It’s funny how straight haired girls always want curly hair and curly haired girls reach for the hair straighteners to try and get smooth, sleek and shiny straight hair! However, while we can’t change what we’re born with, we can certainly take steps to change our hair type as and when we feel like it. Even if your hair is poker straight and you think you can’t get a bend out of it, you can. That’s because today’s hair tool products are so advanced and made with state-of-the-art technology, they can pretty much do anything to any hair type.
The Importance of Heat Protection
Before we look into the best ways to curl hair, I have a word of caution. Whether you have incredible quality virgin hair that has never been chemically processed or colored or you have damaged, distressed and broken hair, you must use heat protection before styling. Hair can only protect itself to a certain degree and using high temperatures does dehydrate hair and cause it stress. The only way around this is to make sure you use good quality hair preparation (that means shampoo, conditioner and treatments) and a heat protection spray which acts as a barrier between the heat and your hair. Don’t attempt any heated styling without it!
Dry or Damp Styling?
There’s lots you can do with both dry and damp hair. Obviously, never use heated styling tools on wet or damp hair, make sure that if you use straighteners, curling wands, curling irons or curling tongs your hair is dry and protected with spray. You can style your hair from damp using a hair dryer, a hot hair brush (one that blows hot air) or even without any heated styling tool at all. The main thing is preparation as mentioned above.
There are two types of rollers, heated and non-heated rollers. Let’s start with heated rollers. Generally, these are designed for almost dry or dry hair. Start by heating up your set of rollers to the desired temperature (don’t go too high, you could damage your hair). Then wind up a section of your hair preferably at the back and clip the roller in place.
Some rollers come with clips, others self-lock together. Look for heated rollers that are right for your hair type. Too slim and you will have too much hair to wrap around. If you have long or thick hair, too large and you won’t get short or fine hair around them. It’s best to find a set of mixed-size rollers.
Generally, the heat in rollers lasts around 15 minutes. Play around with the timings though as you may only need to sit with them in for 10 minutes. Once you’re ready to unroll, wind out the curls one-by-one.
Non-heated rollers aren’t as effective as heated rollers, or as quick! However, you can roll up damp hair in them and sleep in them overnight. Again, choose the right size for your hair type and wind hair up, clipping in place. To speed up the process you could use a hair dryer over your head to dry out hair or if you have a floor-standing hair dryer, why not enjoy some R&R with a magazine while waiting for them to dry? Once dry, you should have some pretty curls.
2 Hot Air Brushes
These brushes are excellent for boosting hair with body and movement. You’ll find you get curl into your hair but it won’t be ringlet curls. Expect large, voluminous curls or waves, depending on your hair type. If you have no curl in your hair at all, these brushes won’t be right for you, but you will be able to get more body into your hair instead.
It’s a good idea to use a curl preparation cream beforehand to encourage your hair to curl too (put it on after the heat protecting spray). Try and use the hot air brush on hair that is lightly damp and section your hair out before using. Then unwind the first section and use the brush as you‘d use a barrel brush with a hair dryer (except you don’t need the hair dryer).
Once you’ve dried a section and unwound the curl, wind it back up and pin it to your head to encourage it to set. Repeat this around your head until you’ve finished and then release all the pins. You should reveal big, bouncy curls.
3 Curling Wands
Notoriously the best way of achieving curls in any hair type is with a curling wand because these are manufactured to create curls! Thin wands will create smaller curls (and are best for short hair); thicker wands will create larger, loopier curls and are good for longer, thicker hair as they can cope with more hair at once.
The main disadvantage to curling wands is that they do heat up to very high temperatures so you should be wary of holding hair around the barrel for too long. They also tend to burn fingers, so use a heat protecting glove (usually supplied).
Always use these on dry hair. As above, section out hair and start at the back, wind hair around the barrel loosely or tightly (depending on the curl you want to achieve) and hold for a few seconds before releasing the curl.
You can pin the curl back to the head or leave it loose if you want (curling wand curls tend to last longer). Repeat all over the head. Remember; don’t ever heat your curling wand too high. If your hair is already damaged, it’s best to use a low heat setting and keep it low for fine, colored or chemically treated hair.
4 Curling Tongs
Similar to curling wands, curling tongs have been on the market for many years. Generally, they are made out of ceramic tourmaline or titanium and look a little like a wand but have a clamping attachment on them. You only use curling tongs on dry hair (never be tempted to use them on wet hair as you will fry it!).
Be aware, that like curling wands, tongs heat up to extreme temperatures so protect your hair properly from the heat and only use the right setting for your hair type. It’s a good idea to section hair out before using tongs. Starting at the back, unwind the first section (approximately 1” of hair) and wind it around the barrel using the clamp to hold the curl in place. Then wait a few seconds and release your curl. Wind hair very close together for tight curls or loosely for loopy looking curls.
5 Hair Straighteners
Some people use hair straighteners to create curls but it’s best to choose a hair straightener with a rounded end or you end up with curls that have a bend in them (rather than a smooth-looking curl). Again, use the right heat protection and heat setting for your hair type and only ever use hair straighteners on dry hair.
Start by sectioning out your hair. Then take the first section at the back and wind hair around the bottom plate, using the top plate to hold it in place. Only hold shut your straighteners for a few seconds and then release your curl. Wind hair tightly for small curls and loosely for loopier curls.
6 Hair Dryer and Brush
Of course, a good old-fashioned hair dryer and round brush is a great way to get curl into hair. As a tip, have a collection of different round brushes available and then as you style each section of your hair, you can keep the rolling brush in your hair to “set” the curl. You only need four, just keep rotating them as you blow dry each area.
Section out damp hair first and start at the back. Unwind the first section and then roll up and down with your round brush while using the hair dryer to dry the area. Once completely dry, roll the brush back up, leave it in and concentrate on the next section. When you run out of brushes, take the first one out and so on!
Curling Hair Extensions
If you have hair extensions, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to curl them up too. However, you should be extra cautious as hair extensions are just as prone to damage as your natural hair plus you don’t want to put too much stress on them and cause them to fall out.
All of the above methods can be used on hair extensions. If you choose to use heated styling tools, be careful not to heat up the attached area of your hair extension because this area is notoriously weaker as it’s already putting pressure on natural hair. It’s best to avoid using hot styling tools at the point of attachment. As with normal hair, always use heat protection.
I hope this piece helps you create the curly look you dream of!