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Last updated: July 08, 2021

Styling: A Guide For Choosing The Right Tools

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Instagram via @chrisjones_hair

A Guide For Knowing When To Use Each Heat Styling Tool

Does it really matter if you use the same sized curling iron on the same heat setting for every client? The short answer is yes. So we reached out to four Insta-famous stylists and got the deets on what tools they use and when. Keep scrolling to learn everything from their go-to tools to how length and desired curl pattern determine barrel size.



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Curling Irons & Barrel Sizes

Never quite sure which barrel to use when so you just wing it? Remember this: the larger the curling iron, the less curl you’ll get. That’s why Alexandra Wilson (@alexandralee1016) owns the Hot Tools® Professional CURLBAR Set™ and sticks to the following guide:


  • Use a 1-inch curling iron for creating tighter curls
  • Use a 1¼-inch curling iron for creating looser curls
  • Use a 1½-inch curling iron for creating beachy waves


But let’s break it down further.


A 1-inch Curling Iron

This size barrel is probably the most commonly used one because of its versatility. Just ask Shayla Robertson (@samirasjewelry). She says this is her favorite barrel because she can easily create defined curls, Hollywood waves, large, textured curls or beach waves AND it’s the ideal size for clients with super silky, straight hair.


For Chris Jones (@chrisjones_hair), the 1-inch Hot Tools® Professional Black Gold Marcel Iron is great for two things—creating super wavy styles on medium-length hair or for curling hair shorter than a bob. (Psssst! The Black Gold collection includes curling irons, Marcel irons and wands in multiple sizes PLUS blow dryers and flat irons!)


Shayla’s secret for long-lasting curls? Take smaller sections, lightly spray the surface and underneath with hairspray, let dry, curl with medium tension and then hold each section to cool before releasing. // Instagram via @samirasjewelry



A 1¼-inch Curling Iron

You know those lived-in waves clients can’t get enough of? Most of your fave Insta-famous stylists are like Becky Miller (@beckym_hair) and consider a 1¼-inch barrel their go-to when creating this highly requested style. But Chris also likes to use this size barrel to style hair that is the length of a bob or longer.


A 1 ½- or 2-inch Curling Iron

Have clients with extensions and/or waist-length hair? Either of these irons was made for their long locks because the bigger barrel allows for curling larger sections so you’re not stuck styling hair for days.


“Whether you are using a Marcel, wand or flat iron for your curl, what’s important is the curl pattern,” says Chris. “I like to curl the sections around the face back and then alternate directions after that.” // Instagram via @chrisjones_hair


CLICK HERE To Watch Chris Teach You How To Cut A Bob For $24.95!


What About Wands And Flat Irons?

We got you. Do fine-haired clients constantly complain about not being able to hold a curl? Reach for a wand instead of a curling iron. Alexandra loves her Hot Tools® Professional Black Gold XL Salon Tapered Curling Iron because she says the longer barrel allows for even heat distribution which results in longer-lasting curls.


Now obvi a flat iron is mostly used for straightening the hair but a lot of stylists will use one to make waves, too. When she wants to create a more disheveled, textured look, Becky’s tool of choice is the Hot Tools® Professional Revolutionary Ionic Salon Flat Iron. Not only do flat irons create a longer-lasting curl but you can easily create a piecey, lived-in feel by straightening the ends.


Setting The Temperature

A guide for using heat styling tools isn’t complete without talking about temp control. If you don’t adjust the heat for each client, you need to start ASAP because things like texture and hair health will determine your tool’s heat setting. A good rule of thumb to follow?


  • Stick to lower temps, like anywhere from 300 to 350, for finer and color-treated hair or if you tend to work slower.


  • Raise the heat to anywhere from 400 to 450 when working with coarser textures or if work fast because the iron won’t be on the hair long.


Have a client who uses heat styling tools regularly like Becky? Talk to her about the importance of lowering the temp between 325 and 380. // Instagram via @beckym_hair


Got all that? Good! Now click here to get three tips for creating marcel waves on bobs and lobs.

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