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Lived-In Review: The Beachwaver Co. Automatic Rotating Curling Iron

* The Beachwaver’s products are the gold standard of automatic styling tools
* The Beachwaver was used on models at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show
* We tested out the S1 model to see if it’s worth the hype

As someone whose has never quite been able to master the art of soft waves (or even come close to achieving quasi-presentable results that don’t wind up in a defeated, tossed up bun), the appeal of a heat styling tool that claims to do all of the work for you sounds like a dream come true.

I liken it to the idea of having your own personal hair dresser on deck in your bathroom (or wherever is it you do your hair), so as soon as I heard that such a thing actually existed, I jumped at the opportunity to test out of these super popular rotating curling irons.

While there have been a slew of rotating irons (also referred to as an ‘automatic’ curling iron) cropping up on the market as of late, The Beachwaver, designed by celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, is without a doubt the gold standard prototype in this burgeoning beauty sector. It’s been touted for its ability to almost instantly (10-15 minutes or less) help you get that coveted “Instagram hair”– you know, those effortless-looking beach waves that are neither too refined nor too flat — without the hassle.

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Even though this hair look (if done correctly) is supposed to exude the whole “I woke up like this,” vibe, for us amateurs, getting a soft, touchable curl with a hint of texture is anything but effortless. Regardless of how many YouTube tutorials I watch, I either end up with awkward kinks like I’ve been playing with broken crimper from the 80s, or super tight ringlets inspired by Shirley Temple.

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Praised by beauty vloggers and Instagram stars alike and used on the models at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, I decided I just had to test out the Beachwaver S1 model. The S1 model is a one-inch barrel ceramic curling iron that’s supposed help you achieve three different types of waves – “defined curls, loose beach waves and glam waves” – thanks to its innovative design features, including a 5.5 inch protective rod, dual rotation features with an up/down and fast/slow control buttons, and internal heaters that evenly heat the iron to reduce kinks and unwanted denting.

Many hyped products in the beauty world that are backed with gimmicky design features, stellar branding, and tightly curated Instagram accounts with millions of followers, often fail to live up to their promises. While your initial results  may not be quite on par with your favorite YouTuber’s tousled locks, the Beachwaver definitely doesn’t fall under this category. With some practice, you’ll get the hang of it and it’ll soon make its way to holy grail status.

Even if you choose not to use the rotating feature, it’s a genuinely high quality curling iron –it heats up quickly, doesn’t rip out your hair with the band, and holds the curls all day if you use some hair spray. In fact, I’d imagine that even pro stylists would find the Beachwaver a worthy investment.

The iron heats up to a usable temperature within 30 seconds to a minute, and it’s equipped with a digital monitor so you can control how hot it gets. For someone with damaged, bleached blonde hair, this feature is much appreciated because it allows me to keep it at a low heat level to prevent further breakage.

You’ll find a series of buttons on the Beachwaver – the top two control the direction you want to the barrel to turn your curl and activate the rotating motion, and the side buttons let you control the speed of the rotation feature. As mentioned, using the automatic rotating feature is an option, though I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to use it, aside from looking for a bicep workout.

As a warning, I suggest you start with the low setting until you get the hang of it. The first time I used it, I carelessly pushed buttons to see what would happen like an impulsive two-year-old, and while no damage or burns ensued, you want to make sure that your hair is secured properly before pressing down the rotating button. Thankfully, if you’re more of a visual learner, Potempa has plenty of YouTube videos (see below) with precise, step-by-step instructions and tutorials.

The fast/slow feature is also great for customizing the effect for different lengths of hair. For instance, if you have short hair, you’ll definitely want to use the slow setting, as the rotating motion might hit too far up on your head and burn you if it’s in fast mode.

Another design bonus is the automatic shut-off feature that will turn off the iron after 30 minutes. As someone with slight OCD and a tendency to forget to turn things off and lock doors, this is a huge plus for me. We’ve all been in the situation of negotiating with ourselves on the way to work when deciding whether or not to race home to check to make sure everything’s turned off, or to walk in late for a meeting. Now, you don’t have to, and you can probably do your hair in under 15 minutes with the help of this tool.

While the Beachwaver comes pretty close to a hair styling miracle for talentless, low-maintenance, or downright lazy hair people, it’s not 100% foolproof. If you watch the tutorials and practice with it a couple times though, you’ll get the hang of it, and you’ll be able to get those effortless beach waves in a flash. It may be a bit more expensive than your average curling iron, but for its ease of use, performance, and top-notch quality, I think it’s absolutely worth a slightly steeper price.

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