Though curling irons may seem universal, they are far from one-size-fits-all. Curling iron sizes vary, and even if you’re adding or taking away a 1/4 of an inch, each increment matters when it comes to achieving your intended style. Aside from knowing when it’s time to toss your iron, you should be aware of what each barrel size means so you can redefine your ‘do, whether you want tight coils or loose beach waves. Here’s your ultimate guide to curling iron sizes, so you never have to wonder where your curly style went wrong.
About the Expert
Laura Polko is a Los Angeles-based hairstylist and T3 Brand Ambassador with celebrity clients including Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Priyanka Chopra, Vanessa Hudgens, Emma Chamberlain, and more.
Why the Size of the Curling Iron Barrel Matters
To start, it’s helpful to acknowledge what exactly is happening when you use a curling iron. The hair is mimicking the shape of the curling iron barrel when it wraps around it (and somewhat miraculously) stays in place because of the extreme heat. The more hair that goes around the barrel, the curlier. Likewise, if less hair wraps around the iron, the looser the curl—again, this is why it’s so important to pick the right size.
According to celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko, “as far as barrel size, you should definitely keep in mind the length of your hair, whether you want a looser or tighter curl and what type of curl you’re going for.” Think of these as the ABCs of curling your hair.
Curling outward or inward will also influence your style in a big way. “I always curl, and recommend curling, the hair away from the face. Although people often feel uncomfortable curling outward because the curls can turn into one big curl, as long as you’re using proper sectioning, you can avoid that from happening,” Polko explains.
Curling Iron Barrel Sizes, Explained
0.5″ Curling Iron Barrel Size
The smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl. “The T3 Singlepass Curl 0.5” is great for tighter curls or touching up tighter curls. It’s also really great for shorter hair—chin length or anything above the shoulder,” says Polko.
“If you are looking to touch up more natural curls, I like to use T3’s Singlepass Curl 0.5″ even if the curl is not that tight. You can wrap the hair around the barrel at any point in the curl pattern that’s already happening. You don’t have to necessarily re-do every curl, you can find the part of the curl that’s inconsistent and go over it quickly to make it look a little more natural as opposed to going in all over and looking like you used an iron,” she continues.
0.75″ Curling Iron Barrel Size
“The 0.75″ is also great for tighter/natural curls but better for hair that’s a little bit longer or touching up curls with a looser curl pattern,” says Polko. Think of this as the best match for girls with 3A or 3B hair. Polko recommends the T3 Singlepass Curl 0.75″.
1″ Curling Iron Barrel Size
If you have shoulder-length hair and want more of a textured beach wave you would use the 1-inch iron. “The T3 Singlepass Curl 1″ Is perfect for your everyday beach wave on medium-length hair,” Polko adds.
1.25″ Curling Iron Barrel Size
This barrel gives the right amount of turn without it being too tight or too “middle school,” says Polko. “If you’re doing a turned-under end, I love using this iron for it. This is also a great size barrel to use for bangs. The T3 Singlepass Curl 1.25” is great for the day-to-day styling, but for hair longer than shoulder length,” she continues.
1.5″ Curling Iron Barrel Size
Opt for a 1.5″ barrel if you have a ton of long hair, “especially for thick hair. This barrel is perfect for curtain bangs,” notes Polko.” If you want looser volume with movement, you’ll want the T3 Singlepass Curl 1.5″,” she continues.
Unsure which curling iron is right for you? HERE is our ultimate guide to help you decide!