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Get Curly Hair: The Products, Techniques, And Cuts To Get You There

Woman with voluminous curls

The beauty industry has begun to embrace the curly hair community over the last few years, and all we have to say is—it’s about time! While the new wave of curly hair gurus, products, and techniques is long overdue, you may feel a little behind the times if you’re not even sure how to get curls in the first place. Lucky for you, that’s why we're here.

Whether you have straight strands that you want to style in curls for a night out or are beginning to rediscover your natural texture, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about how to get curly hair.

Texturizing and Curl Enhancing Products

If you’re coveting curly locks, the first thing you want to do is to try and coax some texture out of your hair. There are several products on the market formulated to help enhance your natural texture and bring out your curls.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend Pureology’s Style + Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray from the L'Oréal portfolio of products. Sugar cane extract for hair works to create a natural, beachy wave texture without drying your hair out. If you have coarse hair that needs a little extra moisture, we recommend Mizani’s True Textures Curl Enhancing Lotion. It's formulated with coconut, olive, and marula oils.

Heat Styling

If texturizing and curl enhancing products aren’t doing enough to coax out your natural texture, you may have to bring out the big guns: hot styling tools. There are a variety of hot tools—including curling irons, curl wands, flat irons, and hot rollers—that can help you create the curls of your dreams.

When deciding which hot tool is right for you, you have first to determine how you want your curls to look. If you’re looking for tousled beach waves, a flat iron or curling wand will get the job done. For big voluminous curls, we suggest investing in a set of hot rollers. If you want very defined ringlets, you’ll need a curling iron. Before purchasing a curling iron, think about how big you want your curls to be. For very tight coils, pick up a curling iron barrel that measures just three-eighths of an inch. For looser curls, a 2-inch curling iron barrel should work just fine.

To curl your hair, start at the back of your head. Work with 1-inch sections of clean, dry hair, spraying each one with a heat protectant like Matrix's Heat Buffer Thermal Styling Spray before wrapping it around your curling iron. Hold or clamp each segment of hair until it’s just heated through (approximately 15-30 seconds depending on your hair’s thickness). Continue curling 1-inch sections of your hair until you’ve completed your entire head.

After you’ve curled your entire head, pull a comb through your hair to loosen the curls until you achieve your desired final look.

Heat-Free Curl Techniques

Hot tools are the fastest and easiest way to create curls, but they’re not the only method. If you’ve given up heat styling, don’t panic. We’ve got a few techniques that will help you create curls without having to worry about potential heat damage.

For tightly coiled curls, our favorite heat-free curl technique is a twist out. To create this look, begin at the back of your head and work with half-inch sections of damp hair. Split the section in half and twirl both pieces of hair together, creating a two-strand twist. Continue twisting sections of hair until you’ve completed your entire head. Allow your hair to dry completely before removing the twists.

To create loose ringlets, we suggest investing in a set of flexi rods. Begin with freshly washed, damp hair, working a styling product like Mizani’s Prep and Style Foam Wrap Fast Drying Foam throughout your hair to help your curls maintain their shape. Starting at the front of your head, grab a 1-inch to 2-inch section of hair and wrap it around a flexi rod to secure it. Continue wrapping your hair around the flexi rods until you’ve completed your whole head.

Keep the flexi rods in your hair until your hair has completely dried. After your hair has dried and cooled, remove all of the rods and rake your fingers through your hair to loosen your curls.

Chemically Treated Curls

Curl enhancing products, heat styling, and heat-free techniques are great ways to create curls just for one night, but you’ll have to enlist the help of a professional if you want to wake up with curls day after day. A permanent wave (otherwise known as a perm), is an in-salon service in which your hair is set in curls of your desired size and treated with chemicals that allow the ringlets to remain for months at a time.

While the name might lead you to believe the results are permanent, maintaining a perm is quite a bit of work. Expect to head back to the salon every few months to touch up your roots as your hair grows. A perm is the most expensive and complicated way to get curls, but it’s a small price to pay to wake up every morning with the ringlets of your dreams.

Curly Cuts

Unfortunately, no haircut will make your hair appear wavy. While cuts can add texture and movement to your style, they can’t actually change the texture of your hair. If you have a natural curl to your hair and feel like your ringlets aren’t living up to their full potential, it may be time to switch up your haircut.

Next time you head to the salon, ask your stylist for layers. One-length haircuts can be weighed down by heavy products, making it harder to coax your strands to curl. If your curls are transitioning from being chemically altered in the past, you may notice that your straight, stringy ends completely overshadow your newly grown curls. If you’re not ready for a big chop, ask your stylist to remove as much of your remaining straight has as possible while maintaining some length.

Interested in personalized advice about how to get the curls of your dreams? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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