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How Best to Curl Short Hair with Heat

Published on Aug 08, 2016 in Bath & Body

Short hair styles can look amazing year-round, but especially so in the summer time!  Regardless of the season (although make sure you’re prepared for the summer!), whether you’re rocking a cute pixie-cut or another sleek short do, if you find yourself getting bored of your style, or find it lacking volume, worry not! Try these simple methods of curling short locks to freshen things up! It’s important to remember that everyone has a different hair type, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t play around with our styling. When curling short hair, you’re more limited, method wise, than if you had longer locks to work with. However, by no means should you despair, as the upside here is that curling short hair is really easy as it can be styled much faster than longer hair! In this article, How Best to Curl Short Hair with Heat, I’ll offer some helpful tips and explain a few step-by-step curling methods which utilize heat that you can use to achieve those fabulous vivacious curls – even with your shorter do!

taylor curly

Taylor Swift rocking the short, curly hair

Hair Curling Tips to Keep In Mind

  • The smaller your sections are, the tighter the curls will be, while larger sections will create looser curls.
  • If you’re using heating methods, make sure that your hair is in a natural state and has not been straightened or curled recently with heat, because curling irons hold the curl better when there is not any heat damage already done to it.
  • One of the best ways to ensure that your curls stay in place is to use hair styling products that are designed to hold your specific hair type in place. So make sure any holding formulas you use are specially formulated for your hair texture and thickness.
  • Wash your hair with shampoo as you normally do. Then apply a rinse-out conditioner for softer curls. Rinse it out with cool water. If you want firmer, more rigid curls, you can skip the conditioner altogether. Remove excess moisture but do not dry completely. Gently pat your hair with a towel so that it is no longer dripping wet. Your hair must be slightly damp in order for these curls to set properly.
  • If you don’t want your hair to have just one uniform curl all over, alternating the direction you curl each section of hair will give you some fun waves and texture.

    How to Curl Short Hair Using Heat

    flat and curling

    Curling Iron

    You could wait around for hours (or even sleep through the night), for heatless curling methods, but if you want them quicker without needing hours of advance planning, heat treating your hair is the way to go! You’ll also be able to achieve a wider variety of styles. Just make sure (unless you want burnt hair) to set the heat below 200 degrees Fahrenheit for thin, or color-treated hair, and between 200-300 degrees for coarse, thick hair. Your hair should be fine if you’re careful (and don’t heat treat every day), but if you have very fine hair, then the methods without using heat listed further below are still probably best for you. Some of the following steps in the different methods will be similar or the same.

    How to Curl Short Hair with a Flat Iron Straightener

    flat iron

    Flat-Iron Straightener

    Without a doubt, curling with your straightening iron can be counter intuitive, and it can take a lot of practice to get it right. It does take a little longer than a curling iron to get each curl right, and you also need to make sure the flat iron you have has a rounded body rather than a square-ish one that can give your curls a boxy look, but when you have figured it out- you can create full, bouncy curls that won’t look like ringlets.

    1. You must begin with completely dry hair. Before using any heating iron, your hair should be completely dry, as applying intense heat to wet or even damp hair could cause damage. Day old hair will generally hold heat-treated curls better than freshly washed hair, especially if your hair is very fine. If your hair feels a little greasy, you can apply some dry shampoo to the roots before you continue.

    2. Comb it properly and make sure there aren’t any tangles.

    3. Apply heat protection. Always apply a heat protection spray to your hair before using a heating iron; otherwise your hair will become dry and frazzled. Ask your stylist to recommend a good heat protection product for your hair.

    4. Use a thin flat iron. For shorter hair, a thin flat iron will work best, as you will be able to wrap the hair around it more times than you would a wider one, thus producing more curl. If you only have a wide flat iron, it will still work, but your hair will look wavy rather than curly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you might want that sexy beach wave-y look. Also set your flat iron to the lowest heat setting necessary for curl. Fine hair will curl with a temperature of around 320 °F (160 °C), whereas thicker hair may need a temperature around the 420 mark.

    5. Separate your hair into sections and start curling. It is always easier to curl your hair when it is separated into sections. Grab all of the hair above your ears and clip it securely on top of your head. Grab a small strand of hair from the bottom section. It should be about 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) in width. Clamp the flat iron near the root of the hair (be careful not to burn yourself), then give it a half turn, so that the hair forms a U-shape in the iron. Keeping the flat iron in the same position, slowly pull it through the hair. The slower you do it, the tighter the curls will be. Pulling the flat iron quickly through the hair will give you loose waves. Continue on to the next strand of hair till you’re done with this section, then move on and let down the top section of your hair, and curl using the same method. When you’re curling the front bits, make sure to turn the flat iron away from your face, so the curls don’t keep falling in front of your eyes. Rather than curling bangs, simply grab the end of the hair, clamp the flat iron about halfway down and simply flick the hair away from your face.

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    6. Set the curls. Once you have completed each curl, you’ll need to define its shape and position with your fingers, before it has completely cooled down. Once you’ve done that, spritz it with some hairspray. By the time the curl is completely cool, it should be set and in place. If the curls are a little too ringlet-y for your liking, leave them to relax while you curl the rest of your hair and give your hair an overall spray once you’re done. Strong hold hairspray can leave your hair feeling crunchy and rigid. A light-medium hold hairspray is best if you want loose, relaxed waves.

    7. Get added texture. You can alternate between flicks and curls, which are simply two slightly different ways to curl your hair with a flat iron. You might prefer one over the other or like combining the two for a more textured look.

    Flicks: Start about half-way down the length of hair, clamp the iron closed and turn it back on itself in a half turn, creating a U-shape with the hair and the iron. Keeping the iron on that half-turn angle, slowly move it down the hair shaft to the end of the hair. The faster you move the iron, the less pronounced the flick will be. If you like larger flicks, then slow down your movement.

    Curls: Carefully, so as to not burn yourself, starting close to the scalp  clamp the iron closed and turn it back on itself a half turn. Run the iron slowly down the hair shaft to the end. Again, the slower you move the flat iron, the tighter the curl. The faster you move the iron, the gentler the wave. For uniform curls, keep turning the flat iron in the same direction each time, and for messier curls, alternate between turning the flat iron away from your face and towards your face. If your hair is really short or you notice any spiky pieces at the ends, gently curl the ends themselves back inward toward your neck.

    8. Wrapping up.  When you’re finished curling you can leave your hair as-is, or you can do the following: For more hold: Cover your curls with a light mist of hairspray to keep them sleek and tight throughout the day. If you live in a really humid area, consider using an anti-humidity spray as well. For looser curls: Gently finger-comb your hair and tousle it. You’ll get a little more volume, and a relaxed, natural look.

    How to Curl Short Hair Using a Curling Iron

    curling iron

    Curling Iron

    If you want those gorgeous smaller curls or even tight little ringlets, a proper curling iron will do the job. It is easier to master than a flat iron, and you’ll get the job done a little faster, but your curls won’t be quiet as voluminous as you can get with the flat iron. Using a wand (essentially a curling iron without a clamp), is much more difficult when you have shorter hair, because you can burn yourself more easily, so I personally would stay away from wants if your hair is not at least shoulder length.

    1. Thin vs thick curling iron. Depending on how short your hair is, you may want to use a thinner curling iron. Thicker curling irons may be too big to wrap short sections of hair around, and won’t produce good results. A curling iron with a 1 inch (2.5 cm) diameter should work well.

    2. You must begin with completely dry hair. Before using any heating iron, your hair should be completely dry – not damagingly dry, but unmoist – as applying intense heat to wet or even damp hair could cause damage. Day old hair will generally hold heat-treated curls better than freshly washed hair, especially if your hair is very fine. If your hair feels a little greasy, you can apply some dry shampoo to the roots before you continue.

    3. Comb it properly and make sure there aren’t any tangles.

    4. Apply heat protection. Always apply a heat protection spray to your hair before using a heating iron; otherwise your hair will become dry and frazzled. Ask your stylist to recommend a good heat protection product for your hair.

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    5. Separate your hair into sections and start curling. Use a comb to separate your hair into a top layer and a bottom layer. Take a couple of large hair clips and pin the top section of your hair to the top of your head, allowing you to work with the bottom layer alone. If your hair is particularly thick, you may need to split it into three sections for best results. Leave your bangs alone. You can leave them hanging down or clip them to the top of your head. Either way, do not include them in the curling process. When you’ve finished sectioning your hair, starting at the front, take a small strand of hair and wrap it around the curling iron, making sure it is safely away from your skin. The curl should be rolled away from your face, rather than towards it, with the curling iron to the back of your head. The wider the section of hair you use, the bigger the curl will be. To produce medium sized curls in shorter hair, a 1 to 2 inch (2.5 to 5 cm) section should suffice.

    6. Leave the ends straight.  It may be best to leave the ends straight with shorter hairdos rather than curling the entire strand of hair. This will leave you with a bit of length and will prevent the curls from sticking out from your head, but if you don’t like that look, you can try curling the bangs as well. Remember that when you’re curling shorter hair, it will shorten the length of your hair even more, which is fine if you’re going for an even shorter look. However, if you don’t want it too short and you’re planning to add even just a little length to it, you can curl the rest of your hair normally but try and leave the ends straight. This means that as you use the curling iron, you can stop at around half an inch from the tips so that your hair will have a more natural finish. Clamp down on the separated section of hair about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) away from the bottom before rolling upwards.  Hold the hair wrapped around the iron shaft for five to ten seconds. Depending on how tight you want your curls to be, you can hold the hair wrapped around the iron for varying lengths of time. For loose waves, hold the iron in place for only five seconds, then release the curl. For tighter ringlets, hold the curl for ten seconds or more.

    7. Set the curls. Once you have completed each curl, you’ll need to define its shape and position with your fingers, before it has completely cooled down. Once you’ve done that, spritz it with some hairspray. By the time the curl is completely cool, it should be set and in place. If the curls are a little too ringlet-y for your liking, leave them to relax while you curl the rest of your hair and give your hair an overall spray once you’re done. Strong hold hairspray can leave your hair feeling crunchy and rigid. A light-medium hold hairspray is best if you want loose, relaxed waves.

    8. For added texture. If you want a more natural look, all you need to do is avoid separating the hair into even sections. Instead, just vary the size of the sections and alternate between curling the hair towards and away from the face. Gradually let down and curl the top layer. Remove hair from the top layer pinned to your head one section at a time. Curl each section in the same manner used to curl the bottom layer of hair before pulling down the next section. For uniform curls, keep turning the flat iron in the same direction each time, and for messier curls, alternate between turning the flat iron away from your face and towards your face.

    9. Finishing touches and wrapping up. Once you have curled you entire head of hair, gently pull the curls apart with your fingers to prevent the ringlet look.  This look is more common for shorter hair because women tend to use a smaller barrel size of the curling iron. If you’re not too keen on this ringlet look and you want to avoid it, all you have to do is use your fingers to pull the curls apart but remember to be absolutely gentle. You don’t want to ruin your curls altogether, you just want to loosen them a bit. But don’t touch your hair until the curls are set, because you want your curls to last for as long as possible.

    Touch up any curls that may have fallen out. Add volume to your style by grabbing the crown area of your hair, just near the part, and backcombing the roots. Add a final spray of hairspray. One good, final spritz will help hold the finished look in place for the day. Enjoy your stylish curly hair, and remember to always practice proper hair care!

    Our Favorite Curling Iron

    There are tons of great curling irons out there, but our very favorite here at Maple Holistics has got to be Remington’s Curling Wand! Reasonably priced and effective, Remington’s wand has got the goods and can give you salon-quality treatments in half the time and for a fraction of the cost. Give it a try today!

    Thanks for checking out our hair care feature – be on the lookout for Virgin European Hair Wigs and Your First Hair Piece at MapleHolistics!