I have straight, fine, flat (aka boring) hair. My older, way cooler and prettier sister does not. She was blessed with big, voluminous curls that always look effortlessly bouncy. From the day I started watching her get ready in front of the mirror in high school -- for yet another date with some football-playing dream machine -- I envied every coil on her perfect head.
That's when I started experimenting with the curling iron. I call it "experimenting" because after all these years, I still haven't figured out how to perfectly curl my hair. Luckily, I got celebrity hairstylist Amita Moticka, director of cutting education for diPietro Todd salons and academy to finally give me tips on how to use a curling iron like a pro. Here's what she spilled:
Curling tip 1: Choose the right sized iron
All curling irons were not created equal, so if you want to keep your hair healthy and achieve the look you're after, you need to know what to look for in an iron. Here is a basic rundown:
First, size them up. The barrel size you choose should be based on the look you want to achieve. If you want to create loose curls or "beachy" waves, pick an iron that is one to two inches in diameter. If you want smaller, tighter ringlets, go for a .75 to one-inch thick iron, says Moticka.
Curling tip 2: Choose the right heat setting for your hair
Second, know how hot to go. Your hair type should determine your heat setting, and you'll need an iron with variable heat settings in order to control it (so look for that feature at time of purchase). If your hair is fine, fragile or color treated, use a low heat setting -- below 200 degrees -- to avoid burning or damaging your hair. If you already have curly, coarse or thick hair, you can go higher -- between 200-300 degrees, says Moticka. As you curl your hair, notice how it responds to the heat and increase the temperature accordingly. Never go above 400 degrees though, she warns.
Irons to try:
Conair Instant Heat 1" Curling Iron, $11.99.
Curling tip 3: Prep hair properly for heat styling
you've found the iron that best suits your needs, the next crucial step to curling your hair like a pro is preparing your hair for the heat it's about to endure. Here's how to do it:
Prep: If your hair is naturally oily and limp, start by washing and conditioning with volumizing products. Then spray damp hair from roots to ends with a thermal heat protectant to prevent damage. Next, apply a strong-hold mousse like Rene Furterer Structuring Mousse, $13.99 on your roots (for a fuller look) or from mid-shaft to ends (for a looser, softer look). Blow dry hair upside down with your hands until hair is completely dry, says Moticka.
Curling tip 4: How to get bouncy curls
Now that you know how to properly prep your hair, here is how Moticka says to get bouncy, tight curls that last (if that's an issue for you).
Start by dividing and clipping your dry hair into manageable sections. Of course, the more hair you have and the thicker it is, the more sections you'll need to create. Working from the nape of your neck up first, grab a one-inch section and comb through it. Pick up the section at the ends and mist with a light-hold hairspray to create lift. If your iron is a spring barrel iron (meaning it has a clamp) clamp hair at the ends and roll up until it is completely around the barrel. If you are working with a clamp-less iron, wrap a section around the barrel starting at the roots. Hold hair on the iron for 10-20 seconds. Continue working in sections until your entire head is curled. Finish by gently fingercombing curls and misting entire head with hairspray.
If your hair has a hard time holding a curl, once you release the section from the iron, roll it back up on your fingers and secure with duckbill clip. If you are concerned about creating weird clip marks around your hairline, place a small piece of tissue paper (or toilet paper) between the clip and your hair. Leave hair in clips until your entire head is finished and hair is completely cooled, says Moticka. Then you can release and fingercomb.
Curling tip 5: How to get loose, flowing waves
Start by sectioning and clipping dry hair into diagonal sections, which will give hair a softer look, says Moticka. Grab a two-inch section of hair and comb through it. Lift up the section from the ends and mist with light-hold hairspray to create lift. Then carefully wrap the hair in a spiral manner around the barrel of the iron (from roots to the tips), pointing the iron downward toward the floor. Let hair sit on iron for 10-20 seconds, holding the ends tightly around the barrel the entire time. Release hair and mist section lightly with hairspray. Continue until your entire head is curled.
For more glam, softer waves, brush through curls with a natural bristle brush. To get a piece-y, beachy feel, simply shake out the curls with your hands.
See the other crucial tips for curling your hair like a pro here.
· Ever wanted to try retro pin curls? Check out this "Old Hollywood" hair tutorial
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