how to curl your hair with a curling iron

Curling hair is a popular hairstyle choice for both casual and formal occasions. While there are many different methods and tools to achieve curls, using a curling iron is one of the most effective and long-lasting options. 

This article provides you everything about how to curl hair with curling iron, including important information, step-by-step instructions, special tips and tricks, and key facts. So let’s get started!

What to know before you curl

Before jumping into the steps on how to curl your hair with a curling iron, it’s important to have a good understanding of the tool itself. A curling iron is a heated styling tool that creates curls by wrapping sections of hair around a heated barrel. The heat breaks down the hydrogen bonds in the hair, allowing it to reshape into a curled form. Curling irons come in various sizes, from thin barrels for tighter curls to thicker barrels for looser waves.

When using a curling iron, remember that heat can cause damage to your hair. It’s essential to always use a heat protectant product and not to apply too much heat for an extended period of time. Additionally, using a high-quality curling iron with adjustable heat settings can help minimize damage and give you more control over the level of heat applied to your hair.

What You’ll Need:

  • A curling iron
  • Heat protectant spray
  • Hair Brush or comb
  • Hair clips or pins
  • Hairspray (optional)

how to curl hair with curling iron for beginners

Step 1: Prep Your Hair

Start with clean, dry hair. To keep your locks safe from heat, spritz on some heat protectant spray. Use a comb or hairbrush to ensure your hair is knot-free and ready to roll.

Step 2: Heat Up Your Curling Iron

Plug in your trusty curling iron and give it some time to heat up. The temperature you choose depends on your hair type – thicker hair can handle higher heat, while fine hair should go for a lower setting. Always begin with a lower heat setting and adjust as needed to prevent any hair harm.

Step 3: Section Your Hair

Divide your hair into sections. If your hair is on the thicker side, you may want more sections, but remember that smaller sections will give you more defined curls. Use clips or pins to keep those sections separate.

Step 4: Start Curling

Take a small section of hair, roughly an inch wide, and hold your curling iron vertically. You can start close to the roots for some extra volume or leave a bit of space if you prefer a looser look. Wrap your hair around the curling iron’s barrel, ensuring that the ends are tucked under the clamp.

Step 5: Hold and Release

Hold your hair in place for about 5-10 seconds – the exact time can vary based on your hair type and the curl you’re going for. Release the curl by opening the clamp and gently sliding the curling iron out. Hold the curl for a few seconds to let it cool while it sets.

Step 6: Keep Curling

Continue curling different sections of your hair, working from the bottom layers to the top. Remember to curl away from your face for a more natural look. Mix it up by curling in different directions for added texture.

Step 7: Final Touches

Once you’ve curled all your sections and the curls have cooled down, use your fingers to gently separate and tousle your curls for a more relaxed look. If you want your curls to stay put, a touch of hairspray will do the trick.

Step 8: Finish the Look

Style your newly curled hair any way you like. Leave it down, put it up in an updo, or add some fun accessories for extra pizzazz.

Remember, curling your hair with a curling iron might take a bit of practice, so don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect on your first try. With a little time and patience, you’ll be a curling pro in no time!

Special Tips & Tricks

  • For a more natural and effortless look, alternate the direction of each curl, curling some sections towards your face and others away from your face.
  • If you have fine or thin hair, use a lower heat setting to avoid damaging your hair.
  • If you’re looking for more volume, start curling your hair at the root instead of the ends.
  • To achieve a looser and more beachy wave, use a larger barrel and wrap bigger sections of hair around the curling iron.
  • Don’t forget to clean your curling iron regularly to remove any product buildup and maintain its performance.

Key Facts

  • The smaller the barrel of a curling iron, the tighter the curls will be.
  • Curling irons with ceramic or tourmaline barrels are less damaging and create smoother, shinier curls.
  • It’s essential to let your hair cool down before brushing or running your fingers through it to ensure the curls stay intact.
  • Using a heat protectant is crucial to minimize damage and keep your hair healthy.
  • With proper care and maintenance, a high-quality curling iron can last for several years.


1. What type of curling iron should I use?

When choosing a curling iron, it’s important to consider the size and shape of the barrel. Smaller barrels (around 1 inch) create tighter and more defined curls, while larger barrels (around 2 inches) create looser and more voluminous curls. You can also choose between a clip or clipless curling iron, depending on your personal preference.

2. How do I protect my hair from heat damage?

Before using a curling iron, make sure to apply a heat protectant product to your hair, such as a spray or serum. This will help minimize damage and keep your hair healthy.

3. Can I use a curling iron on wet hair?

No, you should never use a curling iron on wet hair as it can cause severe damage. Make sure your hair is completely dry before using a hot tool like a curling iron.

4. How long should I hold the curling iron on each section of hair?

This depends on the thickness and texture of your hair, as well as the desired level of curl. As a general rule, hold the curling iron for 8-10 seconds for fine hair, 10-15 seconds for medium hair, and up to 20 seconds for thick hair.

5. How can I make my curls last longer?

To ensure your curls stay in place for as long as possible, apply a small amount of hairspray after each section of hair is curled. You can also use a texturizing spray or mousse before curling to give your hair more grip and hold.


Curling your hair with a curling iron may seem intimidating at first, but with the right tools and techniques, anyone can achieve beautiful curls. Remember to always prioritize the health of your hair by using heat protectant products and not applying too much heat for an extended period of time. With practice and patience, you’ll be a pro at curling your hair with a curling iron in no time!