How to Pick the Right Barrel Size for Your Curl Goals

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There are all kinds of different curls. From super skinny spirals to broad ringlets or relaxed beachy waves, no curl is quite the same. A super pro-curl-hack is to treat curls like snowflakes, which is key to making them believable. Instead of creating one-inch curls all throughout the hair, mix it up with larger curls sprinkled with waves and a few tight ringlets. This is why it’s important to know which barrel size is right for the curls you’re hoping to achieve.

While this is the best way to achieve hair that looks naturally curly, it gets tricky if you need a million different curling irons, which is why we like a good set. Right now, we’re lusting after NuMe’s Octowand Curling Set. It’s equipped with eight removal wands to mix and match curls so you can get full-on dream spirals.

Mix and Match Your Wands

“As a hairstylist, I always have a one-inch barrel (about 25 mm for wands), a 3/4-inch barrel (about 19 mm), and a super thin barrel (10-13mm) on hand,” shares pro Jessica Shakir. “I use the larger barrel to create loose curls and beach waves and the smaller barrel to create tighter curls or ringlets.”

Experimenting Pays Off

“If you’re not shy when it comes to experimenting with your curls, I suggest investing in a nice curling wand set, since they’re so versatile and easy to use,” Jessica continues. “I love to use two different size barrels interchangeably to create that undone, sexy beach wave that never goes out of style. Having the right hot tool at your fingertips is part of what fuels your creativity when it comes to your mane.”

Breaking Down the Barrels

The rule of thumb for curling iron barrels is the larger the barrel, the bigger the wave. Likewise, a really skinny barrel will give you a spirally ringlet.

  • 13mm barrel for spiral curls
  • 19mm barrel for tight ringlets
  • 25mm barrel for glam curls
  • 32mm barrel for beach waves
  • Pearl barrel for bouncy natural waves
  • Reverse barrel for tight ringlets to beach waves
  • 25mm Cone for soft curls to tighter ringlets
  • 19mm Cone for ringlets to spirals
(Photo courtesy of NuMe)

How to Curl

To create even, lasting curls wrap small sections of hair around the barrel and hold for about three to five seconds. You want to catch the curl to cool and set before release, but don’t be too hands-on as touching can damage the shape of your ringlet. Always use hot tools safely and be sure to wear a heat-resistant styling glove when handling hot hair and a barrel that’s the temp of an oven.

HERE are 9 ways to create a curl other than an iron.