11 Curling Iron Mistakes You’re Probably Making
If your curls are one big fail, you're probably making these classic mistakes. See them all at MTV.co.uk.
You might think that you can’t really go all that wrong when it comes to the humble curling iron. Surely you just switch it on, grab a bit of hair, wrap it around et voila - princess hair is yours.
But actually, it’s a whole lot harder than it sounds, and whether you’re after glamorous curls, loose waves or something in between, there’s a fine tuned science to master before you can consider yourself a rival of Belle and Rapunzel.
If you find that you're left with damaged hair, dodgy prom-esque ringlets or just zero curls whatsoever by lunchtime, have no fear, oh curly one, because these are the 11 golden mistakes you’re probably making when picking up the hot tools. And don't worry, we're gonna tell you how to solve 'em too.
1. You’re using an old curling iron
You might wanna look like Belle with her tale as old as time, but that doesn’t mean you can use a curler as old as time. If you’re using straighteners or curlers that’ve been around for longer than your little sister, the ceramic safety coating has almost definitely worn off, meaning that your hair is completely exposed to the high temperatures and their damaging effects every time you use it. Plus, it’s genuinely dangerous to use old tools so invest in a new one pronto. Agh.
Remember that your hot tool is an investment and you’ll have it for ages, so opt for a high-quality curling iron with modern technology like digital temperature readers. This’ll ensure you have even heat distribution and will avoid frying certain parts of your hair while ignoring other parts.
2. You’ve chosen the wrong size tool
It might look like some kind of hair sorcery when you see those girls with the perfect waves all over Pinterest, but they’ve basically just been clever with their choice of barrel size. Using a curling iron with a small barrel will give you tight, ringlet curls, whereas a bigger one will provide the loose curl of dreams.
Try one that’s around 1 1/4 inches, or 1 1/2 inches if you’re after that effortless waved boho look but, depending on the look you're going for, you might even want to try larger sections of hair with a smaller barrel, or smaller sections of hair with a larger barrel.
3. You’re styling wet hair
Oh gahd, it’s a seriously epic process having to first blowdry your hair and then either curl it or straighten it afterwards, and we know it makes your arms feel like they're gonna fall off. However, making sure your hair is completely dry before styling is SO important to avoid frazzling your locks.
When hair is wet, it’s way more vulnerable to damage and breakage under extreme temperature, so don’t half-arse it when you’re at the drying stage. Finish it off with a blast of the cool setting to make sure it’s completely dry. Yes we know it’s a major effort, but just think of the BICEPS you’ll have.
4. You’re lazy with the heat protectant
If it feels as though your hair is suffering from the heat, it could be because you’re too lazy with your heat protectant spray. Most are heat activated and feature anti-breakage technology, which basically wraps every strand of your hair in bubble wrap during styling. Always, always, always give your hair a good spritz of the stuff by separating it layer by layer to ensure an even coverage.
You can then also use this same sectioning as a good guide for the curling itself so it's not a total waste of time. Use a strong, dent-free hair clip to keep it all out of the way while you work from the bottom up, to make sure you end up with even curls all the way around. Genius.
5. You’re not using the right temperature
This could just be the result of using an old tool that’s on the blink, but if you do have the luxury of a range of temperatures to choose from on your tool, most hair types work well with around the 200 degree Celcius mark. If you have finer hair, opt for something slightly lower, and thicker hair can go up a notch.
Double-processed hair should play it safe at around 175 degrees, while colour-treated hair should go slightly lower to extend the life of your colour as much as poss. And for natural or textured hair, start at around 220 degrees but opt for a lower setting when touching up your look. Et voila.
6. Your angle’s all wrong
This is where actual maths and science comes into play when curling your hair. Keeping your iron horizontal when you’re wrapping your hair around the barrel will result in a tighter, bouncier, more traditional curl. Hold it vertically instead and you’ll end up with those Pinterest waves of dreams.
Or alternatively, try holding it diagonally as this will give you a lot more volume at the roots.
7. You’re curling in the wrong direction
We did warn you that this was a fine art to perfect. If you’re aiming for relaxed waves, you need to make sure that the curls flow away from your face, otherwise you’ll end up with something that’s more vintage-inspired.
For a messier, laid back look, you can alternate around the back of your head so that things don’t look too uniform, but the front sections of your hair will always look more flattering, natural and shampoo advert-esque if they’re curled away from your face.
8. You’re curling for too long
A big no-no for ensuring your hair stays in good condition is keeping it pressed against a super hot curling tool for too long. Remember that girl who curled her hair and it literally snapped off in her hands? Yeah, don’t be that girl.
Keep your hair type in mind when you’re styling - fine hair doesn’t need to stay under heat as long as coarse, thick hair does. Just use your common sense and lightly tap the hair when it’s wrapped around the curler; if it seems too hot to touch, release it. Experts reckon that 10 seconds is a good rule to stick to for more hair types. Anything more could literally burn your hair, which isn't ideal.
9. You’re curling too much at a time
If your curls just turn into floppy fails straight away, then stop right there and think logically about how much hair you’re curling in one go. Some people think you need large sections of hair to achieve the ultimate beachy waves, but it’s much more to do with the technique you use rather than the amount of hair.
Aim for one inch sections when initially creating the structure of our curls, and then if you want them to soften afterwards, you can just run your fingers through them or brush them out. Remember that they’re bound to drop a little bit in the first half an hour, anyway.
10. Your clamp is getting in the way
The clamp on on your curler isn’t just a clamp y’know - it’s actually a bonus part of the tool that can provide extra texture to your look. For more formal, prom worthy curls, make sure the tip of your hair is clipped under the clamp.
If you prefer a messy look, you can leave the ends out. And for a natural look, forget the clamp and wrap your hair around it and the barrel, like you would for a curling wand.
11. You’re not letting your curls cool down
It’s tempting to start fiddling with your look as soon as you put down the curling iron, but always let the hair cool down by itself first. Once you release a curl from the iron, move on to the next section and let the last curl cool while you’re busy.
When you've finished your whole head and the curls have had time to settle into a natural shape, you can get stuck in and tousle them yourself. Gently pick up curls by the ends of the strands and loosely shake them a little bit to soften the look and create a natural finish. PERFECT.
Words by Lucy Wood
Now that you're all clued up with that, how about watching this vid of Sophie Kasaei dishing out some top love life advice? OH BOY.