How to Curl Your Hair – The Complete Guide

There’s tons of tutorials out there on how to curl your hair, but we are here to give you the complete guide in super simple steps. Once you know the different looks you can create with a curling wand, curling your hair is actually pretty simple. Check out the four ways you can curl your hair.


But first….

What is a curling wand and how is it different from a traditional curling iron?

Curling Iron vs. Curling Wand

A curling iron features a lever-like clip that helps to hold your hair in place when curling. A curling wand has no clip, and instead is just a barrel which you wrap your hair around. An iron will give more of a polished and neat curl, whilst a wand often gives more of a relaxed, messier and looser looking curl. We prefer curling wands because they are often easier to use and very versatile.

How To Prepare Your Hair

Before we get to it, it is important that you are aware of how your hair needs to be before you go straight into curling it:

1. Begin with day-old hair

I know this may sound a little gross, but curling your hair the day after you’ve washed it is actually much more efficient. This is because freshly washed hair is bouncy, fluffy and free of natural oils and therefore, curls are much more likely to drop out more easily and more quickly. Leaving your hair a day (or even two) will result in curls that stay tighter and in place for longer due to the presence of natural hair oils.

Another reason for waiting one day is because it’s vital that your hair is totally 100% dry before you apply a hot wand. Having completely dry hair will prevent that horrible sizzling noise and will also help for the curls to stay in place for longer.

2. Use a heat protector

It is really important that you spray your hair with a good heat protectant spray before you apply any type of heat. Hot blow dryers and curling irons can cause some damage to your hair if you don’t use a spray.

This type of damage includes the fraying and breaking of the hair cuticle (the outer layer of your hair) which results in split and damaged ends, as well as the breakdown of your hair’s keratin protein, which results in your hair becoming weaker.

Heat protecting sprays work in a similar way to sunscreen for your skin in that they create a layer to protect it from the heat. And as well as protecting your hair, the best hair protecting sprays often give a nice shine and prevent or calm frizziness too! However, even if you use a spray, you should still try to refrain from use heat tools on your hair every single day.

3. Use hair spray before and after

Ok so you may be a little confused about this one, as you always thought you were meant to hair spray all over when you were finished curling, right? Wrong! It’s actually a good idea to prep your hair by use a light to firm hold hair spray before you start curling. By using a good hairspray before styling, your hair is ready to stay in the position your put it in for longer. This trick is especially worthwhile if your hair can be resistant to curling.

Common Mistakes

There are several mistakes that girls often make when curling their hair, many of which will result in creating a non-desired look, or worse, a lot of damage to your hair.

1. Holding for too long

How to curl your hair without damaging it? Don’t hold the hair on the wand for too long! With a curling wand you will only need to hold each curl for around 5 seconds, and absolutely no more than 10 seconds. Wands heat your hair quickly and holding the curl for any longer is just going to create unnecessary harm.

2. Using the wrong temperature

It’s important to know how to curl your hair with a temperature is best for your hair type. If you have very fine hair, or hair that is damaged due to coloring, dying or other heat products, then you are going to need to use a lower temperature. If you have very thick hair, then you are going to need to turn that baby up in order to achieve your desired look.

3. Using the wrong size wand

There are tooons of different wands on the market, and knowing which size to get is important. If you have short hair but purchase a thick wand, you are going to find it difficult to use, and you won’t have much luck in creating a curled look. Therefore, we recommend a wand that is 1 inch thick for short to medium hair. For long hair, a 1.25 inch wand will be best. If you’re still unsure which wand would be right for you, check out some of the best curling wands.

4. Not letting the curls cool

If you drop each curl as soon as it comes off the wand, then it is likely it will fall out of shape quicker because you haven’t allowed it to cool. Instead, release the curl slowly from the heat and hold it gently in your hand for a few more seconds, then carefully let it fall into place. You could even loosely pin them up as you go if you are worried about the curl losing its shape.

The Different Types of Curls

Ok now that you’ve followed the advice above, you’re good to go! Now it’s time to decide what type of curl you are after. With a curling wand, we will discuss how to curl your hair to create: loose girls, beach waves, vintage waves and tight spiral curls.

1. Loose curls

Loose curls creating a more natural look

Here’s how to curl your hair to create loose curls:

The best type of wand to use to create pretty loose curls is an oval shaped wand as it creates a tapered and more natural look.

Step 1: Spray your hair with a heat protecting spray and a  light to firm hold hair spray.

Step 2: Section your hair vertically into 4 sections and keep them seperate with large clips or hair ties. Make sure the sections are as equal as possible.

Step 3: Let one section down to start with. Take a piece of hair that is roughly 1 inch thick.

Step 4: Grab the curling wand and hold it vertical with your face, then wrap the 1 inch section around the wand making sure the curl goes away from your face. Start wrapping from the middle down. If you start too high up, it will look more like ringlets. Make sure you twist the section as your wrap it, your hair shouldn’t be sitting flat to the iron.

Step 5: Hold the curl for 5 seconds, then slowly release the curl and hold gently in your hand. Release the section slowly.

Step 6: Continue on all sections.

Step 7: Hair spray your hair all over, and gently brush out the curls.

2. Beach Waves

Beach waves inspired by sea-salty locks

Here’s how to curl your hair to create beach waves:

For loose beach waves, you will need to use a wand that is pretty wide. The Beachwaver is ideal.

Step 1: Spray your hair with a heat protecting spray and a  light to firm hold hair spray.

Step 2: Section your hair vertically into 4 sections and keep them seperate with large clips or hair ties. Make sure the sections are as equal as possible.

Step 3: Let one section down to start with. Take a piece of hair that is roughly 1 inch thick.

Step 4: Start with the first 1 inch section and wrap the hair around the wand starting from the middle. Make sure you wrap the air away from the face. Leave the very end out of the wand.

Step 5: Hold the curl for 5 seconds, then slowly release the curl and hold gently in your hand. Release the section slowly.

Step 6: Take the next section and repeat, but wrapping hair towards your face.

Step 7: Continue and repeat on all sections, alternating the sections away and then towards your face.

Step 8: Hair spray your hair all over, and gently brush out the curls.

3. Vintage Waves

Hollywood inspired vintage style curls

Here’s how to curl your hair to create vintage curls:

For vintage waves, you will need a 1 inch - 1.5 inch curling wand. This wide style curling wand would be great for getting those classy Hollywood waves.

Step 1: Spray your hair with a heat protecting spray and a  light to firm hold hair spray.

Step 2: Part your hair in a deep side parting. Now section the top layer of the heavier side and pin up.

Step 3: Start with the section that is right below the section you just pinned. Grab roughly a 2 inch section and start wrapping the hair around the wand going towards your face. Curl all the way from the top of the piece to the bottom.

Step 4: Hold the curl for 5 seconds, then slowly release the curl and hold gently in your hand. Release the section slowly.

Step 5: Next, undo the section you pinned. Then with the wand held horizontally, grab the front section and wrap it towards your face. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly release. Make sure all the curls are identical in length, shape and direction.

Step 6: Now work all the way around your head, curling each section towards your face. Don’t panic that the curls looks like ringlets. This is good...for now.

Step 7: Hair spray your hair with a firm hold spray. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

Step 8: Now grab a fine tooth comb and start slowly and gently combing your hair from top to bottom. As you do this, the curls with begin to join together. Keep combing until all curls are joined.

Step 9: Hair spray again all over. And voila, vintage Hollywood waves!

4. TIght Spiral Curls


Tight spiral curls on long hair using a curling wand

Here’s how to curl your hair to create tight spiral curls:

For tight spiral curls, you will need a thin curling wand. This chopstick curler could be a good option

Step 1: Spray your hair with a heat protecting spray and a  light to firm hold hair spray.

Step 2: Section the majority of your hair by leaving a small bottom section untied.

Step 3: Section this layer into 1/2 inch pieces (the smaller the sections are, the tighter the curls will be).

Step 4: Hold the wand vertically and wrap the first 1/2 inch piece around the wand starting from the top all the way to the bottom. Wrap the hair tightly around the wand

Step 5: Hold the curl for 5 seconds, then slowly release the curl and hold gently in your hand. Release the section slowly.

Step 6: Repeat until all your hair is curled.

Step 7: Hair spray all over using a firm hold spray.

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