10 best curling tongs

Keep hair looking artfully tousled with a clever tool. We put stylers to the test

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The Independent Online

Creating loose, tousled curls is a look that’s notoriously difficult to master but thanks to a new crop of at-home hair stylers it has never been easier. The latest wands are jam-packed with technology that takes all the guilt out of heat styling as well as being super-easy to use. As a rule, the larger the barrel size, the looser the curl so if it’s soft waves you’re after, a 1-1.5 inch tong is your best bet. It’s also important to consider the temperature settings of your tool as overheating can rid your hair of moisture, resulting in dullness and even breakage. Fine to medium hair should keep between 180-190 degrees while thicker, more coarse hair will require a higher temperature but should never exceed 210 degrees. 

All of the tongs we’ve selected are great for creating multiple styles so to get the most out of your purchase be sure to take note of our handy styling tips. For voluminous curls hold the tong horizontally but for classic waves hold the wand vertically. Similarly, if you’re looking for a defined curl, twist-wrap the hair around the barrel while wrapping it flat with create a softer look. We tested each tong from the crack of dawn and with minimal styling products to really test their staying power. Here’s our pick of the best.

1. Hershesons Professional Tourmaline Waving Tong: £98, Hershesons


Hershesons has earned the reputation as the go-to brand for cool girl hair with salons and blow dry bars at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Topshop. It helps that its styling tools are top of the range too. The waving tong heats up in a matter of seconds with temperature adjustment up to 230 degrees, while the crushed tourmaline embedded in the barrel kept hair healthy and the waves in place all day long. It creates the most beautiful, nonchalant waves and the all-over white and gunmetal silver design is super sleek-looking. This tool is lightweight, easy to handle and also comes with a heat resistant mat and handy travel bag. 

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2. Nicky Clarke Supershine Tong: £45, Amazon


This 25mm barrel from Nicky Clarke promises to reduce frizz, enhance shine and create smooth glossy hair. Thanks to the tong’s nifty steam release button it certainly delivers. You just fill up the water reservoir and press to release steam – the longer the burst the more defined and longer lasting the curl. The tool itself comes in a sleek black design with rose gold edging and an LCD display which adjusts the temperature between 130-210 degrees so you can pick a temperature to suit your hair type. While the barrel sits on the smaller side, you can still get looser, free-flowing curls by selecting thick sections of hair and using a shorter burst of steam. While the curls didn’t last quite as long compared to other, more expensive tools this is a great mid-range buy.  

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3. GHD Curve Soft Curl Tong: £120, Look Fantastic  


This brand revolutionised the way we style our hair back in 2001 with the straightener and thankfully GHD has since moved into the world of curling tongs. The soft curl tong uses GHD Tri-Zone technology to ensure an optimum temperature is consistently maintained across the entire plate which is said to increase shine and an impressive 50 per cent less breakage. The result? Without doubt this tool made our hair super-sleek with very little noticeable fallout. The 32mm barrel is ideal for creating soft tumbling waves and is super-easy to handle. The ceramic coating makes for smoother curling while the built in stand and automatic sleep mode after 30 minutes avoid any hot-headed mishaps. 

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4. Babyliss Diamond Waves: £28, John Lewis


If you’re looking for beach-ready waves then this is the tool for you. The barrel is specifically designed with a spiral feature making natural-looking, tousled waves easy. What’s more, the tong features Babyliss’ Diamond Radiance Shine System with a diamond infused ceramic barrel; while we’re not sure how much the results were affected by this it definitely left out hair feeling smooth, shiny and more importantly, kink-free. There are five heat settings with a maximum temperature of 210 degrees, meaning it’s great for a range of hair types. The more accident prone of you will also be glad to hear that it comes with a handy heat glove. While this is much cheaper than other tongs it still does a great job; it seems the only downside to low-cost alternatives is the staying power (but that’s where hairspray comes in). 

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5. Cloud Nine The Waving Wand: £97, Amazon


For natural-looking, bouncy, boho waves this should be your go-to tool. The large 38mm barrel is straight and smooth with three temperature settings for added flexibility when styling. You can easily achieve different results by playing with the heat setting and holding the section for longer or opt for a lower temperature and release the hair after a few seconds. It’s also great for shorter or fine hair by providing fantastic root lift. The tool is encased in a handy carry case, making this one ideal for creating glam looks on the go.

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6. Label M The Advanced Pro Curling Tong: £45, Look Fantastic


Super sleek in its design and with great results, it’s no wonder this tool has been approved by the team at Toni & Guy. Available in 28mm and 38mm, depending on how loose you would like your curls, the tong has a tourmaline and ceramic coated barrel which leaves you with a style and feeling similar to that post-salon buzz. It feels pretty weighty to hold but the quality of the finish compensates. A rubber-coated, soft handle, LCD indicator, ready light and express heat up technology mean this is a tong that is easy to use and will withstand years of curling.

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7. Tresemme Perfectly Undone Curling Tong: £15, Amazon


This one is a great budget buy and the results far outshine its cost. The barrel is ceramic coated just like many of its competitors, with three different heat settings and a maximum temperature of 200 degrees. Sleek in design and simple to use this is great if you’re a beginner looking for a subtle wave, but if your hair is long or fairly thick, don’t expect the results to last all day.  

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8. Remington Curl Revolution: £49, Amazon


The idea of feeding your hair into an automated curling tong might seem a little outlandish but it’s actually pretty ingenious. Simply place your hair through the barrel, turn it on and see the styler rotate. It’s the lazy girls’ choice as it takes all the hard work out of creating long-lasting waves. The barrel is coated in ceramic and tourmaline for extra shine, with an adjustable temperature setting between 150-230 degrees. Comes with a five-year guarantee. 

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9. Lee Stafford Argan Oil Lazy Curl and Nourish: £27, Argos


We all know that using heat stylers on our hair can cause damage, but this wand from Lee Stafford promises to protect while it styles. The argan oil-infused barrel actually helps to improve the hair’s condition creating healthy, smooth and shiny results; a claim that we are totally on board with. While it’s hard to tell if the condition of our hair improved it certainly looked and felt healthy with a level of shine that far out did some of the more costly alternatives. The tong tapers in size narrowing towards the end to create a drop-curl effect with an impressive amount of lift at the root.

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10. T3 Whirl Trio: £199, Cult Beauty 


If you like to switch up your look, then the T3 Whirl Trio is the tong for you. With three interchangeable barrels, this one tool provides endless styling possibilities from defined curls to loose waves. The straight barrel comes in 1 and 1.5 inches to create bouncy waves and defined curls, while the tapered barrel offers a more natural, tousled style. The tong comes in a pleasing white and rose gold design with a 60-minute auto shut-off and five separate heat settings. We also love that the barrels are super-easy to change with a simple push and twist-lock connection. This is the most expensive option on our list and it’s definitely worth purchasing if your budget allows but there are a couple of cheaper tools which give this one a run for its money. 

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Our pick of the bunch has to be Hershesons super-sleek waving tong. This one takes all the stress out of achieving cool waves. What’s more, we love the fact that it comes with a handy travel bag making it the perfect getaway companion. We can’t finish without mentioning GHD, as its tong definitely comes a close second. For a more purse-friendly option, we’d suggest Babyliss’ Diamond Waves for an instant beach babe look.

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