When you are using a curling iron, odds are you are mainly focused on your luscious locks. However, you may occasionally wonder just how that metal wand gets heated and makes those curls without burning up your delicate tresses. Curling irons are remarkably simple devices that are both interesting and ingenious.


History

In the past, men and women straightened and curled hair using tongs heated in the fire. As time passed, irons and uniquely designed spiral wands allowed for more flexibility, but people were still literally styling with their heads in the fire, which was dangerous to both their look and their health. With the advent of electricity, however, came the electric curling iron, and the original model is, in many ways, very similar to the models we use today.


Function

Curling irons have four basic parts. The cord provides electricity. The heating element is located inside the iron and warms the metal wand or plates. The temperature gauge prevents the iron from becoming too hot, and the handle houses a clamp to hold the hair in place while it is heated. These basic components work together to allow you to hold the curling iron without getting burned and to style your hair with the heated barrel.

Types

Each of the parts of a curling iron performs a specific function. However, these functions vary based on the components of the part. For example, a tourmaline barrel will help hair slide easily across the heated surface so that you can create waves or even straighten the hair. On the other hand, a barrel with a clamp that is made out of Teflon or aluminum will hold hair more securely for more structured styles.

Features

The most important parts of the curling iron are definitely in the barrel. This is where the heating element is located, which determines how hot the iron can get. The barrel also can be designed to create spiral curls, flatten hair or even crimp designs like hearts or stars into the hair.

Considerations

While the basic parts of curling irons are the same, they are not at all identical. You need to factor in what the parts are made of when you buy a curling iron. For example, if you have delicate, fine hair, then you need a curling iron with a temperature gauge that stops at lower temperatures so that you do not singe your hair. If you have extremely curly hair, you may need a barrel that will allow the hair to slide through as you straighten it into shining waves.

Warning

Never leave any curling iron within reach of children. They can cause serious burns, scarring and, in rare cases, death if handled inappropriately. Once you have finished with a curling iron, be sure to store it out of reach of any curious children who may want to emulate your styling session.

References and Resources

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