Best Cheap Curling Iron in 2018 – Top 5 Inexpensive Irons

best-cheap-curling-irons---best-budget-curling-irons

When you drop $200 or more on a curling iron, what are you paying for?

Hint: it’s not necessarily a better-quality styling tool.

Sure, some pricey, professional curling irons are worth their weight in gold. But for the average person, an inexpensive curling iron is going to get the job done. So, what is the best cheap curling iron? How do you know what’s worth buying?

We put together this guide to help you out.

List of Cheap Curling Irons

Product Summary of Best Budget Curling Irons

First things first, how do we define the “best budget curling iron?” After all, what’s cheap for one person might not be cheap for another.

We limited our roundup and search to the best cheap curling iron under $30. While a few of the curling irons on our list cost much less than that, a couple do inch closer to $30.

Price aside, we looked at the same features we would use to rate other curling irons, regardless of price point.

Those features include:

  • Coating. For the most part, all of the best cheap curling irons had a ceramic or tourmaline coating. Only the cheapest model, the Conair Instant Heat, had a stainless steel barrel.
  • Heat settings. Just one of our picks had no adjustable heat settings, the Bed Head Curlipops. All the rest give you the ability to adjust the heat up or down based on your needs. Most of our curling iron picks heated to 400 degrees or even hotter. The Revlon Salon High Heat Curling Iron can reach up to 420 degrees.
  • Ease of use. Some of these curling irons are easier to use than others. If you’re an absolute beginner, we recommend using a model with a clip, such as the Conair Instant Heat.

Reviews of the Best Cheap Curling Iron

Infiniti Pro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand – Best Overall Cheap Curling Iron

Infiniti-Pro-by-Conair-Tourmaline-Ceramic-Curling-Wand --Best-Overall-Cheap-Curling-Iron

The Infiniti Pro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand has a few things going for it, price aside.

For one thing, it’s a tapered wand, which gives you more styling options compared to a straight up and down barrel. For another, despite its low price point, the wand is coated in tourmaline, which helps to fight frizz and can help the wand heat evenly.

The curling wand maxes out at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and has five heat settings, making it a good pick for people of all hair types.

People who’ve used the curling wand have praised its ability to heat quickly and its ability to produce long-lasting curls. A few people did note that the numbers on the temperature settings did get rubbed off/erased, which can make it tricky to know how hot the wand is.

One of the issues that people had with the wand is that there’s no clip (since it’s a wand). It can take some trial and error to get used to styling your hair without a clip, and a few people just weren’t up for it.

Things We Liked

  • Five heat settings, a top heat of 400 degrees
  • Tourmaline coated barrel
  • Tapered barrel
  • Has an auto shut-off
  • Comes with a thermal glove

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Has a learning curve — can be difficult to use
  • Temperature marks can rub off

Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Loose Curls – Best Curling Iron Under $20

Bed-Head-Curlipops-Curling-Wand-for-Loose-Curls --Best-Curling-Iron-Under-$20

If a tapered wand doesn’t do the trick for you, maybe a curling wand with a straight barrel will work out better. The Bed Head Curlipops Curling Wand for Loose Curls has a 1-inch barrel that’s coated with tourmaline ceramic to help minimize frizz and make your curls shine.

The size of the barrel makes the curling wand a versatile tool. It will create loose curls in short, medium or long hair. Since it’s a clip-less style, you’ll get more natural, relaxed looking waves compared to using a traditional curling iron.

Despite its low price tag, the Curlipops is dual-voltage so that you can use it around the world without worry.

Like the Conair curling wand, the Curlipops heats up to 400 degrees. The one downside of that is that it doesn’t seem to have any heat controls or adjustable settings.

People who’ve used the Curlipops have been pretty pleased with its performance. A few praised its ability to heat up quickly.

A few were also happy with the swivel cord, which didn’t get tangled up while they styled their hair.

The one thing people weren’t so happy about was the lack of temperature controls. A few were also upset because they thought that the curling wand didn’t get hot enough to curl their hair effectively.

Things We Liked

  • Heats up to 400 degrees
  • Tourmaline ceramic coating
  • Dual voltage
  • Swivel cord

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No temperature controls
  • Temperature might not reach 400 degrees
  • Since it’s a wand, it can be tricky to figure out how to use it

Remington Pro 1-1½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology and Digital Controls – Best Curling Iron under $30

Remington-Pro-1-1½”-Curling-Wand-with-Pearl-Ceramic-Technology-and-Digital-Controls --Best-Curling-Iron-under-$30

Another inexpensive curling wand, the Remington Pro is wider than the Conair (up to 1.5 inches) and tapered. It’s also got a super durable Pearl Ceramic coating, which is supposed to help the curling wand last for longer.

Another benefit of the Pearl Ceramic coating is that it’s super smooth, so curls glide easily off of the barrel. If you’re looking for a cheap styling tool that will help you get loose waves, this is the one to choose.

The Remington Pro styling wand does get just a bit hotter than the Curlipops and the Conair, up to 410 degrees. It also has digital controls, so you can see just how hot it is.

A temperature lock prevents the curling wand from heating up or cooling down while you’re using it.

One complaint people who’ve used the Remington Pro had about it was that it was difficult for them to keep their hair wrapped around it.

Since there’s no clip, the wand is tapered, and the Pearl Ceramic coating is super smooth, it can be tricky to wrap the hair, and have it stay in place.

Otherwise, people were largely happy with the curling wand. Some have said that they’ve had trouble using a curling wand, but didn’t have any difficulty with this one.

Things We Liked

  • Digital temperature controls
  • Temperature lock
  • Heats quickly (within 30 seconds)
  • Auto shut-off

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Wand style does take some getting used to
  • Barrel size can be too big for shorter hairstyles

Conair Instant Heat Curling Iron – Best Curling Iron under $10

Conair-Instant-Heat-Curling-Iron --Best-Curling-Iron-under-$10

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, starter curling iron, the Conair Instant Heat might be just the one for you. The least expensive curling iron in our round-up, it’s also the only one not to have a tourmaline or ceramic coating.

Instead, the barrel is coated with a combination of chromium, nickel, steel, and copper. While that mix of metals can help it heat up, it won’t minimize frizz or prevent hot spots.

The curling iron’s 1-inch, straight barrel makes it suitable for a range of hair lengths and a range of curl styles. Since the iron does have a clip, getting your hair to wrap around the barrel isn’t too much of a challenge.

Another feature that makes the Conair Instant Heat great for beginners is the extra-long cool tip on the end of the barrel. You don’t want to risk burning your fingers while you’re figuring out how to curl your hair.

The Instant Heat Curling Iron has 25 heat settings and a turbo heat feature, which bumps the temperature up by 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the most part, people have been pleased with their Conair Instant Heat curling irons. Most note that it heats up quickly and does a good job creating curls in their hair.

Those who aren’t so happy with the curling iron note that it’s a bit on the small side regarding length.

Things We Liked

  • 25 heat settings
  • Dual voltage
  • 1-inch barrel is very versatile

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Short barrel length
  • The coating isn’t the best

Revlon Salon High Heat Hair Curling Iron Ball Wand – Best Cheap Curling Wand

Revlon-Salon-High-Heat-Hair-Curling-Iron-Ball-Wand --Best-Cheap-Curling-Wand

Now for something a little different. The Revlon Salon High Heat Curling Iron Ball Wand has a bumpy, “bubble” texture up and down the length of the wand.

The bubbles on the wand are designed to help make it easier for people to create beachy waves in their hair. You can wrap your hair over the bumps or between them depending on the type of curl you want to create.

Since the Revlon tool is a styling wand, there’s no clip. But the bubbles on the wand help to hold the hair in place, so it’s a little easier to use compared to other clipless wands.

The wand heats up to a maximum temperature of 420 degrees and has a total of 30 heat settings. The barrel is coated with tourmaline ceramic to help control frizz.

Those who’ve used the Revlon styling wand have called it effective and affordable. Others have praised it for doing a really good job at creating the curls they want.

Things We Liked

  • 30 heat settings
  • Tourmaline ceramic coating
  • Unique shape helps to make waves in hair

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Not effective for all types of curls (won’t make tight ringlets, for example)
  • Does get very hot and there’s no cool tip
  • Can be difficult to use with shorter hair

Should You Use a Cheap Curling Iron?

Is the best inexpensive curling iron going to be the right pick for you? Or are you better off sticking with a more expensive “professional” tool?

It all comes down to your hair type. While people with thick hair might benefit from the high heat settings offered by pro curling irons, people with fine hair are more likely to end up with burned or damaged locks.

That’s right, using a pro tool can be disastrous for your hair if it’s on the fine or thin side.

Here’s another thing to know about the best cheap curling iron. Many budget-friendly irons have the same features you’d find in pricier models.

For example, plenty of inexpensive models are tourmaline or ceramic coatings, which help maintain even heat levels and minimize frizz.

Although a cheap curling iron might not heat up to 430 degrees, a good number of them do.

This is all to say that the only thing you might miss out on when you go for a cheap curling iron over a pricier one is a higher price tag.

Risks of Using a Cheap Curling Iron

While the best cheap curling iron might be the right pick for some people, there are still a few risks to using one.

One of the biggest risks of using a cheap curling iron is that you might just burn your hair with it.

“Hold on,” you might be saying, “didn’t you just say that cheap irons don’t get as hot as higher-end models?”

Yes, that’s true. But it’s also the case that people often try to compensate for a lower heat setting by keeping their hair wrapped around the barrel for longer.

Holding your hair around the barrel of a curling iron for more than 10 seconds is going to cause damage, even if you use a protectant spray.

Tips for Curling Iron Success

When using the best curling iron for the money, following these tips will help you enjoy long-lasting curls and will help protect your hair.

  • Choose the right barrel size. This tip goes for any type of curling iron — cheap or not. The shorter your hair or the tighter the curls you want, the smaller the barrel should be. 1-inch is a good “all purpose” size.
  • Use a heat protectant. Minimize damage to your hair by spritzing it all over with a heat protectant spray, before you curl.
  • Don’t curl too much hair at once. It won’t all fit in the barrel, and you’ll end up with looser, weaker curls.
  • Let your curls cool down. Hold the curl in your hand for a few seconds after you remove the barrel or pin it in place to help it set.

Final Thoughts on the Best Cheap Curling Iron

Which cheap curling iron do we recommend the most?

We’re going to name the Infiniti Pro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand as the best cheap curling iron in 2018. It’s a versatile size, doesn’t heat up super-hot and has adjustable heat settings, making it an excellent pick for a range of hair types and styles.