There are so many sized curling irons on the shelves, so we’re going to start with the basics. Here are a list of irons, what they do and how you can use them for different looks!

The 2″ barrel iron (AKA “The Bumper”) isn’t intended for curl, but more for a nice rounded bend at the ends of your hair. This curling iron is best for those with long hair who want to make it look like they had a blowout. It’s a good way to fake that round-brushed look.

  • A- Bend the ends of a voluminous updo. Tease and secure first, then hit the ends with this iron to give it some life.
  • B- You can set these curls using a light-hold hairspray + large clips to get an even rounder, bouncier look.
  • C- This iron is amazing for anyone with naturally straight hair (who wants to keep it straight), but gets bored with the pencil-straight look.
  • D- Try curling and setting in different directions to show layers.

The 1 1/2 ” barrel is great for voluminous curls. We recommend setting the hair when using a 1 1/2″ barrel because big curls like this tend to fall quicker if you don’t.

  • A- Spray a light holding hairspray all over your hair. On a medium to high setting, roll the curls from bottom to top. Once the hair heats up, slide the curling iron out and set it with a clip. Wait 10 min after you finish the whole head for the curls to cool + set. Take the clips out, brush and style! This will give you the the biggest, bounciest curl.
  • B- If you have super-long hair, you can wrap curl with this iron. Sorry short to medium length girls, you can’t really get a good curl by wrapping the hair around this iron.
  • C- Definitely a good iron for those of you sporting a heavy side part and wanting to pair it with soft, messy, big curls.
  • D- Dry your hair using a little surf/sea salt spray. Once it’s dry, do one “spin” of the iron in the middle of the hair. Don’t curl the root and don’t curl the ends. Then take your blowdryer and rough it up a little.

This is a very popular iron. I would even say the most popular sized iron. You really can’t go wrong with a 1 1/4″ iron.

  • A- Curl with this, leave out the ends and add a water-based pomade at the root for perfect messy waves.
  • B- Set the hair using a 1 1/4″ barrel and a light setting spray. Clip the hair immediately after it comes out of the hot iron. Let it sit and cool for 20 minutes. Brush it out using a soft bristle brush.
  • C- With NO product, curl the hair with this iron while leaving the ends out. Spray it after with this surf/sea salt spray. Roughly blowdry the whole head using your fingers only. You’ll get a very beachy wave.
  • D- Set the hair the same as in photo B but then smooth your hair over to one side and secure using your favorite floral accessory.

The 1″ iron is a go to for anyone with medium or shorter length hair, or for that soft Veronica Lake-type wave.

  • A- Set the whole head using your 1″ iron. Brush it out using a soft bristled brush. Use large duck bill clips to hold the wave pattern in place and make it even more dramatic.
  • B- A 1″ iron was used here in this Very Veronica tutorial.
  • C- Use a light setting spray to set your curls. Once they cool, smooth them out with a large paddle brush and add a floral headband.
  • D- This was actually done with a 1″ curling iron that I took the clamp off of. You can see how to do that here. I used a light-holding mousse, blowdried the whole head, then wrap curled.

This is the most under-estimated iron on the block. I love this one! The curl from a 3/4″ iron is the BEST, particularly for vintage inspired hair + updos.

  • A- Remove the clamp and wrap curl for this spring-y type of curl.
  • B- Set the whole head using a setting spray. Once it’s cooled, brush it all out and re-coil a few pieces using your fingers. Gorgeous! Love that brushed out look.
  • C- If you set the whole head using a 3/4 iron, let it cool for 20 min, then brush out using a soft bristle brush for 5 minutes, the curl will fall into this vintage-inspired pattern. Seems like the curls will come out much smaller but they actually widen up as you keep brushing. The up-side is that they don’t fall out very fast because they were tighter to begin with.
  • D- Try curling most of your hair with a 3/4 iron the next time you’re doing a messy chignon. You can curl the piece in front with a 1″, but the 3/4″ iron gives great texture to a chignon.

If you have naturally curly hair (like SJP/Beyonce/Shakira curly), a 5/8′ iron is where it’s at. Not every curl on your head stays in place, so when one gets out of line it’s important to have this!

  • A- Wrap curl any crazy stray pieces around a 5/8 iron to reduce the appearance of frizz.
  • B- Sometimes we have curlier hair in one place than another. For example, I have serveral clients who have straight hair on top and curls on bottom. This is a great iron to bring those two textures together because it gives a very “naturally curly” sized curl. Try wrap curling and then pull lightly once you take it off the barrel.
  • C- If you have super straight hair (and a lot of extra time on your hands) you can get this type of fun, springy curl with a 5/8″ iron.
  • D- Oh Bey, what can I say– you probably wake up like that. Add a little heat-protectant serum to you hair before going in with a curling iron.


Every girl with tight curls should have a 3/8″ iron on hand. It’s my favorite iron for the curliest girls!

  • A- No girl in her right kinky-curly mind would ever get this kind of curl from an iron– that’s natural beauty! But it’s good to have this iron on hand if a piece or two need a little taming.
  • B- Again, if you have the time, you can curl your entire head with this iron and get this gorgeous curl. Set it using a heat-protective setting spray, then brush everything out at the end using a soft bristle brush.
  • C- Same as above!
  • D- If you have kinky curls and want to loosen some pieces up a little, this is a great iron for that!