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How to curl your hair with a flat iron or straightener

This one tool can both straighten and curl your hair if you know how to use it.
How to curl hair with flat iron by yourself
You don't need to be a professional hairstylist to curl hair with flat iron at home!Joseph Bennett
/ Source: TODAY

If you’ve ever watched beauty videos on YouTube, you’ve probably seen someone create perfectly beachy waves using a flat iron. It looks effortless, but somehow, it's not quite the same when we do it.

What gives?

TODAY Style tapped two experts — Joseph Bennett, Hilaria Baldwin’s go-to hairdresser, and Andy Glickman, a prominent Philadelphia-based hairstylist — to explain the common mistakes people make and exactly how to curl your hair with a flat iron. Their biggest hint? Keep things moving.

How to prep:

Start with completely dry hair. “You could damage your hair if there is moisture,” said Bennett. “I also like to use a heat-protectant spray or serum before using any hot tool.”

And if you're using this curling technique, be sure to start with low heat on the iron to avoid creating damage.

Here’s what to do:

  • 1. Section out 1 inch of hair by the hairline.
  • 2. Use a small, see-through section and pin up the rest of the hair. If your section is too big, it could not curl or quickly fall flat.

Pro tip: Be sure to position curls away from the face on either side of the hairline, said Glickman, creator of @beautifulmasterpeace_.

How to curl hair with flat iron
Use a small enough section of hair that it appears see-through.Joseph Bennett
  • 3. Holding the flat iron vertically, press hair at the root and bend in half, continually twirling and feeding the hair through the iron.

Pro tip: “Place the iron at the point of the hair where you want to curl,” said Bennett. “If you want curls from the root to start there or start at the end if you want them there.”

How to curl hair with flat iron
Don't leave the hair iron in the same place for too long or you'll create a crease.Joseph Bennett
  • 4. Hold the ends of your hair and feed it through the iron to maintain control and an even curl pattern.

Pro tip: The motion is similar to curling a ribbon with scissors. “The slower you pull, the tighter the curl,” added Glickman. “The faster you, pull the looser the curl.”

  • 5. When you get about an inch and a half from the ends, let the hair go and press the hair straighter with the flat iron on the ends to give a more natural finish.
How to curl hair with flat iron
Once you've finished the curl, you can optionally straighten the ends for a more natural, beachy finish.Joseph Bennett
  • 6. Working in 1-inch sections, continue your way around the head. Alternate the direction of the curls to create lived-in waves.

Pro tip: Using random directions of the curls (besides the hairline) tend to look the best, according to Bennett.

How to curl hair with flat iron
Joseph Bennett
  • 7. Finish with your favorite dry texture spray for volume.

While anyone can achieve curls with a flat iron, this technique is especially good for people who have natural texture or wiry hair, according to Bennett.

“You can use the iron to smooth the root and then use it to curl the rest of the hair,” he said, adding that the secret to perfecting the look is starting with a good blowout. “It smooths the textured hair and will get a better result when curling,” said Bennett.

As far as the mistake people make most often? “They hold the flat iron in one spot for too long and create a crease,” said Glickman. “It’s imperative to keep moving.”