Curls vs Waves

Curling technology has come a long way since the days of hot rollers and pin curls. Now, we have technology that heats up within 60 seconds, curling tongs of different shapes and sizes, and waving wands that give you perfect beach hair.

With so many curling and waving possibilities, you’d be forgiven for not knowing the difference between curlers and wavers.

So, what is the difference between the two?


The Tool

When looking at the two different tools it’s pretty obvious that they look different.

Wavers are tongs with three barrels (hence why they’re commonly called triple-barrel wavers) that clamp the hair in sections to create deep waves. They look like traditional hair crimpers, however they tend to have three extra-large barrels instead of lots of small barrels that create a zig-zag effect.

Curlers (also known as curling tongs or curling irons) have a single cylindrical barrel that heats up. More traditional curling irons have a clamp that are designed to hold your ends in place. However, lots of people are now opting for clampless curling irons which is more beneficial for dry and damaged hair as you keep the cuticles from being exposed to high heat by keeping them unclamped.



The Materials

Both wavers and curlers can be made from different materials; ceramic plates, ceramic coating, titanium, infrared, tourmaline and more.

We recommend using hot tools that are ionic ceramic (plot twist: all Mermade tools are). This is because hair is typically charged with negative ions, especially after wash day, which essentially open up the hair cuticle which causes hair breakage, damage and frizz. Ionic technology emits positive ions that counteract the negative ions, so they seal the hair cuticle which protects it from breakage and damage. Combined with ceramic, your hair has no unnecessary heat damage, is shinier, healthier and frizz-free.

Pro tip: always use a heat protectant to minimise any possible heat damage. 

The Usage

Wavers work more like crimpers; you clamp, hold and release, move down, re-clamp, hold and release. To get the most seamless wave, as you move down the hair you want to re-clamp the last wave bend with the first waver barrel.

To create bigger, bouncier waves, choose a triple-barrel waver with a bigger barrel size and wave bigger sections of hair. To get a tighter beachy look, use a smaller waver with smaller sections of hair.

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A post shared by Mermade Hair (@mermade.haCurled hair has more of a ringlet/coiled shape from being wrapped around the barrel. They can be left neat and tight or brushed out for softer, bouncier curls. Different sized curling wands will create a different type of curl.


Curlers are super simple to use as hair is wrapped around the barrel. Curling irons that feature a clamp are designed to hold the ends in place as you wind the curling tong up the hair shaft.

Curling tongs with no clamp work by letting you wrap your hair around the barrel. You can more easily manipulate the direction in which the curls rotate using a clampless curling iron, and also minimising hair breakage.

The Look

The hair strands from deep wavers tend to be manipulated into an ‘S’ shape. These waves are softer than curls and can be big and bouncy or tight and rippled depending on the waver size you opt for.

Both waves and curls are created by applying heat to the hair cuticle. The best way to protect your hair from heat is by prepping your hair with a heat-protectant spray, like the Mermade Mist.

The Outcome

Not sure what tool to buy? Well, with our interchangeable Style Wand kit we’ve removed decision fatigue from you. The kit comes with a universal base, 2x curling heads and a waver head, so all you have to do is swap the attachments. It’s the 3-in-1 hot hair tool you need in your life.