Using a Curling Iron Properly

Written by Amy Pusey (last updated September 9, 2020)

Curling irons were designed to add curl and bounce to your hair, especially if those characteristics do not come naturally. The iron themselves come in various styles ranging in barrel size to allow you to create the dimensions of curl or wave that you desire. While it is great to have a tool so readily at hand to glam up your every day appearance, you need to be thoughtful of the fact that it is an instrument that delivers extreme heat and, if not used properly, can be rather damaging to your tresses. Here are some ideas to consider for helping you achieve a splendor of curls for that covergirl style you have been wanting:

  • Curling Iron Design. A variety of materials are used in curling irons. The best types are those made of ceramic or tourmaline because they evenly radiate heat. Also, they create negative ions, which seal in moisture in the hair shaft. This helps prevent damage to your hair.
  • Barrel Sizes. Curling irons come in several different barrels sizes, so that you can get the type and size of curl you really want. Barrels less than one-inch wide are perfect for using on short hair to achieve short, sporty curls. For longer hair lengths, the wider the barrel is, the more flowing and voluminous the curls.
  • Temperature Variations. A good curling iron will offer different temperature settings. This is important since the texture and thickness of your hair will determine what amount of heat will be required in order for curls to set. The more coarse and thick your hair, the hotter the temperature you will need to get the curls you want.

Try to find a curling iron with additional features that will give you greater mobility and comfort while curling your hair. Swivel cords are terrific for cutting down on tangled cords and movement of the iron. A built-in indicator light, though relatively standard on today's models, helps to let you know the iron has reached the correct temperature for use. Now that you have some of the basic information about curling irons, try following these steps for adding curls to your coif:

  1. Beginning with dry hair, apply a heat protectant product to your hair to prevent heat damage. When your curling iron indicates it is ready for use, then begin curling.
  2. If your hair is long, you will begin at the back of your head. If your hair is short, then start at the crown.
  3. Divide hair into one-inch sections. Starting with the first section, secure your hair between the clip and barrel at the ends and proceed to roll the iron until it is no less than one-inch from your scalp. If it is too close, you risk burning your head. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and then release the curl.
  4. For long hair, use non-metal clips to pin curls to your head until you have completed your curling. By doing this, you will protect the curls you have already completed, so they will not become mussed or fall out. Continue this process until you have successfully curled all of your hair sections.
  5. Wait until your hair has cooled following the exposure to the heat of the curling iron, and then spray on a light holding spray to help set the curls.
  6. 6. Release your hair from the pins so that your set curls can cascade down. Using only your fingers, adjust the curls to your styling preference.

Author Bio

Amy Pusey

With over 18 years experience in operations and human-resource management, Amy Pusey uses her skills in her consulting and freelance writing activities. She is a freelance writer for, as well as a resume writer for ...


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