Foolproof Pointers on How to Use a Curling Iron With a Clamp

Written by Dahvi Shira

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Curling irons are tricky. We’re around them all the time, but we can tell you firsthand everyone has their own technique, and every type of curling iron has its own special features. This, in turn, can make hair styling complicated. And then you get into the divide of a curling iron with a clamp, and a curling iron without a clamp (also known as a curling wand).

Well, folks, today we’re here to focus on the former. We reached out to a few of our top experts to share insider tips on how to use curling iron with clamp. Because if we’re confused, we can only imagine how you must feel!

woman at hairdresser making her hair curly. | Mane Addicts

About the Experts:

Alli Webb is the founder of The Drybar and President of Canopy humidifiers and filtered showerheads.

Laura Dale is a licensed cosmetologist and Education Manager for Kristin Ess Hair.

Ana Paz is an Alterna creative team hairstylist and founder of The Salon By Ana Paz Hair in Costa Mesa, CA.

Why Use a Curling Iron With a Clamp

Different curling irons serve their own purposes, but when it comes to clamps in particular, “You can create a bend in the ends of the hair or glide the iron through them,” Kristin Ess Hair’s Education Manager Laura Dale tells Mane Addicts. “The clamp also holds the hair against the iron to create a more structured-looking curl. A curling iron with a clamp gives smooth, polished curls versus a curling wand that creates a casual, looser wave, usually with the ends of the hair left out.”

To Dale’s point, Drybar founder Alli Webb—who recently became President of Canopy high-end humidifiers and showerheads—opts for a hair curler with a clamp when she wants more control and a “perfect, well-formed curl.” She goes on to explain, “Without a clamp, you’ll be wrapping the hair, so you can still get a really nicely formed curl, but it’ll be a little freer in form. It’s also more of a personal preference on what and how you feel more comfortable curling because you get two different types of curls from each method.”

Dale, who says that every hair type can benefit from a clamp, also suggests this type of hair curler to anyone whose ends tend to look undone or frizzy when curled. “They can use a curling iron with a clamp to bend the ends or just to smooth them for a polished look,” she advises.

Meanwhile, Alterna’s creative team hairstylist Ana Paz says that those with fine hair do very well with a clamp iron “because they offer more control and you can secure those thinner ends in the barrel.” 

How to Use a Curling Iron With Clamp

If you want to know how to curl hair with a clamp iron, follow these steps for the best results:

Select and Section

You’ll want to start by choosing the iron size most fitting for you. The most popular sizes are one-inch, one and a fourth-inch, and two-inch barrels.

Divide the hair into a handful of sections, and then, “Make sure you’re working in very small subsections,” Webb says.

Dale says a good rule of thumb is to take a hair section that’s the same size as your curling iron.

Clamp and Curl

Dale says to clamp hair in the middle and curl toward or away from your face.

“I generally do so away from the face, but I actually like to mix it up at times,” Webb says. “There will be some pieces going towards the face and some away from the face. Or if you want them all to be uniform, just be sure to go in the same direction, of course.”

Next, Dale says to hold for a few seconds, twist, and release the curl.

Finish and Fluff

“Once you’ve clamped and curled, you can bend the ends or glide the iron through them for a classic ‘Kristin Ess beachy look,’” Dale says.

And, of course, once the perfect curl is complete, Paz will add a texturizing spray (she recommends the Alterna Professional Styling Perfect Texture Spray) for that beachy finish to add volume and texture. Lastly, she’ll apply one to two pumps of a shine spray (she uses the Alterna Professional Styling Rapid Repair Spray), and gently separate the curls with fingers or a comb for an instant pop of shine.

Best Curling Irons With Clamps

Finding the best curling iron for your hair type and hair styling preferences can be overwhelming. Discover our list of favorites to help with your search:

Drybar The 3-Day Bender Rotating Curling Iron

$149 at Sephora.com

Drybar The 3-Day Bender Rotating Curling Iron | Mane Addicts

Webb calls this classic, “The only curling iron I’ve used for years and years.” Added bonus? Because of the super long, thin clamp, Webb often has it double as a wrap tool. “Even the clamp itself can get hot,” she says.

Kristin Ess Hair 2-Inch Soft Bend Curling Iron

$44.49 at Amazon.com

Kristin Ess Hair 2-Inch Soft Bend Curling Iron | Mane Addicts

This size is slightly larger than the norm, but it certainly serves a purpose. “It’s perfect to get a polished bend at the ends of the hair,” Dale says. “It easily creates soft waves and volume just like you would get from a salon blowout.”

T3 Curl ID Smart Curling Iron

$249 at T3Micro.com

T3 Curl ID Smart Curling Iron | Mane Addicts

Forget about the salons, we see this hot tool all over TikTok. It’s seemingly the elite pick of choice, and Paz agrees.

“I love T3 curling irons,” she raves. “They’re my favorite because they’re so pretty and so smart! The CeraGloss technology makes for such an easy, effortless glide, and their refraction period is so short the iron stays hot evenly the whole time. This iron is also super user-friendly, and supports the health of your hair.”

BaBylissPRO Titanium 1 ¼ Inch Curling Iron

$59.99 at SallyBeauty.com

BaBylissPRO Titanium 1 ¼ Inch Curling Iron | Mane Addicts

When it comes to this universally popular barrel size, Dale raves that it’s “Perfect to get relaxed, polished waves on medium to long hair lengths, or a subtle bend on bobs and lobs for a casually undone look.”

Ghd Classic Curl 1-Inch Curling Iron

$205 at GhdHair.com

Ghd Classic Curl 1-Inch Curling Iron | Mane Addicts

Ghd is another hot tool brand we can’t leave off the list. And a one-inch iron is another universally appealing size. Dale suggests this barrel size for “beachy, bohemian waves or small to medium curls.” She says, “The smaller barrel makes it ideal for curling bobs, lobs, and pixie cuts.”

Now that you understand your irons a bit better, learn more about the best curling irons at every price point to find the perfect styling tool for you!