How to Get Curly Hair – With and Without Styling Tools

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 03/07/22

Changing your hair is an easy way to revamp your look whatever your hair type. However, getting a haircut isn’t the only way to switch it up. As someone with straight hair, I envy girls born with natural beach waves and have learned to replicate it with a few tips and tricks. What’s great is you can do this with or without styling tools. There are so many ways to get the curls of your dreams, even if you have pin-straight locks. Learn how to get curly hair with these tried and tested methods.

How to Get Curly Hair Without Styling Tools

There are several ways to cheat curly hair. In fact, women have been artificially curling their hair without hot tools for ages. Whatever your natural hair texture or hair type is, whether you have straight hair or limp waves, you can get full-bodied enviable curls using these techniques.

The Scrunching Technique

One of the simplest methods to get the best natural curls, especially if you have some texture to work with, is scrunching it up. This entails applying mousse or gel all over damp hair. Flip your hair upside down and crumple your hair up to press the product in. Scrunch the hair upward and avoid the roots to prevent grease. Let your hair dry and marvel at the your natural curls.

The Twist Trick

This one is a trick that curly-haired girls can use to preserve the volume of their naturally curly hair. Instead of shaking up your hair with a towel after a shower, use a light hand. Press the towel into the strands and twist the hair to absorb moisture.

The Right Hair Cut

Good hair care is the foundation of great curls. To keep your curls looking healthy, get your hair cut frequently, at least every six weeks or so. If you get regular trims, you’re less likely to have split ends. Freshly shorn hair also also feels lighter, which is ideal for getting and retaining curls.

Try getting your hair layered, one of the best styles for curly hair. Long hair will weigh down curls and make them look deflated. You can also try having your ends feathered so the hair curls up at the tips and looks more voluminous.

Use Curl-Enhancing Styling Products

One of the best ways to fake curly or wavy hair is to use curl-defining products, even if you don’t have naturally curly hair. For straight hair, use a mousse like this one from Tresseme to lift strands into bouncy tendrils. If you want to work with what you’ve got and let your natural curls shine, the Ouidad Styling Cream is one of lightest, most moisturizing curl enhances I’ve come across. A good budget alternative that will give you springy natural curls is the Dove Supreme Creme Serum.

Use a Diffuser When Blow Drying

Do as the curly-haired girls do and attach a hair diffuser nozzle to your hair dryer. Diffusers have a bowl-like shape that cups curls and enhances their shape. You can try this trick even if you have don’t have curly hair so your locks have a slight bend to them without making an effort. Make sure to buy a high quality diffuser and use a low setting to gently dry hair.

Let Your Hair Dry Naturally

Let your hair air dry to enhance natural curls and cut down on frizz. The best way to fake curly hair through drying is to start when your hair is damp. Twirl strands tightly around your fingers then release the spirals. This allows curls to form when drying hair naturally. You can also press a microfiber towel or old tee on the strands to dry your hair.

Use a Salt Spray

A sea salt spray can refresh day-two or day-three hair and as a bonus, it won’t weigh it down like creams and mousses do. Spray your faux curls lightly with a texturizer for a quick pick-me-up for curls.

Try Pin Curls

If you’re up for a little DIY in the evenings, the pin method is one of the most effective ways to curl your hair sans heat. For this, you need hair pins and hairspray.

After towel drying and combing your hair, divide your hair into two or three sections. Take a small section of hair from a larger section and pin it into little 1-inch rolls by looping the strands on your finger. The end of the twirled hair should face upwards, away from you. Start from the back of the head and work your way to the crown.

Wrap your hair in a light fabric or scarf and leave the pins on overnight. After the hair is completely dry, unpin the rolls and spritz some hair spray. To add texture, you can also use a salt spray.

The Curly Girl Method

The curly girl method was first outlined in a book by curly hair expert Lorraine Massey. While I can’t summarize such a detailed tome here, the basic principle is to maximize your waves and curls’ full potential by cutting out or reducing heat styling, silicones(!), sulfates, alcohols, towel drying and build-up inducing ingredients like waxes and mineral oils. The essentials for this odd yet effective process is a gentle shampoo, conditioner and lots of gel. If you don’t believe me, look up its legions of ardent fans and see for yourself.

Flashback to the ’80s with a Perm

If you like to get wavy ringlets ala 80s Jennifer Grey or present-day Zendaya, try out an au naturale perm using flexi rods. You simply wrap your hair tightly around these bendy foam tubes and let the hair dry. The results: amazingly bouncy, defined curls with a natural texture.

How to Get Curly Hair With Heat Styling Tools

There are three ways to get curly hair using heat whether you want to refresh a natural curl or give your hair some beachy waves. These methods will style hair into natural-looking curls and waves that will last longer.

Try a Curling Iron or Wand

A curling iron or wand is designed just make hair curly so it’s quite user-friendly. This is the best method for beginners looking to fake curly hair, in my opinion.

Use shampoo and conditioner to cleanse and moisturize hair. Rough dry with a towel and blow dry your hair. Make sure to comb out any kinks and apply heat protectant. Once the hair is mostly dry, section your hair into three parts from top to bottom. Starting with a low or medium heat setting, wrap the strands around the barrel of the curling wand or iron, hold for a few seconds and release. To lock in the style, finger comb them lightly and finish off using a spritz of hair spray. Voila, your natural hair is now shaped into luscious curls.

My personal fave curling irons and wands are the Infiniti Pro by Conair Curl Secret (super beginner-friendly), the ghd Curve Creative Curl Wand (best for fine or short hair), and the Beachwaver Pro (amazing for long locks).

With a Flat Iron

Achieving curly hair with a flat iron takes some skill and practice but once you learn the ropes, you’ll love the results your hair straightener can produce.

The first step is to prep your hair by using a good shampoo and conditioner, blow drying, detangling and applying a heat protectant. Clip your hair into manageable sections. Clamp down the strands and straighten hair as usual, then stop about one-third of the way through.

Wrap your strands around the barrel then rotate the flat iron 180 degrees away from you. Wait for a few seconds then release the hair by sliding down the flat iron. Experiment with twisting the barrel away and towards you for more natural-looking curls. You can get tighter corkscrew curls or loose wavy hair depending on how wide the barrel is and how tightly you wrap the hair around the barrel. Lock it in with a spray with firm hold.

Three of the best and highly-rated flat irons to help you get curly hair are the T3 Single Pass Hair Straightener, the KIPOZI Hair Straightener, and the BaBylissPRO Porcelain Ceramic Straightening Iron.

Hot Rollers

Hot rollers may seem like a bygone relic that our grandmothers used to style their hair with but they’re super reliable and very easy to use.

Start by cleansing the hair and rough drying your hair. Detangle the hair strands well. Gather the strands in front of the head, place the hot roller at the base near your roots, then twist and twirl the hair around, leaving an inch or so dangling at the ends.

Repeat until all your hair is rolled. The best way to use hot rollers this is to start front to back in the middle then tackle the sides last.

Wait 20 minutes or so until the rollers have cooled. Release the hair from the hot rollers and shake out the curls. Mitz hairspray for extra hold. Hot rollers are a less fussy way to get curly hair and I love that you can do your skin care routine or some chores while you wait for the rollers to do their thing.

If you don’t know which hot rollers to start with, I recommend the T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe (if money is not an issue), the Revlon Curls-to-Go travel set (super pocketable and pocket-friendly), and the John Frieda Body & Shine Smooth Waves (for messy, undone waves).

Final Thoughts

Curls can jazz up any look whether you want to effortless-looking beach waves for the weekend or need to look extra polished for a work event. Through these simple methods, you can fake curly hair or take your natural curls to the next level. I hope this article gave you some inspiration to give your hair a boost.

Leah Williams

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.

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