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Hot Tools Curl Bar review: The right angle for a curling iron

Our Rating :
£91.15 from
Price when reviewed : £115
inc. VAT

With its distinctive angled shape, the Hot Tools Curl Bar is well designed for professional stylists and amateurs alike


  • Innovative, comfortable design
  • Wide temperature range
  • Useful built-in timer


  • Expensive
  • Timer is fiddly to set

The first thing you’ll notice about the Hot Tools Curl Bar is its distinctive shape. Typically, hair curling wands and tongs are long, straight barrels that continue in line with the handle. The Hot Tools Curl Bar, on the other hand, has its heated barrel set at a 90-degree angle to the handle, to make styling your hair – and other people’s – more comfortable.

Hot Tools specialises in, you guessed it, hot tools for hair styling. While the target market is typically professional hair stylists who can invest in premium hair-styling tools, its tools are also suitable for amateurs who want to achieve professional results at home. At first, I was sceptical as to whether the innovative shape would be as easy to use on my own hair as it is on other people’s, but I found it surprisingly easy to use.

However, when there are hair curlers that cost far less than the Curl Bar, can it hope to justify its £115 price tag? In my testing, I was able to create voluminous, shiny curls with minimal effort and, critically, without aching arms. So if you have the money and struggle to curl your hair with traditional curling wands, the Hot Tools Curl Bar could be a wise investment.

Hot Tools Curl Bar review: What do you get for the money?

If you’re splashing the cash on a premium hair curling tool, you’d be right to expect a gamut of premium features, and the Hot Tools Curl Bar certainly delivers on that.

Starting with the obvious, the Curl Bar has its heated barrel positioned at a 90° angle to the handle, the idea being to prevent elbow, shoulder and wrist strain during styling. The Curl Bar is also light, the 25mm model weighing a mere 525g, which means your arms won’t start to ache so quickly. The lightweight design is complemented by a soft handle that fits nicely in the hand, alongside a cool-touch handle on the end of the barrel for extra support when styling.

The Curl Bar is available in two different sizes: 25mm and 32mm. I tested the limited edition 25mm model, which comes with a bar coated in a “Black Gold Titanium Micro-Shine” finish, but the original’s bar is plated in 24K gold. Both surfaces aim to boost shine and provide an even distribution of heat for long-lasting curls. The barrel isn’t tapered, and this uniform diameter means the curler can create even curls and waves with minimal effort.

As for controls, there’s a small power button on the top of the iron and a dial on the rear you use to adjust the temperature. A ring around the dial lights up when it’s switched on and there’s an LCD display in the centre of the ring that shows, in 10°C increments, what the current temperature of the iron is. The temperature range is an impressive 160°C to 230°C.

READ NEXT: Best curling wands and tongs

The Curl Bar’s pulse technology heats up the barrel remarkably quickly – it reached 180°C in just 27 seconds in my testing – so you won’t have to waste any time faffing around preheating the iron.

That’s not all, though. The Bar also has a built-in timer to help ensure you’re always holding each curl for the same amount of time. This can be started by simply clicking the LCD screen (it doubles up as a button) in the centre of the dial. At this point, a countdown will show on the screen and the curler will buzz when the timer is up. The timer can be set anywhere between one and ten seconds by pressing and holding the screen and turning the dial to the required length of time.

There are also a few handy extras here: a three-metre swivel cord is more than long enough for salon use; if you forget to switch it off, you don’t have to worry about burning through electricity, as there’s an automatic safety shut-off after 60 minutes. To avoid burning your hands and surfaces, it also comes with a heat protection glove and silicone heat mat.

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Hot Tools Curl Bar review: What’s it like to use?

If you’re used to using straight curling irons, finding the best way to hold the Curl Bar takes a bit of trial and error. At first, I tried holding the handle straight upwards, with the heated barrel pointed back towards my ear. This is how a professional stylist would hold the iron if they were styling a client’s hair; however, I found it difficult to hold it like this on my own hair because it was tricky to see which direction the curls would fall in.

I found that the most comfortable way to hold it when styling my own hair was to hold the curler at a 45-degree angle so that it resembles an upside-down “V”. That meant my hair could slide off the barrel easily once it was curled, and that neither of my arms had to be raised above my head at any point during styling. It was also much easier to see how the curls would fall after styling.

As ever, before I started testing the Curl Bar, I protected my hair from heat damage using a heat protection spray. After this, I didn’t use any other styling products to give the style extra hold because this would impact the final results and staying power of the style. While this is important in my testing, if you want the style to last longer on your hair, I’d always recommend using hairspray or mousse. For reference, my hair is straight, long and on the thicker side – it usually holds a curl well when styling at 200°C but I tested the waver at 180°C, which is the temperature I usually use when testing heat-based curling and styling products.

As mentioned previously, the Hot Tools Curl Bar is incredibly light and this, coupled with the angled design, meant my arms didn’t ache at all during styling. With a typical hair curling wand, or even the famous Dyson Airwrap, my arms always start aching after around 15 minutes of use.

And I found the timer was a much handier feature than I expected. Counting to ten isn’t exactly difficult, but the timer takes any thinking out of the equation, which means you can focus on other things – maybe listening to music or watching TV – without having to worry about leaving your hair on the heated barrel too long. Thankfully, the timer button is easy to press with a thumb or forefinger, so using it didn’t cause extra faff.

In terms of timing, it took me just under 20 minutes to curl my hair. That’s impressively quick, given my hair is relatively thick. Once I had finished, the results were voluminous and bouncy, with a nice shine that made my hair look and feel healthy. The curls could also easily be brushed out into softer waves. I used the 25mm barrel, so opt for the 32mm if you want much looser curls.

The curls lasted all day and, on the second day, they had dropped naturally into soft voluminous waves that resembled a curly blow dry. Remember, I used no styling products to keep the curls in place and adding hairspray or mousse would definitely prolong the style, as would using a higher heat setting.

READ NEXT: The best hair dryers for every hair type

Hot Tools Curl Bar review: Should you buy it?

While these curly results could be achieved using a cheaper curling iron, if comfort, ease and quality are important to you, then the Hot Tools Curl Bar is a no-brainer. Its angled design isn’t a simple gimmick: it actually takes the strain out of curling your hair, and the results it produces are shiny, voluminous and long-lasting.

Admittedly, it doesn’t push the boat out too far but its staple features, such as the temperature dial and smooth micro-shine barrel, are flawlessly implemented, and small additions such as the timer make a huge difference. All in all, it’s one of the best curling irons you can buy, if you’re willing to splash a bit of extra cash.

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