How to Use Curling Irons

Curls can add an alluring bounce or subtle glamour to your hair. Whether you’re after a flip of the ends or a tight corkscrew look, a curling iron is one of your most important tools to create your style.


1    Wash and dry your hair as normal.

2    Mist your hair evenly with the curl activator spray. If your curl activator is in the form of a gel, squirt a nickel-sized dollop in your hand and rub your palms together to warm the gel. Rub it throughout your hair, concentrating on the middle to bottom part of your hair where the curl tends to fall limp.

3    Comb through your hair with a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute your curl activator.

4     Set your hair dryer or diffuser on high heat but low speed, if possible. Dry your hair for only a minute or so to set the curl activator.

5     Curl your hair with a curling iron to define ringlets if needed. Otherwise, style your hair as usual.

Whether you use hot curlers, a flat iron, a hair dryer, a curling iron or an instant hair drying towel, excessive and constant heat on hair can make black hair dry and brittle.

There are some hairstyles that just can’t be done without the use of these styling products, but when you use them, try to use heating products in moderation.

Tip One: Instead of using a hair dryer, test how long it takes to air-dry your hair. If you have hair that becomes really curly and tangled while air-drying, you may want to go ahead and use the hair dryer. But if you can dry your hair by wrapping it or by using a styling lotion to straighten it out while it dries, consider letting Chicago’s natural heat do the job. Chicago is working with 90-degree plus weather, so it is possible.

Tip Two: Know beforehand what style you’re going for. If you want to straighten your hair, using a curling iron will give you curls you may not want. If you’re using a flat iron (also called a straightening iron) but want curls, the flat iron may leave your hair too straight even if you do flip the tips. Some people use both. My suggestion is to use one product and let a non-heat product do the rest. Use a straightening iron to flatten your hair and rollers on the tips, or use rollers to give your hair a little body instead of the flat iron. (Note: For thicker hair, it may not curl correctly or hold the curls very long so use both.) Wrap your hair at night if you don’t like using rollers. If your hair needs to be curled some more the next day, then use the curling iron for those strands as opposed to your entire head.

Tip Three: Avoid constant perming. Relaxer (also called perm) has a bad reputation for leading to hair loss, skin burns and making hair brittle. Although there are some hair types that just don’t work well with relaxer, more often than not if you talk to a person who has had a bad perm, you may find that that person has let someone who didn’t know how to perm hair use a sensitive product like this, got a perm too early, switched perms, colored her hair and then permed it too close together, left the perm on entirely too long or scratched her heads before perming her hair, which will more often than not lead to a perm disaster.

Tip Four: Make sure your hair is oiled as need be. Dry hair can become damaged even if you’re not using any of these other products. From shea butter to olive oil to coconut oil, use a product that keeps your hair healthy.

Tip Five: Do not overwash your hair, and make sure to use plenty of conditioner. Never skip using conditioner. Ever. Unlike other hair types, black hair needs the moisturizer in conditioner as well as daily or weekly oiling hair sessions. If you have a perm, the average wash time is biweekly. Natural hair may average weekly. The difference is that with a perm, washing hair too much also takes perm out too quickly, in addition to drying your hair out.

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