I'm a HUGE fan of saving money where possible and getting a lot out of a cheap item, but all my experience with heat tools showed me that even the priciest curling iron or flatiron from the drugstore would barely curl my hair, and even if I unloaded half a can of hairspray on it, and then tried my best not to touch it, it would all flatten out and straighten within an hour or so. If I was lucky.
After noticing how much better the style would stay after a hair stylist in a salon did my hair, with presumably far superior tools than my cheapy $40 Revlon curling iron, I decided it was time to invest a bit. So first, last year, I bought my first "big girl" flatiron. It's a Sephora Collection Tourmaline Flatiron, hot pink, and it set me back about $60-$65 or so. Still not expensive really, but WOW what a difference! The girl at the store warned me that this wasn't the greatest hair straightener they had (appreciated her honesty!) but I knew even the cheapest one there would work for my almost straight hair anyways. And boy, did it! The difference was night and day! I can see this not working for girls with wavier hair than me, but if your hair is mostly straight anyways, this is all you need!
So next on my wishlist was a proper curling iron. I am the biggest sucker for that Victoria's Secret, big loose curls, bombshell look. But damned if I could get that going on with my cheap curling irons. If I managed to make anything even approximating that look, it collapsed within hours. But then, as luck would have it, HauteLook had an awesome sale...
It arrived a couple days ago, and when I tested it out, once again, I was floored at the difference between it and cheaper models. It curled faster, and it held WAY longer. And I used far less hairspray than I normally would. I even slept in my curls, and woke up with them still looking quite formed and defined, maybe a couple rumpled spots where it needs a touch-up but still obviously curly - never happened before, usually sleeping in curled hair=waking up with straight hair again for me!
There were some cons about this iron though, which you may want to know about. For one thing, there is no dial to adjust the temperature. It doesn't bother me since I usually don't anyways, but it's worth knowing.