Different types of curls with curling iron

Curling your hair is a straightforward task. You twist your hair around the curler and release. That’s all there is to it, right?

While it’s true that curling can be relatively simple, there’s a bigger story to the trusted curl. The truth is there is much more to a curl than simply curling it. 

Curls can come in different shapes and sizes. Choosing the right barrel and the proper technique can make a difference between beach waves or voluminous curls. 

The curl depends on your prep work

First things first: Sometimes, you feel that your hair is too thin or too straight to hold a curl. With modern technology, any hair type should be able to hold a curl. 

To get the perfect curl and have it last, you want to make sure you tick off this checklist: 

  1. Use a suitable curling iron for your hair type.
  2. Prep your hair with a spray or mousse. 
  3. Make sure to use a heat protectant. 
  4. Hold the curl while it cools off. 
  5. Keep your hands off those curls. 

The size of your barrel changes your curl

Let’s take a minute to talk about barrel sizes

While the same barrel size can create different looks, the curl itself is shaped by the barrel size. The larger the barrel, the looser the curl. In contrast, smaller barrels create tighter and more springy curls. 

  • For subtle waves that mimic a blowout, consider using a 2” inch barrel. 
  • If you want voluminous curls, use a 1 or 1 ½” inch curling iron for more defined and bouncy waves. 
  • Caught in the middle? Get a 1 ¼” inch curling iron; it can produce curls both tight and loose.

The Curl Catalogue: What Type of Curl Can You Make with a Curling Iron

Beach Wave

Also known as tousled curls. The curl looks like you just hopped out of the ocean and your hair air-dried into a perfect hybrid of polished and casual. 

This looks suits just about every cut, from bob to medium-length hair to the curly frizz. They breathe volume into limp hair and tame frizzy, coarse hair. The beach waves look effortless and easy, but they’re pretty darn hard to perfect. For most beach wave looks, use a 1 ¼” inch barrel.

The Everyday Wave

Not too different from the beach wave, the everyday wave is a smooth, soft wave that looks like you just walked out of bed with your luscious locks.

Each curl is loose yet polished. This look is hard to achieve because looser waves tend to drop out much faster than tighter curls. 

A tip for the everyday wave is to load up on hairspray after styling. Soft, touchable curls may be ideal, but if you have trouble getting your curls to hold, a little hair spray goes a long way. 

Corkscrew Curl

Beautiful, springy tight wrapped curls that bring back the 80s. This vintage curl is taking the beauty world by storm and revived by fashion designers and beauty bloggers. 

The corkscrew curl creates a bold and beautiful look that is guaranteed to earn you plenty of attention, whether you’re working it at a party or taking out the garbage. The corkscrew curl usually requires a thin curling iron and small hair sections to create tight, bouncy curls. 

Spiral Curl

A looser curl than the corkscrew curl, the spiral curl is a medium-sized curl suited to long and short hair. 

Spiral curls generally look best when they begin as close to root as possible. This creates an effect of a tight curl rather than a wave towards the bottom of your hair. 

To define spiral curls, you need to use a product that doesn’t weigh them down while taming frizz. Use a hair mousse to keep spiral curls bouncy and in shape by adding hold and definition.  

Barrel Curl

A type of curl you get from standard roller sets, the barrel curl tends to give you a voluminous, wavy look. You can achieve this look with either a roller set or a curling iron. 

With a curling iron, you can create the same look in half the time. The best curling iron to create this look is a 1-inch barrel. Usually spotted on Kate Middleton, these types of curls create an extraordinarily polished and elegant look. 

Faux Blowout

This curl will have you ready for Hollywood Red Carpet. It creates the effect of a bouncy blow-dry look. 

To achieve this look, you need a fat, large barrel such as a 36mm barrel. A large barrel will create the effect of a soft ‘S’ bend rather than full curls. After styling, your hair will appear fuller, and there’s a thickness that becomes apparent through the mid-lengths and ends. 

Mermaid Waves

If you ever dreamed of being Ariel under the sea, as I’m sure we all have, this curl is for you. 

A voluminous look with loose waves through your hair, this curl is sure to have heads turning. The mermaid wave is the perfect cross between beach waves and the faux blowout. 

It feels soft and feminine while not looking too dressy. Always finish a mermaid look with a texturing spray or wax to keep the hair looking natural. 

Now that you know what types of curls you can create with a curling iron, you can get started. Remember to pick a look that matches your face, hair length, and texture. Practice is always necessary to get the look right. Try not to rush your curling iron techniques and take your time learning them before attempting a look to a major event. The time spent practicing will pay off. It’s time to get curling. 

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