringlets|
|0.75 inch||Spiral curls|
|1 inch||Classic curls|
|1.25 inch||Loose curls|
|1.5 inch||Soft waves|
|2 inch||Large waves|
What Are The Different Sizes Of Curling Irons?
There are many different sizes of curling irons on the market, but you must pick the best one for your needs.
1 1/2 Inch Curling Iron
The 1 1/2″ barrel curling iron is ideal for loose, voluminous curls. It creates a loose spiral, voluminous curl and is best used on medium to long hair.
When curling hair with this size curling iron, make sure to curl in small sections to avoid frizz.
Also, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to curl hair, then try this technique.
It would be best if you tried to keep sections small in order for your curls to appear more natural.
To give roots a better lift and maintain the curl longer, use three parts (bottom/middle/top). If you want tighter curls, then use a smaller barrel.
2 Inch Curling Iron
Widely known as the “perfect” size curling iron, the 2-inch barrel is ideal for creating both loose and tight curls.
This curling iron barrel can do it all, whether you want loose waves, beachy waves, or defined waves. It also adds a little body to straight hair.
The key to properly curling hair using a curling iron is to understand the various sizes it comes in and how they impact hairstyles.
So, with 2 Inch Curling Iron, you can achieve any type of curl you desire, whether it be loose and wavy or tight and defined.
Just remember to wrap small sections of hair around the barrel.
3/4 Inch Curling Iron
If you want your hair to have those vintage curls, then you need to use a 3/4-inch curling iron.
This size is also good for creating tight ringlets and is best used on short to medium hair.
Since this size curling iron can create such tight curls, make sure to use a heat protectant spray before you curl your hair.
It is always an excellent option for both thin and thick hair.
Also, it’s perfect for shoulder-length hair since it can be used on thin or thick strands of hair and works particularly well on naturally curly locks.
This barrel size is ideal for getting loose, polished, vintage, or corkscrew curls. It may also be used on straight hair to add curl definition.
1 Inch Curling Iron
The 1″ barrel is universally flattering, making it the ideal companion for any curling iron from now on.
Its medium size is perfect for creating defined curls, beachy waves, or even loose spirals.
And since it’s not too big or too small, the 1” barrel curling iron is also great for all hair types and lengths.
This size curling iron is perfect for those who want to add a little bit of curl to their hair without making it look too “done.
It’s also an excellent size for those with shorter hair who want to avoid the “poodle” look. We recommend a thicker barrette for bigger hair.
A wider barrette allows more hair to wrap around the barrel securely, but not so many times that you get tight curls.
Instead, you get lovely loose curls that are perfect for any event.
3/8 Inch Curling Iron
This 3/8″ barrel curling iron is mostly recommended for styling thin, short, or medium-length hair.
Since this size curling iron can create such tight curls, make sure to use a heat protectant spray before you curl your hair.
If you want spiral, kinky, or bouncy curls, this is the size curling iron you’re looking for.
It can also be used to add curl definition to straight hair. We recommend this size curling iron for short to medium-length hair.
It’s ideal for thin and wavy hair, which adds more volume. On the other hand, Styling straight hair with this barrel may be time-consuming.
5/8 Inch Curling Iron
The 5/8″ barrel curling iron is the happy medium between loose and defined curls.
It’s also a good size for creating springy spiral curls on thin, medium, or shoulder-length hair.
When it comes to this size curling iron, the world is your oyster. You can create any type of curl you want, from tight ringlets to loosening waves.
It’s a standard choice for curling straight hair. This barrel size offers volume to your hair while also being beneficial to naturally wavy tresses.
Factors to Consider
When choosing the right curling iron for your hair, take into account several key factors that can significantly impact the results you achieve. Here are some of them.
First and foremost, your hair type plays a pivotal role in determining the ideal curling iron for you.
Hair type encompasses various aspects, such as hair length, thickness, texture, and natural curl pattern.
Each of these elements contributes to the unique needs of your hair when it comes to creating curls.
Consider your hair length. If you have short hair, you’ll want a curling iron with a smaller barrel that can accommodate the length of your hair effectively.
On the other hand, if you have longer hair, a curling iron with a larger barrel may be more suitable for creating voluminous curls.
Next, think about the thickness of your hair. The thickness is determined by the number of individual hair strands on your head.
If you have thick hair, it will require higher temperatures and more time to curl effectively.
If your hair is thin, lower temperatures and shorter intervals are needed to avoid potential damage.
Smooth hair typically requires higher temperatures and longer curling times to ensure that the curls hold over time.
If you have coarse hair, you’ll want to use lower temperatures and shorter intervals to reduce the risk of frizz and dryness.
If your hair is naturally straight, you may need a curling iron with a smaller barrel and higher temperatures to create noticeable curls.
On the other hand, if you have naturally curly hair, a larger barrel, and lower temperatures can enhance and define your natural curls.
Curling Iron Material
The material of the curling iron’s barrel is another essential factor to consider.
Different materials have varying effects on how the curling iron interacts with your hair, which can impact factors like heat distribution and hair protection.
One common choice is metal barrels. These are cost-effective and heat up quickly and evenly, making them efficient for curling.
Note that using metal barrels excessively or at high temperatures can lead to dryness, hair breakage, and split ends.
Ceramic barrels heat up faster and more evenly, and they release negative ions that help smooth and moisturize your hair.
This leads to reduced frizz, static, and damage, making ceramic a solid choice for many.
Tourmaline barrels emit infrared heat and negative ions that deeply penetrate your hair cuticles.
The benefits of tourmaline include sealing in moisture, enhancing shine, and providing added protection to your hair.
Curling Iron Temperature
The temperature setting of your curling iron is a critical aspect of achieving the perfect curls. The temperature directly impacts the speed and quality of your curls.
Strike the right temperature balance to achieve the desired results while minimizing the risk of damaging your hair.
The ideal temperature varies based on both your hair type and the size of the barrel of your curling iron.
For those with fine or thin hair, it’s best to use a low to medium temperature, typically ranging from 250°F to 350°F.
If your hair is of normal or medium thickness, a medium to high temperature, typically between 350°F and 400°F, is more suitable.
If you have thick or coarse hair, you should opt for a high temperature, usually ranging from 400°F to 450°F.
Additionally, you can further adjust the temperature according to the size of the barrel of your curling iron.
Smaller barrels (0.5 inch to 0.75 inch) perform well with higher temperatures, typically between 375°F and 450°F.
Medium barrels (1 inch to 1.5 inches) work optimally at medium temperatures, typically ranging from 325°F to 375°F.
Larger barrels (2 inches) are most effective at lower temperatures, usually between 275°F and 325°F.
The shape of the curling iron barrel is another aspect to consider, as it significantly influences the outcome of your curls.
There are four main barrel shapes to choose from, each creating distinct curl styles.
A straight barrel is the most common and versatile shape.
It allows you to create uniform curls by wrapping your hair around it in various directions, offering flexibility in styling.
A tapered barrel narrows at the tip and widens at the base.
This design produces natural-looking curls that are tighter at the ends and looser at the roots, providing you with the flexibility to create different curl effects by curling from tip to base or vice versa.
A spiral barrel features ridges or grooves along its length, creating defined curls that mirror the barrel’s shape.
You can place your hair between the ridges and slide it along the barrel to achieve unique curl effects.
Lastly, a bubble barrel incorporates bumps or balls along its length, resulting in textured curls with ample volume and bounce.
Wrapping your hair over or under these bumps while curling yields distinctive and playful curl outcomes.
How to Measure the Perfect Curling Iron Size?
Consider Your Hair Length
To find the ideal curling iron size, start by evaluating your hair length. Short hair needs a smaller barrel, typically between 0.5 to 0.75 inches.
Measure from your scalp or earlobe to the ends to decide where your curls should begin.
For short hair (above shoulder), choose a small barrel.
For medium hair (shoulder to collarbone), opt for a medium barrel.
For long hair (below collarbone), go for a large barrel.
Understanding Curl Tightness
Next, decide how tight or loose you want your curls. Remember, the barrel size determines curl size.
Smaller barrels create tighter curls, while larger ones make looser curls. Use a coin or ring as a reference for comparison.
For tight curls, use a small barrel (0.5 to 0.75 inches).
For soft curls, select a medium barrel (1 to 1.5 inches).
For loose curls, go for a large barrel (2 to 2.5 inches).
Assessing Hair Texture
Consider your hair texture. Fine or smooth hair needs extra care, so choose a smaller barrel and use a higher temperature with a heat protectant.
Normal or medium hair can handle a medium barrel and temperature. Thick or coarse hair benefits from a larger barrel and lower temperature to avoid frizz and dryness.
Use moisturizing products and apply oil or serum before curling.
Examining Curling Iron Options
Lastly, explore the curling iron options available in the market.
Look for features like adjustable temperature for heat control, auto shut-off for safety, a swivel cord to prevent tangling, and the option for a clipless or clampless design for more styling freedom.
Research brands read reviews, and seek recommendations to make an informed choice.
Styling Techniques for Soft Curls
After choosing the right curling iron size for your soft curls, it’s essential to master the styling techniques to achieve the desired look effortlessly.
Preparing Your Hair:
Start by thoroughly preparing your hair. Begin with washing your hair using a shampoo and conditioner suitable for your hair type and texture.
Afterward, gently dry your hair either with a towel or a blow dryer on low heat. Ensure that your hair is entirely dry.
Use a wide-tooth comb or a paddle brush to eliminate any tangles or knots.
To protect your hair from heat damage and enhance the quality of your curls, apply a heat protectant spray all over your hair.
You can use products such as mousse, gel, cream, or spray to provide hold, volume, texture, or shine to your curls, depending on your desired style.
Sectioning Your Hair:
Divide your hair into manageable sections before curling. The goal is to create four sections: top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right.
Use clips or elastic bands to secure each section in place.
Begin curling your hair from the bottom sections, releasing one section at a time for convenience. When curling, take a strand of hair that is approximately 1 inch wide.
Wrap this strand around the barrel of your curling iron, leaving some space between each wrap to ensure even heating.
Hold the strand around the curling iron for about 10 seconds to set the curl, then gently slide the curling iron out and let the curl fall naturally.
Repeat this process for all sections of your hair.
You have various options for your curling method, depending on the type of soft curls you desire.
This is the simplest method. Wrap your hair around the barrel in the same direction, either away from your face or towards your face.
This creates uniform and classic curls that look neat and polished.
For a more natural look with added movement, alternate the direction of wrapping your hair around the barrel.
Wrap one strand away from your face, then the next strand towards your face, and so on.
This technique involves twisting your hair before wrapping it around the barrel.
Twist one strand clockwise and wrap it around the barrel away from your face, then twist another strand counterclockwise and wrap it around towards your face.
This creates textured and spiral curls with definition and bounce.
To achieve loose and wavy curls reminiscent of a day at the beach, wrap sections of hair around the barrel that are approximately 2 inches wide.
Leave about 1 inch of your hair ends out of the barrel, creating a relaxed and casual look.
Hold and Release:
Pay attention to how you hold and release your hair from the curling iron, as it significantly influences the final look and longevity of your curls.
Hold your hair on the barrel for about 10 seconds at a medium temperature setting to allow the heat to penetrate and set the curl.
Avoid holding it for too long, as it can potentially damage your hair or lead to burns.
When releasing your hair, gently slide the curling iron out to maintain the curl’s shape, or if you prefer a slightly looser curl, you can pull or tug on the end of the curl after releasing it from the barrel.
To perfect your soft curls, consider some final touches. Gently shake your head to add volume and movement to your curls.
Use your fingers to lightly comb through the curls to separate them and achieve a natural and soft appearance.
If desired, apply hairspray or shine spray to hold the curls in place and enhance their shine and gloss.
For an extra touch of style, accessorize your soft curls with clips, pins, bands, or hats to add flair and personality to your look.
Tips For Selecting The Curling Iron For Your Needs
To find the best curling iron for your needs, there are a few factors you need to take into account.
Here are a few tips to help you select the ideal curling iron for your needs:
Consider The Barrel Size
The barrel size is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a curling iron.
If you want tight, defined curls, then you need to choose a small barrel size. On the other hand, for loose, wavy curls, you need to choose a larger barrel size.
It is also important to take into account the length of your hair. If you have short hair, then a small barrel size is ideal.
For medium or long hair, a larger barrel size is better.
Choose The Right Material
You should be aware that curling irons are made from different materials, such as ceramic, tourmaline, titanium, and more.
Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, ceramic curling irons heat up quickly and evenly, but they can damage your hair if you’re not careful.
On the other hand, tourmaline curling irons emit negative ions that help to protect your hair from damage.
That’s why you need to know what material is best for your hair type before you make a purchase.
Pick The Right Heat Setting
Another critical factor to consider is the heat setting. Most curling irons come with an adjustable temperature setting so you can choose the right heat for your hair type.
You need to make sure that you pick a curling iron with a heat setting that is appropriate for your hair type.
You should use a lower heat setting if you have thin or damaged hair. You can use a higher heat setting if you have thick or coarse hair.
As you can see, there are a few factors you need to take into account when selecting a curling iron.
By taking these factors into consideration, you can be sure to find the best curling iron for your needs.
FAQs on What Size Curling Iron For Soft Curls
Can I use a smaller or larger curling iron for softer curls?
It depends on your hair type and texture. If you have fine hair, a smaller curling iron barrel may be better for achieving a defined curl.
Is it better to use a ceramic or a titanium curling iron for soft curls?
Both ceramic and titanium curling irons can be used to create soft curls.
Should I use a lower temperature setting for soft curls?
Yes, lower heat around 300-320°F allows looser curl formation without over-processing the hair.
Is it better to hold for less time on the barrel?
Briefly hold for 5-10 seconds to set a soft curl compared to 15+ seconds for defined curls.
How wide should sections of hair be for loose curls?
Part hair into 2-3 inch wide sections and loosely wrap on the barrel to avoid tightly formed curls.
Does curling direction influence softness?
Wrapping hair both toward and away from the face creates more natural, soft curl results.
Should I alternate curl directions while styling?
Yes, alternating the curl direction as you work adds volume and prevents creasing the hair.
Any products that boost soft hold?
A touchable light hold hairspray or cream allows gently molding the soft curls into shape.
Now you know the different types of curling irons and how to choose the right one for your needs, you can be sure to find the perfect curling iron for you.
On the other hand, we hope that now you understand what the size of a curling iron is for soft curls.
So, don’t wait any longer and start shopping for a curling iron today!