There are so many hair curling tutorials, tips, and tricks all over the web that it just goes to show how much women are interested in perfecting their curling game. What may seem like a simple hairstyle to our boyfriends or guy friends is just not the case (men — they just don’t understand). Curling can be done in so many ways and with so many different tools that the possibilities are basically endless. The only problem with all of these options, however, is that it can be confusing to know how to pull each method off perfectly.
To help clear up any questions you may have about curling your hair or how to fix those pesky issues that pop up mid-curl, we’ve put together a list of helpful tricks to give you the perfect head of curly goodness.
1. Prep Your Hair First: In order to have the most long-lasting curls, you’re going to need to do a bit of prep work. After showering, spray a bit of thermal protector on damp strands and blow dry your hair fully. By leaving sections slightly damp, your hair won’t curl as well as it would if it were totally dry. In a similar vein, dirty hair curls much better than freshly-washed hair since your natural hair oils help curl to hold.
2. Size Matters: If you’re looking for big, bouncy curls, your half-inch curling iron you’ve had since you were in high school just isn’t going to cut it. Think about it: If you’re wrapping hair around a small barrel, the curl is going to be tight (essentially the same width as that of the barrel). To get movie star waves, you’ll need at least a one or a one and a half-inch barrel.
3. Beat the Heat: The rule of thumb is that you should stay in the 300 to 340 degrees Farenheit range so you don’t do serious damage to your hair. Anything above this could end up frying your precious locks, especially if you curl your hair several days a week (or even every day).
4. Avoid a Pre-Spray: We’ve all done it: Spraying each section of hair with hairspray before curling with hopes that doing so will make each curl last longer. However, your hair is screaming for you to stop, since doing this is actually baking the hairspray into your hair — eek! Instead, allow the hair to cool, then finely mist some hairspray over the curl once it’s good and cold.
5. Keep it Cool: Speaking of letting your hair cool down, you’re actually undoing your hard work by immediately touching your curls as soon as you take them out of the curling iron. However, if you’re trying to achieve a looser wave look, then gently pulling on the curl after you release it is actually the preferred method.
6. Pay Attention to Direction: Curling your hair against the clamp causes that annoying kink in your hair. Instead of bringing your hair up and around the clamp, curl away from the clamp so that you’re curling your hair in towards your body.
7. Start in the Middle: Curling your hair from the middle of each section of hair actually helps the curl to last longer than rolling from the bottom up. To do this, clamp the iron in the middle of your hair, roll once or twice, then lightly release the clamp and slide the iron down the hair and roll again. Keep doing this until you’ve made it down to the bottom of your hair and the entire section is curled.
8. To Twist or Not to Twist?: If you opt for the “wrap” method instead of clamping your hair into the barrel, the way in which you wrap your hair is key. Twisting your hair around the barrel will give you more of a zig-zag wave, so if you’re hoping for more of a loose, beachy wave, keep the hair as flat as possible as you wrap it around.
9. Switch it Up: Curling each section of hair in the same direction will give you that mega-curl, retro wave look, however, if you want more of a natural looking head of curls, alternate the direction of which you curl each section.
10. Don’t Skimp on Quality: Remember that high school-era curling iron we mentioned before? It’s time to invest in a good quality ceramic iron (for even heat distribution and protection against damage). Good curling irons heat up quicker, curl better, and overall offer a much better end result than the cheap kind you can buy at the drug store.