Walking into a beauty supply store or even the hair appliances aisle at your local department store may seem overwhelming. Crimping irons come in a wide variety of styles and quality. Some models have a crimping plate along with a smooth, flat plate for straightening as well if you want a dual-purpose iron. Always apply a small amount of conditioner or heat protectant to your tresses before applying heat to them.

Take a trip to your local department or beauty supply store. If you’re looking for a higher-quality crimping iron for frequent use, your best bet is the supply store, since they often stock professional-grade products.

Compare irons and their heat settings. Generally, the more heat settings an iron has, the more expensive it is. A range of heat settings allow you to adjust heat for dry, damp or wet hair. You may also want a lower heat setting for softer crimp texture, if your hair is damaged from previous styling and processing or you have fine or thin hair. Look for irons that range between 380 and 410 degrees F for thick, long hair, 360 and 380 F for medium-textured hair and below 360 F for fine hair.

Check which irons come with interchangeable plates. If you want an iron for frequent use, these plates let your choose between different wave sizes and styles.

Read the product label to find out what material the plates are made from. Ceramic plates heat up quickly and give an even temperature so you don’t have to worry about hot spots. Tourmaline magnifies negative ions in your hair to give it a smooth, shiny texture. Titanium has a smooth surface good for preventing tangles and snags.

Shop for a crimping iron based on its plate size and your hair length and thickness. Thick, coarse or curly hair does well with one- to two-inch plates. The longer your hair is, the wider plate you need. If you have medium or fine-textured hair, you can get away with plates as thin as 1/2-inch wide for short hair.