The best curling wands, tongs and wavers for all hair types

2021-12-23 07:33:14 By : Mr. Peter Zhao

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We tried stylers from GHD and Dyson — but which brand created the best curls and waves?

We all know the 'effortless' curl is anything but, especially if you've not been naturally bestowed with them. However with the correct piece of kit, you'll be creating laid-back beachy waves or cascading curls in no time — whatever your hair type.

Generally speaking, a curling tong is better suited to more even, bouncy curls, while a wand works better for natural-looking waves, thanks to the tapered design. Also worth considering is the relatively new 'waver', which has a three-barrel attachment and clamp to achieve S-shaped waves without the effort.

Whichever you go for, ensure hair is bone dry before styling and always use a heat protection spray to minimise any damage.

We’ve put some of the most trusted names in haircare to the test, to see which delivered the most professional-looking finish. We asked over 200 women to try 36 curling tongs, wands and wavers. They judged how easy each tool was to use, how well it reached their roots, and how pleased they were with their final style. Each styler was also analysed in our lab for performance and heat-up time.

It may be our go-to brand for straightening hair, but has ghd also created a top-rated curler? It was a unanimous yes from our panel. The medium-sized barrel heats quickly to produce small to medium curls, working well whatever the hair length. Just like the brand’s signature hair straighteners, this device heats up to 185 degrees — the optimum temperature for styling without damaging. Lightweight and easy to use, it has a cool tip and safety stand to ensure hands and surfaces don’t get burnt, as well as universal voltage so you can take it on your travels.

Key specifications Styler type: Tong Number of heat settings: 1 (185C) Barrel diameter: 26mm Accessories: None

If you have bleached hair or use hair straighteners regularly, you may notice ends starting to look and feel dry. This tool does a great job of making them appear shinier, with 60% of our testers with damaged hair reporting healthier-looking tresses after styling. Testers with longer hair also found it easy to grip right from the roots and reach the back of the head. The downside? It’s not the smallest hair tool on our list, so it might not be suitable to pack for trips away.

Key specifications Styler type: Tong Number of heat settings: 6 Barrel diameter: 31.75mm Accessories: None

This curling wand, with its smaller-sized barrel, is a great option for those with shorter hair, or if you want a portable hair tool. The majority of our testers reported zero snagging during styling and 75% were impressed with how well it revived dry ends. It wasn’t suited to those with longer hair (due to its smaller size) but a reassuring 63% wanted to continue using it after the trial. 

Key specifications Styler type: Wand Number of heat settings: 3 Barrel diameter: 25mm Accessories: Heat resistant style case and heat protective glove

If you love the ghd brand but prefer a wand to a tong, this curler is for you. The tapered barrel is slightly more versatile — simply wrap hair around the top for tighter ringlets or further down for looser, natural-looking curls. It was particularly well suited to styling longer hair, creating long-lasting results. With the brand’s signature 30-minute shut-down function and safety stand, this sleek, straightforward design was our highest-scoring wand on test.

Key specifications Styler type: Wand Number of heat settings: 1 (185C) Barrel diameter: 28mm to 23mm Accessories: Heat resistant glove

This elegant-looking waver can handle large sections of thick hair at a time, transforming them into voluminous waves. The wide temperature range allows for a more personalised approach — particularly useful if you have fine or heat-damaged hair. Although some found it a little bulky, overall testers were impressed by the staying power of their style.

Key specifications Styler type: Waver Number of heat settings: 28 (between 80C and 220C) Barrel diameter: 21mm Accessories: Heat resistant pouch

For multiple looks, this T3 styler comes with three interchangeable barrels. Whether you’re looking to recreate uniform curls, beachy textured tresses or full-bodied waves, there’s an attachment to help. On test, it felt premium and didn’t snag hair once, particularly excelling when it came to natural waves and even curls, which lasted all day.

Key specifications Styler type: Wand Number of heat settings: 5 (127-210C) Barrel diameter: 32mm to 19mm, 25mm, 38mm Accessories: Heat resistant glove, travel pouch, three wands

For big, bouncy, voluminous curls, look no further. This wand comes with a clever cool-touch silicone tip that grips hair, making it easier for you to wrap around the wand without burning your fingers. Lightweight, with minimalist, easy-to-use controls, it was a hit with our panel. 

Key specifications Styler type: Wand Number of heat settings: 4 (150C, 180C, 190C, 205C) Barrel diameter: 25mm Accessories: Removable styling comb

Streamline your stylers with Dyson’s multi-functional airwrap. Every bit as innovative as its predecessors, attachments include two barrels for creating curls and waves of various sizes, a firm brush for eradicating frizz and flyaways, a smooth brush for a blow-dry finish, and a round brush for volume. It also comes with a ‘pre-styling dryer’ to ensure hair is damp, rather than wet, ready for styling. All this, wrapped up in a stylish storage case. This does mean it’s a little heavy though, so you might prefer a lighter styler to travel with. 

Key specifications Styler type: Styler Number of heat settings: Multiple (63-110C) Barrel diameter: 30mm to 40mm Accessories: Travel case, non-slip mat, pre-styling dryer, filter cleaning brush, airwrap barrels, firm/soft smoothing brush, round volumising brush