Curling Iron Vs Flat Iron: What’s Best for Stunning Curls?

If you’re obsessed with hairstyling like me, you’ll want a way to create perfect curls for yourself. Let’s compare two hair curling methods: curling iron vs. flat iron.

Did you know some of the first commonly used curling irons were heated over gas burners before the invention of electricity,  causing people burns and hair damage? (1)

With so many types of curls to try, I’m here to highlight the pros and cons of using both hair tools for curling hair.

Key Takeaways:

  • Each tool has benefits, depending on how you want to curl your hair.
  • Straighteners are versatile tools that can straighten and shape your hair into natural curls.
  • Straighteners don’t require extra attachments.
  • Curling irons are easier to use than flat irons.

Using A Curling Iron

This hot tool is explicitly meant to create curls, with an iron clamp to hold your hair in place so the curls come out strong and defined.

woman curling her hair using a curling iron

The curling wand is meant for people in a hurry who know exactly what type of curl they want.

Most curlers take on a cylindrical shape so you can wrap your locks around the hot barrel and shape away.

However, you might have to get extra attachments or an interchangeable styling wand if you want different-sized curls instead of the uniform curls offered by one barrel.

In the past, I have tried my hardest to get different curl shapes out of one barrel size, but the result was tight spiral curls rather than varying-sized curls and loose waves.

Additionally, I would recommend using a curler if you have short hair.

Whenever I am sporting shoulder-length hair, I prefer using a curling iron because it’s more efficient.

Among the available options, you can opt for a tapered wand. A tapered barrel differs from a regular one in terms of its size variations.

It starts off as thick on one end and, as the name suggests, tapers off to a small size on the other end.

An advantage of using a curling iron is that it will give you a sleek design and more refined curls.

If you don’t want that, try using a blow dryer, like the Dyson Airwrap.

According to Jennifer Aniston’s longtime hairstylist Chris McMillan, she uses round brushes to blow-dry her hair and twists it for natural curls. (2)

If you’re a fan of the Friends star and her gorgeous hair, you might want to try this method for a more natural-looking curl.

However, curlers are easier to use because you wrap your hair around the wand, hold it still, and release it to find a beautiful curl.

This may not be a multipurpose tool, but it is simple for beginners.

For more hair care tips, don’t forget to read our guides on how to curl hair with bathrobe tie and how to make hair grow down instead of out.

How To Curl My Hair With A Curling Iron

Use a heat-protectant spray or serum to prevent hair damage and frizz.

Stay below 392 degrees Fahrenheit when you warm the curling iron because excessive heat will ruin your hair. (3)

For a larger and looser curl, section your hair and wrap the strands you want to curl around the wand. The key to this curl is to wrap it flatly around the iron and not let it twist.

It’s up to you if you want the hair to curl toward or away from your face.

Wrapping larger chunks of hair around the curlers will lead to a broader curl pattern, whereas smaller strands will give you tight curls.

Check out this tutorial video!

Using A Flat Iron

Flat irons are multipurpose heat-styling tools that can take you from straight to wavy hair, the perfect beach waves, bouncy curls, or tight curls.

woman curling her hair using a flat iron

I usually travel with a straightener because of its wide range of possibilities. I like it because I can use it in multiple ways.

For instance, I’ll use lower heat settings to prevent hair damage and add more products to hold it in, alternating between the two.

With my thick hair, I must use many products to keep it in place. I’d rather do that with adjustable temperature settings to minimize heat damage.

My flat iron curls last longer than I’d used a curler. Thus, I would recommend using a straightener for thicker hair types.

This also works better because I keep my hair longer, so pick a flat iron if your hair is like mine.

Remember that flat irons can leave a crease in the hair if you’re not careful. I move the iron down my hair in a singular, smooth motion without pauses to avoid creasing.

However, it took me a while to master using a straightener, so if you’re a beginner, this might not be your tool.

Regarding the curling iron vs. flat iron comparison, I think the flat iron holds an obvious edge.

Check out this video tutorial for more tips.

Ever wondered about the magic behind sleek, straight locks? Dive into my light-hearted guide on ‘What is a hair straightener?’ to uncover the secrets of this hairstyling staple!

How To Curl My Hair With A Flat Iron

A ribbon curl is one of my favorite ways to curl my hair because it looks elegant. It is easy to achieve a close ribbon curl.

Clamp the straightener around the base of your hair, with the inside of your hand facing your head. Then, rotate the iron once so now your palm faces you.

Slide the iron down to the end of the hair, and viola! You have gorgeous curls that will eventually turn into beachy waves as time passes by.

If you want to take a look at the different types of curls, you can achieve with a flat iron, watch the video below:

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I curl my hair to avoid damage?

I would not recommend curling your hair more than once a week. Curl when your hair is dry and freshly washed.
Avoid washing it too often because regular washes damage hair. Retaining natural oils will give you better, long-lasting curls.

How damaging is curling your hair?

Using hot hair tools causes heat damage. Both flat irons and curling irons cause heat damage to the keratin in your hair, leading the hair’s cuticle layer to deteriorate.
Heat protectant spray will prevent brittle and dry hair when heat styling.

How can I curl my hair naturally?

Once you’re done washing and conditioning your hair, wait for it to be 2/3 dry.
Twist it in the natural direction of your curls, and then secure it to your scalp with bobby bins.


Heat styling your hair can be easy with the correct hot hair tools, like a curling iron or flat iron.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s always something you can do with these hair styling tools to look your best.

If you have favorite hair styling techniques using either iron, let me know in the comments below!

lady blow drying her permed hair


  1. Who Invented the Curling Iron? Hint: Marcel Has Something to Do With it [Internet]. Mane Addicts. 2021. Available from:
  2. Nast C. The Hair Products Jennifer Aniston Swears By, According to Her Longtime Pros [Internet]. Vogue. 2021 [cited 2022 Nov 3]. Available from:
  3. How To Curl Your Hair – 6 Different Ways To Do It [Internet]. Sam Villa. [cited 2022 Nov 3]. Available from: ‌
About Martina Todorovska

Martina is a graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine with a huge obsession for anything beauty-related. Her freelance writing started out as a creative outlet and turned out to be a full-time job. If you have any beauty questions, the chances are Martina has the answers. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES . Follow her on LINKEDIN , INSTAGRAM. Learn more about her HERE.

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