When it comes to adding a little spring to your strands, using the right curling tool can mean the difference between creating envy-evoking waves and succombing to a look that says, "wirey, mom perm from the '80s."
But between navigating the ever-puzzling, wand vs. clamped iron conundrum and figuring out which of the myriad barrel sizes should be used for creating different hair looks, honing in on the right tool can leave you fried.
With the consult of a celebrity hairstylist and E! Style Collective member Jennifer J., we created a crib sheet for finding the right styling tool for every curl type. Read on for how to keep it tight, like Lorde, or endlessly beachy like the bouncy Victoria's Secret Angels.
When to Use a Clamp Iron: When creating tight curls, like Solange's or working with shorter hair, a clamp iron is key. "It allows hair to wind more tightly against the iron and holds shorter pieces in place," Jennifer J said.
Those with straight hair also benefit from a clamp iron's power grip. Jennifer said, "a clamp iron can deliver more direct heat—something straight hair sometimes needs to create a curl with hold."
When to use a wand: When working with longer hair or to create looser curls, either a clamp iron or wand will do. However, Jennifer noted that since textured hair is more likely to hold a longer-lasting curl, wands can work better for this hair type, like Kate Hudson's tresses (which are naturally curly). "Those with mid-length to long hair who are looking to create more natural-looking curls can best get the result with wands," the stylist pointed out.
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When to use a 2-inch barrel: Looking to create long, beachy waves with a bit of bend, like the style Miranda Kerr often wears? Reach for a two-inch barrel to create the look. Since this size yields the biggest girth, it's best reserved for those with very long hair, suggested Jennifer J.
When to use a 1.5-inch barrel: To dupe the softer beachy wave seen on Victoria's Secret runways, which flow more evenly, select a 1.5-inch size. This iron is also best suited for long hair, like Gisele Bündchen's, as major length is required to support the looser curl pattern it provides.
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When to use a 1.25-inch barrel: To make your hair go from lob to wob (or cop a relaxed, wavy look, like Rose Byrne), curl shoulder-length hair with this mid-size barrel. Those with long hair can also use this iron size to achieve classic Hollywood finger waves, like Veronica Lake was known to wear.
When to use a 1-inch barrel: For a curl that hangs between loose ringlet and beachy wave, select this iron size; it will take naturally straight or wavy, shoulder length hair into Kerry Washington territory. The resulting wave provides a more textured look than when using the slightly larger 1.25-inch iron size.
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When to use a .75-inch barrel: Often used to create updos or curls like Taylor Swift used to rock, this iron can also be used to make natural curls flow more uniformly, like Rihannas does here.
When to use a five-eighths-inch barrel: This size barrel is best used to touch up already curly hair (and, of course, to create ringlet curls for that Marie Antoinette look come Halloween). To take naturally curly hair from wirey to composed, use this tiny barrel to produce clean, tight curls, like Lorde's.
To get your own celebrity-inspired curl, grab the right tool and strike when the iron is hot.