Confession time: I’m an editor fully immersed in the beauty world, but I can’t properly maneuver a curling iron. It’s not that I haven’t tried styling my hair with a traditional curling iron with a clamp. It’s just that after a few unsuccessful experiments, I couldn’t get a basic handle on using my Conair curling iron, which my mom gave me as a college graduation gift.
Since I found curling my hair a challenge, I decided to stick with flat ironing my hair for special occasions only. Six months after graduation, it was time for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and as someone who always looks forward to seeing the models’ hair and makeup, I hopped on Google and came across plenty of Pinterest-worthy snapshots of their hairstyles. Each year, there is some variation to their bombshell waves and, in 2015, the VS Angels wore what felt like an elevated blowout — soft, voluminous waves featuring long layers and a center part.
When I dug further, I realized that Beachwaver was the sponsor of the annual event and the brand’s founder and celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa had created a hot tool that appeared to be made for someone like me who struggles with traditional curling irons. After I saw her demonstrate the Beachwaver on YouTube, I was immediately intrigued, although I never pulled the trigger until a chance encounter with Potempa at a dinner party in 2019. Colleagues in the beauty journalism space all lauded the Beachwaver for its simplicity. I took that — and a short conversation with Potempa — as a sign that I needed to give her curling iron a chance. After two years of use, I can safely say the Beachwaver curling iron is straightforward to use and its technology is where it shines above other curling irons.
The Beachwaver’s biggest selling point for me is its autorotation functionality, which takes the guesswork out of curling my hair. I simply power on the device, place the ends of my hair in the Beachwaver’s one-inch clamp and, depending on which side of my face I’m working on, I’ll either press the left or right arrow button. The Beachwaver features a ceramic barrel, which means it is gentle enough for those with dry, damaged or fine hair to utilize, plus ceramic barrels heat up evenly and leave the hair shiny, celebrity hair stylist Stefan Bertin previously told us in our guide to flat irons.
This curling iron is available in three barrel sizes — .75-inch, 1-inch and 1.25-inches — and I opted for the 1-inch barrel because I prefer classic curls over beach waves. I also like to crank up the Beachwaver to the maximum temperature it offers — 410 degrees Fahrenheit — which takes about 30 seconds. The combination of a 1-inch barrel and higher temperature helps my curls last longer and I notice that my hair looks glossier. I find that my curls typically stay in place during the work week and loosen up into beach waves toward the weekend. The Beachwaver also sports an 8-foot-long swivel cord and automatic shutoff after 30 minute of non-use.
Beachwaver also has an upgraded version to my curling iron called the Beachwaver Pro — it costs $70 more than the S1 curling iron. The biggest difference between the two models is that the Pro utilizes tourmaline technology — in contrast to the S1’s ceramic technology — which adds moisture to the hair and minimizes frizz, hairstylist Courtney Foster previously told us.The Pro heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and sports a 6.5-inch barrel while the S1 maxes out at 410 degrees Fahrenheit and has a 5.5-inch barrel — the extra inch is helpful for those with longer hair. The Pro also features a 9-foot-long swivel extension cord versus the S1’s 8-foot-long swivel cord.
A solid curling iron is certainly beneficial for your hairstyling routine, but accessories and proper care can really enhance those benefits. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years — and some that experts shared with me.
- It’s all about maintaining the health and integrity of the hair, so I like to use a heat protectant to create a barrier between my hair and the 410-degree Fahrenheit heat emitting from the iron. As of late, I’ve been rotating between the Design Essentials Agave & Lavender serum and Blow Dry Spray, but also recommend the BioSilk Silk Therapy serum for all hair textures, especially naturalistas.
- Running a hairbrush or rake comb through my hair also helps break up the curls and allows me to create beach waves. I find my Raincry paddle brush gives my hair a soft, fluffier effect while my Diane rake comb creates more voluminous waves.
- Spritzing a sea salt or wave spray before styling can help create texture to the hair — Sachajuan and Oribe both make highly-rated options.
- I like to select the arrow pointing away from my face for the most flattering effect because doing so generally helps enhance the cheekbones and jawlines, according to hairstylist Courtney Foster. “When curling toward the face, it can create a cave, therefore hiding the face,” Foster previously told us in our guide to Dyson hot tools.
- I’ll switch up the directions of the barrel on days that I want to undo beach waves over traditional curls.