Heat up the flat iron.
Most flat irons will need a little time to heat up before you can use them. If you try to curl your hair with the iron before it reaches the correct temperature, the curls will not hold.
Make sure your hair is completely dry.
- Some flat irons will have different settings which you can play around with until you achieve the best result. Try to keep it at the lowest temperature possible though, to cause less damage to your hair.
- A good guide is 320ºF (160ºC) for fine hair and 430ºF (220ºC) for thicker hair.
- The width of the flat iron is also important when it comes to curling your hair. You need to use a thin flat iron – about one to two inches (2.5-5 cm) in width – as a flat, paddle-style flat iron will not work for curls.
Putting a hot iron on damp hair can seriously damage it — not because the iron is too hot, but because the water will turn to scalding steam. Play it safe, and completely dry your hair first. Run a blowdryer over any damp spots.
Apply a heat protection spray.
- You can add a little volumizing mousse to your hair before drying, which will help give you bouncy curls and prevent your hair from looking flat once styled.
- Brush out any tangles while the iron heats up. Start at the end of your hair and brush out the bottom few inches, then work your way up until you can easily brush through the length of your hair.
If you regularly use heat to style your hair, it’s really important that you use a heat protection spray. It will protect your hair from the damage caused by exposure to high temperatures and prevent it from becoming dry and frazzled looking. Just spray it liberally all over your hair before curling.
Split your hair into sections.
- Heat protector sprays can be found at most drug stores and hair salons.
Even if you have thin hair, you’ll get better results if you work with small sections of hair. That way, you can make sure you’re curling everything and curl in a more uniform style.
- Pin or clip up the top section of your hair. Using your thumbs, grab everything that’s above the top of your ears and clip it up on top of your head.
- Release layers as you work. When the bottom layer of hair is finished, unclip your hair and let out a little more, clipping up the excess again. Continue working this way until all your hair is curled.
Now that all the prep work is out of the way, you’re ready to start curling. Grab the piece of hair you wish to curl and give it a quick brush through to remove any remaining tangles. Clamp the flat iron around the hair and give it a half turn so that your hair is in a U-shape. Hold the flat iron in this position as you move it down the hair shaft, right to the ends.
Loosen your curls (optional).
- The position of the flat iron will determine what kind of curls you end up with. If you want your hair curled from the root to tip, position the flat iron as close to your scalp as possible, without burning it.
- If you just want to curl just the ends of your hair, position the flat iron about halfway down the hair to begin. This is called a flick.
- The slower you move the iron, the tighter the curls will be. If you move the iron down the hair too quickly, your curls will be soft and loose.
- Remember that using bigger sections of hair (more than two inches wide) will result in bigger, looser curls, while using smaller sections of hair (less than two inches) will give you smaller, tighter ringlets.
If you want your hair to look softer and looser, run your fingers through the curls a few times. The curls will pull down and loosen up as you do so. You can also turn your head upside down and use your fingers to fluff up and separate the curls.
Set your curls with hairspray (optional).
- Once you have curled your hair, do not brush it with a hairbrush. It will loosen the curls too much and they will fall out.
- If you brush out curls with a hairbrush, your hair will look wavy rather that curly, which can be a nice style in itself.
If you tend to have straight hair, or you’re worried about your curls turning frizzy or falling out throughout the day, mist some hairspray over your curls. If you want tight curls, you can spray each curl individually as soon as you’ve finished with it, but if you want a looser style, wait until the curls have relaxed a little and only spray them when you’ve finished curling your entire head.
- Choose a loose hold hairspray so your curls aren’t too stiff and you hair doesn’t feel too “crunchy”. Hold the can about 12-14 in (30.5 cm – 35.5 cm) away from your head and spray evenly around your head. Be careful not to apply too much.
- Never apply hairspray to your hair before you curl it, as some styling guides recommend. The combination of the heat from the irons and the alcohol in the hairspray will fry your hair.