As someone with naturally straight hair, I’ve of course always wanted the opposite. As a result, curling or waving my hair when I go out has become my go-to. (So much so that I got a loose perm, but that’s another story for another time.)
Whether I’m trying ’70s-style waves or wanting gorgeous corkscrew curls, my hair really needs heat to achieve any look other than poker-straight. This means that I’ve tried nearly all the hair curling methods under the sun: I’m talking everything from velcro hair rollers to hot brushes, curling with a straightener, and of course, my beloved Dyson Airwrap.
Read more about heated hair tools…
- Dyson Airwrap vs. Shark FlexStyle: which is the better hair tool?
- The 5 best ghd Rise dupes to rival the OG hot brush
- The truth about wet-to-dry hair stylers
- These are the best Dyson Airwrap dupes, ranked and rated by an OG fan
- The best hairdryers for curly hair
(Though, if you’re trying to avoid using heat on your hair, you can read my guide to achieving a bouncy blowout at home here, where I share two of the best heatless curling methods.)
So if you’re a complete novice to the hair curling game or want to know which tool you should invest in to get your desired waves, look no further: I’ve rounded up the best tools for achieving every type of curl and wave here, including the hot brush that’s part of the Amazon Prime Day 2023 sale – happy shopping.
The best hair tools for achieving curly and wavy hair
Best hair tool for an I-woke-up-like-this tousle: Revlon One-Step Volumizer Plus
The Revlon One-Step Volumizer Plus is an incredible, affordable tool that can rival some of the more expensive products out there (read about why it’s one writer’s ultimate tool here).
Simply run the hot brush through damp hair, section by section, lifting the brush as you go for maximum volume. For gentle, tousled waves, just twist the brush as it glides through your hair for subtle shape and movement, like so:
Best hair tool for a loose curl: Babyliss Wave Secret Air, £150
While in theory a loose wave sounds like it should be the easiest style to achieve, I’ve often found it’s the hardest. Curling wands usually give too voluminous of a curl and straighteners can be tricky to use, so when I heard that BaByliss’ Wave Secret Air was specifically designed to give loose, cool-girl waves, I couldn’t wait to try it.
This clever tool works by pulling a section of hair into the curl chamber where it heats and forms a loose curl. It’s a great tool for lazy girls like me as you don’t have to do nearly as much of the arm work you do with a normal curling barrel.
Best hair tool for corkscrew curls: Chopstick Styler Extra Confident Styler, £44.99
Julia Roberts’ hair in Pretty Woman (and just in the ’90s in general TBH) has remained one of my long-lusted after hairstyles. Her effortless tumbling curls always seemed like an unachievable dream, but then I discovered the Chopstick Styler.
This super thin ‘chopstick style’ wand creates tight corkscrew curls that can then be backcombed and teased to get that ‘” just rolled out of bed with Richard Gere” sort of look.
Best hair tool for a ’70s blowout: Dyson Airwrap
If there’s anything bigger than a ’70s blowout style, it’s how huge the look has become in popularity. Everyone (including me) has been going crazy for the Farrah Fawcett-inspired look, where it’s all about volume.
I am obsessed with my Dyson Airwrap and how in only a few minutes it can turn my flat hair into looking like I’ve just had a professional blowdry. Yes, it is one of the most expensive tools out there, but it does also come with six detachable styling tools, which individually could easily set you back up to £150.
I say this to everyone that asks me about it: it really is worth the investment if you aren’t a pro at styling your own hair (me) and have minimal time to spend on it (also me). Start by using the hot brush to add bounce to your fringe before going onto the rest of your hair to add bouncy curls.
Best hair tool for Renaissance waves: Beauty Works Waver, £69.99
Renaissance waves were a firm celeb favourite at a lot of the red carpet ceremonies this year (just look at the Met Gala), so if you’re wanting to recreate that mermaid-esque look for your next event, you’ll be glad to know you don’t need a glam squad to achieve it.
Instead, all you do need is a three-prong waver, like this one from Beauty Works. In my opinion, it’s one of the easiest tools to use: simply take a section of hair, clamp it down, and let the triple waver do its thing. You can also use this tool to get loose beachy waves, but the renaissance waves make such a statement that I think that’s where it really shines.
Best hair tool for Hollywood glamour: Mark Hill Medium Curl Barrel, £16.99
For truly polished, Oscar-worthy Hollywood waves, you’ve got to try curling barrel. In my experience, this type of tool is the one that takes the longest time but the results are so worth it.
For the smoothest curl, use the thick barrel to wrap hair away from the face on each side. If you find your curls tend to drop quickly, pin each section of hair after styling to enhance the volume and longevity of the curl.
This one from Mark Hill is a great affordable option as you can buy different styling attachments to fit onto one handle at a fraction of the price of some more expensive curling tools.