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Crimped Hair Is Back — Here’s How to Give It a Modern Spin

A 2022 spin on an ‘80s style.
January 24, 2022


When it comes to beauty trends, it’s just as common to see olds trends become new again as it is to see new trends get old quickly. Recently, we’re seeing a resurgence of ‘80s beauty trends 一 crimped hair being one of the most popular. While this beloved ‘80s hairstyle featured tight crimps and poofy hair back in the day, the modern version is a bit different. Today, people are using crimping tools (and crimping hair) to achieve mermaid waves and looser styles. So if you’re looking to try out a new hairstyle with throwback flair, keep reading because we’re sharing how to get the crimped hair look in six simple steps. 

What’s Crimped Hair? 

In case you’re too young to remember the style or it simply wasn't on your radar back in the day, let’s start with a little refresher. The crimped hair look is when you style relatively straight or straightened hair with a crimping iron to create a zig-zagged, wavy texture. Different from really loose curls and wavy hairstyles, crimped hair provides a purposefully uniform wave pattern. Depending on your hair type you can also achieve crimped hair with overnight braids — which is especially important if you prefer to go heat-free.

How To Create Modern Crimped Hair 

If you’re ready to give the style a go, keep reading for our guide on how to crimp your hair 一 the contemporary way. 

1. Start With Straight Hair 

While your hair doesn't need to be pin straight, it’s important to start with relatively straight hair because this will make for a more clear wave pattern from the crimper. If you have wavy or curly hair, run a straightener through your strands to remove any obvious coils. 

2. Apply Heat Protectant 

If you straighten your hair, then you should have already applied heat protectant. But if you’re starting with straight hair, be sure to apply heat protectant now to shield your strands from heat damage. The L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Heat Slayer Pre-Iron Spray Leave-In is great because it’s a lightweight spray that protects the hair from damage up to 450 degrees. 

3. Brush Your Hair 

Using a smoothing brush, detangle any knots in your hair, so you have a perfectly smooth surface before you begin crimping. This will ensure the end result is smooth, and that the crimper doesn’t get caught on knots. Plus, brushing through your hair after applying heat protectant is a great way to ensure the product is evenly distributed. Remember to start at the ends, work up the length and finish at your roots to cause the least amount of pulling as possible. 

4. Section Your Hair 

Just like with curling or straightening your hair, the best way to achieve this style is to split your mane into sections 一 this allows you to be more precise and ensure you’re not missing pieces. Part your hair into a top and bottom section, and divide each of those sections into a left and right side (you should have four sections total at this point). Use clips or scrunchies to keep the hair that you’re not working with out of the way.

5. Prep Your Crimping Iron 

While ‘80s crimpers had multiple, small sections to create tiny zig-zag waves, current crimpers typically have three larger sections to achieve a looser style. Regardless of which tool you choose, plug it in and set it on the lowest setting that allows you to style your hair without having to make multiple passes. Typically, the thinner your hair, the lower the setting you can get away with, whereas you might need to use a higher setting if you have thicker strands.

Editor’s tip: If you don’t have a crimping iron or prefer to go heatless, start by braiding your hair in two sections. Then using a straightening iron, clamp down on your braid from top to bottom, holding in place for at least a few seconds per section. Let the hair cool, release the braids and set the style with a strong hold hair spray like the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold, Light Hairspray Unscented.

6. Alter Your Crimping Pattern

Split each of your four sections into smaller sections to create defined waves. Then using your crimping tool, sandwich the plates of the iron horizontally across your hair, press the tool down, and hold for five to ten seconds. 

In addition to choosing a crimper with large sections, the key to creating a modern crimped style is to alter your crimping pattern. Be sure not to place the crimper in the exact same position for all of the sections as this will create identical waves throughout your head. Instead, alter the placement slightly for each section so that the waves differ, giving you a more piecy, casual style. To ensure your style remains looking great all day or night, set it in place with a light layer of hairspray.

Next: 8 Ways To Get Perfect Beach Waves

Written by: Alyssa Kaplan, Photo Credit: IG/

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