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How to Get Fluffy, Wavy, Perfect Curls

Published on 28th June 2011

I often wear my hair in a sort of wavy/curly style, and I get asked about it all the time. It’s actually fairly easy to do, once you know how to do it.

This is the look that I get interrogated about.

What you will need for this is a 1 inch curling iron and some styling product. If you have fairly long hair, you can use a little bit bigger iron if you want, and if you have shorter hair, you might want to go to a 3/4 inch barrel. Experiment and see what works best, but I find that I use the 1 inch size the most often when I am working on clients. I also use a huge (2-3 inch) round brush and a hair dryer for my bangs, but you can always just curl them along with the rest of your hair if you don’t want to mess with blow drying.

As for styling product, it’s best to style hair, in general, when it’s dirty. “Dirty hair” is not filthy hair, but rather, hair that hasn’t been washed in a day or two, or already has a bit of product in it. Depending on your hair type, you will want something that will give it some hold, so if there is gel, mousse, or pomade left over from yesterday in it, that’s perfect. You may also want hairspray for finishing afterward, if you have hair that likes to go limp quickly. Coarse, ethnic, and damaged hair actually tends to hold style okay without a ton of stuff in it, so keep that in mind if those descriptions fit you.

So the first thing you need to do is section your hair horizontally, starting at the very bottom. If you have very thick or long hair, use smaller sections. (Keep in mind that my hair is naturally curly, so the curl that I already seem to have in these first few pictures is actually just my hair’s normal texture.)

Horizontal parting from the bottom

To make things easier on myself, I part my hair down the middle and start from the inside and work towards the outside.

Working from the inside, to the outside

Pull the hair out horizontally, as shown in the above pic, and grab your curling iron. I use a Marcel iron, which is different from the standard spring clamp curling iron you find in the store, so it will look a little odd if you are not familiar with them. Ignore that.

You will want to sort of stretch the hair out along the barrel, as illustrated below, and keep the barrel vertical.

Stretching the curl out

Hold for a few seconds, and then slide the iron out downward, keeping it vertical. While the hair is still warm, run your fingers through it to relax it a little.

Pull down, keep vertical

Continue doing this on each section, as you work towards your ears on each side. Once you are done with the bottom section, make another horizontal parting above it and work in the same manner as above.

Keep each section about an inch or so in width

Now, if your hair gets kind of flat on the top, there’s a little trick I use to fix that. You can use the barrel of the iron to create a little “bump” near your scalp on some of the curls to give a little volume, and to keep your waves consistent all over your head.

Hold the barrel horizontally and as close to your scalp as you can get without burning yourself. Go about halfway around the barrel - just bump the top inch or so of hair - no need to curl the entire chunk.

A completed bump.

Here is what your hair should be looking like once you’re most of the way through.

Fluffy, smooth curls to replace my squiggly, frizzy ones

Continue till you get to the top, but leave your bangs out, because you are going to use your blow dryer for them. My bangs are fairly long and angled, and those are the kind of bangs this works best for. If you have shorter or blunter bangs, you might play around with what looks best.

I brush all my bangs up into the brush, going backwards and straight up. Do this before you grab your blow dryer, because it can require two hands to get them up there.

Straight up, and back

Holding your bangs just so, put your blow dryer at their base and blow dry upwards. Turn the brush a little while you heat the hair. This can take a little practice to do on yourself, but it gets easier. Pull the dryer away, but continue to turn the brush for several seconds to let the hair cool off. This helps set the style and keep it from going completely flat after just a few minutes. Once you pull your hair out of the brush, you will likely have a giant flippy bang thing going on, like this:

Do not panic

It will not stay this way. Your hair is going to relax as it cools, and you want it a bit exaggerated at first so it doesn’t completely lose its shape. After a few minutes, you should have a reasonably cohesive look.

All done.

You will have to experiment a little to really find a look that works for you. There are several factors that affect the success level of this look, such as your hair type, the aforementioned barrel size, product, weather, etc.

Another aspect to play around with is curl direction, that is, the direction you curl the hair around the barrel. My general rule is that I curl away from the face, which means I turn the barrel to the left on the left side of my head, and to the right on the right side of my head. However, some hair growth patterns look better when all hair is curled in the same direction, and some hair looks better curled all left or all right. Everyone is a little different, so don’t worry if this doesn’t look great the first time or two. It can take a few tries to get it exactly how you want it, but keep practicing and you will eventually have awesome, beachy, wavy curls.

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