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What is a Flat Iron Curl?

By Jennifer Blair
Updated May 21, 2024
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When it comes to curling hair, most people assume that a curling iron or hot rollers are necessary. If a person owns a flat iron, however, it is still possible to create full, beautiful curls. In fact, a flat iron curl is often bouncier and more natural looking than those created by traditional curling techniques. A flat iron curl is achieved by turning the hair around the hot plates of the iron instead of simply gliding it over the hair as when straightening. The flat iron curling method can be somewhat awkward at first, but with practice, it usually is easy to perfect.

Unlike curling with a curling iron or hot rollers, the flat iron should not be placed at the ends of the hair and curled upward. Instead, the iron should be placed about 2 inches (about 5 cm) from the roots of the hair, with the plates of the iron closed over the hair as they would be when straightening. When a person reaches the ends, the flat iron is then rotated anywhere from a half turn to a turn and a half in the direction that he or she wishes to curl, winding the hair around the plates. The direction of the curl can be alternated for each section of hair to give the hairstyle a more natural look. Next, the flat iron is pulled along the hair, moving in the same direction that the person turned the iron — he or she will then have a flat iron curl once the hair is released.

The size of the curl can be altered by simply taking larger or smaller sections of hair between the plates of the iron. Also, the speed with which the flat iron is moved along the hair affects the curl — moving slowly along the hair will result in a tighter curl, while moving quicker will result in looser, more natural waves. To protect the hair and make the curls appear shinier, the hair should be sprayed with a heat protectant before curling with the flat iron. Afterward, hairspray or some type of curl enhancing styling product should be used to help maintain the curls.

If a person is interested in trying flat iron curls, it is best to choose a flat iron with a curved edge because the rounded shape will lead to a nicer curl. Flat irons with a straight edge may create unattractive dents in the hair. Despite the initial challenge of creating a flat iron curl, flat irons may actually be a more economical investment than a curling iron or hot rollers because of the versatility that they offer.

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