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How to Curl Your Hair With a Flat Iron

It’s easier than you think.
November 27, 2023

Curling irons
are great tools to have on hand. In fact, you’ve probably used one many times to give flat hair volume or luscious curls. But if you don’t have a curling iron available turns out you can actually use another well-loved styling tool for a quick fix: your flat iron (aka hair straightener). 


If you’re looking to curl your hair with a flat iron all it takes is a little bit of practice — and the right tips based on your hair type (short hair, medium hair or long hair) and dedicated hair care products. Keep reading if you find yourself without a curling wand and need to learn how to curl your hair with a flat iron. Grab your straightener — and a heat protectant — and follow along for beautiful flat iron curls.


Can You Curl Your Hair with a Flat Iron?

Not only can you curl your hair with a flat iron but it makes a great hack for whenever you don’t have a curling iron on hand, or if you want bigger curls. Since a flatiron doesn’t have a specific size barrel, you can have more flexibility with the size of your curls instead of getting multiple curling wands in different sizes. You don’t have to worry about damaging your hair (or your flat iron) with this hair hack if you use the tool properly. 


Take the same precautions you would with any hot tool. This means you should always use a heat protectant for your hair before using a hot tool. Also, be mindful of how high your temperature is and keep your fingers away from the plates of the flat iron.  


The Best Flat Iron for Curling Your Hair

There are a lot of different flat irons available and you want to be intentional about the one you’re using to curl your hair with. Flat irons are available with different features like temperature controls, ceramic plates and automatic shut-off options, plus they also come in a full range of sizes. 


As far as the best flat iron for curling your hair goes, you’ll want to use a thin straightener that is only one or two inches wide, the perfect size for creating curls. If you pick a flat iron that's too wide or has large paddles, you won’t get round curls since it’ll be difficult to wrap your hair around the big size — unless you have long hair that falls below your mid-back. 


How to Prep Your Hair for Using a Flat Iron

Before learning how to curl your hair with a flat iron, you must put in the proper prep work. You should start with clean, blow dried hair. Start in the shower with your shampoo and conditioner of choice, just make sure it’s moisturizing to keep hair nourished and strong during the heating process. Try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free which revitalizes dry, dehydrated hair with infused hyaluronic acid. This well known skin care ingredient plumps hair with moisture so it’s fuller, shinier and bouncier — a perfect base for your flat iron sculpted curls. 


After your in-shower routine, start the blow-drying process by priming your hair with a heat protectant like L’Oréal Paris Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant to shield your hair from heat damage up to 450 degrees. Section your hair so it’s easier to dry and use a paddle brush for a smooth finish as you pass the blow dryer over your mane. Once you’re done with that, you’re ready to put your flat iron to work and master how to curl hair with it.

How to Curl Your Hair With a Flat Iron

When it comes to curling your hair with a flat iron, there isn’t just one method. Here, learn how to curl your hair for two methods depending on how tight or loose you want your curls to appear.

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How to Get Traditional Curls With a Flat Iron

Traditional curls describe hair that has a tight curl pattern with a more springy, bouncy look. If looking at a hair type chart, these curls will fall in the 2C, 3A, 3B category depending on how thin of a flat iron you’re using. 


Step 1. Split Hair Into Sections

To start, split your hair into sections so that it’s easier to work with. If you have thinner strands, a top and bottom layer should be sufficient. Thick hair may need to be divided into further sections.


Step 2. Apply More Heat Protectant

Protect your hair from heat damage with an added layer of care using a heat protectant that minimizes damage every time you wrap your hair around the flat iron. Use a multi-use product that will also add shine and moisture to your hair. Reach for L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free 21-in-1 Color Caring Spray, Leave In for heat protection up to 450 degrees while softening strands for a silky, frizz free and split-end free style. 


Step 3. Clamp Iron Where You Want the Curl to Start

Pick a starting point in your sectioned hair pieces to determine where you want the curl to start. Allow the pieces of hair to fall between the metal plates of the iron and clamp it shut at the desired length.


Step 4. Roll the Iron

After clamping your hair inside the flat iron, wrap the ends of your hair over the flat iron, while twisting the iron toward you. Hold for a few seconds (no longer than eight seconds to avoid burning your hair) and make sure the hair is tight against the iron. Keep the ends in your grip and gently pull the iron down until you reach the ends of your hair, then let it go. The process can be boiled down to clamp, wrap, twist and pull. 


How to Get Beach Waves With a Flat Iron

This process is similar to the above steps with a few adjustments at the end to create a looser curl that beach waves are known for. 


Step 1. Create Multiple Hair Sections

Start by creating two sections of hair and add more if your hair is thick and long. The goal is to eliminate clumping hair together, which may result in less defined curls or waves. 


Step 2. Use More Heat Protectant

You might have prepared your hair with a heat primer already, but a little more protection never hurt anyone. Just make sure you use lightweight products that won’t overly coat hair (causing product buildup) or weigh it down, like L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In.


Step 3. Pick a Starting Point

Similar to the previous curling instructions, pick a starting point for your beach waves on your natural hair. Clamp the iron at the part of the hair where you want the curls to start. 


Step 4. Keep Hair Loose

As you wrap your hair around the flat iron keep the hair loose to mimic the slack wave look. This differs from the previous tutorial that requires the hair be tightly wound for more defined curls. Hold the flat iron against your wrapped hair and slowly add slack to unravel the hair for wavy tresses. Keep the iron on your hair for five to eight seconds and then hold the curl in your hair until it's cooled down for the most defined beach wave


How to Curl Short Hair with a Flat Iron

Follow steps one and two from the previous sections as each curling session will begin the same — regardless of hair type or length. However, shorter hair may require more technique since there is less hair to wrap around the straightener.


Step 3. Clamp Flat Iron Close to Your Roots

Once you’re ready, clamp the section of your hair, starting as close to your roots as possible. Twist it away from your face and hold the hair for a few seconds. 


Step 4. Roll Your Hair and Repeat As Needed

Slightly release your grip and roll your hair in between the plates of the flat iron to repeat. Now, you can clamp and release the flat iron until you reach the ends of your hair. This leaves your strands with wavy curls. 

How to Curl Long Hair With a Flat Iron?

For the most part, you’ll want to follow the same steps from the previous sections when using a flat iron to curl long hair. However, you may need to create smaller sections for your hair or turn up the heat to guarantee all parts of your long hair get ironed. Make sure you use a heat protectant like the ones previously mentioned to shield your hair from heat damage, along with creating texture in the hair to hold the curl better. 


How to Keep Your Straightener Curls from Dropping

After you’re done curling your entire head of hair with a flat iron, Your last step should be setting your hairstyle with hair spray. Spritz on L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray - Unscented, then show off those beautiful waves or curls.


Next: 21 Wavy Hairstyles and Haircuts for Try for Your Next Look


Photo Credit: iStock

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