Curling iron vs. flat iron — which one is the right one for you? Right now, we bet you’re thinking, well, if I want to straighten my hair, I’ll use a flat iron. If I want curls, I’ll use a curling iron.
But you can do more with a flat iron than straighten hair. For some women, the secret to envy-inducing curly hair is a flat iron.
Get to know the differences when it comes to curling iron vs flat iron and learn more about how each one can get you the curls of your dreams.
How Do You Use a Flat Iron to Curl Hair?
If you’re going to use a flat iron to get curly hair, getting the technique right is a must. Otherwise, you’ll end up with hair that has weird divots or kinks in it.
First things first, choose the right type of flat iron. An iron that’s 1.25 inches wide should work well, according to Cosmopolitan.
Next, start with a small section of hair, near the base of your neck. Don’t try to put more than an inch or so of hair into the iron at once. Too much hair will slip out of the iron, and you’ll end up with a weird look.
Gently wrap the hair over the flat iron. You want to twist down towards the ends of your hair. Cosmo describes the process as being similar to curling ribbon with a pair of scissors.
Repeat the process with the rest of your hair. Remember to curl small sections at a time.
When you use a flat iron to create curls, how slowly or quickly you wrap the hair around the iron or pull the hair through will influence the size and shape of your curls.
If you’re going for loose, beachy wave-like curls, bring the iron through your hair more quickly, Samvilla recommends. To get tighter, bouncier curls, you’ll want to work more slowly.
Whether you go fast or slow, the key thing is not to stop moving. You’re not “crimping” your hair. If you pause with a strand of hair wrapped around the flat iron, you’ll end up with a funny looking crease across a section of hair.
How Do You Use a Curling Iron?
Now that we’ve looked at how to use a flat iron to curl hair let’s take a look at how to use a curling iron.
Using a curling iron to create curls is a bit less straightforward compared to using a flat iron. That’s because there are different types of curling iron and different ways to wrap your hair around the barrel.
That said, in the battle of curling iron vs. flat iron, if you’re looking for more options, a curling iron might be your better bet.
First things first, let’s look at how to use a curling iron to create beachy waves.
For this look, use a curling iron with a 1-inch wide barrel. Start near your scalp, wrapping a small section of hair around the barrel.
When you get about halfway down the hair, Samvilla says to change direction. Going one way, then the other on the same section of hair will help the hair curl in a relaxed way.
Once you’ve curled all of your hair, run your fingers or a brush through it to help the curls relax.
If you want more dramatic, Hollywood hair, you’ll need to change your curling technique a bit.
To get cascading, spiral curls using a curling iron, divide your hair into several small sections. Twist each section around itself, creating a tight cord of hair.
Next, wrap one twisted section around the barrel of the curling iron, starting close to your scalp. Let the hair heat up on the iron (but not for too long), then release.
The hair should unwind from the barrel of the curling iron but still be springy and curly. Once you’ve curled all your hair in this way, give your head a shake to get the full effect.
Curling Iron vs. Flat Iron: What Are the Benefits?
Aside from thinking about the types of curls you want, when deciding between curling iron vs. flat iron, it helps to think about the benefits of each hair styling tool.
Let’s look at the benefits of a flat iron first. One significant advantage of using a flat iron is that you get a two-in-one tool. You can use the device for its intended purpose — to straighten your hair.
Or, as we described above, you can use it to add more curls. If you sometimes want razor straight hair but then also sometimes want some waves or curls, the flat iron can be your best friend.
What about curling irons? They also have a few benefits. While you can’t straighten hair with them, you can use them to create a variety of different curl styles.
If you want casual, relaxed curls, the curling iron is there for you. If you’ve got a big date or a formal event coming up and you need to traffic-stopping, drop dead gorgeous curls, your curling iron has got your back.
What Are the Disadvantages of Curling Irons vs. Flat Irons?
OK, you got us. Neither curling irons or flat irons are perfect.
Both tools use heat to shape and curl your hair. If you’ve ever spent any time in a salon or have ever watched any TV, you know that heat can spell disaster for your healthy hair.
If you let that curling or flat iron heat up too much or leave it for too long around your hair, you’ll end up with crispy strands.
Even if you don’t burn your hair when curling it, repeated exposure to heat can leave you with brittle, dry and otherwise damaged locks.
What are you to do?
In the battle of curling iron vs flat iron, if you want to protect your hair from heat damage, the best thing to do is use a protectant spray.
Heat protectant sprays are essentially spritz-on conditioners. They act as a barrier between your locks and the heat of the iron. Never curl before giving your hair a good coating.
Another way to protect your hair is to pay attention to how hot the curling or flat iron is. Flat irons, in particular, can get way hot. We’re talking oven hot (more than 350 degrees).
If you hear sizzling or smell burning, turn down the heat.
Curling Iron vs. Flat Iron: Which One’s Right for You?
So, should you be team curling iron or team flat iron? It all depends on what you’re doing with your hair.
If you’re looking for lots of options when it comes to creating curls, by all means, go with a curling iron. But if you sometimes want to straighten and sometimes curl your hair, a flat iron will get the job done.
Of course, for some people, the answer to curling iron vs. flat iron isn’t one or the other, but both. Depending on your hair type and style preferences, having the two tools in your hair care arsenal is going to give you the best of all possible styling worlds.