Ask the Hairstylist > Style

What’s the best way to use a curling iron?


The art of curling hair has been around for ages. There is no "best way” to do it; the technique used depends on the desired look. Here’s a rundown of some of the different heating tool choices and tips on how to get the curl you crave. We're all curl-friends here, right?

Spring irons are popular because they are easier to use when styling your own hair, and marcel irons are employed more by professionals because they allow us to use more or less pressure and tension on the hair. These irons can create a spectrum of spirals from soft, beachy and natural to very styled and set.

Flat irons are most commonly used to straighten hair, but they also can create curls. Curling with a flat iron requires some practice, but it can make a beautiful long-lasting bouncy style.

Curl Techniques

Have you ever noticed that if you start with your curling iron at the ends and roll it up to the root, the bottom will get curly and the top stays flat and lifeless? The ends of your hair are more porous and need the least amount of heat to style, so starting at the root will give a more balanced and continuous style and will not fry the ends of your hair.

No matter which iron you use, curling hair in horizontal sections generally creates more volume and bounce, and vertical sections produce a sleeker, tamed curl. When using a curling iron, always separate hair into 1- to 1.5-inch sections and wrap the hair around the iron. Wrapping your locks around the iron, rather than turning the iron around the hair, gives you a more modern look because the ends aren’t curly, but the rest of the hair still holds a nice wave.

If you’re using a flat iron, start at the root and rotate the iron in one fluid movement to the ends, rotating more for a tighter curl and less for a looser bounce.

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Ted Gibson is one of the most sought-after editorial, runway and celebrity hair stylists in the business. His work has appeared in such publications as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan and Allure and backstage at such runway shows as Chanel, Prada and Dolce&Gabbana. He works with celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway and Ashley Greene.
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