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How to Use a Curling Iron
While using a curling iron can be an easy and quick way to create luscious locks, it can also be difficult and damaging to hair if not used properly. The following are suggestions on picking the right curling iron for your hair type, and how to use your curling iron most effectively to get the supermodel curls you want. This guide is especially useful for learning how to use a curling iron on long hair types.
Curling Iron Sizes:
Curling Iron Materials:
- If you want small, springy curls, go for a smaller barrel size such as .75 inch. We recommend this for short or fine hair to give the illusion of volume.
- If you want basic, natural curls, go for the 1 inch curling iron.
- If you're going for voluminous, cascading waves, we recommend a large barrel such as the 1.5 - 2 inch.
- There are various kinds of irons: metal plated curling irons, ceramic curling irons and the newest technology, tourmaline ceramic curling irons.
- We do not recommend metal plated curling irons because they essentially cook your hair, which will cause heat damage over the long run and could leave you with brittle, split, unmanageable hair - especially if you curl regularly.
- Ceramic and tourmaline ceramic curling irons produce gentler, more controlled heat. This is in part because of the nature of ceramic, which is able to produce radiant rather than direct heat. It's also because these materials, when heated, generate negative ions - unlike positive ions produced by metal.
- Positive ions cause the cuticle covering of the hair shaft to open, causing frizz and dullness and making hair susceptible to humidity. Negative ions actually seal the hair shaft, "trapping" moisture, which protects your hair from the heat of the iron.
Other Things to Look For:
- Choose a curling iron with different temperature settings. There are several reasons this is a wise choice.
- Your iron needs to be hotter to effectively style harder-to-manage hair. Hair that's coarse or thick needs to be curled at high temperatures to hold those curls - around 400 degrees F.
- Normal hair can be curled at the mid range of curling iron temperatures. We recommend that you try lower temperatures first (around 280-300) and only adjust up if your curls don't hold up to your liking. (Read on for more tips on curling before you resort to a temperature hike!)
- Thin, fine hair or hair that is permed, colored or damaged should be curled at lower heat settings.
- When touching up curls, set your iron to a lower heat and avoid unnecessarily heating your hair.
- Best of all with a variable temperature curling iron, you can experiment with different settings. We recommend that you test curls from the lowest temperature up, and use as your standard temperature the lowest that gives you good results.
Before Using Your Curling Iron:
- An iron with features like a specialized handle, rolling barrel or swivel cord will be more comfortable to use for long periods, something to consider if you curl your whole head often!
- Another great feature is an indicator light, standard on most of today's curling irons. This just tells you when your iron is heated and ready to use.
- After you have your iron, we recommend you practice briefly with your curling iron turned off to get a feel for it. Curling irons feature different handles that require different movements to use properly.
- Dry your hair thoroughly - wet hair gives limp results, and curls won't form properly. Using a ceramic hair dryer instead of a cheaper metal-heated one gives the same benefits to your hair as a ceramic iron, and won't dry out or frizz your hair. (It'll also dry your hair much faster.)
- Use a thermal spray or heat serum before using your curling iron to prevent any heat damage.
- Comb hair so that it is tangle free.
Setting Your Curls:
- If you have medium or long hair, you'll find it easier if you start curling at the back of your head. For short hair, it's easier to start at the crown.
- The most important thing is to curl only a little hair at a time, in small sections of about 1-2". Separate your hair and start rolling from the tip of the section. (See our combs and clips for easy sectioning.)
- With hair secured by the iron clamp, roll up to about an inch from your scalp. Hold it there for 10 seconds.
- Release the curl by opening the curling iron and sliding it carefully out. If you have long hair, you can pin the curl in place with a bobby pin to preserve its shape while you keep working.
- If there are sections of hair that you don't want curled at the tips, just wrap the hair around the barrel of the iron as described above without using the clamp, hold for 10 seconds and release.
- Repeat for the rest of your hair.
Now you're ready to flaunt those curls all over town. But Don't Forget:
- Once you've created gorgeous curls, use a holding spray to set it in place.
- You can then remove bobby pins, and complete the styling of your curls with your fingers.
View our curling iron selection here!
- Take care of your hair! Even the gentlest heat can wear down your hair over time, so it's important to use a quality moisturizing conditioner that will restore moisture to your locks.
- Take care of your appliance! A curling iron, no matter the material, does get hot and is best kept in a heat proof pouch. You'll be able to set your iron on it while it's hot if you need to, protecting bathroom countertops. And if you're on the go, heatproof storage makes travel easy and avoids accidents on the road.