As someone who has naturally straight hair, I of course have always wanted curly or wavy hair. Almost every woman I’ve talked to my whole life wants to have the opposite hair texture of what they were born with. I have grown to accept that straight hair is relatively low-maintenance so I should be happy with it and just work with it instead of complaining.
Thankfully, after years of doing my own hair and 1500 hours of cosmetology school (I’m licensed in Michigan but don’t use it professionally), I have gotten better at it and can successfully curl my own hair really fast and easily.
Start with the right products
You have to use the right products! If you curl your hair and don’t use a single product, but then complain that it doesn’t stay, then you are ridiculous. Of course your hair isn’t going to stay in an unnatural state without some help! Use a heat protectant or a product that has heat protectant in it.
Want to test to see if the heat protectant is working? Spray it on one of your hands, and blow dry your hand for a second or two, and then blow dry your other hand. You should be able to tell immediately the difference between the hand protected by product and the hand with no product.
My longtime favorite heat protectant for curling or straightening is Paul Mitchell’s Hot off the Press. Hot Off the Press has little to no hold so it doesn’t get crunchy, but just protects the hair. If you want something with hold, Redken’s Hot Sets #22 is what you should use. If you have really stubbornly straight hair, spray Hot Sets before you curl and follow the other steps below so your hair will hold the curl.
Use the right tool for the job
You have to use the right tools! If you want a looser curl, your best bet is to use a bigger barrel curling iron. Can you get big curls with a smaller iron? Yes it’s possible, but it will not look as even and will take a lot more work. There are curling irons now where you can have interchangeable rods which is the best idea! This way, you only have to buy one tool but get so many different uses out of it! If I had to pick an interchangeable rod right now, I would either get the Paul Michell Express Ion Unclipped Set or save up to get the T3 Whirl Trio.
The best curling iron is the curling iron that has all the features you want. I like my BioIonic iron that has an LCD display with the temperature the iron is at instead of a “low-med-high” option. If you ever get to work and worry that you left your flat iron plugged in, another feature on new irons is an “auto-off” that will shut it off after a period of time. You will want an iron that is made from a material that conducts heat evenly like gold, ceramic or titanium.
Use the tool correctly
Your hair at the roots is the healthiest because you have damaged it the least, so it takes the longest to curl or straighten. Since the roots are the hardest to curl, you need to heat up the roots first and gradually add the ends in to the curl.This will keep the ends from getting unnecessary heat damage and the curl will be more even. Even if you don’t want the roots to be curly, including them in the curl will add volume to the finished look.
Even if your curling iron goes up to 450 degrees, it doesn’t mean that you should put the iron up that hot. How hot the curling iron should be really depends on your hair type and condition, so there are no strict rules, just go by what you see when you curl. In general, thin or damaged hair needs a lower heat setting and natural or thick hair needs a higher heat setting.
You don’t want to hold the iron on the hair too long either. 10-30 seconds is more than enough time. If it needs more time than that, it’s possible you have the heat setting too low or you are grabbing too much hair at a time.
Right after you curl, you can either just leave it alone, or use a pin to hold the curl while it cools. Don’t brush through the curl until it’s completely cool or you will lose a lot of the curl. Use a finishing spray to hold it all together. My favorite finishing spray for everyday hair is as light of a hairspray as possible so the hair is still touchable so I use Moroccan Oil Hair Spray in Light. If you need an all-day heavy hold for a wedding or a day where you really do not want your hair to fall out of place, I love Redken’s #23 Forceful.