How to Use a Barrel Curling Iron

First choose the style you want to achieve

Waves, Curls and texture. Barrel curling irons achieve a lot of different looks, there super versatile and were here to show you how in this simple guide on how to use your barrel curling iron.

Use heat protection with barrel curling irons

Hairdressers always recommend heat protection when using a hot tool like a barrel curling iron.

Heat can seriously damage your hair, it’s nice to style it with irons tongues wands and barrel curlers. If you do want to be able to continually curl your hair with heat you need protection. Otherwise, you will damage your hair and nobody wants that!

Use your temperature gauge on the barrel curler

Barrel curling irons get really hot. The heat is direct, so be aware of the temperature.

Fine hair types are more flexible and do not need the high temperature you use for a thicker hair type. Identify your hair type and set the temperature lower. A lot of heated tools go 200°+. For finer fragile hair types, go low, like 160°, for medium thickness, 180°, and strong thick hair types 200°. If you find its not effective enough on your next curl turn it up a little until you find that sweet spot.

When your curl goes wrong – leave it alone

Putting in a curl and it looks nothing like what you’re after?

Wait. The curl needs to be cold for you to go back in and adjust it. Continue working on the rest of your hair until its cooled and adjust the curl to what you want. Going back in while its hot means it’s still setting, until its set you will struggle to adjust it. So, instead of going over and over with the barrel iron and damaging it, wait until its cool.

Use a barrel curling iron to make classic curls

So, curl looks vary… Which is the right curl for you?

Classic curls are coily and springy. You can achieve this classic look by opening the iron tongue, inserting the hair from the ends, opening and closing the tongue gently adjusting the ends to be in the tongue and wrapping the hair around the barrel iron. For a balanced even curl I like to leave even spaces in the wrap between the hair. The hair only needs a few seconds so don’t or-do it with the heat!

Wrap the hair up to set for extra volume

Rolling the hair and pinning it in little curls on the head help to give volume.

If volume is your desired result, curl and roll up and pin on base. This means we stretch the roots up against the head, roll and clip in place (or use Velcro rollers) and leave to cool in little loops. Giving a set volume. What happens when we put heat on hair, bonds in our hair alter and re-form once cooled, they also change when wet. (that’s the to the point version – I’m not going to bore you with the science) So that’s why a set will last longer – its cooled in that position.

Create waves with a barrel iron

You can create a textured wave by wrapping the hair more vertical in opposite directions.

Loosening the coils and leaving more space between the hair when wrapped can give a more relaxed waved look maybe you prefer a boho curl? Or maybe you want less volume from curls. These kinds of looks have been especially popular, and are quite achievable with a barrel curling iron.

Give the hair texture by adding a kink

Barrel curling irons are so cool to try different things

For a kinky beachy texture, I like to leave the ends out looking straighter. I curl the mid shaft of the hair around the barrel loosely and it gives a cool lived in undone effect. It’s a bit more grunge and works really nicely with the hair cut trends at the moment. So, it has a little flatter root and straighter end.

Barrel curling hair for a ripple wave

To achieve this there is a brushing technique and a curling technique with the barrel iron.

You will have to curl the hair in the same direction if you want the hair to form a mermaid ripple wave. Curling the hair all in the same direction will form a nice smooth wave. You need to be consistent, and if you want real peaks and dips, roll the hair back up and clip to set. I personally like winding the hair vertically for strong waves. Brush the hair out tease into place and spray.

For extra volume – make your curls clash

Wind the curls in opposite directions around the barrel curling iron.

Alternating the curls will create a clash in texture and stop the curls folding into each other like our ripple effect. Once you have curled the whole head break the hair up with a wide-toothed-comb. This will cause the hair to ‘stack’ up, giving light airy space between the curls and super volume through mid-lengths to ends.

Brush out your curls

Brushing out curls make them a bit more natural looking.

Theres nothing worse than real perfect wood shaving looking curls. Curls are a bit wonky naturally. You want them to look natural, being scared to brush them can leave you with a look that is too done. Use a wide-toothed comb or a brush with space between the teeth to avoid it going frizzy and puffy.

Think about section sizes

If your hair is thick you may need to take smaller sections.

Thick hair is harder to get heat to penetrate through because its denser. So, take smaller sections if you find the curl doesn’t hold. Or, if you want more volume with finer hair, taking smaller sections can help too. Think about alternating directions so it creates movement. Think about the style you are creating with barrel curling iron.

If you have too much volume, use a blow-dryer

One of my favourite hair hacks from when you’ve over one it with the barrel curling iron

Grab your blow dryer and for above with a cool low speed setting dry it from above, forcing the hair downwards. This will cause the curl to shrink and go flatter. Perfect!


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