Whether you’re a fan of the loose, beachy wave, or you love a full head of curly curls, choosing the right size curling iron is a must and one size does not fit all. In general, longer hair does well with larger-barrel irons, and shorter hair with smaller barrels. But it all depends on the style that you’re going for.

Trendy Curl Styles and Which Size Iron to Use to Achieve Them

Let’s look at some examples of cute and sexy hairstyles, with our curling tips for what barrel size to use in order to achieve them. For all of these styles, a great choice is the Babyliss PRO Nano Titanium series, available in 3/4” to 1 and 1/2” sizes. The ceramic barrel smooths and shines hair, plus there is a “Turbo Heat” button to instantly boost heat when you need it.

  • Sexy bedhead. Think Jessica Biel or Blake Lively. You’ll want a 1.5” barrel curling iron to create long, loose waves that make you look like you just woke up looking effortlessly gorgeous. This size barrel is best used on longer hair. The larger hair sections you curl, the looser the waves will be.
  • Messy, loose wave. Made famous by the Kardashian sisters. For this style, choose a 1.25” barrel curling iron for hair that is medium or long. You will be able to create tighter curls that are still relaxed and natural-looking.
  • Spiral curls. Taylor Swift has been seen sporting this romantic look. Debra Messing on the original Will & Grace is great example of how these tighter curls can look on shorter hair. Use a 1” barrel and alternate the directions in which you curl your hair to create the greatest possible fullness.
  • Tight ringlets. For your inspiration, think of Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City in season 1 or Keri Russell in Felicity. Grab a .75” barrel curling iron and get curling! Just be aware that this style takes patience, as the smaller the barrel and the smaller the curl, the smaller the sections of hair you can work with, and the longer it will take to work through all your hair.
  • The Mixed Bag. Who says your entire hairstyle has to have the same size curls? It can be a really nice look to frame your face with tighter curls and leave the back looser and more relaxed. Or even if you used a larger barrel for most of your style, you may still want to use a smaller barrel iron on any sections that are having difficulty holding their curl. Having curling irons in multiple sizes really expands your styling options.

If you find that your curls don’t last through the day, try rolling up each freshly curled section and pinning with a bobby pin to allow it to cool that way. Spray with a bit of hairspray (we recommend Matrix Biolage Freeze Fix Humidity Resistant Hairspray to hold your style and fight frizz), and you can lock those curls into holding their shape much longer.

When choosing a curling iron, also keep in mind that even the smaller barrel irons can produce looser curls if you change up your technique. Changing the direction in which you hold the wand, increasing or decreasing the size of the sections that you curl, how long you hold the hair on the heat, the heat setting itself, whether you curl all the way to the base of the hair or not, all can affect your end result. So, experiment and have fun!

Be sure to check out the full line of curling tools and hair styling products available on our website. We guarantee that all beauty lines offered are 100% authentic, never from a third-party, and are items that our beauty team uses on our own hair and skin. Plus, Pandora Beauty offers some of the best prices available on all your favorite salon-quality products.