A Definitive Guide To Curling Your Hair

by Melodi Erdogan

I live for curling my hair. I love the way my thick, dark brown hair looks with big, voluminous curls that scream "heavenly" and feel so soft. I adore when my bouncy curls frame my face perfectly and glisten when they're hit by the sun. I love when my curls make me feel confident and fierce, like I could achieve all of my dreams and do even more.

Need I go on? Probably not, but I just wanted to make sure you got the idea. I'm a woman who loves her curls, and I stop at nothing to achieve the curly-haired look I want. So you can imagine all the tools, tricks, and techniques I have tried out to achieve said perfect look. Spoiler: There are a lot. But I was somehow able to gather all of them into a few processes, all with descriptions right below.

So if you're like me and love curling your hair, or you're looking to experiment with curled hair and don't know where to start, here is a definitive guide to curling your locks. From irons to wands to rods, this is where you'll learn to curl your hair, and curl your hair right.

1. Curling Iron

Conair Infiniti Pro Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron, $33, Amazon

The classic way to create curls is with a curling iron. It doesn’t get much harder than wrapping your hair around a hot stick, securing it with the clamp, and waiting patiently for it to heat up.

Depending on the size of the curling iron, .5”, .1”,, 1.5", or 2", it can create tight curls (with a small barrel) or big, wavy ones (with a big barrel) reminiscent of Farrah Fawcett.

Some people say bobby pinning the curls to your head while they cool allows them to hold the curl longer, as does a lot of hairspray. While it might take some time and patience, the classic curling iron is a fool proof way to go about getting curly hair.

2. Curling Wand

BedHead Curlipops 1" Tourmaline Ceramic Styling Iron, $20, Amazon

A modern variation of the curling iron is the curling wand. Curling wands typically don’t have a clamp, hence the description of a wand. That being said, they’re tricky tools to use because they get so hot and can burn you if you’re not careful (some do come with gloves for your non-dominant hand to assist). But if you can use one unscathed, the curls are really pretty and faster to create than with a traditional curling iron.

Some brands design curling wands with interchangeable barrels, so you can decide what kind of curls you want. So, instead of having to buy three different wands in three different sizes, you can purchase one and simply change the barrel. A favorite is the NUME brand curler, which Australian beauty vlogger Lauren Curtis can’t get enough of. As you can see from her tutorial, she’s a big fan of the wand. Warning: Hair envy might ensue.

3. Straightening Iron

Conair Infiniti Pro Flat Iron, $21, Amazon

Yes, you read that correctly. You might be confused as to why I included a straightening iron on a definitive hair curling article. The truth is, a straightening iron can also be used to curl your hair. And, believe it or not, it creates beautifully tight curls that are easier and less time consuming than any other tool on this list.

By bending a straightening iron just the right way, and twisting it with a very specific technique, your whole head of hair can be curled within minutes. Learning that special technique is not easy, but it’s well worth it once you can create pretty curls in no time.

I know I struggled with straightening iron curls. So what did I do? I resorted to YouTube, of course. Thankfully, the beauty gurus online aren’t keeping anything a secret so there are plenty of videos to help you learn the tricks to curling your hair with the straightening iron you already own. This video below by vlogger TheStyleBlog is detailed and helpful, so you can try it out yourself. Don’t get discouraged; remember, practice makes perfect curls.

4. Heated Rollers

Hot Tools 20 Piece Hairsetter, $38, Amazon

Yes, your grandma may have used — or might still use — heated rollers. And yes, the curls they create are quite retro. But sometimes we crave big, voluminous curls. Or at least I do.

My mom had an old set of heated rollers that I would experiment with. I would tie up all my hair in these hot curlers, spend an afternoon in them, and then have huge, ridiculously curled hair until I washed it next.

Heated rollers might be an expensive investment, and they’re probably not going to provide you with the curls you want for every day, but they’re a guaranteed way to keep your hair curled and for little effort.

5. Velcro Rollers

Midsize Hair Rollers, $11, Amazon

Velcro rollers are tricky, because they never seem to really work. But there’s a special process that velcro rollers require to really see results. Your hair needs to be in the process of drying to really take shape, so that’s where the rollers come in. Because these ones aren’t heated, it’s important to either provide the heat or be patient and let them dry themselves. I like to blow dry my hair just until it’s almost dry, then wrap my hair in rollers and let them cool off while taking a round shape. You can also wrap your damp hair around rollers and have them dry that way.

Velcro rollers don’t necessarily create curls in the traditional sense. Instead of creating curls like a curling wand or straightening iron might, the velcro rollers make big waves with curled texture. Of course, you can also play with your hair to get bigger waves, and even comb through it to get a more natural look. But velcro rollers are more relaxed when compared to the effects hot tools may have, as exemplified by beauty vlogger LLimWalker.

6. Blow Dried

Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer, $25, Amazon

Have you ever had your hair blow dried by a professional, where they somehow, magically create big bouncy curls with just a flick of their brush and drier? Well, obviously I have and it amazes me how they do it. Again, heat is a sure way to have your hair curl the way you want it, and it makes it even easier if you can do it all in one step. Since I have frizzy, curly hair to begin with, I like to blow dry and then curl. But with the help of a barrel brush, I can do it all at once.

Again, this technique requires some practice, but the curls it can create are effortlessly pretty. They’re similar to the velcro roller curls, in that they’re not too tight but loose and flowy. And in my humble opinion, they look great for the summer and the hot weather.

7. Rod Rollers

Hot Tools Professional Long Spongy Rod Rollers, $8, Amazon

I have to admit, I have never used rod rollers. And to be honest, I’ve always seen them in beauty stores and always wondered how they worked. But according to beauty vlogger Maxine Mckay, they’re a great alternative to the heated tools also used to get tight curls.

These rods seem like a no-brainer, and they create beautiful curls with hardly any effort. Plus, they work on all different hair types. While you might look a little silly with bright colored rods in your hair all day long, the result will be beautiful.

Images: Melodi Erdogan; YouTube; Courtesy Brands