A What's What Guide To Curling Irons

Different types of curling irons
Photo: Poznyakow/Shutterstock
In many ways, the curling iron can easily be argued to be the greatest innovation in hairstyling of the twentieth century. It has evolved dramatically from its original incarnation into an appliance that is easy to use and produces far superior results compared to its predecessors.
A Brief History
Parisian stylist and inventor Marcel Grateau is credited with developing the technique of styling hair using heated rods in the latter part of the 1870s. The first curling irons were polished metal rods heated in a fire or oven, then applied to the hair, winding it around to create curls. Common problems included overheating, singeing of the hair, and burns to the scalp and hands during styling.
Over the century that followed, curling irons remained largely tools for professionals, as at-home use was still unwieldy, requiring heating elements and careful handling to prevent burns and hair damage. Nevertheless, progress was made, techniques improved, and appliances underwent dramatic changes as electricity became more common, leading to the creation of self-heating curling irons.
Antique curling iron
Antique Curling Iron
Somewhere around the 1960s, curling irons became feasible for use by women at home. The appliances had become safe enough to allow women to use them on their own hair with relative ease and achieve reasonable results. These appliances were electric, self-heating, and serviceable, but still a far cry from the products we have today.
Today’s Irons
If you go shopping today at your local beauty supply store (and even in your local department or discount stores), you can find dozens of different sizes, shapes, and styles of irons. There are flat irons for smoothing and straightening the hair. There are waving and crimping irons with curved and shaped plates meant to put varying patterns of wave into the hair, from 'S-curls' to 'zigzag' shapes.
Curling irons
There are curling irons with different sizes of barrels, and even multiple barrels on a single appliance. The materials from which irons are made, and the way in which they heat the hair, are different today than in times past too. In the 1970s, you might have had an iron with a chrome-plated barrel, which would have been serviceable.
Today, however, we have learned that non-stick surfaces and special mineral coatings help to evenly distribute the heat throughout the surface of the iron and prevent scorching, leaving the hair looking smooth. Many irons now offer infrared heating and ion technology to warm the hair more gently and reduce frizz and static, keeping it smooth and shiny.
Barrels of Fun
The size of the barrels determines the size of the curl created, and as would seem logical, the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl will be. Multiple-barreled irons are used to create long waves or to create lots of bend and redirection in long hair lengths.
Typically, you can find curling irons with barrels ranging in size from around 0.25 inches (0.6cm) to 2 inches (5cm). Smaller-barreled irons are great for curling shorter hair lengths and creating generally tighter curls, while larger-barreled curling irons are used for longer hair and creating large, soft curls and waves.
Continue reading ...
By Bea | Updated | ©Hairfinder.com