The Easiest Way To Curl Hair With Straighteners, According To An Expert

Illustrated by Olivia Santner
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Dear Daniela,

How do I curl my hair with straighteners? I’ve seen so many people do it on TikTok and it looks so easy; I love how bouncy the curls look. I really like the idea of having one tool that does everything, plus I always end up straightening bits of my hair anyway, to tame flyaways. What’s the best way to do it?

Daisy, 24
I know that trends are essentially loops and that everything goes from hot-right-now to oversaturated to passé before eventually becoming cool again (padded shoulders, tiny sunglasses, brown lipstick, hair clips…) but seeing the return of straightener curls surprises and delights me. When I was at school, this was the way to curl your hair. I honestly don’t think anyone had tongs, and certainly not a blow-drying brush. It was all about getting your first pair of ghds and either ironing your hair totally flat or, instead, crafting ringlets. Sometimes both in one day! Ah, the noughties.
If you can master the art, straightener curls are a great way to make your hair straightener put in double duty, as you’ve identified. It means being able to switch from straight to curly or vice versa with just one step and gives you the luxury of being able to easily tidy up any unwanted volume or bends. There is a knack to it, though, said Jack Merrick-Thirlway, creative director at Neville Hair & Beauty.
First things first: use protection. "My main tip when using any heated appliance is to use an excellent heat protection spray or treatment of some kind beforehand. I really like the OUAI Heat Protection Spray," said Jack. "When you’re curling your hair with straighteners or even with tongs, the heat is much more intense than if using a brush and hairdryer, so the most important factor is keeping the hair healthy." Many heat protectants, especially sprays, can be used on dry hair without making your hair sizzle when you apply the straighteners, so don’t be tempted to skip this step. Aside from Jack's suggestion of OUAI, I’d really recommend the L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Vitamino Color 10-in-1 Spray, which has worked a treat on my long, bleached hair. 
Then, technique. "When you’re curling your hair with straighteners, it’s important not to make the sections too thick or too thin," explained Jack. Really large sections simply won’t do much at all, and tiny sections will give more of an ‘80s effect. "I’d say about an inch thick by an inch deep, depending on thickness of hair, should be perfect," said Jack. "When you put the straighteners into the section, wrap the hair once around the barrel, and then pull slowly down towards the tips, keeping the initial twist and keeping the straighteners moving at all times. We do not want the straighteners to be stationary at any point as the heat is too intense," said Jack. The slower you go, the tighter the curl, so move faster for a bouncy lock and slower for a tighter, more dramatic wave.
"The most important sections are around the face as we need these to be symmetrical on both sides. Make sure you’re twisting away from the face," said Jack. Curling away from the face means you won’t end up hiding behind your hair or shaking those curls out of your face all day – plus, it just looks a little more modern. For the rest of your hair, you can go for a mix of curling away and toward your face for an even finish. "Once all of your hair is completed, apply a tiny amount of hair serum to your fingertips and run through the hair to release the wave and add shine. I’d suggest spritzing with L'Oréal Infinium Hairspray to finish," said Jack.
I’m a big fan of the L'Oréal Infinium Hairspray too, and if you’re in the market for a serum, Percy & Reed No Oil Oil is brilliant for finer or more delicate hair, and I love the Rahua Legendary Amazon Oil for a more glossy polish. This is absolutely a case of practice makes perfect. I dug out my straighteners to give this a go again and I am 100% out of the habit now – though my waist-length lockdown hair surely doesn’t help. Good luck! In my book, girls who can curl their hair with straighteners are the same level of badass as girls who sit on the floor in front of a full-length mirror to do their makeup.

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