How To Use A Curling Wand For Perfect Curls

Hair styling tools just keep getting better and better all the time. No longer is it necessary to sleep in Grandma's pink curlers to achieve beautiful, voluminous hair (although it's certainly still an option for those who prefer heatless styling). And while curling irons are absolutely still in frequent rotation, many people are turning to the curling wand for a bit of hair-related magic. 


A curling wand is an ideal tool for people who are routinely flummoxed by the clamp on a standard curling iron since a curling wand doesn't have one. Instead, the user winds the hair around the barrel without any type of clamp or clip to hold it in place. Although there's certainly a learning curve associated with curling wand use, a little bit of practice and a few simple steps, like starting with clean hair and sectioning pieces, are all it takes to master this ultra-modern device to achieve beautifully loose waves and curls. 

Start with clean hair

Although many are under the impression that curling goes better if the hair is dirty, L'Oréal Paris insists that it's best to start with a clean slate instead. To get the best results, shampoo and condition hair with products that are anti-frizz formulated. Then, work some volumizing hair mousse into the wet hair. Allow the hair to air dry until it's halfway dry, then apply a heat protectant spray and blow it out.  


A couple of alternatives to mousse are sea salt spray or thickening spray, celebrity hairstylist Marcus Francis told Elle. "I put one of those styling products in while the hair is wet," he explains. "You have to prep the hair with something. You can't just have clean hair, use a wand, and then hair spray. If you don't create memory in the hair, it doesn't matter how long you wand or tong it for." Once that's complete, there's one more step before breaking out the curling wand, which people commonly skip when they really shouldn't.

Section the hair

Just as your stylist sections hair before it's cut, it's also important to divide it before curling with any type of device. Multiple layers of curls will simply add exponentially more volume than one sad little layer! However, the number of sections really depends on how thick the hair is. L'Oréal Paris suggests at least two or three sections to get the job done, with a higher number of sections for people with longer, thicker hair. This varies widely from person to person, so play around with sectioning until you land on the best strategy for your tresses.


The ideal sections for curling hair are the top, middle, and bottom portions of the hair, according to Rob Reeve's expert tips via VS Sassoon. To do this, part the hair down the middle using either a comb or your fingers. Then, use a clip or two to gather up and secure the top section(s), another one for the middle, and then leave the bottom portion down to curl first. Once the hair is clean and dry, products have been applied, and everything's all sectioned, it's time to move forward with using the curling wand.

Use the curling wand

Finally, it's time to use the curling wand. One important thing to note is that a curling wand is a two-hand tool. Since there's no clip to hold the hair in place, a person must use the other hand to hold the end of the hair section while it heats into curl form. This brings the hand perilously close to an extremely hot tool, so either proceed with caution or put on the protective glove that most curling wands come with.


Start with the bottom section and work your way up gradually. Experts at L'Oréal Paris say to hold the wand with your right hand if you're working on the left side and vice versa. Aim the barrel down, and get it as close as possible to the root of the hair you're about to curl. Then, use your free hand to fully wrap the hair around the wand until you get to the end (if your wand is tapered, this should start at the widest part, with the ends of the hair around the smallest). Carefully hold the hair in place, which some may do for around 10 to 15 seconds. However, Marcus Francis told Elle that two to four seconds is plenty, so play around with timing and see what produces the best curl for your specific hair.


Curling wand technique tips

Once the curls are in place either run your fingers or a brush through them or flip your head upside down a couple of times to soften them up. Then spritz with hairspray if needed for staying power.

To produce the most realistic-looking waves L'Oréal Paris says to wrap the hair in the direction going away from your face on both sides. There is also some wiggle room in curl size, so use a larger portion of each section for bigger curls or waves, and smaller portions if you want them to be tighter. The barrel size of the curling wand also makes a difference, so if you want bigger curls or waves select a model with a larger barrel.


Another common misconception is that the higher the heat, the better the curl. Since some wands go north of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, there's a lot of potential for burning the hair inadvertently. Those with thick or coarsely textured hair can safely use the wand set between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but ladies with more delicate or fine hair should keep it under 200 degrees to avoid unnecessary damage, according to the experts at Redken.