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How to Master Stylish Curls With a Curling Wand Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

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how to curl hair with curling wandLike a siren call beckoning sailors, bountiful curls tantalize with the promise of freedom, intimacy, and reinvention. Yet curling wands often seem as treacherous to navigate as rocky shoals. Take heart! With this guide, you’ll soon be curling hair with aplomb, mastering everything from subtle waves to tumbling ringlets.

Key Takeaways

  • Varied barrel sizes offer different curl types and suit various hair lengths and preferences.
  • Customizing temperature based on hair type and using heat protectants is crucial for minimizing damage.
  • Proper preparation, including heat protection and sectioning, enhances the styling process.
  • Experimenting with curling techniques, tension, and finishing touches allows for diverse and lasting styles.

Choose the Right Curling Wand

Choose the Right Curling Wand
When selecting a curling wand, focus on three key factors:

  • Multiple barrel sizes
  • Adjustable temperature settings
  • Ergonomic design

An interchangeable wand allows you to achieve different curl types and sizes. Adjustable heat caters to all hair types, minimizing damage. An easy-to-handle design with swivel cord prevents hand fatigue for effortless, consistent curls.

Multiple Barrel Sizes

With the right curling wand between your hands, you’ll need multiple barrel sizes depending on the curls you’re going for.

  • Opt for larger barrels (32mm) to achieve loose, elongated curls.
  • Medium barrels (19-25mm) create classic curls and waves.
  • Smaller barrels (12-19mm) result in tight ringlets or coils.

Consider the tightness, volume, and look you want, as well as your hair length and thickness.

Adjustable Temperature Settings

You’ll also want an adjustable-temperature curling wand. This allows you to customize the heat based on your hair type and desired curl tightness.

Start low at 300°F and go up if needed—this prevents damage while still achieving beautiful curls. Thinner hair may only require 320°F max. Coarse locks can handle more heat, but don’t exceed 400°F.

Finding your optimal temperature results in bouncy, smooth curls that last days without drying out your strands.

Ergonomic Design Matters

Another important consideration when choosing your curling wand is ensuring it has an ergonomic design that makes styling comfortable.

You’ll want one with:

  • A lightweight body
  • A smooth handle that fits nicely in your hand, allowing you to curl hair without straining your wrist.
  • A swivel cord
  • A cool tip

Selecting the Barrel Size

Selecting the Barrel Size
When using a curling wand, choosing the right barrel size is key for achieving your desired curl look.

  • Opt for larger barrels between 25-32mm if you have longer hair and want loose, beachy waves.
  • For tighter ringlets, use a 19mm barrel or smaller.
  • You can also select a wand with multiple interchangeable barrels to vary your curl tightness and style.

Barrel For Hair Length

You’d want to match your barrel’s diameter to the length of your hair for defined curls.

For hair reaching your collarbone, a 1-1.5 inch barrel creates loose, glamorous waves.

Shoulder-length cuts benefit from a 0.75-1 inch barrel to achieve full-bodied curls.

For bobs and pixies, use a 0.5 inch barrel or smaller.

With fine or damaged hair, a ceramic-tourmaline barrel disperses heat gently.

Using a heat protectant guards strands, allowing you to safely experiment with your wand’s highest setting for big, bouncy curls.

Heat Settings For Hair Type

The appropriate heat setting for your curling wand depends on your hair’s thickness and sensitivity.

Fine or damaged hair requires lower temperatures from 250-300°F to prevent further damage.

For medium-textured hair, use 300-350°F.

Thicker or curl-resistant hair may need higher heat around 400°F to achieve a lasting curl.

Consider factors like:

  1. Hair Texture
  2. Heat Protection
  3. Curling Duration
  4. Temperature Control
  5. Styling Products

Curl Tightness Preferences

You’ll also want to select your barrel size based on how tight you want your curls.

For loose, breezy curls, go for a 1 1/4” or 1” barrel.

Feel like making a bolder statement? Opt for a 3/4 barrel for defined ringlets.

And when humidity threatens your style? Add texture with a spritz of sea salt spray, twist curls around your finger, then set with hairspray.

Embrace the season’s looser waves or touch up springy coils – either way, heat protectant is key to avoid damage from the wand’s heat, ensuring your hair stays healthy no matter the look.

Adjusting the Temperature

Adjusting the Temperature
After ensuring you’ve selected the ideal barrel size for your hair length and desired curl tightness, it’s time to adjust the temperature setting on your curling wand. Controlling heat is crucial for maintaining hair health while achieving beautiful, lasting curls.

Here’s a 3-step guide to temperature management:

  1. Start low. Begin curling at the lowest temperature setting, around 300-320°F. This prevents unnecessary damage while allowing you to assess styling impact.
  2. Adjust if needed. Gradually increase temperature in 10-20° increments, up to a max of 400°F.
  3. Use heat protection. Apply a heat protectant spray before curling to shield hair.

With the right temperature control, you can create touchable, bouncy curls without compromise.

Preparing Your Hair

Preparing Your Hair
Before curling, prep your locks by applying a heat protectant.

I recommend using a spray-on heat protectant like Tresemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray. Mist it evenly from roots to ends on towel-dried hair before blow drying. This shields strands from heat damage during styling.

Those with dry or damaged hair should prep with an intensive conditioning treatment 1-2 times per week. Try Shea Moisture’s Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque – it infuses moisture and improves manageability.

Tailor product selection to your hair texture. Fine hair benefits from lightweight stylers like mousse or sea salt spray for texture and volume. If you struggle with maintaining curls, use a strong hold hairspray like TRESemme Tres Two Extra Hold Hair Spray.

Its polymers coat hair to lock in curls without stiffness. Experiment with products and techniques until you perfect your curling method.

Sectioning Your Hair

Sectioning Your Hair
A key step is dividing your hair into 1-2 inch sections before wrapping each section around the curling wand’s barrel.

For fine or damaged hair, opt for smaller 1-inch sections to better control heat exposure.

Those with thick, coarse hair can section off larger 2-inch pieces.

Customize section sizes based on your hair texture and desired curl pattern.

When sectioning, keep in mind environmental factors like humidity, which may loosen curl tightness over time.

Use clips, headbands, bobby pins, etc for easier strand separation.

Consider parting hair differently than your usual style – a side or deep side part helps separate top and bottom layers for more defined, stylish waves that gently frame the face.

Play with diagonal, horizontal or vertical partings.

Releasing the Curls

Releasing the Curls
Releasing the curls involves strategically tilting the wand and letting the hair coil or stretching it immediately after curling for diverse styling effects.

Consider curling wand maintenance for longevity, ensuring clean barrels for smooth curls.

Humidity control matters; use anti-humidity sprays or serums to preserve curls on damp days.

Nighttime curls? Twist hair into loose buns or braids, securing with a silk scrunchie to maintain curl shape overnight.

Preserve curls longer by investing in wand accessories like heat-resistant gloves for safe handling and protective mats for countertop care.

Experiment with different release techniques to discover your signature curl style while embracing innovation in curl maintenance.

Experimenting With Curling Techniques

Experimenting With Curling Techniques
Enhance your curling experience by delving into diverse curling techniques to unveil your unique wand signature.

Conduct a curl pattern analysis to decipher the ideal wrapping method for your hair type—experiment with wrapping tension and angles for varied results.

Factor in humidity’s impact on your curls; adjust techniques to combat frizz in different climates or explore protective hairstyles to retain curls longer.

Explore overnight curls for effortless waves, adapting to seasonal styling for versatile looks.

Embrace innovation—try unconventional wrapping methods or alternate sectioning techniques.

Each exploration brings intimacy to your styling journey, offering liberation through creative expression and personalized curl crafting.

Brushing Out the Curls

Brushing Out the Curls
To perfect your styled curls, a crucial step involves gently brushing them out post-curling, creating a beachy or glamorous Hollywood look.

  • Post-Curl Brush Care: Use a Tangle Teezer or wide-toothed comb after curls cool for a natural yet defined style.
  • Texturizing Options: Experiment with brushing techniques to add volume or soften curls for a personalized touch.
  • Styling Aftermath: Wait for curls to cool completely before brushing to set the style while maintaining bounce and shape.
  • Alternative Finishing: Consider applying a light serum or dry oil mist post-brushing for added shine and control.
  • Redefining Curls: Explore brushing in different directions to redefine curls or create a tousled effect for a modern twist.

Setting the Style With Hairspray

Setting the Style With Hairspray
Once you’ve brushed out the curls to achieve your desired look, seal the style with hairspray for lasting hold and bounce.

Choose a hairspray that suits your hair type—ghd Heat Protectant Spray for a soft, bouncy texture or Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Hairspray for a firm yet flexible hold.

Hold the hairspray can about 10 inches away from your head and mist evenly.

Apply in sections, lifting hair for thorough coverage.

Consider weather-resistant options for style endurance, combating humidity or wind.

The right hairspray extends the lifespan of your curls, ensuring they remain intact throughout the day.

Brushing after spraying helps create a beachy texture or Hollywood glam effect, so wait for the curls to cool before gently running through them with a Tangle Teezer or wide-toothed comb.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I prevent my curls from falling out too quickly?

To prolong curls, spritz hairspray while the curls are warm, then release and allow them to cool before brushing.

Opt for a high-hold hairspray like ghd Heat Protectant or Tigi Bed Head for enduring, bouncy curls.

Can I use a curling wand on wet hair?

Using a curling wand on wet hair isn’t recommended.

Ensure your hair is completely dry before styling to prevent damage.

Start with damp hair, apply a heat protectant, and use the wand on dry hair for optimal results.

What’s the best way to maintain curling wand hygiene?

To maintain curling wand hygiene,

  • Regularly wipe the barrel with a damp cloth after use, ensuring it’s cooled.
  • For a deeper clean, use a cotton pad and rubbing alcohol.
  • Keep the wand away from water to prevent damage.

Are there specific hairstyles that work better with certain barrel sizes?

Barrel sizes determine curl types:

  • Big waves with 32mm
  • Medium curls with 25mm
  • Tight coils with 19mm

32mm suits long hair; 19mm for short styles.

Experiment for beach waves or defined curls.

Can I curl my hair with a wand if it’s already naturally curly?

Embrace your natural curls as a canvas.

Use the wand sparingly to redefine specific sections for added dimension and control.

Wrap small portions loosely for a blend of your natural texture with defined, enhanced curls.


In unlocking the secrets of styling with a curling wand, you’ve embarked on a transformative journey toward mastering the art of curls.

The nuances of barrel size, temperature, and technique now dance at your fingertips, ready to sculpt your hair into stunning waves or enchanting ringlets.

Embrace the power of choice in selecting the right wand, navigating temperature settings, and perfecting your curling approach.

With these steps, you’ll confidently wield your curling wand for stylish hair transformations.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.