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How To Curl Your Hair With A Straightener

Whether you have curly, straight, or wavy hair knowing how to curl your hair with a flat iron is a handy skill. Not only does it take you a lot of money in not needing to buy a curling wand, but it can also create defined and bouncy curls.

A flat iron does so much more than straighten your hair.

Not only are flat irons brilliant for sleek straight hair, but they can be used to curl your luscious locks. The best thing about a flat iron is that it is a super versatile tool.

Ever seen someone walk past you in the bar or the street, and they have beautiful, bouncy, defined curls and wondered how they achieved that look?

9 times out of 10, it’s either natural curls or their hair is curled with a straightener– who knew??

That can be you, too, though! I’m here to share some pro tips and tricks to curling your hair with a flat iron; you’ll have the curls that you’ve always dreamed of.

The right technique and a little bit of practice will go a long way, my friend; just don’t forget your heat protectant; it will be your best friend when using heat.

Let’s jump in!

curling hair with a straightener

Everything You Need To Know About Your Flat Iron Before You Get Started:

Before you turn on your flat iron and go to curl your hair, there are a few things you need to know. First thing’s first, you need to grab yourself a heat protectant.

But not any old heat protection or thermal spray; you’re going to need one that will protect your hair shaft up to the extreme temperatures of your hair straightener.

Some heat protection sprays tend to only protect your hair up to a certain point, such as only up to the temperature of the hairdryer and not your flat iron or curling iron.

I know what you’re thinking, surely it should protect my hair for all styling purposes, and sadly for some brands, this is not the case– frustrating, I know!

Ideally, you want a heat protectant to protect your hair up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit; this is the maximum temperature of most flat irons.

Since your hair straightener can be very damaging to your hair health, it is important that if you have damaged or fine hair that you buy a straightener with adjustable heat settings.

Pairing this with heat protectant spray will help keep your hair as healthy as possible.

If you have fine or damaged hair, keep the temperature below 300 degrees. For normal hair, stick between 300 and 380; thick, coarse, frizzy hair can manage 350-400ºf.  

Higher quality hair straighteners will last long a long time and tend to be designed with technology that causes minimal damage to your hair by only needing a ‘single pass’.

curly hair straightener

Titanium vs. Ceramic Plates?

The most common materials you’ll find in flat irons are either titanium plates or ceramic plates. Titanium flat irons tend to heat up quicker than ceramic plates, but the strength and speed you get don’t compete with the protection of ceramic plates.

With a ceramic flat iron, heat gets evenly distributed across the ceramic plates, often enhanced to further protect hair.

Ceramic flat irons are often infused with tourmaline, which creates negative ions during the heat-up process; this adds a conditioning layer to protect and moisturize strands.

Ceramic plates paired with infrared ions emit negative ions and emit heat evenly from the inside out to reduce visible damage and help retain moisture to protect strands.

If you have quite damaged, whether that is from heat damaged or from chemical coloring treatments, you can also look into purchasing a steam hair straightener or a ceramic hair straightener with different heat options, this can help further protect your hair.

The technology of hair straighteners is constantly evolving to better style your hair without damage. As long as you have your trusty heat protectant, there’s no reason why you can’t straighten your hair.

How To Protect Hair From A Flat Iron:

As you know, protection is always better than a cure, especially when it comes to heat damage. Hence, protecting your hair before using a flat iron is super important for minimal damage and extraordinary results.

Make Sure To Deep Condition & Moisturize Before Use:

Before using any heat tools on your hair, you need to remember to wash your hair and deep condition using a hair mask before use. Leave the hair mask on for the recommended time, as this will help penetrate and nourish the cuticle. 

A deep conditioner will also work to smooth the cuticle, making it easier to straighten. I would recommend towel drying with a microfibre towel or cotton t-shirt rather than your regular bath towel as this can rough up the cuticle and cause frizz. 

Once you’ve gently removed the excess water from your strands using a microfibre towel, apply a leave-in conditioner as this will form a protective coating over your hair strand– preferably one with a heat protectant. 

Let Hair Air Dry 50-70% Naturally:

Blow drying your hair as soon as you get out of the shower can actually be quite damaging for your hair strands; hair is most prone to heat damage while soaking wet, so if you have an hour or two on your hands, then leave your hair to air dry then blow-dry. 

Then once your hair has been left to dry for a little while, the blow dryer will help straighten your hair, along with preventing knotting and tangling on the hair’s ends. 

Point the nozzle downwards and around 15-25cm away from your hair, working in sections to ensure each section is dried fully. Blow-dry your hair on medium-high heat and finish on a cool setting to protect your cuticle.s 

Never Forget Heat Protectant:

Let’s be honest here; we’ve all forgotten the heat protectant when styling our hair in the past, simply whether we’ve started styling our hair and have an “oh crap” moment or forgot altogether. 

But your heat protectant is the most crucial thing you should remember, especially when using a flat iron. Our hair strands are very similar to our skin; while we cannot feel it burning our strands, it does equally as much damage over time. 

You wouldn’t intentionally burn yourself with 450ºf heat, so why apply it to your hair without a heat protectant?

All the other steps are irrelevant if you don’t use a heat protectant. If you don’t use a heat protectant, your hair will become very dry, brittle, and prone to damage and breakage, along with frizz and tangling. 

flat iron

How To Do Waves With A Flat Iron:

We all love beachy waves, and something as simple as curling your hair with a straightener can help achieve this look– beach waves are a timeless classic.

No matter your hair length, thickness, or hair type, anyone can rock loose beachy waves all year round.

Step One: Section your hair:

First things first, you’re going to want to part your hair into larger sections. How many sections you create will depend on how thick your hair is.

If you have quite fine hair, you may only need to do two sections, starting with the bottom half. For thicker hair, you may want to section your hair into 4 to create loose waves.

Step Two: Work In One-Inch Sections:

Once you’ve separated your curls, start using your flat iron on individual sections, roughly around 1 inch per section. If you have fine hair, then these sections may be smaller.

The same goes for if you have hair that holds onto curls well, you might want to use a larger section of hair. Try a few out for size to see whether you need smaller sections or larger sections.

Step Three: Curl Your Hair:

You’ll firstly want to flip your flat iron upside down, so the cord is facing up, gently clamping onto the individual section of hair you’re working on.

Start at the base of the hair shaft and twist the straightener away from your face when you curl your hair. The section should be wrapped around the outside of the flat iron.

Lock the twist in place and gently glide the flat iron down your section of hair from the root to the tip. Once you’ve reached the end, it should spring up, and for the perfect curl, give it a little twist and move onto the section.

After each section, spray down with your chosen hair spray, whether light or firm hold.

Step Four: Repeat:

Once you’ve finished that first section, continue with this same technique for all sections of your hair with a flat iron. For a more natural look, you can have curls going in opposite directions when curling.

So for one section, you can have it facing away from your face and the next one facing towards your face.

Step Five: Run Your Fingers Through The Ringlets: 

Once your hair has been completely curled, you should either flip your head upside down, run your fingers through the ringlets and give the root a little shake.

Alternatively, you can run your fingers through your curls to loosen the wave slightly without touching the roots.

Using your fingers is the best way to achieve this beach wave; it will help break up these tight curls without causing frizz.

If you would prefer more control over your beach waves, you can also use a hairbrush or comb to comb out your curls. A mixed bristle brush or Denman Brush will do the trick if you want a slightly fluffy effect.

You can alternatively use a wide-tooth comb to transform the ringlets into looser curls for more defined beach waves. Then give your hair a little spritz with the hair spray or volumizing mist spray, have a little play around, and you’re good to go.

flat iron x2

How To Use A Flat Iron To Create Fuller Curls:

You can also use a flat iron to curl hair to create bolder curls; this technique is brilliant if you’re looking for a curl that will last longer. I do love tighter curls when going out.

Just like in the last technique, you’ll want to split the hair into sections; for bouncier curls, you might want to have more sections, working with one-inch sections at a time.

Step Two: Curl Each Section:

You’ll want to curl your hair around the flat iron in the same way as the previous technique, curling away from your face or towards if you’d prefer.

I would take your time gliding the straightener down the hair shaft when curing it; it will give more bounce to the curl and more definition to the curl.

You want as much bounce as possible when wrapping your hair around the straightener.

Step Three: Set Curls In Place:

After each section, instead of moving onto the next section straight away, you’ll want to cup each curl in your hand for a minute until it completely cools.

You can either do this technique, or you can pin each curl to your hair so it keeps its shape as it cools.

Clipping your curls instead will hard set them, so you get the maximum curl, and it will extend the life of the curl.

If your hair holds onto curls well, you can skip this technique and instead spray each section with the hair spray and not brush out the curls at the end.

Step Four Give Your Hair A Little Shake:

Once you’ve curled each section with the iron and your hair has fully cooled, then you can flip your head upside down and give your roots a little shake; this should help add volume.

Run your fingers through the tight curls created by the iron and have a little play around with the sections until you’re happy with the results.

You can either transform these tight curls into loose waves or leave the ringlets to drop throughout the day gradually.

Spritz each curl with some hairspray to keep these luscious curls intact all day long, and you’re good to go!

curly hair


So there you have the best techniques for creating the perfect curl using a straightening iron. Who said you needed a curling iron anyway?

You can achieve the same level of curls, if not better, using a straightener over any curling iron– completely unbiased opinion.

It may not work the first time and may take a little practice, but the results are definitely worth the practice. Invest in a good-quality straightener that can do both.

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