How To Curl Short Hair: 7 Expert Tips
There are many different hair types and textures as unique as each of us. Straight hair, thick hair, fine hair, wavy hair, and curly hair. Sometimes, the grass is always greener, and we want to dabble in a new hairstyle that we don’t naturally possess!
Do you rock a gorgeous pixie cut or shorter hair? Maybe you’ve been under the impression that loose curls and curly hair are better suited to those with long hair. Think again!
Those of us with short haircuts can have our best hair days in the form of curly hair. And there are many different tips and tricks on how to curl short hair!
Sporting curls can make fine hair look thicker and be suited for almost all hair types. Short hairstyles can be elevated with the addition of curls. We promise — there is a hair tutorial for all of us.
We have seven tips to show you how to achieve natural curls if your hair is on the shorter side — from using hot tools to curlers and specific hair products to help give you those ringlets and beachy waves you desire.
Curly Hair Tutorials and Tips for Short Hair
With this advice and tutorials on achieving curly hair, you’ll soon be able to take your straight hair to the curly side.
1. Begin With Freshly Washed Hair
Starting with a blank slate of clean hair is an important first step. If you begin styling with unwashed hair, the natural oils and dirt that your hair has accumulated can hinder the curls.
Oily hair can potentially weigh down your style, and curls can begin to unravel or not hold for as long as compared to washed hair. Try the Bounce Back Shampoo for curly hair to give you the clean slate your curls need to thrive. Hair should be dry if you want to curl short hair with a curling iron or towel-dried damp for heatless curls.
2. Use a Heat Protectant
Protecting your hair from heat is one of the most important steps to style hair safely if you are using heat styling tools. Direct heat to hair can easily and quickly lead to damaging hair strands. Heat-damaged hair can potentially lead to breakage.
Our No Remorse Heat Protection & Taming Spray is a moisturizing protectant that will block up to 450 degrees of heat. Heat damage can be lessened by using a heat protectant spray each time you curl hair (or use a straightener, for that matter).
3. Section Your Hair
Sectioning your hair will allow you to achieve consistency and keep your hair organized, whatever method you choose to use to curl short hair! You can section off parts of your hair using clips or bobby pins to keep your curls consistent.
Keeping your hair in small sections when curling will ensure your hairstyle is neat and you know exactly where you need to work next.
4. Pick Your Tool
Picking the type of look you want for your short curls will determine the tool used to do the job. The three most common tools are a curling iron, a curling wand, and a flat iron.
Curling short hair with a curling iron is a great option, even if you have short hair! One major benefit to using a curling iron is that the barrel (diameter) of the curling iron has size ranges. Typically, most curling irons range from ¾ of an inch up to two inches. This allows you to get as tight or loose of curls as you’d like, giving you the perfect classic curl.
Curling short hair with a curling wand will allow you to get curls in a noticeably different effect. A curling wand will help you achieve looser, beachy wave-type curls. Curling wands come in sizes similar to curling irons, giving you full control over the type of curl you crave.
Using a flat iron to curl short hair will work in a pinch but may not be the ideal tool depending on just how short your hair is. There are, however, some benefits to using a flat iron on short hair over a curling wand or curling iron. The resulting curls will be somewhere between a curling iron and a wand.
5. Short Hair Curling Methods
According to experts, these are the best methods for curling short hair using heat tools!
Your hair should be dry, with heat protectant spray applied and your tool warmed up. For thin or delicate hair, staying at 200 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is a good idea. For thicker, coarser hair, 200 to 300 degrees should be adequate.
You'll need to grab one about an inch wide if you’re using a curling iron for short hair. Open the clip portion of the curling iron and place it halfway between your scalp and fingers, holding the end of the hair.
Move the curling iron toward your fingers while closing the clip. When the curling iron is near your fingers, the clip should be closed and held near the end of the strands. Once the clip is secured, twist the barrel until you get closer to your scalp with enough distance so as not to burn yourself.
Hold the position of the curling iron for a few seconds and open the clip to release the curl, and start over. Some testing may be involved to ensure you’re holding the heat tool long enough. The key is to hold it only as long as possible, and starting with less time is better.
Using a curling wand on short hair, you’ll want to take about an inch-wide section of hair to wrap around the barrel. Hold the hair from as close to the root as possible and wrap the hair around the barrel so it spirals down the barrel. You’ll want to try to have each hair strand get as much contact with the barrel as possible.
Keep your fingers away from the hot barrel by giving yourself a decent distance by holding about an inch of the ends. The gap between the finger and barrel can be somewhere around half an inch or more, depending on the length of your hair. The hair should only need a few seconds of exposure to the wand. It may take a few tests to see how your hair reacts.
Flat iron curling on short hair will be similar to using a curling iron. Taking an inch wide of hair, held at the end by your fingertips, position the flatiron toward the beginning of the length at the scalp.
Clamp the flat iron down onto the hair and twist the flat iron 180 degrees so the strands are pointing back in your direction. Move the flat iron down toward the end of your hair strands in a method like a slow brush, releasing at the very end or brushing all the way through.
6. (Alternative) Curl Short Hair Without Heat
While heat tools are quick, you can still achieve curls for your short hair without heat. This will require more time but can be ideal for packing light or avoiding potential hair damage.
To prevent frizz and improve holding the shape into place, we recommend you apply a butter masque (our Hair Redemption Butter Masque is a great option!). Afterwards, since ou’ll want your hair damp for this one, you should blot dry your hair after showering.
Once the hair is ready and sectioned, you’ll braid the hair, securing the ends with hair bands. You can then leave your hair to dry overnight as you sleep. When you wake up, you can remove the braids for easy and heat-free beachy waves.
If you want ringlets, we have the solution. Hair rollers are a fuss-free way to achieve bouncy curls without worrying about heat damage. Section damp hair in small sections, and use a roller size that is compatible with the length of your short hair. Foam rollers are easy to sleep in, so when morning comes, you can easily remove your rollers, run your fingers through your hair, and be good to go!
7. Style Your Hair
The finished product of your new short hair curls, whether achieved by braids, hair rollers, or a hot tool, could use a product or two to keep their shape.
Our License to Curl spray is the first curl-reactivating spray developed exclusively for women over 40. It reshapes loose, thinning, aging curls, helping them stay defined and fresh between washes.
Curling short hair may require some extra hair care, but that doesn’t mean that it's not possible! Curly hair can be achieved by using heating tools, braiding techniques, and hair rollers.
Helpful products such as heat protectant spray and texture spray can be the perfect foundation for your curls and help seal in your gorgeous new style.