July 26, 2011

Battle of the curling irons: regular barrel versus conical wand.

Let's take into account that I'm an average girl when it comes to hair styling: I haven't learned how to do hair (I'm already glad I learned on YouTube how I could dye it myself!), I don't have eyes nor extra arms in the back (that would be convenient) and I don't have a million hours in the morning to do my hair. Or then I'd have to skip doing my makeup but we know that will not happen.

So I have, over the course of the years, bought an arsenal of hot tools in the hope that they would magically make me look like a fairy tale princess (translate: a girl with the prettiest lose curls) in no time and with no pain. All in all, the one I use the most is my Braun Straightener, which also means that I wear my hair poker straight more often than not - that one is pretty easy to use.

But when it comes to curling, I've tried different things... First, there's the regular curling iron, with a small barrel (I have a large barrel one, too but I won't talk about that one today).

Random picture from Babyliss - the curling iron I own is a generic brand from a pro supplies store.

Believe it or not, getting used to this one also took a few YouTube videos, but now I got the hang of it.
Plus sides of these: warm up quickly, often come with different temperature options so you can control the level of damage (hum) you're doing to your hair, and quite easy to use once you know how to do it: use the clip thingy to pinch the bottom of a hair section, roll, release and slowly pull out. You have a nice tight curl which you can later brush out to give it a more natural look. Repeat, in 10 minutes, you're done.

Now the past few years, another type of curling iron has been spreading on the market: the conical wand.

Advantages of this one: warms up quickly, adjustable temperature, but also a conical shape that allows you to play with different sizes for curls, and no clip thingy in your way so you have more flexibility in what you're doing.  Comes with 2 mini gloves that wrap your thumb and pointing finger so that you won't burn yourself in the process. Sounds good.
Excepted it's not that easy...

First of all, my hair just won't stick to the one part I've picked, it tends to always glide back to the finest part of the wand, which can results in poodle hair - not an attractive look, I'm telling you. Also, in order to keep your hair in place, you tend to use the wand in a particular angle that will not be the same all around your head, but that will definitely impact your curls placement!
Secondly: who decided you only needed 2 fingers to use that stuff? I have burnt myself several times because of stupid reflexes that made me use a non-protected finger to grab my hair! If this needs to come with heat-protecting gloves, said gloves should protect your whole hands. Possibly your forearm, too.

My conclusion: the conical wand mostly stays unused and unloved in my drawer. If you are just like me, a regular girl with only 2 (heat sensitive) hands, I do think the regular curling iron is going to work the best. Also, make sure you don't get too large of a barrel, the largest it is, the harder it is to use and the loser the curls will be - if you don't have super long hair, it's likely to be harder to use than a smaller one.

And now I'm off to go get a set of heated rollers. What wouldn't I try in the name of Beauty...


  1. I have been wondering about this. I am getting a non conical curler but it's clip free sent to me some time soon. I think I'll end up burning my hand a few times too! Thanks for the awesome review!

  2. Hi there, your technique could use some fine tuning, check out some instructional videos on YouTube, very helpful...also if you find your hair is too silky you need to use a product to "dirty" it up a bit...give it some guts. I love and use my conical wand every week, it takes some practice to perfect your technique and curl placement. Good luck. Lisa

  3. @ Elvira: let me know how it works

    @ Lisa: yeah I know I need to keep my hair less clean for things like that ;-) I will watch vids, but I might just be too clumsy ;-)

  4. I've always wondered about those conical wands, thanks for letting us know what you think! Well, obviously now that I have short hair, I don't even use a blow dryer... x

  5. oh no, sorry to hear you suffer from migraine and ibs too. It's good to be prepared, then the symptoms won't hurt so bad x

    Thanks for your review on curling irons! I'm bad at using both conical wand and conventional curling iron! I always end up looking like a deranged witch. Need to fine tune my technique a bit!

  6. I have naturally curly hair. I only use a curling iron when I straighten and then curl for a 40s look (similar to my wedding hair). I use a conventional curling iron, but the conical one looks good, too! Probably I'll just stick to what I have since I don't do this style very often. Only on nice occasions.

  7. @ Rocaille: I think you need less tools with your current hairstyle indeed ;)

    @ Penelope : "deranged witch" OMG I've thought the same thing about myself and my hair so many times LOL

    @ Marty: if you don't use that kind of tool very often, having several isn't necessary indeed.

  8. I never thought about the conical being harder to use as I prefer them. I like that the curls are more varied in size and it looks more natural in my hair. Depends what look you're going for.

    A weird tip for protecting your hands, spray some KMS hot presse spray on your fingers (as well as your hair) and it helps provide a bit of a heat barrier!

  9. @ Hair Romance: thanks for the tip! I've tried using them upside down and they seem to work better, but I still need to get the hang of it, and stop burning myself!

  10. I like using a regular curling barrel, even though I still tend to burn myself no matter which kind of barrel I get, lol. Still getting the hang of using a curling wand, I have a karmin clipless and it's fantastic even while I misuse it terribly!


I love getting comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts!