Whether you need a curling iron for your natural hair or for your hair extensions, determining the best curling iron size for your desired hairstyle can be difficult. And if you’re planning on styling synthetic extensions, you definitely need to make sure your extensions are heat-resistant—unlike human hair extensions, synthetic extensions that aren't designed to withstand heat can be permanently damaged by hot tool usage, as they are designed to retain their original style.
If you like synthetic clip-in hair extensions, it might be more cost effective for you to purchase clip-ins of multiple hairstyles, and to style the rest of your natural hair accordingly.
For human hair and heat-friendly synthetic hair extension users, check out these four tips for finding the right curling iron for you!
Every curling iron has a barrel size, and that barrel size corresponds to your hair length! Thankfully, the system is pretty straightforward: in general, smaller barrel sizes are designed for shorter hair, and larger barrel sizes best suit longer hair. Consider yourself lucky if your hair is shoulder-length—if you just want curls and don’t care how big or small they are, almost any barrel size will work for you!
If you like to play with your hair length, or want a curling iron that works regardless of whether you’re wearing your hair extensions, I’d recommend a one inch barrel. One inch curls almost always look good, regardless of your hair length!
Of course, hair length isn’t the be-all end-all! Hair volume also plays a role when selecting your barrel size. If you’re using a larger barrel size (1 1/2 to 2 inches) and have long, thin hair, your curls may look misshapen and lifeless soon after styling. On the flip side, if you have short, thick hair, you may need a slightly larger barrel size to ensure your curls last.
Hair extensions similarly come in varying levels of thickness. Extensions that weigh less than 3.5 ounces are designed for users who simply want extra length, while extensions that weigh more than 3.5 ounces will add thickness. Always make sure to read the fine print before making any purchases!
It goes without saying, but you’ll have a (relatively) easier time curling your hair if you have naturally curly or wavy hair, and a more time consuming effort with straight hair! All hope is not lost if you have straight hair, of course—hairspray, unwashed hair, and curly hair extensions can help simplify the process. Naturally straight hair tends to lose curl more easily, so a small curling iron size (1 inch or smaller) is your best bet: tight curls will last longer, and, if done properly, will eventually relax into soft waves (rather than bent, crooked locks).