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Which 3-barrel curling iron is best?

If you’re looking to create a relaxed look for your hair with beachy waves, a 3-barrel curling iron is a must-have. Rather than making the defined, loopy curls of a traditional curling iron, winding your locks through a 3-barrel curling iron creates looser, more natural-looking waves perfect for a summer day.

The top choice is the Bed Head Wave Affair Jumbo 3-Barrel Hair Waver, which is a quality 3-barrel curling iron that sets your curls without damaging your hair. 

What to know before you buy a 3-barrel curling iron


Like traditional curling irons, 3-barrel curling irons come in tourmaline, titanium and ceramic.

  • Ceramic works best for the average person since it heats hair from the inside out and protects hair from heat damage.
  • Titanium gets hotter, but should be used with more care because the higher heat can cause more breakage. However, if your hair is hard to curl or exceptionally thick, consider titanium.
  • Tourmaline is a good choice for frizzy hair since it has a smoothing effect that can minimize the appearance of frizz.
  • Gold-plated irons are also made, but most professionals now agree that they’re best avoided since they produce uneven heat. 

Barrel width 

The barrels in 3-barrel irons come in a variety of widths. Opt for wider barrels if your hair is on the longer side and narrower ones for shorter hair or a tighter wave.

Auto shutoff

As with all curling irons, it makes sense to search for one with automatic shutoff. An unattended curling iron that’s inadvertently left on and doesn’t shut off can be a fire hazard. It can also cause injury if a person or pet touches it without realizing it’s still hot. 

What to look for in a quality 3-barrel curling iron

Swivel cord

This small detail can save you a surprising amount of frustration. Curling irons with a swivel cord allow for better maneuvering without the tangles of a fixed-cord curling iron. 


Look for a 3-barrel iron with adjustable heat settings, preferably labeled by specific temperature and not just “low,” “medium” and “high.” It’s safest for your hair’s integrity to use the lowest setting that gets you the look you want.

  • Low heat: Stay in the range of 300 degrees or lower for hair that has had color applied to it or has been treated chemically in any other way.
  • Medium heat: Average hair that’s not chemically treated can routinely withstand temperatures of 300 to 375 degrees.
  • High heat: The highest temperatures in a curling iron’s range, usually 400 to 450 degrees, should be reserved for coarse or hard-to-curl hair.

No matter what level of heat you use, apply a heat-protectant spray before curling and be on the lookout for any sound or burning smell.  If you detect either, stop curling immediately.

Heat-up time

Few things are as frustrating as having to watch the curling iron as it slowly heats up to your desired temperature. A good 3-barrel curling iron should achieve the heat you’ve set it to within 60 seconds. 

How much you can expect to spend on a 3-barrel curling iron

A drugstore-bought 3-barrel curling iron costs around $30, while one made of premium materials that has additional features can cost up to $100.

3-barrel curling iron FAQ

Should I use a 3-barrel curling iron from roots to tips or only at the ends?

A. The style will look different depending on the technique you use. For the “mermaid” look, start about 3 to 4 inches from your roots and work your way down, placing the curling iron diagonal to your hair’s ends for that cascading wave effect. Waving smaller sections of hair will give you a more tousled look, while working with bigger chunks will make hair look more sculpted.

For a sleek look, flat-iron your hair and then use the waver on small chunks at the tips, then loosen the waves with your fingers. 

How can I help my waves last?

A. The first step in a lasting look is choosing the right curling iron. Cheaper ones will make curls that last only a few hours, and even less in fine or hard-to-curl hair.

Start the curling process on hair that is thoroughly dry, preferably washed the day before for maximum hold. Use curling spray or heat-protecting spray in preparation for curling. Curl each section of hair for the amount of time suggested in your curling iron’s instructions, then let it cool completely.

Texturizing spray is a better option than hair spray for making curls last. It also avoids that crunchy feel that comes with hair spray.

What’s the best 3-barrel curling iron to buy?

Top 3-barrel curling iron

Bed Head Wave Affair Jumbo 3-barrel Hair Waver

Bed Head Wave Affair Jumbo 3-Barrel Hair Waver

What you need to know: Bed Head, maker of popular hair care products, produces some of the most reliable wavers and curling irons on the market.

What you’ll love: This tourmaline ceramic curling iron heats up evenly and produces a well-defined wave. The tangle-free swivel cord makes using it comfortable and easy. The range of 10 temperatures, going all the way to 410 degrees, means there’s a heat setting for everyone.

What you should consider: The handle mechanism is bulky and can be harder to use for small hands.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Top 3-barrel curling iron for the money

Revlon Barrel Jumbo Hair Waver

Revlon Barrel Jumbo Hair Waver

What you need to know: This drugstore brand waver produces curls reliably.

What you’ll love: Its main attraction is the cost, which lets you give this look a try without breaking the bank.

What you should consider: It’s on the heavier side, which can lead to some arm fatigue if you’re curling longer, thicker hair.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Conair InfinitPro Triple Barrel Waver

Conair InfinitPro Triple Barrel Waver

What you need to know: This is a good offering from a company known for hair care products.

What you’ll love: This achieves the desired temperature in 60 seconds, making it a good choice when speed is required. 

What you should consider: The lack of a swivel cord makes this more of a tangle hazard than other curling irons.

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s


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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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