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How to choose the best hair styling tool

Lynn Wright / 23 May 2016 ( 23 November 2018 )

Stuck trying to decide what hair styling gadget to buy to tame your hair? Or wondering what beauty gadget to buy a loved one as a gift? From curling irons to crimpers, our handy guide to buying the best hair styling tool will help you choose.

Woman shopping for hair styling products
It's easier than ever to update your hairstyle with one of the many styling tools on the market

From curler irons to hot air brushers, the best hair stylers let you - or your significant other - create long-lasting, salon-perfect hair at home.

Here’s our guide to the best types of styling tools available.

Curling iron

You can use a curling iron to create a range of curly hair styles, from polished ringlets to voluminous waves. A slim barrel creates tight, defined curls, while a larger barrel is perfect for creating soft waves.

Curling irons have a clasp that holds your hair in place as it curls, so if you struggle a bit with dexterity or your arms ache if held aloft for too long, a curling iron might be more useful to you than a wand.

Look for a high heat temperature for a long lasting professional result.

Curling wand

A curling wand or styling wand is basically a curling iron without a clamp. You simply wrap your hair around the barrel and hold it in place to curl it. Great for creating relaxed, natural looking curls for that beachy or just-got-out-of-bed look. 

You'll need to be a bit more careful as your fingers will, by design, spend a lot more time in close proximity to the hot bit!

Hot air brush

As the name implies, this is a brush with a built-in dryer so you can dry and style your hair at the same time using just one hand. Not only does this save time and effort, styling hair as you dry is a good way to add long-lasting volume and shape.

For maximum volume, choose a brush with a large barrel; a smaller brush helps create defined curls. Available in spinning and non-spinning round barrel as well as flat versions, you can also use a hot air brush to straighten hair.


If you’re after a retro 1980s look or want to create a fun style, then a crimper is the way to go. In design, they’re similar to hair straighteners but have zig-zagged plates instead of flat plates that add textured waves to the hair.

If you want a bit more volume for an up-do, crimp the sections of hair just underneath the bit you see, then leave the visible part smooth.

If you're looking for a gift, a crimper probably isn't your best bet, as they are quite a specific look. If you haven't been asked outright to get one, leave it on the shelf. 

Hair straightener

Also known as flat irons, hair straighteners press sections of hair between two hot plates to straighten the hair shaft. The latest hair straighteners use advanced plate materials and variable heating to prevent hair damage.

Available in wide range of models and sizes, they can be used for styling, curling or adding a healthy, salon-shine finish to hair styles.

Heated hair rollers

These classic styling tools are now available in a wide range of sizes, finishes and heat settings, and are perfect for creating voluminous waves and soft luxurious curls.


An essential in everyone’s arsenal of hair styling tools. There is a vast array of hairdryers to suit all budgets. If possible, choose a high wattage model that will dry your hair faster, along with the addition of ceramic or tourmaline technology to smooth and seal your hair for a healthy shine. A long swivel cord makes styling easier, too.


Rather than buying several different hair styling tools, you can opt for a multi-styler instead. These tools come with a range of attachments – typical curling irons, crimpers, straightening plates and brushes – so you can create tons of different styles with just one tool, but do bear in mind that these are the equivalent of the jack of all trades - they'll do an okay job in all areas, but they don't tend to excel. 

Cordless gas hair styler

If you need a hair styler when travelling or on holiday, opt for a cordless styler that runs on replaceable gas-filled cartridges.

Don't forget...

If you're going to be heat styling your hair, protect it first with some heat protector spray - or if it's a gift, bag yourself some extra brownie points for being thoughtful!

Check out our favourite 5 gadgets for beauty addicts

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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