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Hot Roller vs Curling Iron: What’s The Difference? Which one should you pick?

Hot Roller vs Curling Iron, what’s the better, which one should you pick?

This question has been highly debated in the hairstyling world. Some may be biased towards a particular device, but each one has its advantages and disadvantages overall.

However, why do we need to choose Hot Roller or Curling Iron?

Well, hairstyling is one of the primary things you can do to make yourself look presentable, and Hot Roller and Curling Iron are just hairstyling tools can help you with the process.

In this article, I’ll give you the difference between Hot Roller and Curling Iron.

You’ll learn more about each curling device’s features and qualities and conclude which one is better for your needs.

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A History of The Argument

Both hot rollers and curling irons have been used for decades. However, hot rollers have existed longer than curling irons and created a long-lasting fad. 

Suppose you have seen films, pictures, and documentaries depicting life in the 60s in highly urbanized areas. In that case, you can see plenty of women sporting hot rollers while chilling in salons. 

You may have also observed that most of the film stars of that era are sporting short bob and beach wave curls on their hairs. 

However, when the new millennium arrived, the use of curling iron became more prevalent.

Additionally, media plays a massive role in promoting various hairstyles and the hair care methods to achieve them. 

Hot Roller vs Curling Iron: What’s The Difference?

Hot Rollers

Using hot roller
Using hot roller to get big curls

Hot rollers have many roller sizes to choose from. You can perform whatever type of curl you want.

Although it can be more difficult to use hot roller for short hair, you absolutely can do it.

When using a hot roller, you need to plug the case in an electric outlet to heat the rollers. Once they are warm enough, you can wrap your hair around it, using a few strands at a time.

After you have managed to roll up a group of strands, you will have to clip them near the scalp and then proceed to the next set of strands. 

Leave the strands rolled for around 20 minutes. During this time, you can freely spend the available minutes on makeup or a pedicure.

After the time limit, you can remove the rollers and enjoy your bouncy, curly hair. 

Hot rollers are ideal if you want loose and big curls similar to the Hollywood stars of the 80s.

They can curl long and thin hair easily. Another result when using hot rollers is a beachy wave style.


  1. A hot roller is an ideal choice if you are a beginner at curling. You don’t need to maneuver anything after setting up the rolls, and you just have to wait a couple of minutes for the heat to do its work. 
  2. 2. It is much safer to use since there is less contact time with the heat. You only have to heat rollers to a temperature hot enough to be touched, and the clips secure them in position. Additionally, you only need them to stay on until the heat dissipates to the hair and remove them once they have cooled down.
  3. While both devices can have different price ranges depending on the brand, it is believed that an affordable hot roller still has better quality than a less expensive curling iron. This is because the latter relies on electric components.
  4. While using hot rollers, you can do other things while waiting for the heat to produce the desired look. For example, you can do your makeup while having the hot rolls on.
  5. Since you only need a manageable temperature for hot rollers, you have fewer chances of damaging your hair than with a curling iron. 


  1. While using a hot roller, you need to wait a specific amount of time for the rollers’ heat to transfer to the hair strands and retain the curl. The wait can be a hassle when you have a busy schedule. Hot rollers need a bit of preparation, and you have to stay in a single location to maximize the heat transfer. 
  2. Heating the base during preparation and unwrapping the rolls after using them can be time-consuming as well.
  3. Due to the many individual components involved, keeping and preparing them for curling can pose a problem. It can be challenging to achieve your preferred look if a few rollers are missing in the set. 
  4. Curling your hair using hot rollers can mean less flexibility. For example, if you make a mistake or fail to curl a few strands, it can be too much of a hassle to redo the process.

Curling Irons

Using curling iron
Using curling iron to try different curling styles (Source: reviewed.com)

Curling irons can either have a cylindrical barrel or tapered barrel. The difference between the two is that cylindrical barrels are limited to a particular curl method.

However, it is more straightforward to use. In contrast, the tapered barrels can provide you more freedom regarding the type of curls you want to achieve.

To use a curling iron, it needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. After a few minutes, the curling rod will get hot, and you can now wrap strands of your hair around it.

The staying power of the curl will depend on how long you wrap the strands around it. 

If you want to try different curling styles conveniently, you may do so using a curling iron. The device is mostly recommended for people with long thick hair.

Still, it can also work around thin strands by lowering the temperature used. Similar to hot rollers, you can also achieve a beachy wave style with curling irons. 

See also: Titanium vs Ceramic Curling Iron


  1. Curling your hair using a curling iron only takes a couple of seconds. This is advantageous if you are frequently in a hurry or only want temporary curls for a few hours.
  2. Because it uses electrical components, a curling iron can be portable. Add a battery pack, and the iron is ready to be used.
  3. A curling iron can be brought anywhere, regardless of where you are. As long as there is an electrical outlet, then it can be used. 
  4. If you’re dissatisfied with your current look, you can easily repeat the process with a curling iron. Its flexibility is only limited by how well you can maneuver the device.


  1. Although it’s more convenient than hot rollers, it still takes skill to achieve the perfect curls. It may take several attempts before you master its use.
  2. The curling iron’s rod is bare, which can mean injuries if you accidentally touch it while it’s hot. The rod’s temperature, ranging from 180 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, is hot enough to burn a layer of the skin. 
  3. Less expensive curling irons are often considered less durable than affordable hot rollers. Therefore, it would be best to have high-quality curling iron to ensure your safety while curling your hair. However, the higher the quality, the more expensive a curling iron can be.
  4. While using a curling iron, multitasking is not possible. You can only do one task as it requires a lot of attention and care due to the potential of being accidentally burnt on the hot rod.
  5. With a temperature reaching 450 degrees Fahrenheit, your hair is exposed to a potentially damaging situation. Curling thin strands at higher temperatures can result in indefinite damage. 
  6. Although they can be portable when paired with a battery pack, these models tend to be more expensive than their wired counterparts. 

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When it comes to their use, both hot rollers and curling irons have their respective advantages.

For example, they can achieve a variety of curling styles. What makes them different is how they are handled.

A hot roller is safer to use due to less heat exposure and multitasking during a curling session. However, its preparation and the removal of curling components can be time-consuming. The adjustability can also be quite a hassle.

A curling iron is more convenient to use since you can achieve the desired curl in mere seconds, and you can repeat the process as much as you want.

The drawbacks of using this device are that you are at risk of getting burnt from the exposed hot rod. If you’ll be careless, you cannot multitask and relies heavily on electricity. 

Curling can never go out of style. These two curling devices will always have a place in any salon and someone’s beauty toolbox.

If you are a beginner, then hot rollers are highly recommendable.

On the other hand, if you are skilled enough in hairstyling, the curling iron is more suitable for your needs.

Nevertheless, hot rollers have slightly more advantages compared to curling irons.

It is understandable why women in the late 20th century enjoyed more curling using hot rollers. These allow them to do other tasks while waiting for their hair to finish curling.

However, in recent years, the number of women participating in the workforce and climbing the corporate ladder has increased exponentially.

In other words, women have busier schedules nowadays. Because of this, curling irons can be more convenient.



I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty & make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!

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