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Most curling irons are terrible.
Aside from the various body parts they're likely to singe, many leave hair looking blocky and square rather than smooth and flowing, and they take ages to heat up. And don't get me started on the multiple "accessories" that have to be clipped in, taken out and stored away.
Instead, consider one of my all-time favorite purchases: the Infiniti Pro by Conair Curl Secret. You can find it on Amazon for under $100. This is the all-in-one curling iron of your dreams.
Infiniti Pro by Conair Curl Secret Hair Styler, $60 (usually $80), Amazon
There's a mild learning curve, but here's how it works: You take a hank of hair, fit it in the "jaw" area and close down. The Infiniti ceramic barrel automatically curls the hair around the internal heating element (which always faces your head), and in a matter of seconds, you'll hear three beeps. Release your grip and voila! Beautiful, perfect ringlets!
I have medium-length hair, and can do my whole head in less than 10 minutes. There are three settings for how long you'd like to hold the curl in place, depending on hair thickness.
It's also foolproof, more or less: If you try to feed in too much hair, it will beep and stop curling. If you release your grip, the curl will unfurl regardless of whether it's beeped or not. And you'll only burn yourself if you bring the heating element directly up to your head; it's nestled away quite safely in the casing.
I've found the curls are not only lovely as is, but they also withstand finger-combing, and the waves can even last overnight, depending on hair type. I use the iron pretty much anytime I go out, and I always look like I just stepped out of a salon. Well, close enough.
Those with dry locks may want to spritz on a little argan oil to protect hair, but I've never used a separate product beforehand, and I haven't found any damage to my hair even with semifrequent use (say, three to four times a week over three years).
Honestly, it's a life — and a locks — saver!
See below for a few more curling irons you may want to try!
Harry Josh 2-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron, $185, Dermstore
This curling iron is the top seller at Dermstore and has a cult following across the internet. It may be worth a pricey penny, but it will last you forever and it may just give you the best curl of your life.
The Beachwaver Beach Waver Pro Curling Iron, $199, Amazon
This curling iron was the go-to tool for last year's Victoria Secret fashion show.
Don't fret if typical curling irons and wands seem intimidating; the Beachwaver curls the hair automatically, making it "the easiest tool in the world," according to Michael Angelo of New York City's Wonderland Beauty Parlor.
Conair Double Ceramic Curling Iron, $17, Amazon
If you are looking for something a little more affordable, this curling iron from Conair has a 3/4-inch barrel and a four-star rating on Amazon. It's the retailer's top-selling curling iron.
Follow Randee Dawn on Twitter.