How to Use a Curling Wand: Tips and Advice

Curling wands can work magic on your hair, being a wand after all. But as popular magical media has taught us, the wand must be well suited to you and your hair needs before it’ll perform its best, and you should know how to wield it properly, as well.

Consider this your guide to performing simple yet powerful hair magic with the help of only your trusty curling wand.

What Is a Curling Wand?

When searching for curling irons, you’ll come across tools without any clamping mechanisms — these would be the wands and aren’t curling irons at all. They’re a single oblong piece, often wider at the bottom and tapering upwards (but not always).

Tapered curling wands allow you to naturally vary the wave style as a strand of hair moves away from your skull. Some curling wand sets come with interchangeable barrel sizes and styles, so you’ll always be able to pick your preference of the day.

Curling Wands

Curling Wand or Curling Iron?

Whether a wand or an iron will be better largely depends on two things: the desired look and comfort.

A common refrain when it comes to curling wands is that it’s easy to burn your hands and fingers because you have to wrap hair around the barrel, and then hold it in place. By comparison, how to curl hair with a curling iron does seem safer. Once you’ve clamped a section, simply twist it around the outside of the iron.

  • If you have unsteady hands or any similar dexterity issue, it may be best to just go for a curling iron.
  • But maybe you’re only a little clumsy and fearful of the stories you’ve heard. Should that be the case, try to find a store with a curling wand out on display and see how it feels to handle.
  • Wands can also be used with a heat resistant glove if you’re truly dedicated to getting tight ringlets or just very leery of being burned.

If you’ve got excellent fine motor
skills and fear nothing, the choice comes down to curl preference.

  • Wands create a more natural, fluffy appearance. They add volume and will readily brush out to soft wave status.
  • Curling irons create a flatter, twistier curl. The clamping aspect reduces frizz and adds a bit of smoothness and shine.

Hair type will also impact results, so that should be taken into consideration aside from the appearance of the curls.

  • Thicker, coarser hair may do better with an iron, and fine, thin hair would benefit from the wand.
  • But if your hair catches or breaks easily — if you’d never use a rubber hair tie, for example — playing it safe with a curling wand wouldn’t hurt (quite literally).

How to Curl Hair With a Wand

Now that we’ve covered the background, let’s get to the magic part. How do you actually curl hair with a wand?

  1. The part of the barrel closest to the handle gets nearest your skull, and the rest will point away.
  2. Wrap a section of hair around the barrel with your other hand, getting closer to the tip as you reach the end of your hair. Wrapping overhand, not under, is safest.
  3. It can all feel a bit awkward; a trick is to make sure you hold the wand from the opposite side of your head. So for curling the left side, use your right hand to hold the wand and your left hand to wrap. Rest your wrist on top of your head and point the wand downwards.
  4. Repeat until you’re all done. Reverse to curl the other side.

The real magic is in the little things, though, so we’ve compiled some additional tips.

Most of the following do’s and dont’s are simply for curling hair with heat in general, so you can still utilize the tips below even with an iron! How to use a curling iron is functionally different from a wand, but fundamentally similar.

The Do’s

1. Use a heat protectant or conditioner.

It’s helpful to prep before any heat treatment. This will protect your hair and improve the look and feel of your curls in the end.

2. Section hair.

Working in sections will make the whole process easier. And curl appropriately sized portions of hair at a time — not too little, which can cause burning, but not too much, which will just result in a bad curl.

3. Keep it moving.

One of the benefits of a curling wand over a curling iron is speed. Curls will release without needing to unravel them and should be curled evenly up and down after a few seconds.

Avoid overheating the delicate ends of your hair, so don’t linger there. Likewise, there’s no need to wrap hair super tightly at the base of strands, where it meets your skull. You’ll avoid burning your head.

4.Experiment a bit.

Another benefit of curling wands is that they offer a little more freedom of movement. Use your tool to experiment with curl size, shape, and direction.

The Dont’s

The dont’s boil down to mitigating the risk of burnt, damaged hair. So don’t:

1. Curl hair with product in it.

This might seem a little contradictory; we just advocated for using products before curling. That’s the exception. Product buildup (such as from hairspray trying to keep those curls holding) overly coats the hair, and the residue will burn off, drying out hair beneath.

Hair doesn’t have to be freshly washed and clean for curling, but it should be free of residual heavy products.

2. Curl wet hair.

Dry your hair all the way through, either air drying or blow-drying, before busting out the curling wand.

3. Crank heat to the max.

Heat should be on the lowest effective setting. That may still be a high setting in your case, but try to avoid anything above 400° F. Hold a curl for a little longer at a lower heat instead.

4. Go over a curl again and again.

Obsessively redoing a curl in a short amount of time will simply overdo that section of hair. Twice is fine, but for anything additional, consider going back to a weak wave only once more after doing other sections.

The Best Curling Wands

There’s an entire menagerie of curling wands and irons out there. That’s good because everyone’s hair is a little different, but it’s bad because it’s a bit overwhelming!

If you’re still looking for the perfect fit, check out some of these available wands.

  • The NuMe Magic Curling Wand is of titanium construction, great for coarse hair, and available in 3 barrel diameters. It comes with a heat resistant glove.
  • The T3 Whirl Interchangeable Styling Wand is a ceramic blend wand, suitable for fine or thin hair, and comes with 3 different barrel types.
  • The NuMe Octowand comes with 8 different barrel attachments made of tourmaline ceramic, which is perfect for any hair type.
  • The Bed Head Curlipops line of wands is a steal at under $30 a pop, with tourmaline ceramic construction and heat resistant glove included.


Do you feel confident now about how to curl your hair with a curling iron or wand? It’s okay to say no — it does take practice to master it.

Whatever curling implement ends up being right for you, the more you get your curl on with it, the better they should be coming out. Just remember not to overdo it. Whether a curling wand, flat iron, or curling iron, heat is a magical tool, but sometimes it can also be a damaging one if you aren’t careful.

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