Long-lasting, shiny waves are easy to achieve with the best hair wavers – here are our tried and tested favourites for long and short hair
Wearing your hair wavy might be a great way to look effortlessly chic, but without one of the best hair wavers, you’ll struggle to achieve the right look. Thankfully, the days of plaiting your hair overnight and hoping for the best – or using straighteners to try and wave your hair – are long gone. There’s now a huge market of specially designed hair wavers that clamp your hair into a wave pattern and keep it there.
However, unlike curling wands and straighteners, which tend to work for most hair types and can be used to create a variety of looks, hair wavers usually create one type of wave, which can make choosing the best hair waver for you difficult. This is especially true if you have short hair because many hair wavers are too wide to give shorter hair a sufficiently wavy look.
That’s why we’ve tried and tested a wide range of hair wavers and have picked out the very best below. If you’re not sure which type of hair waver would suit you best, take a look at our handy buying guide for our top tips and tricks.
Best hair waver: At a glance
How to choose the best hair waver for you
How do hair wavers work?
If you were around in the nineties, you’ll probably remember the hair crimping craze. Crimpers have the same clamp design as hair straighteners but instead of flat heated plates, the plates have ridges that slot together to press your hair into a crimped, zigzag shape. After five to ten seconds, you’d release your hair and repeat the process down from scalp to tips.
Many hair wavers use this same clamp-and-press technique – on a much larger scale – to wave your hair, but nowadays you’ll find more that use three heated barrels arranged in trident-like prongs. Using a lever on the side, the middle barrel opens at an angle to allow hair in; once closed, the middle barrel slides between the outer barrels, pushing your hair into that wavy shape. Once this process is done, you move the waver down the strand, line up the waver with the last bend in the wave, and clamp again until you reach the end of the hair.
This process can take a bit of practice to master, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s easy to create flawless mermaid-worthy waves in a flash.
READ NEXT: The best heat protector spray
Barrel size: The barrel size of hair wavers refers to the diameter of each barrel and usually sits between 19mm and 32mm. With thinner barrels, you’ll get tighter waves, while larger barrels create looser, more relaxed waves.
This is a simple rule to understand for hair wavers that use a simple three-barrel design, but with wavers that use clamps, it can be more difficult to know what type of wave you’ll be getting. That’s because some use thinner, oblong-shaped barrels to push hair into a more exaggerated wave. This isn’t quite the same as the loose waves created by a large barrel waver but gives a similar effect.
Material: Just as with other heat-styling products, most hair wavers are made using ceramic-coated heating plates. That’s because ceramic coatings have been proven to boost shine and decrease frizz on the hair, which ensures the results look as sleek as possible. Some high-end heat styling tools also infuse their ceramic plates with smoothing oils to amplify this effect and keep the hair as healthy as possible. Other hair wavers come with ionic technology, which can further reduce frizz by counteracting static charges in the hair.
Temperature control: When it comes to heat styling your hair, knowing what temperature you’re using is key. That’s because finer hair won’t be able to stand higher temperatures, but thicker, textured hair will need higher heat settings to stay styled all day. Choosing a hair waver that has clearly visible and variable temperature controls is therefore really important for preventing damage while keeping your hair in good shape.
It’s also essential to have something that indicates when the hair waver gets up to temperature. Whether that’s an LCD screen, a LED light, or a beeping noise, hair wavers without this aren’t as straightforward to operate and could either leave you waiting for ages to style your hair or have you styling your hair at a temperature that’s too cold to have an effect.
READ NEXT: The best clip-in hair extensions
Heat mat: Wherever you use hot hair styling tools, it’s really important to be able to protect that surface from possible burns. That’s where heat mats come in – adding a layer between the hot tool and the work surface in case of possible knocks. Some hair wavers come with heat mats, so this could be a selling factor if you don’t have one already.
Hair clips: When heat styling hair, one easy way to make a style last longer is to use hair clips to hold the waves in place until they have fully cooled. If you keep them in at the inside point of each wave until the hair cools, they will last longer.
You could use clips you already own for this, but make sure they won’t weigh your hair down as this could make the curls drop out, defeating the object of using clips. If you want to buy some great lightweight hair clips, we’d recommend the Beauty Works creaseless clips, which come bundled with the brand’s hair waver kit collaboration with Molly Mae.
Heat gloves: As you’d expect, heat gloves help to make sure you don’t burn your hands. However, they’re not as necessary to use alongside hair wavers as with a curling wand because you don’t need to hold the hair directly onto the hot barrels. For most people, therefore, a heat glove shouldn’t make a huge difference to how they style their hair.
Adjustable barrels: Some hair wavers advertise themselves as two-in-one (or more) products. That’s because they can be used in various ways, or adjusted, to create different styles of waves, such as tighter and looser waves. This can improve the versatility of a hair waver to no end, but normally can’t give you long-lasting loose waves like their fixed barrelled counterparts.
READ NEXT: The best hair curling wands and tongs
How we test hair wavers
At Expert Reviews, we strongly believe in supporting our reviews with detailed testing, which is why every hair waver we receive goes through the same process. First, we measure how long it takes each waver to heat up to 180°C – at this point, we also note how large the temperature range is and whether there’s a light indicator to let you know when the waver has reached temperature. This helps us to decide if the waver is suitable for a wide range of hair types and textures. We’ll also take note of any coatings on the heated barrels that could add shine to the hair and we’ll feel how well-built each waver is so that we only recommend products that are built to last.
Another central element in our testing is using them on our hair. Not only will we time how long it takes us to wave our hair using each waver, but we’ll also take note of wave size and style, shine levels and how long the waves last in our hair before dropping out. When styling, we always test using the same 180°C heat level, and we don’t use any styling products aside from heat protection spray to protect our hair from heat damage. That means our testing is the same across all wavers.
READ NEXT: Best beauty advent calendars of 2023
The best hair wavers you can buy in 2023
1. Babyliss Deep Waves Styler: Best hair waver for long-lasting waves
Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at Amazon
The Babyliss deep waves styler is a classic example of a clamp-style hair waver that uses a curved hot base to press the hair between two heated barrels. Its simple design is comfortable to hold, easy to use and gives a dramatic, uniform style. In our testing, we found that this waver styled the hair quickly, and the waves lasted for three days.
While the waver has a sturdy design, the black plastic body is lightweight and the hinge mechanism feels similar to a pair of straighteners. The rose gold ceramic heat plates heat up to 180°C in one minute and provide shiny, long-lasting waves without heat damage. Also included is a temperature sensor that uses an LED light to let you know once the styler is up to temperature. Furthermore, there are plastic end-pieces on the barrels that can be held during styling for added control.
The only caveat to this waver is that it doesn’t have a locking system to keep the hinge in a closed position during storage. It does come with a sleek storage case that doubles up as a heat mat, though. Also, the three temperature settings aren’t very clearly labelled; for reference, the lowest setting is 160°C, the medium is 180°C, and the high is 200°C. However, these flaws are easy to look past if you’re dead-set on having long-lasting results that won’t ruin your hair with heat damage.
Read our full BaByliss Deep Waves styler review for more details.
Key specs – Barrel size: avg. 25mm; Barrel material: Tourmaline-ceramic; Temperature range: 160°C-200°C; 180°C heat up time: 61 secs; Swivel cord: Yes; Automatic shut off: Yes, after 72 minutes; Other features: Temperature light indicator
2. Remington PROluxe 4-in-1 adjustable waver: Best versatile hair waver for short hair
Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re on the hunt for a great value hair waver that will give you huge amounts of bang for your buck, look no further than this ingenious styler from Remington. It has a similar comfortable clamp-style design to the Babyliss waver above, except this one comes with a locking system for storage and an adjustable centre barrel.
By rotating the dial on the end of the centre barrel, it can be raised to four different heights, creating looser or tighter waves by pressing the hair further between the edge barrels. This means you can get four different kinds of waves in one styler – from undone and shallow to deep and defined – making it perfect for all hair lengths. If you want to change the wave type mid-way through styling while the waver is still hot, you can do so without burning your hands. During our testing, the styling was quick and easy, and each type of wave lasted three days, apart from the smallest setting which dropped after two.
The barrels use a unique grip technology ceramic that prevents the hair from slipping out of the barrels during styling, as well as an integrated “optiheat” sensor that provides consistent heat across the barrel for longer-lasting styles. In terms of heat, the Remington waver has five heat settings, including a Pro+ setting that sits at 185°C, which is the optimum heat for maintaining healthy hair.
Read our full Remington PROluxe 4-in-1 adjustable waver review for more details.
Key specs – Barrel size: 10-30mm; Barrel material: Grip Tech Ceramic; Temperature range: 150 210°C; 180°C heat up time: 64 secs; Swivel cord: Yes; Automatic shut off: Yes, after 60 minutes; Other features: Temperature light indicator, temperature lock adjustable design, locking system
3. Mermade hair pro waver: Best hair waver for soft waves
Price when reviewed: £69 | Check price at LookFantastic
Despite being one of the first hair wavers to hit the market, the Mermade hair pro waver is still an excellent tool that makes waving your hair a breeze. It’s got the biggest barrel size of any waver we’ve tested and a triple barrel design that effortlessly creates loose, uniform waves in a flash. It is a little heavier than other wavers, due to its larger size, but is still comfortable to use without being cumbersome.
It’s got a range of useful features, including a built-in heat stand, an LCD temperature screen, a handy swivel cord and an automatic safety shutoff. If you’re worried about burns, it also comes with a heat glove to help avoid accidents. In our testing, the loose style lasted around two days and this was easily the quickest waver to use.
However, even though this styler creates the loosest waves in the fastest time, it’s not completely without faults. Namely, having tested other triple-barrel wavers, the lever mechanism on the Mermade waver feels much stiffer. This can make it difficult to use, especially if you have small or weak hands.
Read our full Mermade Hair Pro Waver review for more details.
Key specs – Barrel size: 32mm; Barrel material: Ionic ceramic; Temperature range: 80-210°C; 180°C heat up time: 93 secs; Swivel cord: Yes; Automatic shut off: Yes, after 60 minutes; Other features: Heat glove included, built-in heat stand
4. Beauty Works original waver: Best hair waver for uniform waves
Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Look Fantastic
Beauty Works was founded in 2016, making it a much younger company than its more established counterparts. However, the brand has become well known for its hair wavers after frequent collaborations with influencer and former Love Island star, Molly Mae. If you’re sceptical about influencer endorsements, you’re not alone, but we’re here to reassure you that the Beauty Works original hair waver lives up to the hype.
Unlike the clamp design of other wavers, this one features a triple barrel design, which opens and closes using a lever. As each barrel is the same shape, the waver creates a uniform “S” shaped wave that looks clean and polished. After styling at 180°C, the waves looked shiny and sleek all day and lasted for two days without dropping out.
It’s designed well, too: aside from the obvious triple barrel design, the handle is a comfortable shape and the lever has just the right amount of tension to hold the hair without being difficult to open. The temperature controls are also intuitive to control, and the temperature is shown on an LCD screen built into the handle. The main caveat is that this styler has no automatic safety shut-off which means this isn’t the device for you if you’re prone to leaving your heat stylers on by accident.
The original waver is also available to buy as a limited edition kit that includes lightweight clips to keep your style in place for longer, a heat mat, and a comb to help finish the style.
Read our full Beauty Works Waver review for more details.
Key specs – Barrel size: 21mm; Barrel material: Ceramic; Temperature range: 80-220°C; 180°C heat up time: 76 secs; Swivel cord: Yes; Automatic shut off: No; Other features: Built-in heat stand
5. Revamp Progloss 2-in-1 beach & volume waver: Best hair waver for beach waves and shine
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Amazon
Wavy hair looks great when it’s sleek and shiny, but even the beachiest of waves can be ruined by unruly frizz. This waver from Revamp is our favourite for creating shiny waves because its ceramic heated plates are infused with Progloss’ unique blend of keratin, argan and coconut oils which nourish, add shine and protect the hair from heat damage. It’s also got powerful ionic jets to reduce frizz on the hair.
It’s easily the most sleek-looking, well-built hair waver we’ve tested. With a sturdy locking system and an interlocking clamp-style design, the ceramic heat plates are completely encompassed by a black plastic shell. That means your risk of burns is significantly reduced as the casing at the end of the waver only gets hand hot. The barrels themselves also blend smoothly into the casing ensuring that the waves are smooth and kink-free.
Another big bonus is that this waver can create two different types of waves. When oriented in one direction, the waves are deep and exaggerated, but flip the waver the other way up and you’ll get a more natural beachy effect. That’s because the wave shape clamps aren’t an even “S” shape, but rather the shape of a sideways “M”, with two large rounded barrels separated by a thin heated strip.
In our testing, we used a slightly lower heat setting of 170°C, as there is no 180° setting. Still, the waves lasted three days and dropped naturally over that time, which is the same staying power as the other models where higher heat was used. Although the styling was very speedy, it was a little harder to see where to clamp the hair when moving it down the strand because of its solid barrels. Once we got used to it, creating smooth waves was a breeze.
Key specs – Barrel size: 22mm; Barrel material: Ionic ceramic with infused oils; Temperature range: 120-210°C; 180°C heat up time: 39 secs; Swivel cord: Yes; Automatic shut off: Yes, after 60 minutes; Other features: Heat mat, heat indicator light, locking system, two-in-one
6. BaByliss 9000 Cordless Waver: Best cordless hair waver
Price when reviewed: £180 | Check price at LookFantastic
If you’re a fan of cordless heat styling tools, you might want to consider the Babyliss 9000 cordless hair waver. It’s a very convenient tool that creates great waves on the go, but its limited temperature range and expensive price tag mean it won’t be for everyone.
It’s got three temperature settings – 160°C, 170°C and 180°C, which is hot enough to style normal-to-thin hair but isn’t hot enough to style thick hair. In our testing, we used the highest heat setting and held each wave for ten seconds before moving to the next set. The triple barrel design gave shiny, even, and “S” shaped results that lasted one day without dropping. Essentially, it’s perfect for fast, cordless styling as long as your hair isn’t too thick.
In terms of battery life, the waver has a 40-minute charge on high heat, which provides plenty of time for styling a full head of hair. During use, the on-off button has a colour-coded battery life indicator to let you know when it’s running low, so you don’t need to worry about running out of charge halfway through styling. In between uses, a full charge takes three hours, and it comes with a heat-protected travel case.
Read our full BaByliss 9000 cordless hair waver review for more details.
Key specs – Barrel size: 21mm; Barrel material: Ionic ceramic with infused oils; Temperature range: 160-180°C; 180°C heat up time: 39 secs; Charge time: 3 hours; Battery life: 40 minutes on high heat; Automatic shut off: Yes, after 60 minutes; Other features: Heat mat, glove, heat protected travel storage case