11 Tricks For Safely Curling Thin Hair

If you have thin hair, then you know what a struggle it can be to get curls to stick around. No sooner do you put down the styling tools, and those suckers fall right out. But perhaps more annoying is that it feels impossible to curl thin hair without damaging it.

For thin-haired ladies who just want some gosh darn volume, it can be a frustrating process. But the good news is that all hair can be safely curled (and stay curled) — if you know what to do. "No matter the thickness or texture ... all hair can be curled; but making those curls last is the difficult part," says Ilias Zarbalis, Master Stylist and Owner of Ilias Zarbalis New York City Salon, in an interview with Bustle. "If you have thin hair, strands are weaker and more delicate by nature, making them slippery." (This is why curls only grace you with their presence for an hour or two.)

But, as I said, getting curls to stick is only have the battle. The other issue is that huge potential for damage. "Thin hair is generally sensitive and easily broken," Zarbalis explains. "Heat tools drain the moisture in your hair, which thin hair already has a difficult time absorbing." Cue all sorts of fried, damaged, frayed locks.

To get curls, while also protecting hair, you're going to have to put in a bit of work. Below are some tips for avoiding fried hair, getting curls to stay, and creating some lovely volume — no damage necessary.

1. Let Your Hair Get A Bit Dirty

Try: Kenra Extra Volume Mousse #17, $12, Amazon

Before you even think about curling your hair, make sure it's at least kind of dirty. "Try skipping a hair wash and prepping hair with a volumizing mousse to keep your locks in place," Zarbalis says. The extra volume from day-old hair, mixed with the mouse, will give curls something to hold onto.

2. Make Sure Your Hair Is Dry

If you absolutely need to wash your hair, that's totally OK. Just make sure it's 100 percent dry before using any hot tools. Curling even slightly damp hair can be incredibly damaging, according to celebrity stylist Ted Gibson in an interview with Mara Del Russo on (If you've ever heard that sizzling sound while using a curling iron, then you know exactly what to avoid.)

3. Stock Up On Products

Try: ArtNaturals Thermal Heat Protector, $14, Amazon

The more products you can use to help protect your hair, the better. "I suggest using a heat protectant spray or serum even before blow drying, and make sure you’re using gentle, sulfate-free products in the shower," Zarbalis says. When combined, they should help keep your hair safe.

4. Use A Lower Heat Setting

Whatever you do, don't go for a curling iron temp that will cook your hair. (Or worse, burn it off.) "A temperature of about 350 degrees is more than plenty," Del Russo said.

5. Curl For Less Than 7 Seconds

Preventing damage is all about moving quickly, so don't let hot tools linger on your hair. "Gibson suggests heating the hair for only three to seven seconds, depending on your hair texture," Del Russo said. "Any more will fry your locks."

6. Allow Curls Time To Set

Once you're finished, gently pin each curl to your head. "Give each coil a blast of strong hold hairspray and let it sit until it's cooled completely while you work on the rest of your hair," said Christa Joanna Lee on Teen Vogue. Doing so not only helps the curl to set, but it's a way of helping them stick that requires less heat.

Try: Sebastian Shaper Hairspray, $10, Amazon

7. Go The Old-Fashioned Route

If you're still giving styling tools the side-eye, don't worry — there are plenty of heat-free ways to curl your hair. "To avoid damage altogether, the old-fashioned foam rollers are the way to go," Zarbalis says. "Keep rollers in overnight and brush out in the morning for a more natural, blown-out look."

8. Try Out A Braid

Sleeping in braids is another way to get some no-heat curls. Simply apply leave-in conditioner to damp hair, and make several small braids, according to an article on In the morning, you'll have lovely waves that will last all day.

9. Bring Back The Scrunch

For this trick, forget what I said about not showering. Hop on in, do your thing — but don't even think about blow drying your hair afterward. Instead, let it air dry as you finger comb, scrunch, and apply a curl spray, according to Keep scrunching until you're happy with the level of curls, and then let it air dry the rest of the way.

10. Use Your Fingers

As far as avoiding damage goes, you can't get much safer (or easier) than simply twisting hair around you fingers. To do it, start off by spraying your hair with gel and then wrapping small sections around your fingers. Follow up by securing each twist with a pin, according to Heather CiChowski on Finish with a ton of hairspray, and your curls should be good to go.

11. Get Yourself Some Headband Curls

Check out this tip for curling hair using a headband, as shown by Carly Cristman on Youtube. This method won't create any creases in your hair, or any damage since it doesn't use heat. All you have to do is sleep with your hair twisted up in a band, and you'll have lovely curls by morning.

Yes, curling thin hair without damaging it can be tricky. But it isn't impossible. Simply follow some of these tips above, and you'll have yourself some healthy curls in no time.

Images: Pexels (11); Unsplash, Anna Demianecko

FYI, Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which were added independently from Bustle's sales and editorial departments after publication.