How to Make Flat Iron Curls

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Beautiful Curls and Waves with a Flat Iron

Flat Iron Curls
Learn how to style your hair in pretty curls with a flat iron. Photo by Kendra Aarhus

"How do you curl hair with a flat iron?"

I think I'm asked this question at least one a day.

Believe it or not it's pretty simple, with a little practice. Flat iron curls are great because they are typically very soft and bouncy and look more natural than curling iron curls. You can make them tight or loose, and they work great for any length of hair.

Before you get started you're going to need to gather a few things:

  • Comb
  • Heat Setting Spray (a heat protecting spray or regular hairspray will also work)
  • Clips
  • Flat Iron (here are some of my favorite brands)
  • Hair Spray


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Section Your Hair

Section your hair in a way that allows you to start curling your hair at your lower hair line and work your way up. Photo by Kendra Aarhus

I like to make my life easier by sectioning off my hair, using clips to keep hair that I'm not curling out of my way. Start in the back of your head near the nape of your neck and clip the rest of your hair up on top of you head. Curl each section in small subsections before you release the next section of hair. Work your way up your head one section at a time.

When you're first starting to learn to curl your hair with a flat iron, you'll want to keep the sections on the smaller side. It's much easier to work with small sections when curling your hair with your straightener. As you get more comfortable, you'll find that you can vary the size of your sections based on your desired results.

See the next page for more sectioning tips and a video that further demonstrates flat iron curls in more detail.

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How to Create a Curl

How to Curl with a Flat Iron
Use small sections to make curling your hair easier. Simply comb, clamp, turn, pull, and release each section as described below and demonstrated above. Photos by Kendra Aarhus

I've witnessed several people trying to curl their hair with a flat iron by wrapping their hair around their flat iron in a similar manner that you might use a curling iron. While I've seen it work (but mostly fail), you'll get a lot faster results by simplifying the process.

Follow these easy steps (using the photos above for reference) to create the perfect flat iron curls:

  1. Creating the curl begins with a small section of hair. The smaller the section, the easier you'll find your curls to manage, especially as you're getting started. Spray your section with your heat setting spray and comb the section thoroughly. It's very important to comb the section out so your hair is as smooth and tangle free as possible.
  2. Clamp the hair between the plates of the flat iron close to your scalp.
  3. Turn the flat iron 180 degrees. The direction you turn your flat iron will determine the direction of your curl. For less of a curl and more of a wave, simply turn the flat iron a quarter turn instead of a half turn. For a tighter curl, turn the flat iron past 180 degrees.
  4. Holding the flat iron closed firmly, but loose enough to move the flat iron, slowly pull the flat iron through your hair shaft to the ends.
  5. Release the flat iron and behold your beautiful curl. Move on to the next section of hair until your entire head is cooled.


Video Instructions

Sometimes following written directions like this is confusing, so fear not, I've put together a video that demonstrates this technique here.


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Finish Your Style

Finished Flat Iron Curls
Flat iron curls, when finished, give a light bouncy look. Photo by Kendra Aarhus

After your hair is all curled, spray your finished curls with hairspray, and then allow your curls to cool completely before you start styling your hair. I like to have a cup of coffee or check my Facebook messages while my curls are cooling to lessen the temptation to start styling prematurely. Allowing your curls to cool completely will set your style and result in longer lasting curls.

When your curls are cooled, your style is only limited by your imagination. You can brush your curls out for soft waves or finger style your hair for a more piecy look. I like to tip my head upside down and use my fingers to comb my curls out for increase volume.

Don't forget a final spray with a firm holding hairspray to lock your curls in for the day, and if it's humid or raining, I highly recommend a blast with one of my favorite products to protect your hair from the elements.