I'm completely fed up of my poker straight hair and I really want to be able to do pin curls! I love the bouncy, Hollywood kind of movement I get from a blow-dry but I can’t afford to keep going to the salon. How can I do pin curls at home?
Lily, I feel your pain. As a woman with long, thick hair that I like styled in a maximum of three looks (two of which are indistinguishable from one another to the naked eye, not unlike the belt scene in The Devil Wears Prada), I get the allure of the salon blow-dry. For about £30, you can have a professional wash and style, which always ends up looking ten times better than anything you could achieve yourself. Plus, it completely removes the uncomfortable period you have to spend schlepping about your house with sopping wet lengths, frantically detangling and staring at yourself endlessly in the mirror while attempting to do something with your damn hair.
But yes, there comes a point where the employees at DryBy blow-dry bar start greeting you by name and asking after your mum (not that this has ever happened to me) when you have to put an end to the process altogether. I do pin curls a fair bit at home, with varying degrees of success depending on what shampoo I used, how patient I am, and whether the moon is in Jupiter, I think. I asked Amy Heath, a brilliant stylist at Four London for some tips.
“Prep-wise, I like Color Wow Raise The Root Spray, a handful of sectioning grips, a medium-size round brush, a handful of kirby grips and a lightweight hair dryer like the Parlux Advance Light or Dyson Supersonic,” said Amy. I can attest that a light hairdryer is crucial for endurance – no one wants to feel like they’re doing bicep curls with their dryer.
“Pin curls are really versatile,” explained Amy. “You can adapt them to a variety of different looks depending on how you place the curls and how tight you make them, but generally speaking, the larger the brush, the looser the curl.” Amy also noted in the prep stage that it’s crucial every trace of conditioner is rinsed out of your hair to ensure your hair has good grip, so save the leave-in stuff for another day.
Now, let’s get into the technique: “Towel dry, spray blow-dry lotion over the hair and comb through," continued Amy. "Take about a two-inch-wide section of hair from the front and dry it around the brush. Keep it around the brush as much as possible to get the movement. When you have fully dried the section, mist it with the hairspray. With your dominant hand, wrap the section around two fingers of your other hand and secure at the base of the section (AKA the root) with your sectioning clip. If you find the hair slips out of the clip, secure at the base with a kirby grip on each side,” explained Amy.
That’s pretty much it all around your head, though Amy advised starting at the front to minimise arm ache. “When all the sections are done and clipped, leave them to cool for ten minutes, then mist with hairspray." Fun fact: it’s how your hair cools that sets the style, even more than the heat. So this stage is really important, as is hairspray. Amy uses Color Wow Cult Favourite on me, but failing that, Elnett does the trick.
“When your hair is cool, remove the clips. Tip your head back and use your fingers to very softly shake through to remove the obvious partitions,” added Amy. If you feel the curls are too tight, you can brush them out a little, but you do get a fair amount of drop once you start moving around, so I’d say hold off for a few more minutes before brushing.
Welcome to the at-home bounce club! Elbow supports are in the top drawer.
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