Curling irons are undoubtedly among the most popular and versatile hair styling tools out there. But when you’re on a budget, figuring out how to choose one of the best cheap curling irons isn't always so easy. When you go with an affordable curling iron, how can you be sure you aren’t sacrificing on quality? After all, you want to make sure you're buying an iron that's going to last you years, not just just a few months.
The good news is, there are plenty of great, pro-quality curling irons that cost less than $30 — and ahead, you'll find five of the very best. While all of them vary slightly in terms of size and design, each one is a guaranteed fan-favorite backed by hundreds (or thousand) of glowing five-star reviews. They're also all made by quality brands, so you know you're getting a tool that's durable.
Even if you’re an old hand at using a curling iron, each one is unique, and requires a bit of a learning curve. So start out with a lower heat setting so you can figure out the one that works best for your hair type (generally, thinner, damaged, and color-treated hair should keep things on the low side, while thicker and non-dyed hair can typically handle higher heat). Use larger sections of hair for looser waves, or smaller pieces if you're looking to create tighter, more defined curls. Lastly, don't forget to use a good heat protectant to prevent your hair from becoming damaged.
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1. The Overall Best Cheap Curling Iron
The Infinitipro by Conair has a tourmaline-ceramic coating to reduce frizz, minimize damage, and provide even heat distribution, while its smooth surface ensures your hair doesn't snag during styling. This heats up fast (like, 30 seconds fast!) and features five heat settings, from 285 up to 400 degrees. Users will also appreciate the safety features, like an auto-off setting and an accompanying heat shield for safe handling and storage. The Infinitipro also comes in .75-inch, 1.25-inch, and 1.5-inch barrel sizes, in addition to the versatile 1-inch option.
One reviewer commented, "I am a novice hair-curler at best, but from my first use with this iron I've had only good experiences. It grips my fine hair perfectly and makes great curls that last all day [...] The tip is a nice size for gripping. I was surprised to get such a high-quality curling iron for such a low price!
2. The Best Cheap Clampless Curling Iron
Like the Conair curling iron above, Bed Head's Curlipops Tapered Curling Wand also features a tourmaline-ceramic barrel, but it differs in its simple tampered shape. There’s no clamp to mess with here, so this is an extremely user-friendly styling tool. The barrel is 1-inch, the swivel cord is 6-feet long, and it also comes with a bonus heat protective glove so you can style without accidentally burning yourself. The temperature goes up to 400 degrees, while a cool tip at the end rounds off the simple design.
"I'm so impressed with the waves and curls this makes for such a great price. I used it for a photoshoot for my company and was so happy with how my hair looked. Usually my waves or curls go straight within a few hours but they don't with this wand," commented one reviewer.
3. The Best Cheap Curling Iron For Tight Curls
As you probably already know, thicker barrels are better for creating looser waves, while thinner barrels make it easier to create tight, coily curls. With a ceramic coating for even heat distribution, the Kipozi Thin Curling Iron has a temperature range of 260 to 420 degrees. Other features include a temperature setting lock, auto shut-off, a resting stand, and a cool tip end.
"Professional without professional price!" raved one reviewer. "If you want tight consistent curls, this is your wand! This makes the most perfect curls and heats up quick!! The LCD screen makes setting settings very easy! This company doesn't fail to impress and produce high quality products!"
4. The Best Cheap Curling Iron That Doubles As A Straightener
Curler? Straightener? How about making more room in your bathroom with a 2-in-1 hair tool? The 1-inch Kipozi Pro Flat Iron Hair Straightener can give you straight, sleek hair, but its rounded edges mean it can be used to create waves and curls, too. With ceramic plates, an adjustable temperature between 180 and 450 degrees, a swivel cord, auto shut-off, and a hanging ring, this lightweight tool gives you plenty of bang for your buck.
"If you're looking for an awesome straightener at an amazing price point, get this one [...] It straightened my hair perfectly and super fast, and worked perfectly for curling as well," one reviewer wrote. Another commented, "Love this flat iron, works fast and is the perfect size for curling my hair and for straightening it. I haven’t had any snagging or uneven heating. This works just as well as my old one that was 3 times the cost."
5. The Best Cheap Curling Iron For Travel
Forget about plugs or cords. The small, lightweight Conair MiniPRO Cordless 3/4-inch Ceramic Iron is best for on-the-go curls whenever you want them. It heats up in two minutes using a butane cartridge and it’s small and lightweight enough to stick into your bag for midday touch-ups. Just note that though you can bring this on flights, it has to be placed in checked luggage, not your carry-on bag.
"Worked amazingly well," wrote one reviewer. "Was suggested by a friend, had never heard of a butane curling iron before. Was super easy, and made great curls. Extremely happy."