Ladies, to add some pizazz to your hair, we have an arsenal of tools on our sinks or under our counters that at our disposal to help us achieve the look we are going for. We have a straightener, a blow dryer, a crimper (though who uses those nowadays?), hair rollers, pins, and of course, the all mighty curling iron. With all of these tools to help us express ourselves, we could still use some help mastering the tricks of the trade—in this case, mastering the curling iron.
If you’re new to using a curling iron, or you just want to be a little more skillful with using your tool, we’ve got you covered. Here are some incredibly useful curling iron tips, tricks, and hacks that will have you wielding a curling iron like a pro.
1. Choosing the Right Barrel Size
The size of the barrel that you choose will determine the size of the curls you’ll get. The curling irons range from a 2-inch barrel, which will give you large, voluminous curls (, whereas a small 3/8 of an inch barrel will result in a tight curl (think Shirley Temple). There are also triple barrel curling irons which will result in a not-so-crimped look, a la 1980s.
2. Curling Wands Are Different Than Curling Irons
Curling wands are a lot like curling irons, as they can give you curls based on what sized barrel you choose. If you’re looking for heat tool that will give you glorious beachy waves, the curling wand will be your best bet. Since a wand tends to be tapered at the end, you’ll wind up with a more natural looking curl. Oh, and can we say “Hurray!” for no clamp marks?
3. Tight, Thin Curls
If you want to achieve tight, thin curls, you might want to twist a small portion of hair before you use the curling iron on it. These tighter curls can be great when you have an updo, and you want to add some extra embellishments. If you already have wavy or curly hair, and you want to add more definition to your locks, this is a great way to do that. Remember barrel size counts!
4. Hairspray Before You Curl
Before you start curling your hair, spritz some hairspray on your locks. Not only will it keep your hair from feeling too sticky like when you spray post curl, but the heat will help the hair spray hold longer. This tip works regardless of the size curl you’re going for, so don’t worry if you want volume or tight corkscrew curls.
5. Curl Away From Your Face If You’re Going for a Natural Look
If you want to achieve a natural looking wavy hairstyle with your curling iron, curl your hair back away from your face. In other words, this means that you will want to curl clockwise on the right side of your head and counterclockwise on the other side.
6. Slide Your Hair Out of the Iron/Off the Wand, and into Your Hand First To Let it Cool
When you are curling your hair, your first instinct might be to let the curl simply fall. You probably aren’t going to want to do this because the weight of the hair will stretch out the curl, thus not letting it hold for long. Instead of letting the curl drop, let the curl fall into your hand and let it cool for a little bit first. This will let the curl set, and it’ll hold much longer.
7. Clip Your Curls In Place Right After Curling To Allow Them to Fully Cool and Set
If you want your curls to maintain their form, go one step further by clipping them at the top of your head as soon as you take them off the curling iron. Spritz them with a bit of holding spray before you unclip them for maximum curl.
8. Curl Your Hair Down The Iron
As you are wrapping your hair around the barrel of your curling tool, you’ll want to curl the hair by the root first and then twist your hair downward toward the tip of the barrel. This will give you a full curl, and the ends of the curl will taper naturally. Also, you should remember that the tighter you twist your hair onto the barrel, the tighter your curls will be.
9. Cleaning Your Curling Iron
After using all that hairspray on your hair before you curl it, it is going to build up on your curling iron. You’ll want to clean the barrel regularly to ensure that it keeps working as it should. You can clean it by using a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water on a rag. When your iron is completely cool, only then can you wipe the barrel down with the cleaning solution. Why? Rubbing alcohol, even if only a little bit, is flammable, and we wouldn’t want to cause any accidents!
10. When Traveling, Store Your Curling Iron in a Cooling Bag
Whether you purchase a cooling case, or you make one yourself, these special bags are perfect for those instances when you’re in a hurry, and you need to put your curling iron away, but it isn’t cool yet. The neat thing about these cooling bags is that you can use them for any styling tool that uses heat and if you don’t have a lot of money, or you don’t have any sewing skills, you can always use a pot holder—it works the same way!
11. For Loose Curls, Hold The Iron Horizontally
If you want tighter curls with more bounce, hold your curling iron horizontally and twist up. If you want looser curls that give your hair a nice soft wave, hold the iron vertically. When you’re pulling the hair out of the vertical curling iron, you can pull the iron down for a flat curl, or you can pull it upward and away if you want to achieve a voluminous look.