The Definitive Guide On How To Curl Long Hair

A full head of beautiful curls can look stunning at any length. 

When you have naturally long straight hair, however, recreating such a look can feel daunting. But never fear, we have created the ultimate guide explaining how to curl long hair. 

Whether you long for heatless, overnight curls or quick, effortless waves before work, let us talk you through how!

How to prep long hair for curling

Start with dry hair

Before you jump straight into creating your curls, you need to do the proper preparation. When styling your hair with heat, you want it to be completely dry. 

If you can wait, day-old hair will hold a curl even better than freshly washed. If you have just hopped out of the shower, don’t worry. Just ensure your locks are fully dry before styling.

You are going to want to spritz a heat protectant all over your hair; this will help to minimize any heat damage that can leave your tresses looking frizzy or dull, and lackluster. 

HSI PROFESSIONAL Argan Oil Heat Protector | Protect up to 450º F from Flat Irons & Hot Blow Dry | Sulfate Free, Prevents Damage & Breakage | Made in the USA | 8 Ounce, Packaging May Vary

For my girls with stick-straight hair, the key to longevity is all in the prep; using a quality mousse or texture spray to add grit to your tresses will help retain your curls all day.

Use Hairspray

While it’s almost common knowledge that hairspray can help lock in your style at the end of the process, you may not have thought to use it at the beginning. 

Pick a light or medium hold non-aerosol hairspray and mist your hair all over before styling to add an extra protective barrier against heat. This is especially helpful if your natural hair struggles to hold a curl


How to curl long hair with a curling iron

When creating curls in naturally long, straight hair, your mind may automatically jump to curling irons.

If you are searching for control over your style and a clearly defined curl, you are on the right track. Don’t be put off if you have long locks; the process is easier than you may think. 

  1. Section your hair horizontally so you can work in layers. We recommend then parting each layer into 3 or 4 workable sections that you can easily manage as you style.
  2. Taking a 1 - 11/2 inch section of hair at a time, clamp the ends with the curling tong and twist away from your face until you reach the roots.
  3. Hold the curling iron in place for 7-10 seconds before releasing the hair and repeat until your whole head is styled. If you like a tighter curl, then you can stop here.
  4. If you would prefer to create waves in your long hair, then allow your strands to cool and then gently brush them through to loosen them.
  5. Mist the finished style with another layer of hairspray to keep your do in place all day.

Check Out: The Best Curling Irons For Long Hair


Curling long hair with a curling wand vs curling iron

Homitt ATMOKO by 5 in Curling Wand Set with 5 Interchangeable Hair Wand Curling Iron Ceramic Barrels and a Heat Protective Glove, Black (Pack of 5)

A curling wand is another popular tool for curling long hair. Using a heated barrel much like a curling iron, but without the clamp, you can create curls and waves that appear much looser and natural.

Many curling wands also come with a tapered barrel that can create different-sized curls for each section you style.

Before curling, you prep your hair in the same way as when using a curling iron. Then you need to section the hair and take 1-inch at a time to curl. We recommend using a heat-resistant glove on the hand holding the hair to protect from accidental burns. 

Holding the wand vertically, tip towards the floor, start wrapping the section around the barrel from root to ends, away from the face. Hold for 10 seconds and then release to reveal your beautiful curl. Repeat until your whole head is styled and then lock it in with a misting of hairspray. This will help stop curls from dropping if your hair is thick, long, and heavy.


How to curl long hair with a flat iron

ANGENIL Multi Styler Hair Straightener and Curler 2 in 1, Professional Straightening and Flat Curling Iron in one with Heat Resistant Silicone Mat Pouch, Adjustable Temp for All Hair Types

Whether you don’t own a curling iron or like to travel with just one versatile styling tool, knowing how to curl long hair with a flat iron (straightener) is a trick we recommend having up your sleeve. Whether you want to style beachy waves or defined curls, we have a couple of easy methods to do the job.


Make beachy waves with a flat iron

After sectioning (as above), we suggest taking a 1-inch section of hair, but this time clamp the hair at eyebrow level. Working downwards, repeatedly clamp and release the hair in an “s” shape motion by twisting the flat iron from side to side. 

To ensure a natural finish, stop styling before you reach the ends and gently brush through with your fingers. This will create a naturally textured appearance, letting you bring that holiday hairdo to any occasion.

READ: Different techniques to curl hair with a flat iron

Curl hair with a flat iron

As above, you want to take your 1-inch portion of hair, but this time, clamp closer to the roots. Twist your flat iron straightener half a turn away from your face and, in one fluid motion, glide down towards the ends of your hair. 

To create a more natural finish, we recommend alternating the direction you twist your flat iron as you curl.

Repeat until your whole head is styled. It can take some practice to get the hang of the wrist action, but once mastered, these delicate curls are so quick and easy - even for my long-haired girls.


How to curl long hair with rollers

No longer just associated with little old grandmas, hair rollers have risen once more in popularity for their ability to not only create big bouncy curls but add and hold volume all day! 

There are many types of hair rollers available on the market today, but we are going to discuss three of the best hair rollers for long hair to keep your curls looking beautiful all day.

Hot Rollers

REMINGTON H9100S Pro Hair Setter with Thermaluxe Advanced Thermal Technology, Electric Hot Rollers, 1-1 ¼", Purple

Start with dry hair that has been brushed through to remove any knots and tangles, then separate the hair into 1-inch sections.

Take your roller; if your hair is very long, opt for a large roller that can accommodate your longer locks, and wind the hair around it. Start from the ends and roll towards the roots until the section is completely wrapped. 

Continue until all your hair is secured around the rollers, and then allow them to cool completely. Once they have cooled entirely, unwind the hair from the rollers.

Either finger-comb your curls to delicately loosen them or brush them out to create big-bodied waves that are full of volume. As always, we recommend misting with hairspray to stop your long hair from dropping throughout the day.

Check out: Our Top Picks for the Best Hot Rollers for Long Hair

Foam or Velcro rollers 

With both of these rollers, you will want to blow dry your hair in small sections. Use a round brush to tame and begin shaping the hair as you dry.

Once dried, wrap the hair around the roller to allow the curl to set as it cools. Repeat the process for the rest of your hair, and then lightly spray the hairspray while the rollers are in place to give an even firmer hold.

How long you wait before unwinding the rollers is down to you; if you are pressed for time, give them a few minutes before releasing the hair. For long hair, curls tend to drop, so the longer you leave the rollers in, the longer your hair will retain its voluminous curls. 

Whether you can spare a few hours in the day or prefer to wear them overnight, foam and velcro rollers are a less heat-damaging alternative that can create enviable coils even for long hair.


How to curl long hair without heat 

Orgrimmar Magic Hair Curlers Curls Styling Kit, DIY No Heat Hair Curlers for Extra Long Hair up to 22" (55 cm) (30PCS 55cm/21.65")

Long hair is notorious for developing dry and damaged ends if overly heat-styled. And when you have tresses that could rival Rapunzel, it can feel too time-consuming in the morning to create a full head of voluminous curls when you need to get out of the door. That’s where these heat-free curling methods step in to save the day.

You will want to start with damp hair for this method, as your curls will set as the hair naturally dries out. Wash your hair with an anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner to keep your style shiny and smooth. Working through a frizz-fighting styling serum is another excellent way to lock in sleek-looking curls that appear effortless rather than messy. Now for the how-to!


How to pin curl long hair

A vintage curling method dating back to the rip-roaring 1920s, pin curling is still a great way to create a beautiful style without exposing your hair to heat.

Roll & Go Hair Tool

Start by sectioning your hair, creating your parting where you intend to wear it for the finished look, and brush through to make sure there are no hidden tangles. 

  • Begin at the hairline and work with 1-inch sections of hair.
  • Hold the section upwards and place two fingers at the ends of your hair. Begin wrapping the hair around the fingers until your reach the roots and gently remove your fingers.
  • Pin the curl flat to your head using either bobby pins, two-pronged curling clips, or alligator clips, whichever you find more comfortable and secure.

Once you have repeated this method for the entire head, it is critical to wait for your tresses to completely dry.

If left to set overnight, we recommend using a silk scarf to protect from frizz while you sleep. In the morning, remove your clips and shake out your curls, helping to separate by finger-combing through. Spray with hair spray, and you can be out of the door without delay!


Frequently Asked Questions

Before we finish up, we have answered a few of the most popular questions surrounding how to curl long hair.

What’s the best way to curl long hair?

The heat helps curls hold their shape for longer; if your long hair tends to lose its shape, your best method may be a curling iron or wand with a high heat setting.

If you are worried about heat damage, rollers or a heatless method can still work for you; just take the time to properly prep your hair with styling products to prolong the lifespan of your coils. 

Check out the Heatless Hair Curling Ribbon which works great on long hair!

How do you curl long hair for beginners?

While all of these techniques require an element of practice to master entirely, the easiest method for beginners is with a curling iron.

The clamp helps to quickly and safely secure the hair and gives you better control over your style. By combing through or brushing out, you can effortlessly turn defined curls into loose waves for simple versatility. 

How do you naturally curl long hair?

One of the easiest ways to naturally achieve wavy curls is by braiding your hair. Section your hair into as many braids as you like (the more braids, the tighter the wave), and sleep with them overnight.

In the morning, remove your braids and gently smooth out your style with some frizz-protecting serum to achieve a simple yet effective look. 

How do you make big curls in long hair?

To create big showstopping curls, opt for larger barrel sizes and rollers when following the above methods.

When sectioning your hair, you will also want to work with larger pieces, around 2 inches at a time. For that bouncy blow-dry effect when heat styling, start curling from halfway down the length of your hair. 


To Wrap Up

Curling long hair doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many methods to suit any long-haired girl looking to create the perfect curl.

Whether you like to sit down and heat style your curls before you head out or prefer overnight heatless waves, we recommend experimenting with various methods to find what works best for your tresses. 

Last Updated: July 28, 2021

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