How to Use a Curling Iron – 7 Easy Steps and Tricks

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Last Updated: November 10, 2021

Looking to add a bit of bounce to your hair? Want to make sure curls don’t flatten over the course of an active day? A curling iron is a great tool to have in your collection. You may think how to use a curling iron is pretty straightforward, but there are quite a few things to keep in mind (as well as creative ways to use it and create unique hairstyles).

So, keep reading for a variety of methods and tricks to enhance your curling process!  

Selecting Your Curling Iron 

First, consider what type of curling iron you’re using. Curling irons can come in the form of wand or clamp. 

Whereas hair is manually wrapped around a wand to create loose waves, a clamp presses hair in a clip to produce ringlets. 

Your iron can be made of ceramic, tourmaline, titanium or even gold, the latter of which is best for thicker hair.

Barrel sizes can also vary––A typical diameter can range anywhere from a tight ¾ of an inch to almost 2 inches. Decide what’s ideal for you based on your hair’s length (the longer the hair, the wider the barrel you may need). 

Aside from this, there are a lot of waving irons coming out that are sometimes confused for curling irons. For example, the Bed Head Waver. These do a fantastic job at giving beachy waves, but they can’t provide tighter curls if that’s what you’re looking for.

How to Use a Curling Iron

1. Start with Dry Hair

Though you’ll get a cleaner curl with freshly-washed hair, it’s also best to make sure your hair is dry. This will prevent heat damage

After you get out of the shower, apply a heat protectant and blow dry thoroughly to make sure your hair is adequately-prepped. 

Damaged or bleached hair may have trouble holding a curl. To help prevent dry or frazzled locks, make sure to avoid using a curling iron every day. Frequent heat application will strip your hair of its natural oils. 

2. Set the Temperature

It’s important to try to use the lowest temperature setting possible so as not to damage your hair. Generally, fine or chemically-treated hair requires less heat, usually up to only 300 degrees. 

Healthy hair of medium-thickness can take heat between 300 and 380 degrees, and thick hair may require heat between 350 and 450 degrees.

Experiment first with lower temperatures to see what’s best for you. The lower the temperature, the longer you will need to hold the curl while you’re using the iron. It can be tempting to just set it to the highest temperature, but patience will prevent damage!

3. Section Off Your Hair

This depends on the hairstyle you’re looking to achieve. 

For tight, voluminous curls: Arrange your hair into horizontal sections. This will ensure volume from the roots as well as towards the ends. 

If you’re looking for wavier, looser locks, section vertically. The thicker your hair, the more sections you’ll need. Thinner hair may only require separation into 2 – 3 parts. 

4. Start Curling

If you’re using a wand, curl vertically with the thinner end pointing downward

If you’re using an iron with a clamp, open the iron and clip down on the end of your hair closer to your roots. Close the clamp, and gently slide down to the ends of your hair. Then, twist the iron back up towards your roots, wrapping the hair around the barrel. 

Lastly, hold in place for 10 seconds while you wait for the hair to heat-up and hold its curl. Release and repeat for each section––simple as that! 

5. Shake it Out 

After curling, make sure to let your hair cool for further-styling. This will ensure that the curls stay in place for longer.

If you’re looking for a more natural or wavy look, gently break-up ringlets with your fingers or brush. 

6. Add Hairspray

Now, for the finishing touches. To make sure your style holds its position, finish off the process with your hairspray of choice. 

Bottom Line

There’s so many different ways to curl your hair from tight ringlets to beach waves. With these simple steps for how to use a curling iron, your hair will be left looking healthy and voluminous, no matter the style.