Looking for a curling iron? You’re not the only one. The global market size for curling irons was valued at 3.22 billion dollars in 2018 and it’s only been growing ever since. All that market growth is thanks to curling iron companies constantly finding new specializations that fill a particular styling need.
For instance, specialized waver irons are more popular than ever before. Nowadays, a looser, wavy look is considered more stylish and casual. However, if you’re looking for high-quality waver iron, finding the right product can be an absolute nightmare. There are thousands of products on the market, all with unique features and varying levels of quality.
That’s why we’ve made this guide for you. With the market so large, it can be hard to find a good hair waver that suits you, so we’ve narrowed the list down to the seven we’re reviewing below. Read on to find out the best hair waver iron on the market.
Table of Contents
- Top Seven Best Wave Irons
- A Buyer’s Guide To Hair Waver Irons
Top Seven Best Wave Irons
We’ve gone through the curling irons available on the market and picked out the seven best hair wavers. If you want to give your hair that beachy, casual look; any of these products will suit you.
The very first product on our list is a product of Bed Head, whose specialty is waver irons. Their Wave Artist is our top product, and for very good reason.
It might not look like one at first glance, but it’s a pretty standard three-barrel curling iron. It’s just that it looks a bit like a flat iron, thanks to the two white plates on the business end. These white plates are the barrels, serving the same purpose as on typical curling irons. The two-part body distributes the controls, with the lock and power indicator light on the top half, while the power switch and heat control dial are on the bottom.
Just like typical barrels, the plates are made of tourmaline ceramic, so you get even heat application and frizz-free hair after you’re done waving. You’ve got excellent heat capacity since the maximum is 400 F (204 C) and there are 30 total settings available. Also, you won’t be waiting long for it to heat up because it only takes 30 seconds to reach working temperature. All in all, it’s quite a competent curling iron, even if it looks weird.
The power comes from a standard 6-foot cord on a swivel mount and the device is dual-voltage, so you can take it anywhere in the world. Just make sure to bring a plug adapter in case of incompatible sockets. Another useful feature is the travel lock, which will keep both halves of the Wave Artist together so that it occupies less space, which is quite handy for sticking it in your luggage.
It’s also got a good set of safety features. There’s an automatic shutdown that triggers after 1 hour, so you’re fine in case you leave it on. There’s an insulated cover and a half-ring on the business end, making it easy to manipulate.
Just about the only downside the Wave Artist has is that it’s a specialist tool. This means that it’s completely optimized towards making waves, and it doesn’t create any other styles. Don’t get us wrong, it creates waves a lot better than other irons, but it loses all its flexibility in so doing. Unless you’re completely certain you’ll only ever want to make waves, the Wave Artist is not a ‘daily driver’ kind of curling iron.
Specialists are always excellent in their field of expertise, and the Bed Head Wave Artist proves that. There’s a reason we consider it the best hair waver on this list.
Bed Head’s main specialty is hair wavers, which is why we’re showing two products from them in this guide. This one is the A-Wave-We-Go, a great name for a product that’s all about waves.
At first glance, it’s a standard waver, with the typical three barrels and a hinged body like Bed Head prefers. The controls are fairly typical, distributed over both halves of the device. The top half has the temperature display, while the buttons are all on the inside. There are three buttons, one for power and two for temperature adjustment.
The barrels are made of tourmaline ceramic, so you get the twin virtues of good heat capacity that also counteracts frizz. Heat capacity is quite good because you have six available settings from 250 F (121 C) at the lowest to 400 F (204 C) at maximum.
What really sets the A-Wave-We-Go apart is the knob at the end. It’s got two functions. The first is one common to many curling irons since it’s an insulated cool tip that lets you handle the far end of the device. It also adjusts the height of the central barrel. Turn the knob, and you move the central barrel up or down.
It’s that adjustable middle barrel that makes the A-Wave-We-Go what it is. With it, you can adjust the style of waves that you get. You can easily go from a loose, casual wave for something a bit tighter and more defined. It’s an answer to a frequent issue faced by waver irons, which is a lack of flexibility. They specialize in waves at the cost of being unable to do anything else. The A-Wave-We-Go still only does waves, but it can do a lot more than just one style.
It runs off a 6-foot tangle-free swiveling cord coming off the tail. While it’s dual voltage, we don’t recommend traveling with the A-Wave-We-Go (as we’ll explain later). Its only safety feature is an automatic shutdown that triggers after one hour.
The A-Wave-We-Go’s biggest fault is its ergonomics. Three small issues combine into a single large problem. That is, there’s no lock, there’s no stand, and its default position is open, not closed. This means that it’s hard to store, whether at home or in your luggage. Since it’s top-heavy, the absent stand means that it tends to fall over. None of this quite gets in the way of the A-Wave-We-Go’s performance, but it does mean it’s a poor traveler, and that you can’t leave it alone.
But when you want options beyond just one class of wave and want to switch it up a bit, the Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go is an excellent option for flexibility.
Any discussion of hair care inevitably turns to Conair at some point; either them directly or one of their labels. They’ve been around since 1959, and this hair waver is one more in a long line of excellent products.
The Conair Double Ceramic Triple Barrel Waver comes in a color scheme of white and rose gold, with only a few controls on the body. There are three controls on the grip. One is the power button, one is the turbo heat button, and the third is the adjustable heat dial. There’s also a stand just beneath the barrels’ articulation point to keep them off a surface.
It’s got the standard three barrels of a hair waver, but it’s not built like other three-barrel wavers. The two outer barrels are fixed in place, and are 5/8” wide. It’s the inner barrel which moves with the thumb tab, and that’s 1/2” in width. All three barrels are made of ceramic, so you get nice and even heat all over the barrels.
It has excellent heat capacity, with 30 available settings and a maximum heat of 375 F (190 C). For troublesome spots in need of extra heat, you can activate Turbo Heat, which piles on another 27 F, thus yielding a maximum temperature of 402 F (205 C). The heating time is even better, being nearly instant.
The cord is a foot shorter than typical, being only 5 feet long. Not too much of a downside, but possibly annoying. It’s also 120V only, so it isn’t much of a traveler, and the manual specifically recommends against using a voltage converter. This is not a device that travels with you outside the US.
However, it does have decent safety features. There’s the stand to keep the barrel off any surfaces, and also an automatic shutdown, so the Double Ceramic is just about as safe as most other curling irons.
The inability to travel might not always be a downside. What is an issue is just how small the barrels are. That small size means that they produce a rather more crimped style than a wavy one. And if you’ve got longer hair, a curling session might take a little longer than with other wavers because the barrels are fairly small. Consider your intended style first before you decide to get the Double Ceramic.
Still, when you need a good and inexpensive hair waver from a company that you can trust, the Conair Double Ceramic Triple Barrel won’t let you down.
Most of our chosen curling irons are specialized three-barrel wavers. That’s no surprise because they’re specifically made to make wavy hair. But waves aren’t entirely the province of three-barrel irons, because you can still make them with standard irons.
The Revlon 3X Ceramic is a classic curling wand, with the characteristic slender profile. It’s a fairly minimalist color scheme all round, just a black wand and a cyan body. For controls, there’s an indicator light for power, the on-off switch, and the heat control wheel on the side. The handle has a waisted shape, dipping between the power switch and heat wheel so that you can get a nice good grip.
The barrel has a triple ceramic coating to ensure even heat that won’t damage your hair. As usual for a curling wand, the barrel tapers to a narrower point, starting from 1” at the base to 1/2” at the tip. There are 30 total heat settings available ranging from 300 F (148 C) to 420 F (215 C) at maximum heat. No matter your hair type, the Revlon 3X Ceramic has a heat setting for you.
A standard 6-foot cord on a swiveling mount supplies power. It’s got a minimalist stand, though it works to keep the barrel in the air and not on a surface. The barrel tip is insulated so that it stays cool, letting you handle the far end. There’s also an automatic shutdown, so you can leave it alone. That said, it’s not much of a traveler, because it’s 120V only.
The Revlon 3X Ceramic also comes bundled with a heat-resistant glove. You’re going to need it since an inherent difficulty of curling wands is the need to wrap your hair around the barrel. Burns are bad for everyone concerned, so better to be safe, and put the glove on.
Its flaws are fairly minor. It has a habit of tipping over since the swivel cord doesn’t swivel as well as it could. Not really crippling, but it might take you by surprise. Its poor travel capability may or may not be a disadvantage, depending on whether or not you intend to take it with you on a trip.
The Revlon 3X Ceramic is an inexpensive product and it’s really effective for making wavy hair. It’s easily the best curling wand in its price range.
To use a curling iron, you have to get close to a surface that’s hot enough to cause burns. This difficulty is exactly why the Kiss Instawave Automatic Curling Iron was developed and made. It’s also got a few other virtues besides better safety.
A first glance will reveal it looks a bit like other curling irons. What sets it apart is the flange at the base of the barrel, and the prongs going up from it, so it’s got a rather distinctive look.
Beneath the barrel, you’ve got your controls, one button and one switch. The switch controls heat and power, with settings of ‘off’, ‘low’, and ‘high’. The button is technically two buttons under the same cap, and it controls barrel rotation.
Yes, barrel rotation. You don’t need to wrap your hair around the barrel and risk getting burned. All you need to do is tuck your hair into the prong nearest the barrel to hold it in place, then use the rotation buttons to turn the barrel and let it do the wrapping for you. The other prongs around the barrel do the work of bringing your hair in.
The barrel itself is ceramic and is 1 inch wide, thus being a typical curling iron barrel in that respect. There are only two heat settings, high and low, and high is 420 F (215 C). Heat time is average, needing 60 seconds to reach working temperature.
An 8-foot cord supplies power, mounted on a swivel on the tail. It’s got an automatic shutdown after 90 minutes in case you leave it on. The flange that the prongs rise from also serves as the stand, so the barrel won’t rest on any surface if you set the Instawave down.
The Instawave has its downsides. The biggest one is the lack of heat control. With only two heat levels, you’ll have to be careful to get enough heat so that a curl stays, but not too much heat that you burn your hair. It also isn’t a good traveling companion if you’re going outside the US, because it’s not dual voltage. You might also need a little bit of time getting the hang of using it, but once you’ve got it, it’s much simpler.
A lot of the rave reviews come from people who have given up on traditional curling irons, and truly, when you need a curling iron that’s convenient and easy to use, the Kiss Instawave is the one for you.
Here’s a little secret for you. If you know where to look, you can find products just as good as a big, expensive label but for a fraction of the price. A lot of the time, you’re getting the same product with just a different label. This particular three-barrel waver is one example of a generic label on a perfectly competent device.
The WILLBOND 3 Barrel, as the name indicates, is a three-barrel hair waver. It comes in black, pink, or gold, should you need a bit of color in your curler. It only has a few controls, just a switch for temperature control and a small LCD screen for monitoring that temperature.
The barrels are standard for a curling iron, being ceramic coated in tourmaline. This gets you even heat with frizz-free hair, so no surprises on that front. It’s got exactly two temperature settings, those being 356 F (180 C) and 410 F (210 C). It reaches working temperature in 60 seconds.
The cord is a standard 6-foot-long tangle-free cord on a swivel mount. It’s also dual-voltage, so you’re set if you need to travel. Note that it doesn’t have an automatic shutdown, so don’t leave it unattended. It’s not completely unsafe, since it has a stand to keep the barrels off a surface, and insulated tips on the far ends of the barrels, but it’s the lack of an automatic shutdown that hurts the most.
It also comes with some nice extras, namely a heat-resistant glove and four clips in four different colors. Having extra clips never hurts, and if you don’t have any just yet, these will help you get started. The heat resistant glove isn’t as much of a necessity with a three-barrel waver, since you don’t need to come into contact with the barrels, but it’s nice to have, just in case your hand comes a bit too close to the heat.
The real downside to the WILLBOND is the number of features it gives up to maintain a low cost. It has only two heat settings and it doesn’t have an automatic shutdown. The lack of heat control isn’t that painful, because you can always keep your hair a bit longer on the iron on low heat. More importantly, the lack of an automatic shutdown means that you can’t leave it alone.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, competent hair waver that’s easy to use, the WILLBOND 3 Barrel is just the thing for you.
So you might look at this product and ask why we’ve included a flat iron in this list. That’s because it’s not just a flat iron. As the name indicates, the DSHOW 4 in 1 is four products in one, and the other three functions are all about waves.
On the outside, it’s a flat hair iron, with a hinged body and two plates on the business end to flatten out hair. You’ve got precisely two controls. On the inside is a single button controlling power and temperature, placed above a display showing current temperature, and just press the button to cycle through temperature. The other control is a lock switch on the tail that locks the two halves together. That’s all you get, and all you need.
Everything else is simply the same parts and principle as a curling iron, just expressed differently. Instead of a barrel, you get two plates. The plates are made of ceramic, and have a good range of temperature settings, from 284 F (140 C) at the lowest to 428 F (220 C) at the highest. What makes it good for our purposes is that the plates are detachable, and you can swap in your choice of three other plates, having 4, 6, or 8 teeth. Put these in, and what was once a flat iron is now a hair crimper. The 4-tooth plate gives enough definition to your hair to qualify as waves.
The power cord is 6.5 feet long and is on a swivel mount, so you’ve got ample room to work with. Since the DSHOW is a flat iron with plates, it’s a lot safer by default than a curling iron. It still has its safety features, that being a cover with a projecting cool tip so that you don’t accidentally touch the plates. And if you need to travel, the DSHOW is dual voltage, so all you’ll need is a plug adapter.
The main downside is that strictly speaking, the DSHOW is a crimper, not quite a waver. Even the 4-tooth plate doesn’t give you the waves you’d get out of a ‘proper’ hair waver. You’ll get a very particular look, and with care you can get close to waves, but it’s not a ‘real’ wave the way you’d get out of a curling iron. Consider if the resulting style is one you want before getting it.
But if you need a flat iron that can do more than just straighten hair, the DSHOW 4 in 1 can fill that need quite easily.
A Buyer’s Guide To Hair Waver Irons
Now that we’ve run down what you should get, here’s a little guide as to why we chose the seven above. This section will show you what you need to look for when choosing a curling iron for yourself.
Shape And Design
Not all curling irons are made the same way. A curling iron’s design dictates its role, so you’ll have to consider exactly what you’re going for and thus choose a curling iron accordingly.
Clip irons are the classic style of curling iron. Their defining feature is the clamp, which lets it hold your hair in place. This makes it easy to use, and if you want tight ringlets, a clip iron is the way to go. However, since we want wavy hair, we’ve skipped this type in our recommendations above. This is not to say you can’t do waves with a clip iron, but you’ll do much better with the other types.
Curling wands, or clipless irons, are largely the same but lack the clamp. Most wands also taper along their length so that they’re narrower at the tip. Without the clip, a curling wand produces looser, more natural curls, and it’s a lot easier to do waves with one.
Three-barrel curling irons are specifically made to shape your hair into waves, and nothing else. Your hair goes in between the three barrels, which then press down to make a wave. They work a lot faster than the single-barrel types, but at the cost of only being able to do waves.
What material composes the barrel? This affects a lot of qualities, and it’s the second most important factor after type.
You’ll most commonly see ceramic barrels, and all of the products we recommend above use ceramic. Its best virtue is that it heats up evenly, leaving no hot or cold spots on the barrel. However, heat times tend to be a bit slower with ceramic, and it’s also quite brittle; so, try not to drop your ceramic curling iron. Some products may also coat their barrels in tourmaline, a semi-precious gemstone. This counteracts frizz in the hair and keeps the barrel smooth.
Though ceramic is the most common, you may see other barrel materials like titanium or gold. These have their benefits, like having a higher temperature capacity than ceramic. What material you should get depends on your needs.
Temperature And Heat Settings
How much control do you have of the iron’s heat? This matters depending on your hair type, because what’s too hot for thin hair might not be hot enough for thick hair. Working temperature also affects how long you should keep your hair on the barrel. You don’t want to keep your hair on too long, because too much heat damages the hair. But you also don’t want to take it off too early, otherwise, the wave won’t hold. Generally, you can replace high temperature with more time on the barrel, but sometimes you just need enough heat to make a difference.
There are two things to consider with barrel size. A larger barrel can fit more hair on it, so you’ll be done in less time than a smaller iron. Of course, that depends on just how much hair you have, but it’s still something to consider.
The other consideration is style, because larger barrels create looser curls. You can make loose curls with a smaller barrel, but it’s much easier with a large one. If you have your heart set on waves, then definitely consider a larger barrel size.
We can’t overlook this. A curling iron is a surface that in its normal course of work is heated up to a temperature close to or above the boiling point of water. Safety features are needed to keep a curling iron from becoming a fire hazard.
Ask yourself: Is there a stand on the iron so that you can put it down without the barrel touching a surface? Does it have an automatic shutdown, in case you accidentally leave it on and forget about it? For handling purposes, is there an insulated tip?
No curling iron is ever 100% safe, but ideally, you should have one whose manufacturers have tried their best to make it as safe as it can get.
You might need to take your iron with you when you travel. In such a case, you’ll need to think about a few things. First, is it dual voltage? Most countries run on 240V, while the US is a 120V country, and devices designed for one won’t necessarily work with the other. If you’re taking a 120V device into a 240V country, you’ll need a voltage transformer so that your device works correctly. If you do have a dual voltage device, then you’ll be fine, though you may need a plug adapter in case your device’s plug doesn’t match the socket.
For three-barrel irons specifically, some may need a travel lock to ensure that the two halves stick together instead of splaying out. And in general, consider how much space your iron occupies and whether you can fit it in your luggage.
Ergonomics And Grip
How easy or comfortable is it to use? How solid is your grip on the iron? How easy is it to switch heat settings, turn the iron on or off, or perform any more of its functions? How easy is it to wind your hair around the barrel? Such concerns don’t technically affect performance that much, but a waver with an ergonomic design removes a lot of headaches.
A Short Guide To Using A Hair Waver Iron
So now that you know what’s good on the market and how to choose a product, let’s get into how you use them. This is a quick guide to get you started on waving out your hair.
Step 1: Get Your Tools Ready
It’s best to have all your tools lined up where you’re curling. This means that if you need something, it’s right there and you can keep going, instead of having to look for whatever you’re missing. For this task, you’ll want your curling iron, heat-resistant gloves, more hair clips than you think you’ll need, and your hairspray of choice. Also make sure that you’ve got a mirror and good lighting where you’re curling, as curling blind can be dangerous.
Step 2: Get Your Hair Ready
To get a nice good wave into your hair, you need to get it prepared first. Waves don’t just happen. Make sure that your hair is clean before you start curling. However, under no circumstances should you curl wet hair, since that only leads to damaged hair. If you wash your hair before you curl, dry it out before you bring out your waver iron.
You might even get more mileage by letting your hair stay unwashed for a day or two before you style it. This lets your hair’s natural oils come back in, which will give your hair more texture and grip and therefore keep your waves for a bit longer. If you’re doing it this way, we also recommend using dry shampoo, since it’ll clean your hair without getting it wet.
Step 3: Section Your Hair
Remember the hair clips we mentioned back in step 1? This is where they come in. Using those clips, put your hair into sections between 1 to 2 inches long. This helps in organization and monitoring progress. Since your hair is already sectioned, you can just release a clip and put it on the iron, then pin it back up when you’re done. This also helps keep your hair out of the way until you want to curl it.
Step 4: Get Waving
Time to put your hair to the heat. Make sure that your curling iron is at working temperature, and that you’ve selected the correct temperature for your hair. Remember, fine and thin hair is a lot more fragile than thick and coarse hair. Thick hair needs a higher temperature than thin hair.
If you’ve got a standard curling wand, then wrap your hair around the barrel. If you’ve got a proper hair waver, then put your hair between the barrels and close the iron. Keep your hair on the iron for 5-10 seconds, then take the iron off and move on to the next section. Remember, don’t keep your hair on the iron too long, or you risk burning it.
Then just keep going in that vein until you’ve curled all the hair you want to put into a wave.
Step 5: Post-Wave Care
Ironing your hair is just one part of curling because there’s also the question of keeping your hair in a wave. That’s where hairspray comes in. A bit of it will give your hair some extra hold, making your waves last longer. Skip the old-style brute-force hairspray that turns your hair into a rock. Something lighter like texturizing spray or sea salt spray will keep your hair wavy without weighing it down too much.
If you’re tired of pin-straight hair, no time is better than the present to give it a little more flair. With the right hair waver iron in hand, you can make your hair look a lot livelier and alluring. And there’s a tool for every style, depending on what kind of look you want.
If you like a bit of crimp in your hair, then the DSHOW 4 in 1 will do that for you while also being available as a flat iron. For general curling needs, the Revlon 3X Ceramic does waves as well as it does anything else. And when you want waves done right, our top pick, the Bed Head Wave Artist, does that to perfection.
You don’t need to go to the beach to get a beachy wave, not when you have the best hair waver iron.