The Right Curling Iron For Your Hair Length

Curling long hair in a salon

Hair length is a crucial term that has a direct impact on choosing the right curling iron. For different hair length, you must need a different type of curling irons. You cannot use the same curling iron for both long and short hair. It will certainly create nothing but a mess to your hairstyle.

For the different lengths of hair, you will need curling irons that have different features suited as per your hair length. Hair length has a direct connection with barrel size. In a sense hair, the length is proportional to barrel size. The longer the hair is the bigger the barrel size should be.

However, here is an exception: The 1-inch barrel is considered as the universal barrel as one can apply this barrel size on every hair length from short too long. 1-inch barrel is neither too short nor too large rather it is a perfect sized barrel. This sized barrel is suited for every hair length.

Table of Contents

Measuring Your Hair Length

Hair length is measured from the scalp to the ends of the strands. Hair length is generally measured by centimetres or inches. Hair length has been named or indicated as thousands of names such as long, short, waist length, elbow length, buttock length, upper thigh length, lower thigh length, medium length and much more. However, these countless names create countless confusion as well. Therefore, for better understanding, we will divide hair length into three categories and they are:

  • Short Hair
  • Medium Length Hair
  • Long Hair

Short Hair

The hair length of 14″ right from the scalp can be considered as Short Hair. Short hair comes to the shoulder and does not go beyond the shoulder line. Generally, when we use the term short hair most of the people visualize the chin-length bob cut hair but hair length above the shoulder is remarked as short hair originally.

Medium Length Hair

Hair length that goes down from the shoulder to elbow is remarked as medium length hair. If we talk about the actual measurement, hair length of around 18″ from the scalp can be considered as medium length hair.

Medium length curly hair

Long Hair

Long hair generally does not have any measurement as an individual can grow hair as long as they want. However, to generalize the vision hair length from 18″ to infinity can be considered as long hair.

Suitable Curling Iron for Your Hair Length

When you are choosing curling iron based on your hair length, you must look for a perfect barrel size. Let us see the perfect curling iron with suitable barrel size as per your hair length:

Suitable Curling Iron for Short Hair

Barrel Size: 3/8″ and 1/2″

These two-barrel sizes are ideal for short hair. These small barrels suit short hair the best.

3/8 inch barrel size is the dream catcher for you that can lead your dull hairs to attain those full kinky curls on short hairs. This sized barrel is also the ideal one for touch up. If you want to manage your genetically curly hairs, you can choose this size.

Short curly hair

1/2 inch barrels create tight and short waved curls on short hairs. 1/2″ barrel is very famous for creating the finger waves of the 80s on short hairs.

Additional Barrel Size: 5/8″, 3/4″ and 1″

In case, you do not get the 3/8″ and 1/2″ sized barrels in the market, you can also manage your short hair with 5/8″ and 3/4″ curling iron. They may not come out the best ones but can create average curls on your short hairs.

If you have naturally coiled short hairs, a 5/8 inch barrel is great for a simple touch up.

3/4 inches barrel gives a uniform look too naturally, curly short locks. These barrels are best for creating Carrie Bradshaw curls on short hairs. This sized of barrels create relatively looser curls than the other short sized barrels. This barrel ensures more polished curls.

1″ barrels are just perfect for any hair length. If you have a one 1″ barrel and you have short hairs, you can gently create soft waves on your short hairs with the 1″ curling iron.

Suitable Curling Iron for Medium Length Hair

While you are styling medium length hairs the following features control the final outlook of your curls:

Barrel size: 5/8″, 3/4″

5/8″ and 3/4″ barrels create the best output on medium length barrels. Medium length hairs can adapt almost every sized barrel except the excessively large barrels. However, the 5/8″ and 3/4″ barrels are the best suited for medium length hairs.

Curling hair with Braun curling iron

5/8″ barrels create old Hollywood curls on medium length hairs. Again if you have the ideal medium length hairs (shoulder length), you can get the best retro curls using the 5/8″ barrels.

3/4″ barrels are the ideal barrels for medium length hairs. A 3/4″ barrel and medium length hair makes the best pair. You can create almost all types of curls and waves with 3/4″ barrels on medium length hairs.

Additional barrel size: 1″ and 1 1/4″

As we, all know 1″ barrels work well on every hair length but this one works the best on medium length hairs. The trendiest wave that has been taken away from the fashion statements of this century, Beachy Wave can be achieved on medium length hairs by 1″ curling iron.

1 1/4″ barrel creates almost every type of curls and waves. However, naturally, these sized barrels create bigger curls. To touch up you naturally wavy medium length hairs, you can use 1 1/4″ curling iron.

Suitable Curling Iron for Long Hair

While you are styling long hairs the following features control the final outlook of your curls:

Barrel Size

Compulsory barrel size: 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, 1 3/4″, 2″

All the large barrels are required to curl long hairs.

1 1/4″ barrels create big curls on long hairs.

Curling hair with helen of troy

1 1/2″ barrels create large curls that need long or extra-long hairs to support those curls. These sized curling irons create loose waves on long hairs as this kind of curls demands long hairs for a full vision and appropriate look.

1 3/4″ sized barrels are the rarest, as it is not easily found in the market. However, this unique barrel size worth your purchase as it gives you softer loose waves on long hairs

If you have long hairs and are tired of using time-consuming short barrels, 2-inch barrels will be the real savior for you. Again, these sized barrels are capable of creating bends the latest craze of style fanatic women. Straight hairs with a little bend can be regardless with 2-inch sized barrels.

Additional barrel size: 1″

1″ barrels create perfect Beachy Waves on long hairs.

Summary Of The Right Curling Iron For Your Hair Length

Hair LengthHair Length MeasurementCompulsory Barrel SizeAdditional Barrel Size
Short HairFrom scalp to 14"3/8" and 1/2"5/8", 3/4" and 1"
Medium Length HairFrom scalp to 18"5/8", 3/4"1" and 1 1/4"
Long HairFrom 18" to infinity1 1/4", 1 1/2", 1 3/4", 2"1"

To nail the perfect hairdo you need the perfect sized barrels as per your hair length.

To cut short the long discussion we can say, to curl short hairs in a perfect way you will need short barrels for sure. Just imagine you have chin-length hair and you applied 2″ large barrel to curl. You cannot even notice any change let alone any kind of curls. Therefore, for short hairs, you will need short sized barrels. Now, if we talk about long hairs, the theory will be the same. For long hairs, you will surely need large barrels (1.25″, 1.5″, 1.75″ and 2″).

If you try to style your waist-length hair with a 1/2″ barrel, you will probably need a whole day to style them, as it will consume so much time.


1. What does barrel size have to do with hairstyle and hair length?

Barrel size is crucial for hair length and style. Different length hair requires curling irons with different features. Barrel sizes determine the style and intensity of curls. The same barrel size cannot be used for both long and short hair. The longer the hair, the bigger the barrel needs to be. However, the 1” barrel is considered the universal barrel.

2. Can you curl really short hair?

Yes, you can curl really short hair, though you may need to adjust the way you use the iron. For short hair, the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl will be. Begin with a heat protectant since short hair may be quicker to accumulate heat. 

3. Can you use a long hair curling iron for short hair?

Short hair will not wrap around a long hair curling iron. However, a 1” curling barrel can be universally used for both long and short hair. 

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