Marcel curling irons are not typically what the at-home user doing their own hair is accustomed to using to curl their hair. As pictured on the right, most of us are working with a spring curling iron. This is the type curling iron that has a spring loaded mechanism that requires the styler to constantly apply pressure on the handle with their thumb so that the hair stays curled around the barrel.
Marcel curling irons actually come in a couple of different varieties. There is the type that has a lever that comes with a photo-11 locking and unlocking device that holds the hair around the barrel. So, instead of having to hold on to the lever as when using the spring curling iron, you are rotating the lever to open the iron. You then insert the section of hair for curling and then rotating the lever again the close the iron. This is not an easy task to do on your own hair, especially if you are an at-home user and not a professional stylist. This type of marcel curling iron was initially designed for professional hair stylists to use and you still see many old-school stylists using them when styling hair. Apparently, they give the stylist more flexibility and gives them the opportunity to be more creative. In my mind the professional stylists should have exclusivity to using this type of curling iron.
The second type of marcel curling iron is the type that is not plugged in because the heat is generated from a specially designed stove that the iron is heated in. The irons actually come in round versions and flat versions for either straightening or curling hair. This particular type of marcel iron is more favorably used on African American hair as these irons get extremely hot and work best on very coarse and thick hair. Due to the ability for them to get so hot it is important to test the heat on a stove before applying to the hair. You can also spritz some water on the iron and if it bubbles up it is usually ok to use. Typically, straightening black hair with a marcel iron is faster than ceramic irons. This is in part due to the heavier weight of the iron and oven used for heating. These irons are used by gripping the section of hair that is to be either straightened or curled between the barrels of the irons. There is no clamp to this device and it only takes squeezing the barrels together with the handles for it to work. It is always advised that the right hair care products are used with these irons for ease in styling as well as for protection of the hair. This type of marcel styling iron is also designed for use by professional stylists.