How to Curl Your Hair With a Flat Iron: Step-by-Step Guide

Voluminous hair hacks ahead.

<p>Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images</p>

Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images

Only have room for one hot tool in your bathroom or suitcase? The flat iron can do it all—straighten, wave, and even curl. In fact, celebrity hairstylists vouch for this method of transforming straight hair into voluminous waves and curls, sometimes even better than a curling iron would.

That being said, achieving this technique can be a bit challenging at first, so we asked top celebrity hairstylists to share a step-by-step guide on how to curl your hair with just a flat iron.

How to Curl Your Hair With a Flat Iron

We learned two methods from celebrity hairstylists about how to create texture, volume, and curl with only a flat iron.

Method 1

Known for her iconic hair tools, we talked to Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver Co. about her routine for curling your hair with a flat iron.

Step 1: Heat Styling Prep

The start of all great hair looks is great prep. To ensure you keep your hair healthy and hair styles long-lasting, Potempa recommends Beachwaver Co. Great Barrier Heat Protectant Hairspray ($28, for heat protection. “You can use it through every step of the styling process to help protect your hair and prolong your styles. [This] creates a protective layer from heat up to 450°F and provides flexible hold that can be layered throughout styling without causing the hair to become stiff or crunchy,” says Potempa.

Step 2: Section Hair

Before going in with a flat iron, it's important to create consistent sections in your hair so that your curls appear uniform. “I like to start by sectioning from below my ears around the head, starting at the bottom and working my way up,” says Potempa. Make sure to spritz all sections with a heat protectant before using a flat iron on the hair.

Step 3: Flat Iron Root to Tip

"Take about a one inch section of hair on the right side and place the flat iron at the root. As you glide the flat iron down to the ends, rotate your wrist to manipulate the wave away from your face. Once the hair is released from the flat iron plates, you can use your finger to spin the curl into the intended curly shape,” says Potempa.

Pro tip: Use a flat iron that has rotating plates because the floating elements can manipulate the hair into curls, waves, and more. Potempa recommends The Beachwaver Coast Pro Ceramic Flat Iron ($149, for all hair types.

Step 4: Finishings

In order for the curls to last longer, make sure to let them fully cool before adding styling products. Potempa styles her curls by spraying hairspray onto a mixed bristle brush to brush throughout the hair, which creates soft and frizz-free waves. If you have dry hair, you can apply a hair oil for moisturizing and smoothing the hair. Try OLAPLEX No. 7 Bonding Oil ($30, on your ends for soft, shiny looking hair.

Method 2

From 15 years with the Kardashians and Jenners to working with stars like Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, and more, Clyde Haygood, celebrity hairstylist and PURA D’OR partner, is known for creating iconic looks. Here's his method for curling hair with a flat iron.

Step 1: Prep

“To keep hair at optimum health, it is imperative to use heat protection before blow-drying or using hot styling tools. It’s best to use a heat protectant on the hair before any other product to ensure proper absorption and protection for the hair," says Haygood. He suggests PURA D’OR Argan Oil Heat Shield ($14.99, for protection against extreme heat, smoothing, and detangling the hair. Apply the heat protectant directly on wet hair and comb through from root to tip.

Step 2: Flat Iron In Sections

Make sure all hair is dry before moving onto the following steps. Haygood prefers to section the hair with clips into four sections with a top section, two side sections, and a back section. Sectioning off the hair helps dry each section and determines how much curl and volume you want.

"Clamp the flat iron down approximately one inch from the root and turn the iron in one complete 360 degree turn away from the face. Pull the flat iron smoothly in a downward motion until you reach the ends. Once the back is done, move onto the side and top sections with the same technique," explains Haygood. For added volume, you can alternate pieces going forward and backwards while you work your way through each section.

Haygood recommends using a one-inch flat iron that has a smooth, rounded edge so the hair does not have any dents when curling and waving the hair. Also, he looks for ceramic plated flat irons because they distribute heat more evenly and protect the hair.

Step 3: Set Hair

Next, use your fingers to twist the flat ironed section and let the curl set in place.  "The cooling process is every bit as important as the heat to set the hair and make it last. Let all the hair cool down to properly set, then rake through hair with fingers to pull through the curls for a natural look," says Haygood.

Step 4: Finishings

To finish off this look, spray hairspray and texture spray for desired results. "Using a hairspray or hot tool spray can help the style hold and last at least for a couple days. Texture spray adds thickness, volume, and hold for a tousled natural look," says Haygood.

Expert advice: It take a couple of tries to get the coordination down of this technique, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't turn out perfect the first time. Haygood says not to aim for perfect curls—curling hair with a flat iron is all about creating body, waves, and movement in the hair.

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