How to Choose the Right Curling Iron Size

Have you ever bought a curling iron to style your hair, only to find out that your hair didn’t turn out as you expected?

If you believe that this transpired due to a lack of hairstyling skills, then think again. Your hairstyling skills might not be the problem; in fact, your curling iron might not be suitable for your hair. Even if you opt for a curling iron by your favorite brand, you might not get the look you want because of the size of the curling iron barrel.

Are you aware that there are different curling iron barrel sizes available? The different curling iron barrels are for different hairstyles and distinctive hair lengths.

Choosing between different barrels can be pretty difficult, especially if numbers fluster you! Keep this simple rule of thumb in mind; the size of the curling iron barrel needs to be proportional to the length of your hair. This means that for short hair, you will need a small-sized barrel and for long hair, you will need a large-sized barrel. For shoulder-length or medium length hair, both small and large barrels will do wonders.

How to Choose the Right Curling Iron Size

To pick the right curling iron size, you need to determine the dimension of curls you desire. Other than the size of the curls, there are other factors like the texture of your hair. This is because some curls patterns only work for certain types of hair.

The key to achieving a gorgeous salon-like hairdo is figuring out which curling iron is the best for your hair!

To do so, you will need to understand your hair type. You’ll have to classify whether your hair falls in the bob cut, short, shoulder-length, medium, long or very long category.

You will also have to determine the texture of your hair and see if it is thin, thick, soft or rough. The thickness of your hair or your hair volume is a significant factor to consider when choosing an appropriate barrel size.

In case you have long hair and desire tight and formal curls, you should opt for a smaller barrel size. If you have short hair and want loose and natural curls, a larger barrel size is your best bet!

Experimenting may get a little expensive, so you should consult your hairstylist to help you sort out this dilemma.

Curling Iron Size Guide and Examples

Here is a comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect curling iron for your hair type. There are also some links to provide you with ideas about what kind of hairdos you can make with different barrels.

⅜” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Thin, short and shoulder-length hair

Hairstyles: Kinky curls and spiral curls

The 3/8 inch curling barrel is perfect for creating kinky and spiral curls. Every girl, at some point, has dreamt of bouncy curls. This barrel size is perfect to transform your dull hair into kinky curls.

This barrel can also be used for those with naturally curly hair to tame their curly hair strands. The 3/8 inch barrel size is suitable for short or shoulder-length hair. It also adds volume to thin hair. However, it’s not suitable for those with long or thick hair.

This curling barrel is great for both straight and curly hair, but if you have straight hair, it might take longer for you to style your hair.

½” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Bob-cut hair, short hair or thin hair

Hairstyles: Spirally curls, retro curls or ringlet curls

This tiny-sized curling iron barrel is meant to style short hair. If you have a bob cut or short hair and want curls, this is the best option. Ringlet or tight curls are achievable using this barrel size.

This barrel is not suitable for long hair as the curls don’t stay for too long. This curling iron helps create a tight and short-waved curly look. This barrel size is also perfect if those with curly hair need a hair touch-up. Additionally, this 1/2 inch barrel size is not suitable for thick hair, so if you have thin hair, this is perfect for you!

⅝” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Thin, should-length or medium hair

Hairstyles: Springy curls, perm curls or spirally curls

It can be difficult to curl straight hair as the curls never seem to last. If you face this problem too, then look no further than the 5/8 inch curling iron barrel. It helps create springy and kinky curls for those with straight hair.

This barrel size is considered appropriate for those with shoulder-length or medium hair. It’s also a great option for those with thin hair as it can add tons of volume by creating kinky curls. This barrel also works well for naturally curly tresses.

¾” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Thin, thick or shoulder-length hair

Hairstyles: Vintage or corkscrew curls

This barrel size is meant to create a uniform look for naturally curly locks. If you love Carrie Bradshaw’s hair, like we do, this is the perfect barrel to achieve a similar hairstyle.

Since this barrel is bigger, it forms looser curls than other smaller barrels. It also ensures more polished curls. A special quality of this barrel size is the vintage curls that it can help create.

The best part about this barrel size is that it can be used for both thick and thin hair as long as they are medium-sized or shoulder-length.

1” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Meant for all hair types

Hairstyles: Defined, mermaid, loose or volume curls and beachy, natural, textured, full-bodied or glam waves

This specific curling iron barrel size is the one everyone needs! It is not only appropriate for all hair lengths, but it also helps achieve all types of curls and waves. From tight curls to messy beachy waves – this barrel size offers it all!

The 1-inch barrel is neither too big nor too small, which makes it appropriate for all hair types.

1 ¼” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Medium, shoulder-length or long hair

Hairstyles: All sorts of curls and waves

The 1 ¼ inch barrel is quite like the 1-inch curling iron barrel as it helps create all types of curls and waves. You need to decide on your desired curls and adjust your hair according to the required curl or wave size!

Shoulder length hair is ideal for this barrel size. Much shorter than that and your hair wont hold the curl.

This curling iron barrel size fails to add volume to your hair.

1 ½” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Thick and thin hair, long hair or extra-long hair

Hairstyles: Spiral, neat and loose beachy, and ombre curls or loose, voluminous, blowout, loose, beachy or undone waves

This barrel size is considered to be one of the largest barrels. It helps create large curls on long or extra-long hair. Short hair cannot support these large curls, which is why it’s pointless using this barrel size on short hair. These types of curls don’t add volume to hair and are suitable for both thick and thin hair.

Additionally, this barrel is not only great for bouncy curls— but it can also be used to create beachy or voluminous waves.

1 ¾” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Thick and thin, long or extra-long hair

Hairstyles: Loose or beachy waves

These bigger-sized barrels are hard to come across in the market. If you prefer soft and loose waves, then this barrel size is your best bet. This is the only barrel in the large barrel category that works great on short hair too. It helps create soft curls and adds extra volume to short hair.

2” Curling Iron Barrel

Hair types: Long or extra-long hair, thick and thin hair

Hairstyles: Defined, beachy, loose or tousled waves

For those with long hair, who find it time-consuming to use smaller barrels, the 2-inch curling iron barrel is probably your best option.

This 2-inch barrel is also known as the bumper because it’s the perfect size for long hair. For loose, beachy, or defined waves, this barrel can achieve it all. This barrel size is also perfect for adding volume to straight hair.

Best Curling Iron Size for Beach Waves

Beachy waves are the highlight of summer hair fashion. They make your hair look gorgeous! Well, you don’t need to head to the salon to get beachy waves anymore. Just acquiring the right curling iron barrel size can help you get the salon look at home!

The 1 ¼” Curling Iron Barrel is suitable for almost every hair length, ranging from shoulder length to long hair. This barrel size is perfect to create any type of waves or curls.

So, whether you have short (shoulder length), medium or long hair, this should be your go-to curling iron to get beachy waves. If you have long and thick hair, there’s a more suitable option for you – the 1 ½” Curling Iron Barrel.

You can get neat beachy curls, loose beachy waves, normal beachy waves or even undone waves using this barrel size.

Another great option you have is the 1 ¾” Curling Iron Barrel. Not only is it perfect for long hair, but it also adds volume to your short hair by creating amazing beachy waves.

When you have long voluminous hair, it can be difficult to get the perfect beachy waves using smaller barrels. If you face this problem, the 2” curling iron barrel should be your go-to option. It allows you to achieve the perfect defined beachy waves.

In short, determining your hair type and length can help you pick the perfect barrel size to get beachy waves.

Best Curling Iron Size for Pixie Cut

It would be unreasonable to use a curler with a big barrel to style a pixie cut. To add curls to your crown, the recommended curling iron barrel sizes are 3/8- to 1/2-inch.

Roll small sections of your pixie hair around the curling wand and hold the iron for two to eight seconds and release. It is easier to style short hair with smaller barrels.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know What Size My Curling Iron Is?

The curling iron size is determined by its diameter. This is true for all curling irons, regardless of the brand you choose. Determining the size of your curling barrel requires a bit of math, so let us help you polish your math skills.

The easiest way to find out the size of your curling iron is to find out its diameter. To do that, you’ll have to measure its circumference. The circumference of the barrel can be measured by wrapping a measuring tape around the barrel. After conducting the measurement, divide the circumference by pi (3.14) and voila! You’ll get the diameter of the barrel.

What Size Curling Iron Is the Best?

The 1” sized curling iron barrel is the jack of all trades! It is suitable for all types of hair. Whether you have short, medium or long hair, this curling iron size should be your go-to barrel.

Even if you have other curling irons, this remains a mandatory styling product that must be added to your collection. This barrel size is neither too small nor too big, which makes it perfect for all hair types. So, swipe your card and invest in a great 1” sized curling iron!

What Inch Curling Iron Is Best for Short Hair?

Not all curling irons are suitable for short hair. Opting for a larger barrel will give you looser curls and for short hair, you probably don’t want to opt for a barrel bigger than 1-inch. This is because looser curls won’t hold for long or make a big impact on short hair.

A smaller curling iron barrel is more apt for short hair, as it is easier and helps prevent any accidents. Don’t worry, just because you can’t opt for a barrel bigger than 1 inch doesn’t mean you don’t have other options. You can easily choose amongst the 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1-inch barrel, depending on the hairstyle you want for your short hair.

To get kinky or spiral curls for thin, short or shoulder-length hair, the 3/8 inch curling iron is your best bet. To get retro curls or finger waves on short or bob cut hair, the 1/2 inch barrel is a great option.

For thin, medium or should-length hair, the 5/8 inch curling iron is great to get springy or spiral curls. The 3/4 inch barrel is most appropriate for thick or thin shoulder-length hair. If you want corkscrew or vintage curls, look no further than this curling iron barrel size!

The 1-inch curling iron barrel is the perfect size for both long and short hair. So, the safest bet for you would be to opt for this barrel!


You don’t have to worry about spending hundreds of dollars at the salon to get your hair styled. By choosing the correct curling iron barrel according to your hair type, you can easily achieve celeb-like hairdos at home!

Curling irons are available in different barrel sizes. Your best bet is to choose a curling iron barrel based on your hair length, volume and the hairdo you desire to achieve.