How to Get Curlier Hair

Shannon Boyce
beautiful woman with curly hair

Gorgeous curls with bounce and shine are in every magazine, runway show, and television commercial. No wonder curl envy has become so common! For those with straight, wavy, or slightly curled hair, there are many ways to create a dynamic new look.

Use Heat Styling Tools

Perhaps the most commonly used method relates to styling tools that use heat, like curling irons, a flat iron, diffuser, or hot rollers. Each has its own benefits to consider, however, you should always factor in the overall style you are trying to achieve as well as your hair type.

Curling Iron

One way to get curlier hair is to use a curling iron. There are multiple styles to choose from these days (ranging from the traditional clamp style to clampless irons, double or triple barrel, and bubble wand) with each wand type working slightly differently. For instance, an iron with a clamp creates a more structured curl while a clampless style can be used to make tight, loose, or beachy curls, making it more versatile but slightly more difficult to use.

The iron you choose is totally up to you, just make sure to factor in your experience level and desired finish before you start shopping. To curl:

  • Start with hair that is clean and dry. This tool works well on all hair types but tends to be easier on hair that is relatively straight. So brush through the length prior to curling.
  • Add on a heat protectant, like the TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray (about $5).
  • Separate the hair into small sections and carefully curl each one by: opening the clamp, closing the clamp on the section of hair, turning the iron, and slowly rolling the section through.
  • Gently open up the clamp and release the curl.
  • From here, you can finish it off with hairspray or break up the curls with your fingers for a more casual look.

Flat Iron

It may sound contradictory, but a flat iron, also known as a hair straightener, is another way to achieve a perfectly curled style. There are several sizes to choose from including standard size (about one-inch), small (plates that are half an inch and tend to work better on shorter lengths), and larger sizes (two-inch plates that are great for thick hair or if you want looser curls). This tool can be used to both curl or straighten hair that is naturally straight, wavy, curly, or somewhere in between.

Once you have your flat iron warmed up and ready to go, there is nothing stopping you from perfecting a style that is all your own. To start:

  • Brush through clean dry hair to remove any tangles and smooth out the length.
  • Spray on a heat protectant to prevent damage.
  • Place a small section of hair into the straightener, pull in a downwards motion, and twist the iron. (Think of this process like curling a ribbon with a pair of scissors.)
  • Repeat this wherever you want to create curls.
  • Leave the hair as is or brush out for a softer finish.

Diffuser

Anyone with wavy or somewhat curly hair that wants to intensify their natural shape should consider a diffuser. This heat tool attaches to your blow dryer to diffuse the pressure of the air and concentrate the heat. This results in less frizz and more dynamic-looking curls. Though the results won't be as dramatic as painstakingly curled sections, this particular heat tool can bring out the best in your hair.

In order to turn frizzy waves into well-defined curls, the best way to enhance what you already have is to:

  • Towel dry your hair and scrunch through a curl spray, like the Bumble and Bumble Bb. Curl (Style) (about $28).
  • Aim the diffuser at the ends of the hair and work upwards towards the roots. While scrunching is okay, try to avoid brushing with your fingers as this can disrupt the curl.
  • Continue moving the diffuser up towards your roots. While doing so, move your hand in small circles along the scalp to boost curl and add volume.
  • Once the hair is completely dry, use a wide-toothed comb to gently brush through the curls.

Hot Rollers

Another heat styling option is hot rollers. Though they may seem a little old-fashioned, these are actually a great way to create incredible curls. They work best on medium to longer lengths and result in an ultra glamorous finish. Just remember: this can be a little more time consuming than other styling methods.

This process requires patience along with a bit of trial and error to determine what works best for your hair in terms of placement and how long the rollers should be left in place. To get curlier hair:

  • Divide the hair into sections while the rollers heat up.
  • Place medium-sized sections of hair onto each roller, making sure that you are rolling away from the face. Roll all the way to the scalp and secure with a clip or hairpin.
  • Continue this process until all the hair has been secured.
  • Wait for about twenty minutes and then carefully unroll each section.
  • Brush through the waves with your fingers and spritz on some hairspray to hold the curl.

Try Out No-Heat Methods

In addition to the many heat styling tools on the market today, there are also no-heat techniques that can create breathtaking curls. The benefits of ditching your curling iron (at least temporarily) include healthier hair and less heat-related damage.

Sleep on Pin Curls

Sometimes, the best thing to do is sleep on it - literally! To achieve bouncy curls without compromising the health of your hair, consider trying out the pin curl technique. All you need to do is pin up your hair, go to sleep, and wake up looking fabulous. This no-heat style works well on medium to long lengths with straight or wavy textures.

It will take a few minutes to pin up the hair completely depending on the thickness (and the pins might feel a little uncomfortable as you are falling asleep) but there is no denying the results. Get the look by:

  • Showering or wetting your hair.
  • Take medium-sized sections and wrap them around your fingers until you have created a small curl.
  • Pin in place using a bobby pin (or two) and repeat until all of your hair is pinned up.
  • Go to sleep. While you get some shut-eye, your hair will be drying in the shape of those curled sections.
  • When you wake up, carefully remove each pin and let your curls down.

Braided Styles

Braids are another easy way to add waves and curls to your hair. The best part is you can wear a trendy braided hairstyle all day long, go to sleep, and start the next day off with an effortless beach-inspired style. According to a StyleCraze article on no-heat ways to curl your hair, this is one of the easiest ways to achieve beachy curls. Braids can be adapted for most hair lengths and work on any and all hair types.

This method can create a variety of different looks, depending on how small or large each braid is, the placement (close to the root or focused on the bottom), and how long you leave them in for. Play around to see what you prefer. To snag gorgeous curls:

  • Wash your hair. Towel dry and wait until the length is damp.
  • The placement of your braids may vary but to master the basic technique, separate your hair into four sections.
  • Braid each section tightly and secure the ends with a hair elastic.
  • Go to sleep or leave the braids in all day long.
  • When the hair is completely dry, undo each braid and brush through with your fingers.

Foam Rollers

Just because you want flawless curls doesn't mean you need to shell out a ton of money to get them. Foam rollers are an inexpensive option that work well if you are interested in overnight styling. Since the foam is soft and squishy, it won't hurt or feel uncomfortable like velcro rollers and bobby pins. Plus, you can still score the bouncy curled length you are after. These work best on medium to long lengths and are suitable for straight, wavy, and even curled hair.

Similar to hot rollers, this process may take a bit of time to complete, especially if your hair is on the thick side. Be patient and rest easy, knowing that your hair will look amazing by morning. To use hair rollers:

  • Starting off with slightly damp hair.
  • Take a section of hair and hold it out horizontally.
  • Grab your foam roller and roll the length around it, beginning at the very end.
  • Continue rolling until you reach the roots.
  • Secure in place and get some sleep.
  • The next morning, remove the rollers and spray on a flexible-hold hairspray (such as Dove Strength and Shine, under $7).

Shop For Curl Enhancing Products

Whether you are using heat or no heat, the hair products you choose can dramatically affect the end result. Ideally, you want curls that are well-defined and frizz free.

  • Curl-boosting mousse (like the Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse, under $5) has the ability to bring out your curls, create more shape, and give your hair hold. It is best used with the scrunching technique, where you apply the product on your hands and scrunch damp hair in an upward motion. Do this throughout the length to build up the curl.
  • Texturizer: For looser, more relaxed curls, a sea salt spray is your best bet. These work well to enhance any natural bends or waves your hair may have. All you need to do is spray some along the length (avoiding the roots) to dry hair and scrunch upwards. For softer curls, add it to damp hair instead.
  • Curl-enhancing spray: Reduce unsightly frizz by using this product. One example is Bed Head Foxy Curls High-Def Curl Spray (about $22), which separates curls, adds definition, and cuts back on frizz and flyaways. It also gives the hair more bounce and shine. To use, spray in damp hair before you continue styling.
  • Defining gel is another option, especially if your hair is on the wavy side. Something like the DevaCurl Light Defining Gel Soft Hold No-Crunch Styler (about $22) works well as it is moisturizing and defines waves and curls. Simply rub the product between your palms, scrunch the gel through wet hair, and let it air dry.

Consider Getting a Perm

If the thought of styling your hair day after day sounds like a daunting task, a perm (also known as a permanent) is something to think about. Though old-school perms were not necessarily the most flattering, these days, they are ultra versatile. From spirals to soft waves and even partial perms, there is a style to suit every preference and length.

This method is typically done at a salon by a professional. While an at-home perm is possible, it requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, it is best to book a hair appointment, especially if this is your first time getting the treatment done.

Before you go in for your perm, give thought to the type of curls you want. Loose? Full? Tight? If you aren't sure, try using one of the heat or no-heat options listed in this article. Play around with different styles until you find something that suits your current haircut. You can also check out articles on different perm styles if you are lacking inspiration.

Permanent hair rollers

Focus on Your Haircut

Take your curls to the next level by getting a haircut that will accentuate them. Certain cuts have the ability to boost the appearance of curls and create more movement. Elle mentions one great option: ask your stylist to feather the ends with either scissors or a razor. This creates a gorgeous curled up end. Talk to your hairdresser about any other curl-boosting techniques she or he can incorporate into your cut.

If you have a natural wave to your hair, you may find that the ends are straighter than the rest of the length.This could be due to damage. Dry or damaged hair loses elasticity which can remove a lot of the natural texture you have going on. So, the next time you are at the salon, ask your stylist to cut off anything that is holding you back from your curly hair goals!

Change Up Your Look With Curls

Gone are the days of longing for look-at-me curls. There are countless curl-boosting methods to try either at home or the salon to ensure that your hair looks fabulous all day every day. Whether you are willing to put in lots of time and effort or prefer something on the simple side, one thing is certain: unforgettable style is in your future.

How to Get Curlier Hair