How to: Curl Hair with a Straightener

Loose Curls

Get romantic loose curls with a straightener

I’m a HUGE fan of Japanese fashion and beauty. I collect Japanese teen fashion and beauty magazines because their aesthetic is often different from the ones I see in my country and in many western cultures. I was quite surprised when I first visited Tokyo that most of the women (especially in Shinjuku) dressed and made themselves up just like the models in the magazines! At some points I felt like I was actually walking through a japanese teen fashion magazine.

One hairstyle I’ve always envied are those beautiful romantic loose curls that many japanese women seem to sport in magazines and in real life. They look absolutely gorgeous!

Hollywood actresses like Keira Knightley and Kate Hudson, and singers like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift also sport these loose curls and it makes them look amazing! These curls have a slightly-tousled-just-got-out-of-bed look that’s both soft, sexy and cute at the same time.

Usually, people can use a thick curling iron to do the trick, but what if you don’t have one and have no time/money to buy? Guess what! You can get these beautiful loose, soft curls, as well as tighter and more defined curls with your hair straightener (a.k.a. your flat iron). I actually prefer using my flat iron because I feel the curls come out more natural looking.

Here’s my tutorial on how to curl hair with a straightener.


What do you need?

  • Long hair. Hair that’s above or just at your shoulder will be a lot more difficult to curl–but not impossible. When my hair was short, it was easier to curl my hair with a curling iron rather than a straightener.  The Ideal length for romantic curls would be hair that reaches mid-breast or a bit longer. But at least 3 inches past your shoulder should do fine.
  • Mousse. I use Citre Shine Volumizing Mousse. It’s quite good, but not the best. It does it’s job and holds my hair the whole day and smells wonderful. Not the best because I can feel a little gunk on my hair but it’s not noticeable visually.
  • Hairspray. I use Finesse Self-Adjusting Hairspray, Extra Hold. I have naturally straight hair (without this+mousse my hair straightens out in about 1 hour) and I live in a humid country and this keeps my curls in the whole day!
  • Heat Protection Spray. I use Citre Shine Thermo-Defense.
  • Flat Iron. In order to curl your hair, your flat iron should be about 1 inch wide. It won’t work with wide flat irons.
  • Hair Dryer.
  • Brush.
  • 2 Hair Clips (the large ones hair dressers use)/Elastic Hair bands
  • Rat-tail Comb. Not essential, but highly recommended.
  • Time. At least 30 minutes to an hour


Preparation: The Pre-Curling Phase

Before you can start curling your hair, here’s a few things you need to do.

How to Curl Hair with a Straightener: Before CurlingWet/Wash your hair. Don’t use straightening conditioner or shampoo right before your curl your hair! You need your hair to have a little texture for it to stay curled. I personally avoid using conditioner a day before I curl my hair to give it more hold. I condition everyday otherwise. After that, you need to towel dry your hair.

Apply Mousse. While your hair is still a little damp, apply some mousse onto your hair. Dispense a dollop onto your palm and, with your fingers, comb it through the strands of your hair. Some people like to use an actual comb to get more strands of hair.

With a hair dryer, dry your hair using the “cool” setting. If your in a hurry, you can dry it with heat. For more volume on top, blow dry your hair upside down. I usually brush my hair while I blow dry it so that my hair is more-or-less straight. I find it much easier to curl like this.

Start heating up the straightener. Most straighteners take a few minutes to heat up. If you start curling your hair when the iron is not at it’s right temperature, the section you started off with will look straighter/uncurl before you’re even done with the other sections. Start heating it up now, so it can reach its proper temperature while you do the steps below.

Apply Heat Protection Spray. The spray lessens the damage you get from using hot styling tools (in this case, a straightener) on your hair.


More Prep Work: Sectioning Your Hair

How to Curl Hair with a Straightener: Part Your Hair in the  MiddleMake sure you’ve started heating up your flat iron. You really don’t want to curl your hair with a half-heated iron. It’s ineffective and your hair will straighten out much faster.

Part your hair in the middle and secure it with hair clips. As seen on the picture on the left, two clips/bands are enough.

If you have layered hair, clip up any layers that fall above 1 inch below your chin.

How to Curl Hair with a Straightener: Sectioning your hair

Plan how to section your hair. Section depending on how thick your hair is and how thick your want  your curl to be. Don’t forget that the thicker the section, the harder it is to curl. The more sections you have, the longer it will take.

I find .5 in. to 1.5 in. sections work well with my hair, but I usually go for a little over 1 inch because i like the effect the most. This is how I usually do my sections, in the order that I curl them (left).

If the section is short, consider blow drying it rather than curling. Or twist the straightener only 90 degrees, with the tips pointing toward your face.


FINALLY! Curl your hair with a straightener

Remember. Finish working on one side before you move to the other.

How to Curl Hair with a Straightener

  1. Pull a small section 1 in. from your clip/elastic. I suggest using the rat tail part of the comb to her you get cleaner sections (or use your fingers). I like to start at the very bottom, from the nape of my neck then work my way forward then outwards. I do my top layers the last.
  2. Comb the section out with the comb to make sure it’s not tangled and to take out odd strands.
  3. Close the flat iron around the area you want the curls to start.
  4. Twist the flat iron a full 360 degrees until your hair is wrapped around the outside of the flat iron once, the tips facing down. If you twist the straightener in the opposite direction, the direction of the curl will also change.
  5. Pull the flat iron down the length of the section. The slower you pass it through your hair, the tighter the curls would be. The faster you pass the straightener through your hair, the looser the curls will end up.
  6. If your curls are too tight, tug on the end of the section a couple of times to straighten it
  7. If your hair is naturally straight and has a habit of straightens on its own easily, apply hairspray on the section right after it’s curled.
  8. Repeat for the other segments.
  9. When everything is done, hairspray to keep the segments in place.

Tip: If you want a few strands of very thin curls (2mm or so) to make it look a little more messy,  pull a little out from your larger curls and spray them away from the bigger curl with hair spray.


Don’t go out if it’s your first time doing this because your curls might end up uneven or messy looking. It takes a little practice to get this perfect. Set aside an evening or a day off to practice/try it out first.

I hope this tutorial has helped you figure out how to curl hair with a straightener. With some practice, you too can have those gorgeous romantic loose curls!


2 Responses to “How to: Curl Hair with a Straightener”

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  1. meli007 says:

    thanks for the tips, are very useful, i will try that with my Karmin G3 Salon Pro, it works amazing and has the perfect plates to curl the hair. :D

  2. Mary Ask says:

    Very useful tips, I’ll try that with my Karmin G3 Salon Pro, it works pretty good, removes static and leaves my hair silky and shiny :)

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