4 ways to curl hair with your straightener

The trick is all in your wrist

Beauty Crew Editor / February 16 2022

Figuring out how to curl hair with a straightener is on the bucket list of most women. And while it may seem complicated at first, once you understand how to hold the hair tool correctly and the best technique to use, you’ll be creating perfect curls and waves in no time. 

We spoke to Lauren McCowan, Creative Director at Haircare Australia and Cloud Nine Ambassador to shed some light on how to curl with a straightener, as well as how to create different kinds of curls. 

The starting position 

For each of these hairstyles, it’s important to get the starting position right for your hair straightener. Take small sections of hair as this will help you get the best results. McCowan says, “You want to grab a section that is going to fit between the plates, allowing the heat to distribute evenly – you’ll know if it’s too thick because the heat won’t go all the way through the hair and you’ll end up with an uneven result.” 

Then, McCowan suggests clamping down each section near the root (about 5cm away), holding your straightener horizontally, as this will help create an even wave. If you hold it diagonally, you may find the front section ends up curlier than the back, and the overall curl will be looser. 

Now that you’ve got your starting position, here are three different curly hairstyles you can create by simply changing how much you rotate the iron.

TOP TIP: Don’t squeeze too hard when pulling the straightener down. The harder you pull, the more tension you create and the more you’re stretching out your hair, which can lead to your curl dropping quicker.


Subtle waves

After clamping down your straightener into the prime position mentioned above, turn your straightener in (so imagine rotating your pinky upwards) about 90 degrees, so you can see the bottom side of the tool, and gently pull down, maintaining the pressure, pace, and position as you move from your root to end. This technique will “create a really loose, beautiful soft bend in the hair, and is great if you’re ironing over a blow-dry and you want that big gorgeous finish,” says McCowan.

Emily Ratajkowski wavy hair


Effortless curls

This is the standard curl most women want to create with their straightener. To achieve the shape, McCowan recommends turning your straightener 180 degrees, so that the top plate is now on the bottom, and vice versa. Again, gently pull the tool down without turning it any more – this will help create a uniform shape.

Margot Robbie curls
TOP TIP: For a more natural finish and extra texture, alternate the direction you curl each section, turning the iron in for some, and turning the iron out for others.


Big curls

For more defined curls, turn your straightener a full 360 degrees so that the entire section of hair is wrapped around the iron, and pull down to the ends. 

For a bouncy finish, when doing the pieces that frame your face, turn the straightener away when curling, but if you’re looking to create more of an old Hollywood, vintage hairstyle, turn the hair tool in.

TOP TIP: To make sure your curls keep their shape for longer, after curling, roll up each section and pin to your head while they’re still warm, then release when your hair has completely cooled down and brush it out.

One of McCowan’s biggest tips for maintaining the shape that you’ve created is to try and avoid touching the curls until they’ve cooled down as this stretches them out – a mistake many women tend to make. If you’ve created tight curls that you want to set in waves, then brush them out when your hair is still warm, but otherwise, resist playing with your hair until you don’t feel any heat anymore.


The viral looping technique

Now that you’ve become an old hat at curling your hair with a straightener, we think it’s only fair to challenge your new skills. 

Introducing the viral looping technique. 

A hair curling technique that started trending on TikTok after naysayers disputed its legitimacy.

And you’re probably asking yourself, “why would someone accuse a TikToker of faking their curls for clout?” 

Well, it just so happens that the looping technique looks like witchcraft; a form of haircentric acrobatics that needs to be seen (in slowmotion) in order to be believed. 

@anyastyleme shared the technique via TikTok and was subsequently met with an onslaught of criticism in the comments section from conspiracy theorists who started fighting over whether it was real or not. 

But if you watch closely, the looping technique really isn’t that complicated.

To try it yourself, grab a small section of hair, but instead of sliding it through the ironing plates, wrap it around the outside of the barrel first, and then slide the hair through the plates. 

Just make sure your hair is looped around the bottom plate of your straightener before you pull the hair through the plates. Et voilà – curls!

Need to see the looping technique in action before you get your strands involved? Catch Anya’s tutorial below:

Want to curl your hair on-the-go? These are the best cordless straighteners money can buy. 

Image credits: Getty / @glencocoforhair

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.