Are You Making These 10 Curling Iron Mistakes?

curling iron tips

Curling irons can be complicated. Whether you’re a curling iron connoisseur or a novice, there are some best practices to keep in mind when using this heat tool. But you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your hairstyle — and hair styling too. Here are common curling iron mistakes and what you can do to correct them. From how to curl your hair, to using waving irons for hair, to dry curling hair, to how to curl hair at the ends — we’re covering it all, below.

You’re not prepping your hair properly

The Fix: You could cook a meal without salt and pepper, but it tastes much better when you season the food. You could curl your hair without using styling products, but the results will be so much better if you choose a few hair curling products that will enhance your hair type. Before you dry your hair, apply a volumizing mousse or hairspray if you want to thicken fine hair, or a hair smoothing cream if you want to fight frizz on thick hair. It also helps to choose formulas that offer your hair a bit of hold.

You’re skipping the all-important heat protectant

The Fix: Let’s face it: Every thermal hair styling tool packs a lot of heat, and curling irons make direct contact with your hair. Matrix pros recommend a double dose of heat protection. Apply a heat-protection cream before drying your hair, and then mist your hair with heat protection spray when it’s dry, before using a thermal curling iron.

You’re grabbing too much hair at once.

The Fix: Curling too much hair at once will backfire, because if the section of hair is too thick, the curling iron won’t be able to heat through all of your hair, and your curl will fall flat. Pros recommend sections about one inch by one inch as a general guideline.

You’re making your curls look too perfect.

The Fix: The trend now is curls or beach waves that are lived-in, in other words, that don’t appear too “done.” The secret to this organic wavy hairstyle shape is to vary the sizes of sections that you curl, as well as the direction. So as you wave your hair, take some wide sections and some skinnier sections and alternate the direction towards and away from your face.

You’re not omitting the ends.

The Fix: Another characteristic of lived-in beach waves or curls is an imperfect hair shape. Modern wavy hair isn’t curled all the way to the ends — the focus of the movement is in the center of the hair strand. Of course, if you’re going for a more traditional, formal curled hairstyle, then by all means, curl each section all the way to the tips.

You’re curling your hair before it’s completely dry.

The Fix: This one’s a big no-no! Curling irons are designed to create beach waves and curls in dry hair. To do so, they heat up your strands, and if your hair is wet or even just a little bit damp, it’s way more susceptible to hair damage. So air-dry your hair completely before flipping the switch on your curling iron. For more hair hold and a bit more polish, blow dry your hair into the general shape and direction you want for your final hairstyle. This sets the stage for hairstyle perfection.

You’re not letting your curls or beach waves “set.”

The Fix: The secret to locking in a curly or wavy hairstyle is to first heat your hair thoroughly when it’s wrapped around your curling iron. But not too long or you’ll cause heat damage. Then, allow your hair to cool completely before you touch it. Here’s a pro trick: after curling a section of hair with a curling iron, slip it out of the iron with the curl intact, and then clip the curl to your head as if it were in a roller. Clip each section after you set it, and leave all of your hair clipped until it cools off. Then, remove the clips and rake through your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb for a firmer shape, or brush it with an oval styling brush for a fluffier shape.

You’re using the wrong temperature.

The Fix: Every hair type requires a different heat setting. Fine hair should be curled with a low temperature; thick, coarse or curly hair requires more heat to get the job done. The bottom line? One temperature does not fit all, so purchase a curling iron that offers the temperature range that’s right for your hair type.

You’re using the wrong size curling iron.

The Fix: If you’re looking for lazy beach waves and you’re getting springy curls that look like fusilli — check the diameter of your curling iron. The fatter the barrel, the looser the wave and vice versa. If you have a medium-length hairstyle and you’re looking for those loose, it-girl waves, your best bet is a 1 inch or 1 ¼-inch barrel. If your hair is long, you’ll achieve gentle beach waves with an iron barrel that’s 1 ½-inch or 2-inches in diameter.

You don’t know your angles.

The Fix: Curling hair with a curling iron is about geometry — angles matter. So if you want to create a tight, traditional, bouncy curl, hold your curling iron horizontally. If you’re looking for a long, loose beachy wave, work at a vertical angle. And for hair volume at the root, work on a diagonal.