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Guide & Tips

Curling Iron vs Curling Iron Brush

Curling Iron vs Curling Iron Brush

Curly hair is interesting, unique, and fun. If you’d like to take your looks up a notch by adding some glamorous, bouncy curls, you’ll need an electric hair styling tool to get the job done. You can either choose the classic curling iron or a curling iron brush.

We’re here to help you pick the right curl-making appliance that will deliver amazing results. We’ve broken down the main differences between curling irons and curling iron brushes. Read through the info below to see which one of these tools is right for you.

The Curling Iron

We’re confident that you know what a curling iron looks like. This is a traditional curling tool that has a ceramic or tourmaline rounded barrel that heats up hair to set curls in place. 

Ceramic Barrels: Curling irons with ceramic barrels provide a consistent temperature throughout the barrel. This consistent temperature is essential for smooth operation. Ceramic barrels heat up quickly for fast curling making. Ceramic barrels are good for all hair types. 

Tourmaline Barrels: Curling irons with tourmaline barrels release negative ions that smooth hair. These barrels also de-frizz hair and make it look smooth & shiny. Tourmaline barrels don’t get as hot as ceramic barrels. This makes these curling irons ideal for fine hair due to the low-temperature levels. 

Easy to Use Thanks to the Built-In Clamp

The nice thing about a curling iron is that it comes with a built-in clamp that holds the hair you’re curling in place. The clamp makes it easy for anyone to curl their hair, including newbies. You simply section your hair and clamp the curling iron onto the section you’re curling. Then you roll your hair around the curling iron and hold it for a few seconds to heat-set your style. 

Curling Irons Offer Different Heat Settings 

Many curling irons have adjustable heat settings. The very best irons come with LCD displays that show the temperature settings being used. Temperatures below 200 degrees F are for thin or damaged hair. Temperatures around 300 degrees F are for normal hair and high temperatures above 300 degrees are for thick or unruly hair. 

Size Matters 

The barrels of curling irons come in different sizes and are each made for creating specific types of curls. Curling irons with small barrels measuring under 1 inch in diameter are designed to make tight spiraling curls. Curling irons with barrels measuring 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter are designed to make medium-sized loose curls. And curling irons with larger barrels are designed to make big bouncy curls. 

The Curling Iron Brush 

A curling iron brush is a combination of a standard round hairbrush and a curling iron barrel. It doesn’t have a clamp-like a curling iron. Instead, it has bristles that hold the hair in place while the heat makes the curls. 

Wet or Dry Hair: Rotating Barrels & Non-Rotating Barrels

Some curling iron brushes are designed only for use on dry hair. Others can dry wet hair as they style. The curling brushes that dry wet hair as they style have rotating barrels. Those that don’t dry hair as they curl have stationary barrels that don’t rotate. 

Curling Iron Brushes Have Different Heat Settings Too 

Like curling irons, many curling iron brushes come with variable heat settings. It can be tricky to know what setting to use. The best way to choose the right setting is to determine your hair type. Here’s a general guideline to use: 

  • Fine hair: Use a low heat setting of under 210 degrees F 
  • Normal hair: Use a medium heat setting between 211 and 399 degrees F
  • Thick or coarse hair: Use a high heat setting between 400 and 450 degrees F

How to Use a Curling Iron Brush 

If you’re using a curling iron brush that doesn’t dry wet hair, your hair must be completely dry before using it. All you need to do is plug the brush in and select the temperature. Then slowly wrap the barrel of the brush around one section of hair at a time to get the curls you want.  

If you’re using a curling iron brush with a rotating barrel that dries while it curls, don’t be tempted to move the barrel yourself. Just let the barrel rotate itself around the sectioned hair to create curls. The hot air coming from the barrel’s vented channels will do its magic on your hair. When you’re done, you’ll have beautiful soft curls along with added volume.  


A curling iron will give you well-defined, firm curls. The curls made by a curling iron come out the same size as the barrel you use.

 A curling iron brush will curl your hair while adding extra volume and lift. The curls made by a curling brush aren’t as well-defined as those made by a curling iron. 

Both of these curl-making appliances are good options for straight hair. Use the information above to decide which one you’ll choose.

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