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How to Use a Curling Iron

Wanting curly hair is nothing new, which is why curling irons have been around for centuries. Join the club, whether you're looking for bouncing ringlets or flowing waves.


  • Step 1: Choose curling iron Choose a curling iron with an adjustable temperature setting so you can see how much heat works best with your hair. Also consider how big you want your curls to be—the narrower the barrel, the tighter the curls.
  • Step 2: Apply serum Apply a heat protective serum to your wet hair according to the product directions.
  • Step 3: Apply product Apply a styling product—like a volumizing or curl-enhacing gel, cream, or spray—to your wet hair, according to the product directions.
  • Step 4: Blow-dry hair Blow-dry your hair straight unless you want to create spiral curls—in which case, allow your hair to air-dry—and brush it straight.
  • Step 5: Heat curling iron Plug in your curling iron and heat it on a nonflammable surface. Be sure to read the directions carefully, as different models require different amounts of time to heat up.
  • Step 6: Clip up top Part a line around the back of your head from ear to ear, and clip the top section of hair up.
  • Step 7: Divide lower section Further divide your lower section of hair, pulling one smaller section forward and clipping the rest out of the way.
  • TIP: For spiral curls, make half inch sections and twist them. For looser waves, make one inch sections.
  • Step 8: Insert hair Open the curling iron and insert the end of a small section of hair between the barrel and the clip. Wind the rest of the section in a spiral around the length of the barrel.
  • TIP: To keep the iron from scorching your scalp, place a wide-toothed comb at your roots to prevent the barrel from touching your skin.
  • Step 9: Hold & slide off Hold for about 10 seconds, then open the curling iron enough so you can slide your hair off.
  • TIP: If you want to lock in the curl, spritz each with a little hair spray and then gently lift the curl to your scalp, maintaining its shape, and pin it in place until you are finished curling your whole head.
  • Step 10: Curl lower section Continue to curl the lower section of your hair one smaller section at a time, alternating the direction that you wind the hair around the curling iron.
  • Step 11: Curl top section When the lower section of your hair is curled, release a small section from your clipped hair and continue curling one small section at a time, alternating the direction that you wind the hair around the curling iron.
  • Step 12: Use fingers or comb Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to separate and style your curls—the more you touch them, the looser they'll become.
  • Step 13: Use hairspray For extra hold, spritz your finished look with a little hair spray. Congratulations: you're a card-carrying member of the curl club.
  • FACT: Ancient Romans curled their hair using pipes made of cane or metal which were warmed over a fire.

You Will Need

  • A head of wet hair
  • Heat-protective serum
  • Styling gel
  • cream
  • or mousse
  • A brush or comb
  • A curling iron
  • A nonflammable surface
  • And some hair clips
  • A blow-dryer (optional)
  • Hair spray (optional)
  • Hair pins (optional)
  • And a wide-toothed comb (optional)

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