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Back in the day, metal was the only option when you wanted to turn straight tresses into a sexy mass of curls, but modern stylists often pick ceramic curling irons as their accessory of choice. Deciding on which curling iron to use at home can be tough, though, especially if you're on a budget or want to create a certain look. When you're choosing your tools, it helps to know the pros and cons of both ceramic and metal curling irons.
Metal curling irons work by heating up the metal barrel and clip, so you're applying heat directly to your strands when you curl. Ceramic curling irons use infrared heat, which is distributed more evenly. In practical terms, this means that a ceramic iron will heat up faster and give you a more even, reliable curl.
Metal curling irons are simple to use, but they're harsh on your hair. All that hot metal coming in contact with your hair every day can leave it dry and brittle, which definitely isn't the look you're going for. If you hold your metal curling iron on your hair too long, you might even singe the strands. Ceramic curling irons are much gentler on your strands, so they're better for long-term use, but it's still possible to damage hair using a ceramic tool. Using a heat serum before you curl can help reduce damage from both types of curling iron.
Metal curling irons are much cheaper than their ceramic counterparts, so if your mirror is telling you to curl, but your budget is telling you it's too expensive, you might want to opt for metal. At the time of publication, you can easily find a metal curling iron for under $30, while a ceramic curling iron might run you $100 or more.
Ceramic curling irons are fragile, so if you tend to drop things, they might not be your best bet. Metal curling irons are much more durable, so if you accidentally knock it off the bathroom counter, you won't be left with a pile of shards instead of a hot hairdo.
If you want to move beyond metal or ceramic, tourmaline curling irons are another option. These tools are made with the mineral tourmaline, which sends negative ions into your hair to lock in moisture as you curl. Hot rollers are another option for gentle curls that last all day, although they take more prep time than a curling iron.