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Best hair curlers 2023

Create waves, curls and ringlets with minimum effort with our pick of the best hair curlers

Tongs and curling wands are great for adding bounce to hair, but you need a degree of patience and dexterity to achieve the perfect tonged curl. You can also create beachy waves, corkscrew curls or red-carpet ringlets with a set of curlers – either a heated set for quick results, or heatless for overnight curling with minimal damage to hair. 

Heated and heatless curlers can add volume and shape to flat hair, or create a glamorous wavy look for a night out. Your choice of curler size and type will deliver curls of different shapes and sizes – for instance, larger rollers will result in a volumised look through softer waves, while smaller rollers will create eye-catching and directional corkscrew curls. Both options are convenient in that they passively style the hair leaving you free to  get on with your day (or night); they’re also somewhat easier on the arms and shoulders than using curling tongs, especially for those with long and thick hair. 

Read on for our roundup of the best curlers you can buy right now; but first, we help you find the right curlers for your hair type and the style you want to achieve. 

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Best hair curlers: At a glance

How to choose the best hair curlers for you

What size curlers should I choose?

Choosing the perfect curlers for your hair is partly about the length and texture of your hair, and partly about the look you want to achieve. A wider barrel will create a looser curl with softer bounce, which is great for adding volume; for a more defined curl, you’ll need a narrower barrel. 

Longer hair will wrap around curlers more times, creating full ringlets; if you have shorter hair, look for a narrower barrel that will allow you to wrap your hair around at least a couple of circuits if you want anything more than lift at the roots. 

A set of rollers that offers several different-sized barrels allows more styling flexibility, allowing you to switch up your look, or use different-sized rollers on different-length sections of the hair. 

How many curlers do I need?

The number of curlers you’ll need will again depend on the length and thickness of your hair and the look you’re trying to create. At a minimum, half-a-dozen rollers in your preferred size will allow you to create two curls on the top of the head and two on each side. A dozen curlers should cover most heads; but if you’re putting a lot of tight corkscrew curls into long hair, you may need even more. We’ve noted below how many curlers are included in each of our sets, and how many of each size. 

Should I choose heated rollers or heatless curlers?

Modern heated rollers are convenient, fast-heating, and designed for safe use on all hair types. They’re great for fast results, usually styling the hair in under 30 minutes. In addition, unlike curling tongs and wands, once you’ve wound the rollers into your hair, you can get on with your makeup (or anything else you’d like to do) as the curlers take effect. 

Heated rollers aren’t anything new – they’ve been around in some form since the early 20th century; but our favourite modern rollers include protective technology to distribute heat evenly and safely across the hair to reduce damage.

Heatless curlers are an increasingly popular option for those who want to style hair with absolutely minimal damage. Even with modern technology, heat styling does carry a risk of some damage – and dry, bleached or otherwise damaged hair may particularly suffer the effects of additional heat styling. Heatless curlers can also be a good option for curling hair extensions and weaves. 

Heatless curling methods are often used before bedtime, allowing the hair time to dry safely into its new shape; heatless curlers also combine well with conditioning treatments, allowing you to wake up with soft, bouncy, shiny hair. As with heated rollers, the shape of your curls will depend on the size and number of curlers you use. 

How we test hair curlers

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing provides the most complete information about a product. As such, we test all the hair curlers we review, using the models as recommended on clean, dry hair (or damp hair, where this is the recommended technique). We leave the curlers in place as long as recommended.

When testing, we confirm any additional accessories provided in the box and measure the time any heated rollers take to reach temperature from the time they’re switched on. For both heated and heatless curlers, we note how long it takes to roll the curlers into mid-length, evaluating the overall ease of use, how well they stay in the hair during styling and how comfortable they are to wear. We also note the finish and feel of the hair after curling. Finally we evaluate how well the curled hair lasts over the course of a typical day.

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The best curlers you can buy in 2023: Heated

1. BaByliss Thermo-Ceramic Hair Rollers 3035U: Best value heated rollers

Price: £50 | Buy now from Argos

Hair and beauty brand BaByliss has been creating great styling products for more than six decades. These ceramic-infused heated rollers come packing modern technology to ensure your tresses can be styled safely for maximum health, shine and gorgeousness. 

The rollers use both a ceramic coating to ensure even distribution of heat and ionic technology to condition the hair, for a soft and glossy finish. The heating system gets the rollers ready to use in just five minutes, with an indicator light to let you know that you’re ready to get winding. The set includes 20 rollers in three sizes – 8 large, 6 medium and 6 small – and comes with both clips and pins to secure your rollers firmly in place. Everything sits in a handy storage box, which is also the heating unit. 

The rollers are easy to wind into hair and pin into place; hair is styled in around 20 minutes and feels soft and bouncy afterwards. In our tests, the results lasted into the next day. A good-value starter set suitable for most hair lengths.

Key specs – Number of rollers: 20 (8 large, 6 medium, 6 small); Heat settings: 1; Auto shutoff: No; Storage case: Yes

2. Remington H5600 Ionic Hot Rollers: Best heated rollers for a silky finish

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

This set of 20 velvet-flocked rollers uses ionic technology to condition the hair as they style, leaving hair soft and silky as well as full of bounce. The rollers come in three sizes – 20mm, 23mm and 27mm – and are colour-coded, so it’s easy to select the right size for the curl you want to create, while matching colour-coded clips hold each roller securely in place. 

An indicator light on top of the storage/heating unit lets you know when the rollers are ready to use; and a thermal wax core helps the curlers retain heat while you’re setting the hair, so that they don’t start to cool until everything is wound into place. One small downside is there are only a few of the small-sized rollers in the set, so the Remington H5600 is best for setting softer, looser curls. However, we love the silky and frizz-free results. 

Key specs – Number of rollers: 20 (6 large, 10 medium, 4 small); Heat settings: 1; Auto shutoff: No; Storage case: Yes

3. T3 Volumising Hot Rollers Luxe: Best heated rollers for volume

Price: £125 | Buy now from Beauty Bay

T3’s Volumising Hot Rollers Luxe help to transform limp locks into full-bodied, glossy waves with their clever HeatCore technology. A tourmaline-ceramic core heats the hair gently and evenly to keep tresses moisturised and free from damage. There are two heat settings, so you can choose the right temperature setting for your hair length and texture; the higher setting of 250˚C is best for thicker hair. An indicator light lets you know when the rollers have reached your preferred heat. The velvet flocking on the rollers helps to keep them secure on your head, and a soft insulated rim ensures the ends of the rollers remain cool, so you don’t scorch your fingers when wrapping hair.

The eight jumbo-sized rollers that come in the set are perfect for adding lift to the top and sides of the hair; you’ll need some length to be able to benefit from these large rollers, as shorter hair simply won’t wrap around enough times. If you do have longer hair and are looking for voluminous red-carpet waves, these rollers deliver long-lasting, glossy and glamorous results.

Key specs – Number of rollers: 8; Heat settings: 2; Maximum temperature: 250˚C; Auto shutoff: Yes (1 hour); Storage case: Yes

Buy now from Beauty Bay

The best curlers you can buy in 2023: Heatless

4. Octocurl heatless curlers: Best heatless curler for versatility

Price: From £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Seemingly made for Instagram and TikTok with their eye-catching design, the Octocurl heatless curlers comprise eight pairs of fabric strips that sprout from an adjustable headband. The long fabric strips allow you to wrap the hair in a variety of ways to create different sizes and shapes of curl, from loose waves to spiral ringlets. These curlers are simple to use: just wrap the hair around one or two strips in your chosen pattern and leave them in place overnight. Note that you can also use the Octocurl with a hairdryer on a gentle heat if you’d like your curls to be finished sooner. 

The Octocurl curlers are available in three different lengths: 7in for shorter hair; 10in for medium-length locks; and 13in for longer hair. They’re also available in a choice of fabrics, including cotton poplin and gentle satin, as well as a range of colours to complement your favourite pillow or pyjamas. Since the fabric strips are soft and flexible, the Octocurl curlers are very comfortable to sleep in. Plus, use a little styling product to help the hold, and the resulting curls in our medium-length hair lasted through a whole day and into the next. If you don’t mind looking slightly barmy for a few hours, the Octocurl heatless curlers deliver great results with minimal damage to hair. 

Key specs – Number of rollers: 16 (8 double strips); Roller material: microfibre, cotton poplin or satin options

5. Lilysilk heatless curler and scrunchie set: Best for frizz-free heatless curls

Price: £15 | Buy now from Lilysilk

A smarter and silkier version of the popular dressing-gown-tie method of creating heatless curls, Lilysilk’s heatless curler set combines a squishy silk rod covered in mulberry silk, and two silk-covered scrunchies to hold the rod in place as you sleep. The smooth fibres of the silk cover reduce friction on the hair and give a soft and glossy finish to curls – even if the natural texture of your hair is on the coarser side. 

To use, part your hair into two sections, place the rod on the top of your head and wrap your hair away from your face and around the rod, finishing with one scrunchie at either end to secure everything in place. You can add an optional claw-grip on top for extra hold, but we found the rod and scrunchies alone worked well on our medium-length hair. It takes around 10 minutes to section the hair and wind it around the rod. The Lilysilk curler sits in a comfortable place on the head overnight, and results in silky-smooth and bouncy curls – perfect for adding volume and shape to your look. Spritz a little hairspray on unwinded curls and you’ll see them stay in place well, with hair maintaining its softness and shine into the next day. 

Key specs – Number of rollers: 1 (covers the whole head); Roller material: 100% mulberry silk

Buy now from Lilysilk

6. Hairflair Curlformers Spiral Curls Styling Kit: Best for heatless spiral curls

Price: £40 | Buy now from Hairflair

Hairflair’s Curlformers use quite a different approach to creating curls in the hair in comparison to most rollers: unzip the storage pouch and you’ll find 40 springy spiral tubes, which you pull your hair through using the hook provided. The tubes extend over the hair as you pull it through, then spring back into their spiral shape, which then moulds the hair as it dries. You have the option to let hair dry naturally as you go about your day, or you can use a drying hood with gentle heat to speed up the setting process.

This method takes some of the guesswork out of curling your hair; the hair will dry in place exactly as you set the Curlformers, so you can choose exactly how and where to style each curl. The tubes are colour-coded, so you can choose to style your hair away from the face, onto the face, or in alternating spirals for a natural look. They can also be set halfway down your head if you simply want to add curl to the ends of the hair only.

Setting the Curlformers takes a little longer than some of the other products in our list – and since they’re more rigid than fabric curlers, they also aren’t really suitable for sleeping in. Nevertheless, the spiral tubes allow greater precision with placing individual curls than other curlers, and the results are really long-lasting. For a looser curl, you can try one of the other Hairflair products – there are Curlformers for spiral, corkscrew and larger barrel curls; and Waveformers for an even looser, beach-inspired look.

Key specs – Number of rollers: 40; Roller material: plastic mesh

Buy now from Hairflair

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