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We Tried an 'Automatic' Curling Iron

As seen on TV -- and in your wildest dreams!

Sometime within the last five-or-so years, regular old curling irons fell out of fashion. Suddenly, getting a bouncy coif was all about tapered, clamp-free wands, rotating irons, "secret" hair-sucking mechanisms, and now this: The Kiss InstaWave Automatic Curler

You may have seen ads for the $60 InstaWave on TV, enticing you with "curls made instantly with the touch of a button." (I spend most of my television time watching HGTV, so I, personally, have not.) Regardless, the following is my sincere and thorough review of this revolutionary -- and revolving -- new product.

First things first: The thing itself resembles a traditional curling iron mixed with one of those plastic quick-hair twister/beading tools you might remember from the '90s. It could also double as a medieval torture device, or a complex sex toy. (Though, by nature, it gets really hot once it's going... so proceed on that last one with EXTREME caution.) 

It's also REALLY heavy for a hair tool. I don't have a scale in my apartment, but I'd estimate the InstaWave weighs approximately the same as two boxes of mac and cheese. Don't quote me on that.

The second you plug in the InstaWave's industrial-looking cord, the thing starts giving off this high-pitched humming noise -- just to let you know it's revving up, I guess. 

There are two heat settings: high and low -- the InstaWave doesn't want to waste your precious primping time on particulars -- but that's about the only aspect of this product that isn't unnecessarily complicated. 

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The process starts simply enough: Choose a one or two inch section of hair to curl. Then, hold the barrel parallel to it, up towards the roots. (I found this positioning, in itself, to be rather awkward.) That's when things start getting wild. There's a button you hold down, and the little prongs start swirling around in circles and SUCKING your hair around the barrel. If I hadn't dropped out of high school physics, I'd probably be explaining this better. I'd compare it to one of those street sweeper trucks that pulls in all the trash on the road with those rotating brushes. Once all the hair is in place on the rod, let it sit for a few seconds, and slide it out to reveal your curl. Repeat. 

Despite its undeniably neat-o qualities, though, I'd unfortunately have to rate the InstaWave as more of a gimmick than necessity. Did my hair end up curly? Yes. Did the spinning leave me mesmerized? Obviously. But when all was said and done, the left side of my head looked a helluva lot better than the right side (I'm right-handed) and I spent more time making sure I was holding the tool at the correct angle than actually using it. Trying to do the back of my head just made me sad.

It's also not the single-handed hair tool I was hoping it would be, since a second hand is required to hold out the piece of hair the InstaWave will grab. 

But I like to think the InstaWave and I finished our trial with a newfound level of mutual respect. After all, in this elaborate game that we call life -- whether a person or an electronic, rotating curling iron -- aren't we all just overly complex instruments, spinning around in circles, trying our hardest to stand out in an already crowded market -- and trying not to rip out someone else's hair in the process? 

(BONUS: Here's a video of me making seemingly involuntary tongue movements while using the InstaWave.)