How to Make Curls Last Longer

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 06/11/22

Wondering how to make curls last longer? In this article, I will guide you step by step through the curling process. With the right tools, preparation and technique, you can get enviable, salon-worthy curls that last all day and night. It’s not as hard as you think!

As a practicing hairstylist with more than a decade’s experience in the industry, I have learned through trial and error the best way to manipulate hair into sleek and tousled styles.

I hope to impart my knowledge and share some tips and tricks on how I achieve long-lasting coils. In my opinion, curling hair requires more technique than straightening.

I understand why people would be daunted by the process. A curling iron can easily burn you or your locks if not used properly. It’s not enough to loop hair into the perfect wave. You want to make your curls last throughout the day without sagging or doing irreparable damage to the mane.

After reading this helpful article, you will understand what to look for in a curling tool, how to prep the hair to the perfect curl and how to use a curling tool for long-lasting curls.

Check out this thorough guide for insider tips and tricks on curling hair like an expert.

How to Make Curls Last Longer – 5 Helpful Tips

1. Use the Right Curling Tool

Great curls come from great curlers. It all starts with your tools. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a curling iron or your tool of choice to get your curls and waves in good shape.

Best Curling Iron Materials

It’s important to get high quality curling irons that will last you a long time. Ideally, your curler should last you years. Drugstore brand curling irons are affordable but in the long run, may cost you more because you have to replace them more often, not to mention the risk of heat damage with a faulty product.

The best materials are ceramic and tourmaline. These usually are pricier than your cheap or drugstore curling irons but the extra cost is worth every penny. The cause of your short-lived curls may be a faulty curler. If you haven’t made the switch yet, try buying a high quality curler and you’ll never go back.

Barrel Size and Other Important Features

A common misconception when curling is that a bigger barrel will create big curls (think Victoria Secret model). In reality, a smaller barrel size of around 1 to 1.5 inches will give you the luscious and defined curls you want and they will last longer, to boot! In fact, the size affect how long the curls last. Big barrels are a common culprit of curl fall out.

Another feature to consider if you want your curls to last is the temperature of your curler. Always get a product with adjustable digital controls rather than analog controls. Digital curling irons are consistent in applying heat, which protect hair from damage and make uniform curls.

Curling Wand vs Curling Iron vs Flat Iron

Ever wondered if a curling wand is better than a curling iron? Which one will make your curls last longer?

A curling iron creates tighter curls and the clamp makes things a bit easier for you, especially if you’re a newbie. A curling wand offers more in customization and you can create varying curl sizes. Experts love curling wands because it’s easier to get better results when going clamp-free.

Whether you use an iron or wand for your hair, your curls will last longer if you use tools with high-quality materials and features.

If you’re into dual purpose products, a flat iron is perfectly fine for curling. Just make sure to pick one that has rounded edges to avoid a boxy curl.

Curling Iron Alternatives

2. Hair Prep is Key

STEP 1  – Use a lightweight shampoo and conditioner as a curl primer

Make your curls last longer by doing the right prep. It starts with washing your hair a day or two before you curl. Second or third day hair is the preferred starting point because the sebum gives texture and holds. If you’re looking a bit greasy, you can use a dry shampoo to mop up oils on the scalp and roots.

Cleanse with a lightweight shampoo before you curl your hair. Lightweight hair products are good because they don’t weigh down the hair when you curl.

You can also use a conditioner as long as it’s not heavy. Some experts don’t like using conditioner pre-curling because it makes hair too slippery, a factor for curly hair to lose shape too quickly

STEP 2  – Use a thickening mousse

Next, use a generous amount of hair mousse on damp or dry hair strands and distribute it from roots to ends. Mousse contains alcohol which removes moisture and adds texture and hold, which is important before you curl your hair.

How much is a generous amount? For long hair, ideally it should be a baseball-sized mound. For short hair, pump out a golf ball size of product.

STEP 3 – Blow dry

Turn the hair upside down and blow dry your locks. Use a diffuser attachment so you get defined and volumized curly hair. Remember to rough dry with your hands and not with a round brush.

STEP 4 – Protect and Prime

3. Curling Hair

STEP 1 – Divide it into sections

If you’re using clips, now is the time to have them on hand. Divide your hair into small sections and secure them with the clips.

STEP 2 – Turn on the curler and choose the right temperature

Whatever your curler of choice is, select the right heat setting for your hair type.

STEP 3 – Wrap 1 inch sections around the iron

Once the curler reaches the desired temperature, wrap your hair around the barrel. Use small 1-inch sections at a time. Hold the hair taut and pull the curler away from your face. This will apply heat evenly to the curls, resulting in a uniform look.

STEP 4 – Hold for five seconds or longer than you think you need to

Once the curls are securely wrapped, hold it for at least five seconds. If you think you’re holding it too long, you’re doing it right.

STEP 5 – Release curl

You can either release the curl on your palm or clip the curl with a bobby pin or hair clamps. Let it cool down.

STEP 6 – Wait 5 to 15 minutes for the curls to cool

At this point, you have to be patient and avoid touching the curls for at least 5 minutes, longer if you can. The hair cuticle needs time to close, which is what makes curly hair set. Do not shake out the curls yet.

If you’re on a time crunch, use the cool shot button on your hair dryer.

STEP 7 – Remove clips (if using), finger comb, and shake out the curls

The curls are ready once they are cool to the touch. At this point, you can rake your fingers through them and shake it out for a tousled look. You may also break up the curls with a wide tooth comb.

STEP 8 – Spray hair spray on a hairbrush

Now that you’ve formed you curl, make it last by using firm hold hair spray. Mist it on a hairbrush and comb through. This is a way to remove frizz. Note that this won’t make hair feel soft but it’s the price to pay for curls that last.

Avoid applying serums, oils and shine-enhancing sprays because these styling products will weigh the curls down.

Don’t worry if the curl shape is too tight. They will eventually be pulled by gravity and loosen up into loose waves with volume.

STEP 9 – Use texturizing spray or putty on ends of hair for texture and hold

This is an optional step if you prefer not to use a hairspray, which may be too heavy. Mist a texturizing spray or apply putty on the ends of the hair to add grit.

4. What To Do After Styling

Post-curl, make sure not to touch your hair throughout the day. Sleep on a silk pillowcase to avoid disturbing the hair cuticle. You should not sleep on your curls because the pressure will flatten them out.

You can tie up the hair into a loose bun or a braid and pile them on top of your head where it won’t be disrupted. In the morning, you can backcomb your hair for a fuller look.

5. Curls Still Falling Out? Your Hair May Be Damaged

When your hair can’t hold a curl, it may be a sign of damage. Frizz and split ends need to be trimmed so curls look their best. You need to practice proper hair care and damage prevention. Make sure to visit your stylist regularly and use a deep conditioning treatment. Getting rid of frizz and split ends will produce tousled and volumized curly hair.

Wrap Up

These tried-and-true steps will make your curls last and stay beautiful. I hope I dispelled some common curling myths and helped you choose the right products and tools. To find out more about the best curling irons and hair care tricks, check out our other articles.

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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