How to Curl Hair


Voluminous, shiny curls look gorgeous on any hair length, color, and texture. If you weren’t blessed with ’em naturally, there are some super simple ways to get those waves. So how exactly can your curl your hair yourself?

We’ve rounded up some time-saving tutorials from Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists and hair pros for every need that even beginners can master, including how to curl hair with a curling iron or wand, with a straightener, with rollers, and more.

What to know before you curl

Regardless of the tool you use, here are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind before styling:

Always prep and protect your hair. Before curling with any method involving hot tools, apply a heat-protectant product, dry hair fully, and “brush through it to detangle and align strands,” says GH Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann.

Choose the right tool. Larger barrels form looser curls, while smaller ones make them tighter. For ringlets (or hard-to-curl hair), choose 1-inch barrels and smaller. For looser curls and waves, opt for 1.5-2-inch barrels.

Pick the right temperature range depending on your hair type:

  • For fine or damaged hair: 180°F to 370°F
  • For normal thickness, healthy hair: 375°F to 395°
  • For thick hair: 400°F to 420°F

Wait for hair to cool before touching it to avoid disrupting the style. When you’re finished styling, mist hair with hairspray and only once hair is cool, rake through curls with your fingers to separate.