We didn’t think it was possible, but GHD has successfully reinvented the hair curler
- Innovative design reduces heat damage to hair when curling
- Superfast heating means the tool is ready to use in seconds
- Ceramic plates create smooth and glossy curls
- High price point
- Tricky to get the hang of at first
GHD is the brand synonymous with hair straightening, and for almost two decades its growing range of premium ceramic straighteners have set the gold standard when it comes to shiny, swinging and super-straight hair.
Curls have been on GHD’s style menu for a while, in the shape of its Curve classic curl tongs – but with the Oracle the company aims to reinvent curling in the same way that Dyson revolutionised home cleaning, overhauling the very idea of what a curler is. Has GHD succeeded in its mission to remake curls for a new generation?
GHD Oracle review: What you need to know
The first thing you’ll notice about the Oracle is that it looks nothing like a curling tong – the sleek, flat-headed design looks something like a cross between a straightener and a crimper, with two plates forming a U-shaped bend in the centre of the head.
To create the curl, instead of wrapping the hair around the tool as with a tong, you clamp a section of hair into the Oracle and gently pull it through. The U-shaped ceramic plates heat up to 185˚C in just 30 seconds; these are surrounded by a “cool zone” designed to set the curl as it exits the wand. The principle of the Oracle is similar to gliding a pair of scissors along a ribbon – pulling the hair through at an angle, combined with the heating and rapid cooling, causes it to curl. This method is also said to reduce damage to hair compared with styling at higher temperatures.
By varying the angle and speed at which you use the tool, you can create a wide range of curl effects – from Hollywood ringlets to loose curls and mermaid waves. There’s a bit of a knack to this last bit, which is why the Oracle is sold exclusively through salons at present – allowing curl aficionados to have a training session in this new method of curling.
Designed as a completely new way to curl hair in multiple ways, the Oracle has no current direct competitor on the market. In terms of premium curling tongs, there are of course a few options, including GHD’s own Curve Classic (£129), a professional-quality ceramic-coated curling tong; and the Creative Curl wand (also £129) with a tapered barrel that allows some variation in the size of curl. T3’s Whirl curler (£125) also has a tapered design, and interchangeable barrels (sold separately) allow a greater range of curl sizes and shapes.
It’s also possible to wrap your hair around a pair of GHD straighteners (£109) , or a similar set of premium ceramic straighteners such as Cloud Nine’s (£139) to create a loose, beachy wave. The Oracle’s unique promise is, however, the ability to do all these curl shapes and more with one tool.
GHD Oracle review: Design and key features
As we’ve mentioned above, the Oracle looks more like a straightener or 80s-style hair crimper than a curler; inside the rectangular head is a set of U-shaped ceramic plates, through which the hair passes to create curls. The matte-black design looks sleek and feels pleasingly robust; there’s a nice weight and balance to the tool when held in the hand. At the base of the tool is a small extractor fan that releases warm air from the heated plates. On the top of the tool is a small GHD logo; it’s not just there for branding – take notice of where that logo sits, as it will be crucial to shaping your curls as we’ll see below.
Inside the Oracle you’ll notice two U-shaped plates that fit together – this is the unique part of the Oracle’s design that allows it to create different curl patterns. A single button heats the plates to 185˚C in just 30 seconds – a friendly chime tells you when heating has started, and another lets you know when the tool is ready to use.
Because the Oracle works by gliding the ceramic plates down the hair, smoothing the outer cuticle as it goes, we found it created much smoother, glossier curls than a traditional tong or wand – the act of stroking the tool along the hair really gave the resulting curls lustrous shine and a soft feel. The gliding method also produces a more natural-looking curl than traditional tonging.
GHD Oracle review: How to use
To use the Oracle, prep your hair as you would for any heat styling – brush and spritz with your favourite heat-protection spray. Section the hair and start at the bottom, as you would with a straightener.
Take an inch-wide section of hair and clamp the Oracle around it, again as you would with a straightener, and rotate the entire tool with the hair in place. This is where the logo comes in very handy – note that position it’s in when you clamp the hair and make sure you know which way you’ve twisted it.
Now move the tool down from root to tip with a steady motion. We found that a slow count of 20 on mid-length hair was about the right time to produce decent ringlets, but you’ll want to play with different speeds to find the right curl.
Replicating the curl over each tress is the slightly tricky bit, and we found that there’s a certain knack to finding the right angle for the kind of curl that you want. GHD has a set of very helpful videos covering the different looks possible – a horizontal clamp-and-twist will give you full-on glamorous curls, while moving the tool at 45 degrees down a vertical section will give a looser wave.
Again, keep an eye on that logo – it’s a useful guide to which way you should be twisting and gliding – and resist the urge to rotate the tool once you’ve started stroking it down the hair, as it’s the action of passing through the plates that creates the curl rather than twisting the tool itself (beyond the initial rotation). With a bit of practice we found that creating a passable head of curls takes around 15 to 20 minutes.
If you pause for too long on one spot, the U-shaped plates will create more of a crimpy kink than a curl, which you can of course make deliberately if you’re after a mermaid-wave look. Keep gliding slowly as you come to the end so the curl has a nice finish. Finish with a finger twist to help set the curl; a spritz of hairspray will help your new curls stay in place longer.
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GHD Oracle review: Verdict
The Oracle certainly offers a different way of curling hair, and as such it does take a bit of getting used to. If there’s a major drawback it’s that the tool has quite a steep learning curve and can be tricky to get the hang of at first – we did experience a few mis-curls on the first day of use. For this reason, GHD sells the Oracle exclusively through salons at present, allowing customers to book a training session with a stylist to walk you through the curling process.
Once we got the knack, and with a bit of extra help from GHD’s online videos, we found that the curls produced by the Oracle are soft, lustrous and natural-looking; and hair looks and feels healthy immediately after styling.
Price is the other downside: the tool is pricey in comparison to budget curling tongs, but comparable to other premium straighteners and curlers on the market.
If you like to wear your hair wavy or curly and are looking for a versatile styling tool that gives a soft and shiny finish, the GHD Oracle certainly delivers on its promise of a new – and better – way to curl hair.