Creating the perfect curl is trickier than it seems, and knowing how to curl your hair with curlers can be a frustrating endeavour. But we believe everyone deserves voluminous, bouncy curls. So, to remove the guesswork, we've rounded up our favourite tips on how to curl your hair with curling tongs and the common mistakes to avoid. So, whether you're trying to achieve curls, waves or something in between, our step-by-step guide will have you on the fast track to styling success.
The ultimate step by step guide on how to curl hair with a curling iron
1. Invest in good quality curling irons
Knowing how to use a curling iron as a beginner can be frustrating. However, if you're still using your curling iron from 10 years ago, then your technique might not be the culprit; instead, it might be time to consider an upgrade. Outdated curling irons tend to distribute heat unevenly, resulting in heat damage and lacklustre curls. Our modern Hail Your Hair curling iron is designed with specialist ion technology providing protection and shine.
2. Use products to your advantage
Beginners often make the mistake of piling on the styling products before curling their hair at home. In the curling process, products have the potential to be extremely powerful. They allow us to manipulate our natural hair texture and style to create our desired look. However, too many products can make your hair heavier, causing it to fall flat after curling. So, be sure to stick to lightweight products and apply a small amount of each to keep your hair full of volume and movement.
Hint: To prevent product build-up, we recommend washing your hair with sulphate-free shampoo and a lightweight conditioner before beginning the curling process.
3. Protect your hair with heat protectant
Before you start using any heat on your hair, whether from your curling iron or your hair dryer, you need to protect your hair with a heat protectant. Using a heat protectant adds a barrier between the tool and your hair to keep your tresses healthy, seal in moisture and fend off frizz.
4. Smooth the hair
Once you've cleaned your hair, you can use a hairbrush and a hairdryer to create a smooth base. If your hair is naturally curly or frizzy, you can quickly use hair straighteners to smooth out any unwanted texture.
5. Wait until your hair is dry to use a curling iron
Learning how to curl your hair with curlers is a process, and if you've ever experienced the frustration of seeing your carefully coiffed curls drop within hours, then you might want to pay close attention to this next step.
Before you start curling, you need to ensure your hair is completely dry. Leaving any moisture in your hair will make it harder to curl and will eventually cause your perfectly styled hair to drop out. So, to avoid this outcome, we recommend giving your hair a quick blast with the cool setting on your hairdryer and then running your fingers through. This will make it easier to spot any hidden damp spots.
6. Section your hair depending on the look
To fully understand how to curl your hair with curlers, you can’t overlook the vital prep work required. The key to creating salon-worthy curls lies in the power of preparation, and the most important step of all is sectioning. Sectioning your hair lets you pay attention to all parts of the hair, ensuring all curls have structure and you don't end up with any pesky straight strands!
To make your hair more manageable, you’ll want to divide it into at least four even sections. You can alter the section sizes depending on your desired curl style. The smaller the section, the tighter the curl. If you have thicker or curly hair, you might benefit from sectioning in three layers.
7. Tailor your heat setting to your hair type
Once you’ve spritzed your hair with heat protectant, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the right heat setting for your hair type. The key to finding the right temperature for your hair type is to start with the lowest heat setting and then gradually work your way up if necessary. As a general rule, the thicker the hair, the higher the heat. And if you have thin, poker-straight hair, stick to the lowest settings. To adapt the heat setting to your hair type, you'll need to purchase a curling iron with adjustable temperature settings, like the Hail Your Hair Curling Tong.
8. Avoid wrapping too much hair around the barrel
A common curling mistake people make is wrapping way too much hair around the barrel. You might think this will make the curling process quicker, but this method won't allow the heat to distribute evenly, and you'll find your curls aren't very defined. As a result, they won't last as well.
9. Learn how to correctly hold the curling iron
Knowing how to curl your hair with a curling iron heavily relies on knowing how to correctly hold the curling iron for the style you want to achieve.
Vertical: If you want to create relaxed, almost natural-looking curls, hold your curling iron vertically; this helps create loose, cool-girl waves.
Horizontal: Unlike the undone beach waves, if you're going for something more traditional and voluminous, then curling your hair horizontally creates an "S" wave pattern, which looks polished and glossy when brushed out.
10. Try curling your hair in multiple directions
The direction you choose to curl your hair will change the overall result of your curls. If you want to avoid creating classic, Hollywood-style curls, avoid curling in one direction. To create a textured look, alternate the direction of your curling iron from the left and the right - this also helps create movement.
Hint: For the most flattering results, it’s a good idea to curl the hair around your hairline away from your face.
11. Use the curling iron clap near the roots
A common mistake people make when curling their hair is clamping the iron near the ends of the hair and rolling up towards the roots so that the hair is wrapped around the outside of the curling iron. However, this increases the chances of creating clamp marks and uneven curls. Instead, the section of hair should be secured within the clamp.
- Start by taking your section of hair and gently clamping the mid-lengths of your hair into place.
- Leave the clamp slightly open and continuously twist the curling iron until it picks up the entire section.
- The section of hair should now all be secured within the clamp.
12. One and done
Learning how to curl your hair with curling tongs is not always straightforward and might entail lots of trial and error. And you might be tempted to keep wrapping the same piece of hair around your curling iron until you've achieved bouncy perfection. While it might seem like you're reinforcing the style, you could be causing unnecessary damage. If your curling iron is on the correct temperature setting, one pass should be enough.
13. How to curl your hair with a curling iron: a quick step-by-step guide
- Take a section of hair - the smaller the section, the tighter the curl, and the larger the section, the looser the curl.
- Position your curling iron – open the clamp of the curling iron, then place it towards the root of your section of hair, with the hair placed between the open clamp and the iron.
- Close and slide – keep the clamp slightly open and twist the iron until the entire section is within the clamp, then close the clamp fully and wait 10 to 15 seconds for your hair to heat up.
- Open the clamp and release – finally, release the clamp and avoid disturbing the curl whilst it is still hot. Slowly pull the curling iron straight down, and the hair will unravel.
14. Cool the Curl
The texture will stretch out and fall much more easily when your hair is still hot from your styling tools because it has yet to set. One of the most effective tricks to achieve the ultimate lasting power and bounce is to let your curls cool down and set. Take each curl once it falls from the curler and secure its spiral shape with a clip. Once your curl has completely cooled down, it will allow the cuticle to close and set in place, making the curl last not for hours but days. If you're in a hurry and don't have the time to pin curl, we recommend cuddling your hair in your hand for 10 seconds for each curl.
15. Brushing your curls
Now you know how to curl your hair with curlers, it’s all about the finishing touches. The end result of your curls is not only determined by the curling iron you use but also by the type of brush or comb you use to brush out your curls at the end.
- If you're trying to achieve red carpet ready waves, use a soft bristle hairbrush and only go over the hair once.
- If you want to keep the look undone and textured gently, give your hair a brush through with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
16. Set the look
It's important to use hairspray once you've finished curling to help set your style. Our favourite is a lightweight hairspray to avoid weighing down those bouncy curls!
Do you spray hairspray before curling your hair?
It might seem like spraying hairspray before curling would help hold your curls for longer. But the truth is, using hairspray before curling can dry your hair out, resulting in damaged locks.