Styling Tools Buying Guide

Good styling equipment can achieve professional looking results without the cost and time of a trip to the salon. This styling tools buying guide will help you to get great looks at home.

Styling Tools 101

Long or short, up or down, curly or straight: however you style your strands, having the right styling tools makes a huge difference. Today’s hair dryers, hair straighteners and curling irons are built with hair health and convenience top of mind. Ionic, ceramic and tourmaline styling tools reduce heat exposure while placing more power in your hands to achieve the look you want. Sure, there are times when you want to be pampered, but owning your own hot tools, hair rollers and hairbrushes puts a new do within reach whenever you feel the urge. And the great thing is, it’s only a fraction of the cost of a trip to the stylist.

Types of Styling Tools


Hair Dryers

Hair dryers come in many shapes and sizes, but the key difference is the nature of the heat they produce. Hair dryers made with metal and plastic parts generate great heat, but it can be uneven, resulting in damage to your hair. Ceramic hair dryers contain a ceramic heating unit that generates a milder, more evenly distributed infrared heat. Ionic hair dryers, the most popular type on the market, emit only negative ions, which dry hair quicker, reduce static electricity and seal hair cuticles to lock in moisture and create sheen. Tourmaline hair dryers are a new, higher-end option: they generate infrared heat like a ceramic hair dryer and also produce only hair-healthy negative ions. Motor type is also a consideration. DC motors are lighter and less costly; AC motors are a little heavier but they’re more powerful and will last a lot longer. 

Straighteners & Flat Irons

Whether you have a stubborn case of the frizzies or thick, naturally curly locks, a hair straightener or flat iron can get the kinks out. These devices apply heat to straighten your hair and give it a smooth, glossy finish. Flat irons come in widths from a half inch to one and a half inches. Wider flat irons cover more hair with each pass, so they're more suitable for longer hair. Titanium flat irons are known for their durability and resistance to heat damage. Ceramic models distribute heat evenly, making them a good choice for straightening fine hair and avoiding hot spots when straightening coarse or curly hair. Tourmaline straighteners emit only negative ions. This makes for faster straightening times, which reduces the hair's exposure to potentially damaging heat. 

Curling Irons & Wands

You can easily add body and bounce to straight hair with a curling iron or styling wand. The main difference between the two is that curling irons have a clamp mechanism that grips the hair. This provides greater control in forming curls, especially with shorter hair. Ceramic irons and wands with adjustable temperature controls are recommended for the best results and lowest risk of heat damage to your hair. Choose a barrel diameter (thin, medium or wide) based on your hair type and desired results. A thin-barrel hair iron produces tight, bouncy curls, while a thicker barrel creates more gradual, flowing waves. If you have curly hair, a thin curling iron or wand can help you add curls on the top or to create a more balanced look overall.

Rollers & Curlers

One of the healthiest ways to style your do is with a hot roller or curler. That's because they generally don't use as much heat as curling irons. When shopping for rollers and curlers, keep in mind that the length and width of the roller determines the size of the curl. Choose a long, wide roller for big, wavy curls, or go with a short, thin roller for tight, corkscrew-type ringlets. You also need to consider your hair type and length and how you will be curling your hair. For curling wet hair, magnetic, Velcro and plastic mesh rollers are best. Foam rollers or cushioned flexi-rods can be worn to bed overnight. When curling dry hair, try hot rollers or steamed rollers for naturally wavy curls that really last. Hot rollers come in sets, with an electric base for convenient heating and storage. Some models have ceramic or tourmaline elements to reduce static and protect hair from damage.

Brushes & Combs

Every brush and comb has a purpose. Choose a round-shaped brush for creating curls when blow drying. Paddle-style brushes will smooth and straighten your locks. A soft bristle brush is best for fine strands, while stiffer bristles work better on thicker hair. A wide-tooth hair comb is ideal for separating strands of tangled wet hair. A classic styling brush with a half-round shape can be your instant fixer when you’re out and about. Quite simply, there's a size, style or bristle for every length and type of hair and grooming occasion. The key is to have a selection of brushes and combs that meets all your hairstyling needs.

Styling Kits

A compact hair styling kit can be your one-stop solution to all of your daily hair styling needs, at home or on the road. A typical bundle includes a travel hair dryer and a multi-function curling iron with an interchangeable barrel for crimping or straightening. Add your own brushes to complete the set. Not every kit will suit your exact hair type and style, so feel free to customize. Specific tools come in kit form, too. For example, if you routinely curl your hair, a curling kit consisting of a handle and a series of detachable barrels of varying sizes can give you the option of a different look every day.

Blow Drying Tips:

  • Before blow drying, use shampoo and conditioner and then towel dry your hair
  • Separate your hair into sections and blow-dry each separately with a nozzle concentrator (straight hair) or diffuser (curly hair)
  • Use a round brush to pull your hair taut while drying
  • End with a cold air blast to seal in the shine and finish

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Straightening & Curling Tips:

  • Always use a heat protection product on your hair before curling or straightening
  • Avoid using the highest heat setting on any styling tool
  • Use a ceramic or tourmaline appliance for professional results
  • Use a thin barrel for tight curls and thicker barrel for waves
  • Create volume by straightening hair about one inch from the roots using long, smooth strokes
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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