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Hot Rollers vs. Curling Iron: What’s the Difference?

If you enjoy having a beautiful cascade of curls that fall around your neck and shoulders, then you’ve probably used hot rollers, a curling iron, or both to achieve this look. While both can give you a curly head of hair, there are some differences between these hair styling tools.


Difference Between Hot Roller and Curling Iron

difference between hot rollers and curling irons

Hot Rollers are individual rollers that can come in sets of different sizes to achieve tighter or looser curls. These rollers can be heated and then applied to your hair, one section at a time, and then left to set.

Meanwhile, a curling iron is a single device that heats up quickly and then is used by separating your hair into sections, wrapping the hair around the barrel, and waiting a few seconds before releasing the hair from the barrel and having your desired curl.


Hot Roller Vs. Curling Iron: In-depth Comparison

Regardless of whether you use hot rollers or a curling iron, you will need a little patience to create curls that last all day or all evening. When considering which hairstyle tool to use, keep in mind these differences between hot rollers and curling irons:

  • Safety
  • Ease of Use
  • Ability to Move Around
  • Styling Time
  • Curl Type and Size



When handling hot rollers, you don’t have to touch the heating element. The rollers remain cool enough for you to use without injury.

Curling irons, on the other hand, can cause real injury if you’re not careful. Touching your hands, arms, face, neck, or scalp with the hot barrel can burn your skin and leave a scar.


Ease of Use

hair rollers

Hot rollers are pretty easy to use – simply plug in and wait for the rollers to heat up. Separate your hair into sections and roll each section using a hot roller. Pin into place and wait. That’s about it. Once you get into the rhythm of hot-rolling your hair, you can create gorgeous curls in very little time.

Curling irons, on the other hand, require a little bit of practice to master. Plug in the curling iron and wait for it to heat up. Separate your hair into sections and wrap one section of hair at a time around the barrel.

The main difference is that wrapping hair sections around a curling iron barrel requires more precision than hot rollers. If you don’t wrap hair sections correctly, you may end up with oddly shaped curls or partially curled sections of hair.


Ability to Move Around

One of the biggest differences between hot rollers vs. curling iron is the ability to move around when styling your hair.

After you get your hot rollers in place, you can leave your bathroom. You can get dressed, apply your makeup, have a cup of coffee or tea, browse the internet, or call a friend.

When using a curling iron, you don’t have the luxury of moving around. You have to stay in one place to curl each section of hair. Curling one section of hair at a time makes doing anything else impossible.


Styling Time

curling iron

Hot rollers and curling irons require some time to create a long-lasting curl. The exact amount of time depends on your hair length, hair texture, thickness, as well as your hair’s ability to hold a curl.

If you want to create a head full of beautiful curls, then you will probably spend the same amount of time styling your hair if you use hot rollers or a curling iron. But if you only want to add a few curls to your hair, use a curling iron to save time.


Curl Type and Size

These days, hot roller sets feature different-sized rollers so you can create small, medium, and large curls. Available in varying sizes, curling irons also allow you to create different curl sizes.

However, hot rollers only allow you to create one type of curl, while curling irons allow you to create many types of curls – from wavy to coily to curly – so you have many options.



When it comes to hot rollers vs. curling iron, which one should you choose? The answer depends on what you want to achieve with your hairstyle. Regardless of whether you choose hot rollers or a curling iron, you should take some time to learn to use these styling tools properly to get the best results.

If curling your hair for the first time, consider using a hot roller as it’s easier than using a curling iron. If you think you’re ready for a curling iron, then go for it! Just make sure that you use caution to prevent burning yourself with the curling iron barrel.