Budget to splurge: comparing 4 curling irons


I love being able to try so many different products from skincare to hair tools as a part of this job! And telling you all which things work great and will give you the results you are looking for is one of my favorite ways to help make your lives easier!

I’ve used the same few curling irons, with an occasional change up from time to time, for the last 6 years or so. While it’s nearly impossible to answer “Which is the BEST?” when talking about a curling iron, I thought it may be helpful to break down the pros and cons of these 4 curling irons.

The irons I’m chatting about today range from $19.99 all the way to $199.99. I explain a lot of this in the video, but I thought I’d share a few quick notes below about the irons!

I’m a big believer in investing in quality when it comes to things you want to last for a long time. For me, that breaks down to anything from denim and bags to blow dryers and hair products. And given my background, I’ve seen how wasteful it can be to buy a few different cheap hair tools over the year that break again and again. While I fully realize that everyone has a different budget, this blog post and video explain why I think it’s important to invest in a tool that will last and give you the results you want.

The irons I mentioned in the video are:

Conair Infiniti Pro Curling Iron 1.25 Rose Gold, $19.99

Babyliss 1.25, $59.99

T3 Twirl Convertible 1.25 Curling Iron, $139.99 (pictured is the 1.5 inch barrel, I mention this in the video)

GHD Curve 1.25 Soft Curl Iron, $199.00











In this post:

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Comments (98)

  1. Posted March 7, 2018

    This is super helpful! I’ve actually only heard of GHD (and I’ve heard a LOT of good things about it) and I have an Amika curler at home. Can’t wait to watch the video to see if I’ll be needing an upgrade. ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Posted March 7, 2018

    That Babyliss one you have is on Amazon (it’s where I got mine from recently when I decided I needed a 1.25 barrel and I think, when I purchased it, it was only $39). I love this one. It works so well for me!


  3. Michele says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I feel,the same! I use my dryer every day, so the $30 quick pick ups from target were burning out twice a year, and becoming a serious fire hazard on the way there! I realized that I was spending a lot of money per year on subpar dryers when I could ultimately spend less on a quality dryer that would last a long time, so I got a speed freak like you recommended (you happened to do a post on it when I had my “I’m through throwing good money after bad”epiphany) and have not bought a new one in two years! Yay!

    Do you find curling irons or curling wands easier to use? I was introduced to a wand last year by a friend and it changed me…the clamps always trip me up with irons.

  4. Jean Ann says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Ok, so I am normally a Hot Tools kind of girl, but one morning, my curling iron bit the dust (and I was halfway through my hair). We live in a rural area, so I ran to Walgreens to see what I could find really quick. I picked up the Conair Infiniti Pro in 1.25in to get me through until I could order another Hot Tools….. that’s been almost a year ago, and I haven’t ordered the Hot Tools yet. I included the link below. I haven’t tried the rose gold, but my curls normally turn out really well and stay put! I have thick hair, but it is really slick.

    • Fran says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      I have the same ConAir curling iron and it is by far my favorite!! I bought babyliss after watching Kate’s blog and thought since it cost more, clearly it’s a better product. I have thicker hair too and my curls always hold, even in NC humidity!! Don’t let the price fool you. ConAir is definitely worth giving a try!!

      • Jessica says
        Posted March 7, 2018

        Fran, I bought a babyliss after Kates post and returned it, I thought the Conair does a better job!

      • Posted March 17, 2018

        Fran, I totally agree. I have a Conair Infiniti one as well and LOVE it. Mine has a long cord and the plates aren’t shiny like this one. I wonder if that makes a difference. I wouldn’t like it if the plates were “sticky” either OR if the cord were short.
        I have a ton of thick hair so I’m super picky about any iron – flat, curing, or wand

  5. Alisa says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I bought that exact Babyliss at Marshall’s not too long ago for $20. Good purchase!

  6. Bailie says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    So helpful thank you!! 💕

  7. Jennifer says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have the ghd and agree with all you said. The curls LAST.

  8. Janet says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Hey, Kate! I SO value these comparison videos because it makes such a difference when I’m trying to navigate the billion options out there, so thank you, and please make more (hairdryers!!!). No one else seems to have mentioned it, but I’m curious about the burn mark on your Babyliss iron. Is that just some old caked on hairspray, or do you think the iron has a hot spot? I have pretty fine, fragile hair, and do NOT need to be burning it, hah!

    Thanks you 🙂

  9. Posted March 7, 2018

    As soon as you said “something that I can say is the best is” in my head I knew you were going to say Kenra hairspray lol!! Thank you for posting this! Very useful

  10. Nipa says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Thanks for the review, Kate. I’ve been thinking updating my tools. I only curl my hair for special occasions and find that my curls never hold. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that mine is a $20ish Revlon that I’ve had so long that I can’t actually remember when I bought it! Do you still use Aquage Uplifting Foam before you curl? Is that different from a mousse?

    • Kate says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      I do use it still! and it’s a mousse formula that sprays right into the root! Works great!

  11. Julia McPeak says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I think I found the link you are looking for on the baby bliss iron, on ulta it is 49$ https://www.ulta.com/nano-titanium-spring-curling-iron?productId=xlsImpprod3540307

    • Maja says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      Kate, is that the one? I’d like to purchase is ASAP. Thanks Ladies!!

      • Jean Ann Howell says
        Posted March 7, 2018

        This one is a 1.5in verses the 1.25in that Kate mentions.

  12. Mary Anna says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have been SO looking forward to this post! After Christmas, I bought a 3/4″ Babyliss and fell in love with it! Now my hair is longer, and needs a bigger barrel, is the 1.25 the one you recommend the most?

  13. Jen says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Thanks for the comparison! I have been fighting with a cheap iron for special occasions but I’ve been wanting to do a bit more with my hair recently and now I’ll definitely be getting a Babyliss! I’ll keep an eye out for one at Marshalls if it makes a difference but I’m totally lost on knowing if one is better for your hair than another. Titanium, porcelain, I don’t know a difference. Could you tell me what the difference between the one you have and the one at Ulta is?

  14. Allie says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I’ve had my eye on the T3 interchangeable wand for a while – thanks for such a great review! Also, I agree – I’m always way happierwhen I invest and take care of quality. Beauty tools. xAllie http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  15. Susie says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Thanks for the comparison! I actually recently bought the Babyliss one in black that you linked and I love it! I have a hair dryer and another size curling iron from this brand as well and they have been great for me! Thanks for the tips!

  16. Carrie B. says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I use a curling iron every day and my hair hold curl really well. I had been using a ceramic plated curling iron from Sally’s (~$40) and when it finally died after 9+ years, I splurged for the T3 (using the awesome code from your youtube video a few months ago… thank you!!).

    The T3 is seriously amazing! I couldn’t believe that there could be that much of a difference between irons. Having thick and more coarse hair, I had always used the hottest settings, but on the T3, I only need to use the 3rd setting and the curls literally last for days.

    • Mother Henn says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      Been wanting the T3. Is the code still good, or has it expired?

      • Carrie B. says
        Posted March 7, 2018

        I just used it last month, so I’d check it out. (You’ll be able to test it before you check out.)

  17. Kait says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Where do you see Hot Tools fitting in with these other irons?

    • Kate says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      I used hot tools for years, the price point is really similar to the Babyliss and I’d put it in line with the Babyliss as far as quality and performance!

  18. Colleen says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    2 questions…the Kenra hair spray is amazing but the nozzle gets so clogged. Rinsing it doesn’t help. Do you have this problem?
    Also, the lip stories Oui lipstick from Sephora is amazing. What lipliner do you use with it?

    • K says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      Yes!! I have the same problem with the Kenra 25! Any tips of the clogged tip?

      • Karly says
        Posted March 7, 2018

        Stick a needle in the hole.

      • Katherine says
        Posted March 8, 2018

        Try letting it sit in hot water for a couple of minutes!

    • Donna Main says
      Posted March 12, 2018

      I was buying this and loved it. I returned one to for clogging and bought another one. It did the same thing. I tried all ideas until I ruined the nozzle.
      So frustrating! Quit buying it!

      • Margaret Mills says
        Posted March 15, 2018

        I read somewhere that manufacturers say to store your hairspray upside down when you have finished using it. Supposedly it prevents those “non-spray” problems folks are complaining about.

  19. Jessica Case says
    Posted March 7, 2018
    • Amy says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      That’s a 1.5 inch barrel, the one she mentions is 1.25 inch.

  20. JNJxn says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Great post! So, I’ve bought a ton of products based upon your recommendations–HA!! Kenra Vol. 25 of course, Aquage Uplifting Foam (which is what I thought you were going to mention at first), Hot Tools curling irons (bought both the 1.25″ and 1″), Babyliss 1.5″ curling iron, SpeedFreak blow dryer…and so many more, but for the sake of irons… I love the Babyliss iron. I went with the 1.5″ based upon the video you did on long, loose curls or something like that you did a while back, and I have LOVED that iron! Looks like the one in your vid here, and it’s on Amazon in varying sizes. I was sad to not see any Hot Tools irons on here! I do love my 1.25″ iron, and the 1″ iron has it’s place too, so I’m a fan of Hot Tools. I also prefer a clip, and sometimes ignore the clip and wrap my hair around the barrel to get beachy waves. Thanks for your recommendations! Very helpful as always.

  21. Kristen says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I use the babyliss and love it. I used hot tools before but much more prefer this one.

  22. Nicole says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Thank you so much for doing this video! I have always wondered if the T3 was worth it. You are super fun to watch. What wbout a hair dryer video? Thanks again Kate

  23. Rachel says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Love this video!! In the future I would love to replace my many curling irons and curling wands with the T3. Not only would it be a quality iron, but it would also save on storage. Less cords to fight with is a huge win! What is the heat setting on the GHD iron? I recently bought the classic GHD flat iron and it does not come with a heat dial either. It’s preset to 375 and works beautifully, but it’s interesting that they do not have the option of changing the heat setting. I’m curious to know if that is a trend among their products.

  24. Kim says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Love this! I’m a big fan of T3.. but Conair did me well for a while!


    http://trendkeeper.me .. midi skirt on broadway!

  25. Coni says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have an older conair curling iron and my curls fall out WHILE I’m curling my hair 😩. I purchased the babyliss and my my curls still fall out but later on in the day. I have thin-ish hair and the only iron that has held my curls is a cheapy one that I got at the flea market (it’s a wand and I’m pretty sure it’s a knockoff) my curls will stay in until I wash my hair. I’m super tempted to try the T3 but I’m a cheapo so we’ll see.

  26. Angie says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Love this!! Thank you! I am in the market for a new flat iron too. I would love to see a silmilar post with flat iron comparisons.

  27. Leah says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    uggggh…why can’t you give a negative review about the t3!? I have had it in my shopping cart for months and want to purchase it SO bad but keep checking out reviews and hoping someone will convince me otherwise…and everyone loves it!!!! oiy!

    • Kate says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      🙂 sorry! It’s really a great iron and I Love that you just pick the attachments.

  28. Marissa H says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have hair that is hard to get to hold curl. So based on your recommendation, I may splurge on the ghd. My question is what size would be best? I just cut my hair to about chin length but will grow it out again, no further than shoulders really. Will the 1.25” work or not until later? I would love something that will get me through this stage too. Thanks!

    • Kate says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      a 1 inch MAY be a better option since your hair is short, and you can just tug on the curl a bit after it’s dropped from the iron to soften the shape so it isn’t TOO tight of a curl.

  29. Kayla says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have the T3 wand and I absolutely love it! It literally curls my hair so fast and I love all the different barrels!

    Xoxo, Kayla | http://www.withlovefromkayla.com

  30. Chelsey says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I never really curl my hair because it just falls out so easily…I always thought it was just because my hair is really thick, but maybe I just need a better curling iron! I just figured most curling irons were the same, so I just bought the cheapy ones. I’ll have to try a new one out! Thanks for this post!

  31. Megan says
    Posted March 7, 2018
  32. Stephanie Kallner says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Hello Kate,

    What size plate do you prefer when using a flat iron on your hair?

  33. Chantelle says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Since the GHD doesn’t have a heat setting, do you find that it scorches your hair? I have SUPER fine hair that easily burns, but I also have a hard time keeping in the curl. So I’m interested in the GHD; however, I don’t want to spend the money if it is going to burn my hair.

  34. Andi says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    The best cheap iron is the Toni and Guy Curling iron. It has a clamp and is all black with white writing that says Toni and Guy on the barrel. It comes in 1 inch and 1.25 inch and is available on Amazon.

  35. Amy Woodward says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Can you do a comparison on hair dryers soon? I need a new one and don’t know what to buy. My daughter has a lot of hair and I want one that dries hair quickly. Thanks so much!! Love your blog!

  36. Heather says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    I have fine, thin hair and have always been scared of the GHD curling iron and flat iron due to not being able to turn the temperature down. Would you still recommend it for me? Thanks!

  37. erin says
    Posted March 7, 2018

    Kate, how to these compare to the “L” shape bend curling iron? Sorry I don’t know the name.

    • Kate says
      Posted March 8, 2018

      These are all curling irons with a clamp but the Hot Tools Curl Bar is more of a wand without a clamp.

    • Stacy says
      Posted March 7, 2018

      Am I the only one dying to know the name and brand of Kate’s nail polish??? So cute, please share!

  38. Mindy says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    Been a hairstylist for over 20 years…..hands down Kenra is STILL the best hairspray. Ha!! Love your blog!

  39. Savannah says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    I feel like Conair’s Infiniti line makes 2 different qualities of iron…the kind of “meh” irons (like the one in your video which I believe is a titanium barrel) and then the tourmaline ceramic barrels which are WAY better! Like above-and-beyond better! So if you are on a budget, go for a Conair that is tourmaline ceramic for like mid-$20’s, the difference is surprising!

  40. Karly says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    Great Post, I’m a fan of my 10+ year old conair and also Hot Tools which work great. My hair curls so easy but I need to try the babyliss!

  41. Jenna says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    I have the T3 Whirl Trio after seeing your post a few years back. Then I went out and bought the T3 Dryer from Nordstrom. Those tools have changed my hair completely. I love it! Thanks, Kate!

  42. Ashley says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    Do you still recommend the Hot Tools Curl Bar?

    • Kate says
      Posted March 8, 2018

      I do!

  43. Vanessa Colquhoun says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    Kate: I love your hair and beauty tips! My problem is that I often don’t have time to dry and then style my hair before work, so it just air-dries during my commute. Do you know of any styling tools that can be used on wet hair? Thanks so much!

  44. Nicole says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    I love this! Could you do a similar review of blow dryers and flat irons?! I’m always wondering what the real difference is between the more cost friendly and higher priced hair tools! I think it’s time for a new blow dryer, but don’t know where to start. I have very curly, frizzy hair that I mostly wear straight. Wondering what dryer is best to combat frizz.

  45. Angie says
    Posted March 8, 2018

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I would LOVE ❤️ for you to do one on flatirons and possibly hair dryers???

  46. Katie I. says
    Posted March 9, 2018

    I’m convinced that everyone went out and bought the Babyliss 1.25 iron after your rave review because I can’t find that size ANYWHERE now! But I’m also so glad you posted this and loved your expert opinion on different price ranges of products. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Kimberly says
    Posted March 9, 2018

    I discovered the problem is the stem is clogged. Bring a mug of water to a boil in the microwave, remove the nozzle and dip the stem into the hot water over and over again. I then put the nozzle in the water and let it soak until the water cools. My last three cans have not clogged so I am hoping it was a defective lot of cans and we will no longer have to go to these lengths for our beloved Kenra 25!

  48. katie says
    Posted March 10, 2018

    I’ve got the T3 and love it. I sold my many other irons simply because the interchangeable barrels saves so much space. I have 5 barrels so I can use whichever I want for the look I want.

  49. Jennifer Hunt says
    Posted March 11, 2018

    Great video! Have you ever tried Hot Tools brand? It’s around the same price as Babyliss and I’ve had good results with it. Just wondering if you have ever tried it?

  50. Amanda says
    Posted March 11, 2018

    The Babyliss in the link is what 1” barrel. Do you have a link for the 1.25”? I have the 1” and it’s amazing!

  51. Cyndi says
    Posted March 15, 2018

    This is great! Could you do something similar for flat irons, if you haven’t already?

  52. Posted March 18, 2018

    I`ve been using Conair curling iron for a few months and really love it! Curious to try others. Thanks for the useful review!

  53. Emily says
    Posted March 20, 2018

    Can you do this for straighteners too? Please!

  54. Jeanette says
    Posted March 21, 2018

    Great video! I’d love to see a post on how to protect your hair while using a curling/ flat iron. Also, Is there anything that protects the hair while giving it a bit of hold?

  55. Cherenique says
    Posted March 24, 2018

    I have a T3 and was super excited to get it but have been really disappointd by it. My curls never hold when I use it no matter what heat setting or hairspray I use. My Conair seems to work amazingly though, I actually have the infiniti Pro wet to dry ( I only use it on dry hair!) and the curls last forever!! It doesn’t glide super easy through my hair but I still love it!

  56. Becky P says
    Posted March 29, 2018

    Can you do a post like this for blow dryers? I need a new blow dryer and I am wondering what do I look for in a good/quick dryer? Is a more expensive dryer better? Does hair type matter? Mine is fine and straight.

  57. Whitney says
    Posted April 15, 2018

    Do you remember what lipstick you wore in this video? I really like the color. Thanks.

  58. Joanna says
    Posted April 18, 2018

    Have you ever tried the Beachwaver curling iron? I got one for Christmas and would love to know how you, personally, would use it and what tricks you could offer! So far I haven’t been able to achieve the exact look I’m going for with mine.

  59. Ridhima says
    Posted June 4, 2018

    I used to have a 1.5 inch hot Tools but I felt it was ripping my hair a lot. I love the look of the 1.25 Ghd. Do you think you can get the same effect of 1.5 curls w the Ghd?

  60. Johanna says
    Posted July 29, 2018

    Quality over quantity, always! I really enjoyed your video. Keep doing this, you are great at it.

  61. Kelly says
    Posted August 3, 2018

    I prefer Karmin.

  62. Taylor says
    Posted August 28, 2018

    I currently own the conair but mine isnt the rose gold version. I have owned conair irons forever because that’s the kind my mom had. I have liked using the irons but recently have had some problems with falling curls because my hair is very long. I do agree the short cord bothers me while using it. I’m interested in getting a better iron so this was super helpful!

  63. Pamela says
    Posted October 5, 2018

    I really like my Karmin.

  64. Kristin says
    Posted October 24, 2018

    I just bought the Babyliss and I LOVE it! My nearly 15 year-old ConAir finally bit the dust, and when I needed to shop for a new curling iron, I remembered this blog post. I searched for it and decided to try the Babyliss. I would love one of the higher end irons, but couldn’t spend that much.
    I cannot believe the difference between my (VERY old) ConAir and the Babyliss. The Babyliss works so well! I always thought that my hair didn’t curl well, but it turns out that it didn’t curl with the cheap wand!
    Thanks so much for your recommendation!

  65. Andrea says
    Posted November 1, 2018

    Hi Kate!

    I’m very curious to see what you think of the new Dyson Air Wrap!

    I love your hair and makeup tips and your sweet, down-to-earth personality!

  66. Amber Farmer says
    Posted December 5, 2018

    Kate, what were those products you used for prep? You said one was at the root and the other mid way and down. Then blow dried. I have an A line bob and I’m looking for more volume and lift at my roots. I would like to use what you use to see if it helps me out. Thanks

    • Kate says
      Posted December 5, 2018

      Check my blog post from 12/4 for product info!

  67. Ann says
    Posted December 19, 2018

    Thank you for the info–very helpful. I love your lip color. Would you mind sharing what brand & color it is?

  68. JP says
    Posted April 5, 2019

    Great video, thank you for sharing! Big fan of the Babyliss over here, maybe one of these days can jump to the GHD.

  69. Jan Sparkman says
    Posted April 11, 2019

    Thank you for taking the time to do all your videos, very helpful.

  70. Monique Belanger says
    Posted May 13, 2019

    I use the Hot Tools brand. Very good curling iron, good price point, long swivel cord, cool tip and heat is adjustable.

  71. Shannon says
    Posted June 28, 2019

    I use the Infiniti Pro but the ceramic version and it’s also $20 and I feel curls stay better with it.

  72. Erin says
    Posted July 10, 2019

    I’m wondering if the short barrel still works for long hair? I read the reviews and even some of the people who loved it said the barrel is short. My hair is very long so I’m not sure 🤔

    • Erin says
      Posted July 10, 2019

      Oh and I’m referring to the Babylisspro, sorry.

  73. Karen says
    Posted May 27, 2020

    Thank you

  74. Posted August 21, 2021

    I’m still confused between buying either the T3 1.25 inch or the babyliss pro nano titanium 1.25 inch or the ghd soft curl tong? Which one of these make more defined loose curls, that last the longest and least damages the hair (I’m thinking t3 maybe does the least damage as it’s made out of ceramic than the babyliss one which is made out of titanium…