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What are Spiral Curls?

By Jessica M.
Updated May 21, 2024
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Spiral curls are curls that have a corkscrew-like shape. They are sometimes called ringlets. Some people have natural spiral curls, while others are able to achieve them through permanents or the use of styling tools and products.

Naturally curly hair generally forms spirals when it is left to grow to any length. Natural spiral curls can occur on people of any ethnicity, but they are particularly common on people of half-Caucasian, half-African descent. People with this type of curls should ensure that their hair stays moisturized through the use of a conditioner, and they should not brush their hair unless they intend to temporarily remove the curl to create a wavy or straight style.

Those who were not born with natural curls can create them through a variety of means, though the success of the methods used will be dependent of upon the individual's hair type and texture. One way to achieve spiral curls on a long-term basis is to have a permanent done. A spiral perm involves wrapping sections of the hair in corkscrew style around long rods before treating the hair with permanent solution. Spiral perms reached the height of their popularity in the late 1980s. The perms of that era tended to be tight and frizzy, but a modern spiral perm can be made to look looser and more defined, depending on the size of the rod used.

For temporary spiral curls, a curling iron or hot rollers may be used. A regular curling iron may be used, or one specifically designed for creating spiral curls. The special spiral curling irons have a metal coil around the barrel that is used as guide while rolling the hair.

With a regular curling iron, the user needs to control the uniformity of the curl herself as she winds the hair around the barrel. The length of time the hair needs to remain on the curling iron for the curl to set will differ according to the thickness of the hair. Hair spray can be used to hold the curl in the hair longer.

There are also two different kinds of hot curlers that can be used to create spiral curls. With traditional hot rollers, the user rolls her hair as usual and, after the hair has cooled, removes each curler one by one and uses her finger to create a spiral from the curl that she then secures to the scalp with a bobby pin. She repeats the process until all the rollers are out and leaves the bobby pins in her hair for another hour or so before removing them. Special long, bendable hot rollers can also be purchased that eliminate the need to finger curl because the hair can be spiral wrapped around the shaft of the actual curler before it is secured by bending up the end of the curler itself. Again, it is a good idea to use hairspray to help keep the curl in the hair.

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