Curling tongs and hair wands

Looking for beautiful, bouncy, shiny curls? Achieve salon-worthy waves at home with our ultimate expert guide to using curling tongs and styling wands. We’re very proud that all Nicky Clarke hair styling tools are delivered to your door in plastic-free packaging.

Frequently asked questions about curling tongs and hair wands

Which are the best curling tongs for my hair type?

Choose your curling tong or wand based on the barrel size, which directly corresponds to the size of the curl you’ll get. If you’re undecided, or like to change up your look, we recommend our Multi Styler tool, which comes with four interchangeable attachments to choose from. You can use the bobbled end for beachy waves, the 25 mm barrel for curls, or the tapered 16-25 mm curling wand end for tighter spirals.

If you’ve got particularly long or thick hair, you might like to go for a larger barrel, like that on our Hair Therapy Touch Control Curling Tong, which is 28 mm. The tong’s lever is also great for holding unruly hair in place as you style, and the touch control system means you can choose higher temperatures for coarse hair, and adjust to a lower setting for fine hair.

What’s the difference between a curling tong and a curling wand?

A curling tong has a spring lever or clamp, which holds a section of hair in place while you curl. If you’re new to curling or have found it difficult to wrap your hair around a barrel tool while you twist, a tong might be perfect for you.

A hair wand, or curling wand, is a barrel shaped tool. To use, you wrap or wind sections of hair around the heated section to form a curl.

Are curling tongs better than hair wands?

It really comes down to choosing the best tools for your hair type, and personal preference. If you’ve been curling your hair for a long time, you might be experienced at holding your hair around a curling wand and twisting it into curls. Some people prefer the structure of the clamping lever on curling tongs, which hold the hair in place while you twist.

Think about what sort of curls you want in your hair and go from there. For example, our Hair Therapy Touch Control Curling Tong has a 28 mm barrel that’s perfect for creating big, bouncy curls and looser waves. The ceramic and tourmaline plate is also kind to hair, so this is a great curling tool option if you’re worried about heat damage.

If you’re after tighter curls, the Nicky Clarke Multi Styler has a slightly smaller 25 mm barrel, as well as a tapered curling tong fitting that goes from 25 mm right down to 16 mm for spiral curls. There’s also a bobbled waver end, which is great for creating beachy, loose waves in your hair.

Can’t I just curl my hair with a straightener?

You can curl hair with straighteners – check out our guide to styling with hair straighteners here. However, many people who regularly curl or wave their hair prefer to use a purpose-made tool for the job. Lots of people find the lever of a curling tong or the special shape of a curling wand to be much easier to create perfect waves in their hair.

If you’re unsure, we recommend booking a consultation with one of our expert stylists at either our London or Birmingham salons; we’ll recommend the perfect products and hair styling tools for you, and demonstrate how they’ll look on your locks.

Do curling tongs damage your hair?

Make sure you choose a good quality, recognisable brand for all your heated hair tools. If stylists use it in a salon, it’s safe for your hair. Next, you should always use heat protecting spray on your hair before you use any heat to style it. Keep your hair in a strong and healthy condition by incorporating the right shampoo and conditioners into your everyday washing routine.

If you combine these steps and use your curling tongs or hair wand in the right way (as detailed below), you should avoid any excessive heat damage.

How to use a curling tong

For expert curls with a curling tong:

  • Make sure your hair is prepped (with heat protection spray) and completely dry
  • Section it up – dividing the hair into smaller sections will help create a fuller, more voluminous look.
  • Open the lever of your tongs and carefully wrap your section around the barrel. Make sure to spread your hair out evenly to get a natural looking wave. Tip: you don’t need to curl the whole length if you don’t want to – try curling just the lower ends of your hair and experiment with your look.
  • Hold the hair in the tongs for a few seconds to set the wave. Avoid keeping it in for too long to avoid heat damage.
  • Unfurl your hair and hold the curl in your hand for around 10 seconds to encourage it to cool down in shape.
  • Once you’ve curled all your hair, gently shake out your curls.

How to use a curling wand

Our top tips for using a curling wand:

  • Spritz your hair with heat defence spray and heat up your hair wand.
  • Divide your hair into sections to make it easier to curl. Try to curl sections no wider than about an inch.
  • Carefully wrap a section of hair around the wand, starting from the base and heading towards the tip.
  • Hold the wand in place for just a couple of seconds, before pulling the wand away and revealing a beautiful curl!
  • Hold the curl in shape for a few seconds to encourage it to hold.

How to get your hair to hold a curl

A lot of the time, we want what we don’t have. That’s why so many curly-haired beauties reach for the straightener, and why people with naturally straight hair are often craving a well-crafted curl.

If you’ve got pin-straight hair and want to create a bouncy, wavy look, it can be difficult. Some hair needs a bit of extra coaxing to hold a curl!

Here are our top tips:

  • Prep your hair with a curl-friendly shampoo and conditioner
  • Use a leave in conditioner for extra styling help
  • Don’t curl freshly washed hair
  • Use a higher temperature setting if you have coarse or thick hair
  • Choose the right barrel for your curls
  • Leave your curls to cool
  • Set your style with hair spray

Prep your hair

Our stylists recommend starting with a hair washing routine that includes a curl-friendly shampoo and conditioner. Try Nicky Clarke’s Azure Smooth & Curl Miracle shampoo and conditioner. Smooth & Curl contains a secret ingredient that helps your hair retain curl memory without encouraging frizz or minimising shine.

Leave in conditioner

Using a specially designed curling leave in conditioner can help your hair to retain curls for longer.

The Azure Smooth & Curl Miracle Lotion works to strengthen your hair and improve manageability. It also has a secret ingredient which helps your hair hold a curl once styled, without making it frizzy. Use a little leave in conditioner on either wet (towel dried) or dry hair for a little extra help with your style.

Avoid trying to curl freshly washed hair

Dirty hair holds style better! So, to encourage your hair to hold a curl, we suggest trying to use at least day-old hair where possible. Give the ends a spritz with argan oil or a finishing treatment for a better texture.

Choose the right temperature setting

Choose a tool with multiple heat settings and you’ll be able to customise your curling for your hair. Use temperature control to navigate to a higher heat if you’ve got particularly stubborn, thick, or coarse hair.

Use the right barrel

The bigger the barrel, the looser the curl. So, for tighter curls that can afford to loosen out a little, go for a narrower curling tong or hair wand.

Cool down your curls

The trick to getting styles to set is by counteracting the heat used. In the salon, our stylists will often tease out curls with their fingers to achieve a more loose, casual look. If you’re struggling to get curls to stay in, don’t do that!

Once you’ve curled a small section of hair, hold – or ‘cuddle’! – the curl in your hand for about 10 to 15 seconds while it cools down. This will encourage your hair to hold on to the shape you heated it with.

Set with spray

Once you’ve created your curls and cooled them in place, try giving them a light spray with good quality hair spray. Hold the can at least 10cm from your hair and give it a gentle spritz. Too much product will weigh your hair down and pull out your curls, but a light dusting will help them sit in place.

The Nicky Clarke Hair Therapy Touch Control Curling Tong

This curling tong uses the latest in ceramic and tourmaline technology to help you safely create salon-quality curls at home.

The 28 mm barrel is perfect for loose waves and bouncy curls. The intuitive LED display and temperature control makes it easy to choose the right heat setting for your hair type. For safety, the tong has a maximum temperature of 200°c and automatically shuts off after an hour.

Customise your style with the Nicky Clarke Multi Styler

For ultimate styling versatility, try the Multi Styler. This innovative tool has four interchangeable ceramic coated attachments so you can choose your style quickly and easily without compromising on quality.

Use the 29 mm ceramic straightening irons for sleek, smooth locks. The 25 mm curling barrel is perfect for well-defined curls, while the tapered end of the 16-25 mm curling tong makes tighter spirals easy. There’s also a bobbled waver for easily creating beach style waves.