How to Curl Your Own Hair at Home Like a Pro Voluminous, shiny curls look gorgeous on any hair length, color, and texture. If you weren't blessed with 'em naturally, there are some super simple ways to get those waves. So how exactly can your curl your hair yourself?


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What to know before you curl

Regardless of the tool you use, here are some tips you'll want to keep in mind before styling:

Always prep and protect your hair. Before curling with any method involving hot tools, apply a heat-protectant product, dry hair fully, and “brush through it to detangle and align strands,” says Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann.

Choose the right tool. Larger barrels form looser curls, while smaller ones make them tighter. For ringlets (or hard-to-curl hair), choose 1-inch barrels and smaller. For looser curls and waves, opt for 1.5-2-inch barrels.

Pick the right temperature range depending on your hair type:

  • For fine or damaged hair: 180°F to 370°F
  • For normal thickness, healthy hair: 375°F to 395°
  • For thick hair: 400°F to 420°F

Wait for hair to cool before touching it to avoid disrupting the style. When you're finished styling, mist hair with hairspray and only once hair is cool, rake through curls with your fingers to separate.

How to Curl Hair With a Curling Iron

For control and definition, go for a curling iron with a clamp. A few speedy steps will guarantee shapely, lasting spirals, according to Beauty Lab experts:

  1. Do the twist(s). Near the roots of a 1-inch section of hair, clamp the curling iron down, then wrap strands around the barrel away from your face.
  2. Hold for 10 seconds, release and let curl cool to set, then repeat on the remaining sections.

How to Curl Hair With a Flat Iron or Straightener


Your flat iron can do more than straighten: Bryce Scarlett, celebrity hairstylist for Moroccanoil, tells us how to give it a whirl:

Use a flat iron for beachy waves

  1. Start at your brow. Take a 1-inch-wide section of hair and clamp your flat iron at eyebrow level.
  2. Make S-shapes through the hair. Repeatedly clamp and release down the section, while holding the ends of hair, moving from side to side in an “S” shape.
  3. Leave out the ends. Stop styling just before you reach the tips of your hair; repeat all over.

Get curls with your flat iron

  1. Start at the root. Clamp your flat iron near the roots of a 1-inch-wide portion of hair.
  2. Spin the iron. Twist the iron away from your face and pull, moving down to the ends “as if you were curling a ribbon with scissors,” Scarlett says.
  3. Repeat on the remaining sections. 


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How to Curl Hair With a Curling Wand


A curling wand, which has no clamp, creates looser curls and waves (tapered versions can form spirals of different sizes). The best method, from Matilde Campos, a celebrity hairstylist in Los Angeles:

  1. Protect your hand. Slip a heat-resistant glove on the hand that's not holding the curling wand to shield it from getting burned, especially if you are new to the method, she advises.
  2. Smooth and section. Just like using a curling iron, brush your hair completely and separate it into 1-inch sections.
  3. Get curling. Hold the wand vertically, pointing the tip down, Wizemman recommends. Take a section of hair at the roots and wrap it around the barrel of the lowest section of the wand, twisting away from your face until you reach the ends. "You can curl all the way to the ends of your hair, or you can leave the ends out for a beachy look," Campos says. Repeat all over.

How to Curl Hair With Rollers


Curling hair using rollers has added benefits beyond creating bouncy spirals. "Rollers are an easy way to add and retain volume," Campos says. "If you're ever in a rush, hot rollers can smooth and define hair quicker than a blow-dry." Here's her technique for different roller types:

Using hot rollers

  1. Start right. Make sure your hair is dry and brushed out, and choose the largest rollers in the set if there are multiple.
  2. Section and wind. Take a 1-inch section of hair and starting at the ends, wind strands around the roller toward your roots until all of the piece is wrapped around.
  3. Repeat. Do the same on the rest of hair and allow the rollers to cool before unwinding.

With velcro or foam rollers

1. Dry first. Blow-dry hair in small sections using a round brush, twisting each around a roller once dry to set the curl. "This allows the hair to cool as you continue to the other
sections," she explains.

2. Work on the rest. Repeat on the remaining hair.

3. Secure the style. Once all sections are in rollers, spritz them with hairspray to set the bend, then wait a few minutes to unwind each. "If you have time, leave them as long as possible to help them retain their shape and bounce," Campos suggests.

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