Your Complete Guide to Getting Gorgeous, Messy Curls

Victoria Moorhouse
messy curls


Modern day curls are meant to be a little messy, but as we all know, getting your tendrils to just the right deconstructed state takes a bit of work. Nobody wants to look like Shirley Temple, but it’s hard to ascend to the heights of #wewokeuplikethis when you didn’t actually wake up with amazing waves. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are our ultimate tricks for creating beautiful messy curls that are just the right amount of undone.

Air-dired hair is ideal.
Skip the blow-dry (if you have time) and let your hair air dry. If you have naturally wavy hair, this is even better, as your hair will already hold a bit of movement and texture. If you need to blow-dry, apply an extremely light, het-protecting curl cream and rough dry.

Your part doesn’t need to be perfect.
How you part your hair truly changes the way your curls look. There’s a reason those Old Hollywood Victoria Lake waves are always seen with a deep-side part. Messy curls go well with side or center parts, but feel free to change it up throughout the day with a hair flip. However, before you style you should choose the part you like best. It’ll make the whole process—and the placement of hair product—easier.

Curl different sections of hair.
Switch between curling tiny and larger sections of hair and change the direction of the curls. You don’t want your curls to look uniform or like you’re following some precise book of rules. Varying the size and shape will give you that purposefully messy look.

Separate the curls.
This is probably the most important step in getting messy curls. After you’ve curled all your hair, separate each ringlet with your fingers and shake your hair with your hands.

Use a cocktail of products.
Sea salt spray works wonders on breaking up the curls you created with a wand, but that’s not the only thing you should rely on. After you’ve applied a beach spray, spritz on a dry texture spray or a dry shampoo. This will help create that wispy, weightless look. Set the entire look with a flexible hairspray to avoid it looking too finished. Bonus: you’ll still be able to work your hands through your hair throughout the day.

It’s your messy curl mantra. After applying each product, use your hands to lightly scrunch your curls. This will break them up even more, give you that desirable frizz, and create the appearance of a mane of volume and fullness.

Throw it in a bun.
It’s an easy way to create volume. After you’ve curled your hair and separated each ringlet, throw it into a topknot until you’re ready to leave the house. When you take it down, you’ll have a subtle lift to your locks.

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