How to Curl Your Stubborn Straight Hair

curled hair from DSquared Spring 2014


Hey, lovely lady whose hair is steadfastly straight, I’m talking to you. You’re the girl whose mane is naturally shiny and full of movement, right? You’ve probably listened as your curly-haired friends admire your fine frizz-free strands. And you’ve probably shot back on more than one occasion, “I wish I could get my hair to hold a wave or curl!” Well, fret not. You may yet be able to have the best of both worlds: pin straight hair and textured tresses—at will.

We’re not going to lie to you, getting the style you desire (the one your hair always seems to resist) might take a bit more time and effort. But when a girl wants what she wants, it’s always worth it. Try a few of the tips below to find out how to curl your hair and see if you don’t have curls that last all day. 

Create the Right Condition

You think I’m going to tell you to make sure your hair is healthy and well conditioned, maybe suggest a deep conditioning mask. No, in this case, over-conditioning can make for the wrong curling “environment.” While they certainly have their time and place, deep conditioners and leave-ins weigh hair down. Fine hair is especially susceptible. You want volume for those lightweight strands. You also want to start with hair you haven’t shampooed in 24 hours. Dirt and oil help products grip and keep your style set. 

Create Staying Power

We said skip shampoo, not showering. Go ahead and get your hair wet, but use the opportunity to help it get texturized with “base products.” Try a light-hold mousse, curl sprays or wave-enhancing creams to help where you need it. 

Use the Right Tools

When it comes to styling tools, you really do get what you pay for, so be wary of drugstore finds. You’re better off saving your money or purchasing a high-end curling iron on sale. Just as a great flat iron can transform even the thickest, curliest hair into a cascade of stick-straight silk, a curling wand or iron made by the best will give you the best, longest-lasting curls. In fact, Lauren Conrad admits on her site that she didn’t get her curls to hold until she upgraded her iron. She also suggests that women with curl-resistant hair use a smaller barrel iron. Look for 3/4-inch barrel, as opposed to 1-inch or more. 

Less is More

The fewer strands you try to curl at one time, the more likely your hair is to set and hold, so pay attention to the thickness of the section you’re trying to curl. Smaller sections will create tighter, more vibrant curls, which is exactly what you’re going for. 

Spray the Right Way

Most of us do a cursory post-curl spray over our entire head after the job is done — we might even turn over and spray the roots for added volume — but that’s not the way to get curls to stay. After each section you curl, let it lay in the palm of your hand and cool for a few seconds, then apply light-hold spray to that individual section. Repeat.

Be a Pinup

Ok, you’ve finally curled it all. It’s pretty, it’s bouncy, it’s sprayed. But you’re still worried it won’t last. Here’s one last effort you can make to keep your curls going strong: After you’ve sprayed a section and let it cool, wind it up in the direction of the curl you made and pin it to your head. Then, you can spray the pinned locks again. Let everything set for at least 10 minutes. Release curls from their pin prison and run fingers through. 

Avoid the Urge to Fidget

If you have a habit of playing with your hair throughout the day, you need to break it ASAP. The more you touch your curls and waves, the looser they become. When you notice you’re fidgeting, pause and consider the damage you’re doing to your style, not to mention the time spent curling it in the first place.