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Curls & Waves Basic Facts


Image Julia Stiles

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If you want to wear your hair short and curled in tousled ringlets or with sleek waves it’s not a problem with current hair trends. When it comes to hot hair styles, anything goes.

Even better, highly textured looks which embrace a wide range of curls and waves are always in style.

Whether you were blessed with natural texture or have to create your own, the possibilities for styles and techniques are endless.

Types of Curls

Curls come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Depending on your hair’s length, texture and condition, you can select from the following different options:

1. Spiral curls – Ranging in size from small and tight to soft and loose, spiral curls can be created easily with bendy rollers like Conair’s curlers. Spiral shaped curling irons are also available for optional styling.

2. Curvaceous curls – Big and bouncy, these luscious S shaped curls offer a rich bitch glam look. These curls are surprisingly easy to create. Whether your hair is straight or naturally curly, the method is the same. Use medium sized hot or steam rollers to create the look. Use fingers to arrange.

If your hair has a natural wave, use the wave as a starting base, roll hair with big self adhesive rollers. Remove the rollers and let the curls drop. Try a new style by pinning the top layer of hair away from the hairline letting curls cascade in a free form style.

Image Julia Stiles

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3. Irregular curls – Create random curls with alternative curlers made from pipe cleaners, pieces of foils, popsicle sticks or straws. Pin curls and rag curls will also create an unpredictable pattern of curls.

4. Tight Curls – Use small hot curlers set close together to create a close curl. The smaller the curler, the tighter the curl. The more hair you use on each roller will also impact the tightness. Use less hair per curler to create a much tighter shape.

5. Perimeter curls – Use any size of hot rollers or curling irons to create curls around the edges of the hair.

Type of Rollers

There are a wide range of rollers available on the market to create different curls and waves.

People with naturally curly hair may or may not benefit from using rollers. Sometimes curling just the ends of the hair works just fine. This is also true with big rollers used on thick, straight hair or hair that is unruly.

Depending on the type of hair that you have and the type of look you wish to create, select from the following curler options:

  • Self Adhesive Style Rollers – come in all sizes from very small to very large. Great boost for taming frizz in naturally curly or wavy hair.
  • Hot Rollers – generally range in size from inch to 1 inches.
  • Curling Irons - available in a wide range of barrel sizes.
  • Steam Rollers – designed to create softer curl.
  • Sponge Rollers – used to wet sets and made from foam material for soft set.
  • Pin curlers – created by rolling hair around fingers and pinning into place.
  • Rag curlers – curlers are made from strips of rags in different size of thickness.
  • Alternative Curlers – Hair can be rolled on a wide assortment of alternative curlers from pipe cleaners and aluminum foil to empty juice cans, paper product holders, straws, sticks and even forks. Each different curler type will create a unique curl shape. The less hair used per curler and the tighter it's wrapped, the stronger the curl shape.

Image Dianna Agron

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Besides traditional, non-traditional, heated and unheated rollers other styling tools can be used to create curls and waves. These tools range from long and short finger diffuser attachments for blow dryers, hot styling brushes, crimping irons and other assorted hot styling tools.

Waves and curls can even be created by braiding damp hair and letting it air dry into wild waves.

The possibilities for creating curls and waves are endless with a little imagination.

Best Finishing Products

Got a hot style bob and want to jazz it up perfect curls? No problem. You'll need a good dollop of mousse and a long finger diffuser attachment for a dryer.

Turn your head upside down and gently use the diffuser to create instant waves and curls. Or reach for your curling iron to add ringlets and soft curls.

The important thing with bouncy curled styles is to avoid touching them too much. Curls should look natural and fresh with minimal frizz. Gorgeous curls require the use of the right styling products.

Image Justin Guarini

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If frizz is a problem and you desire a sleek look, use big rollers to force frizz into total submission. Remember to be liberal with mousse and serum products to contain any frizziness issues.

Depending on your styling goals select from the following styling products:

Creating Spiral Curls

Image Taylor Swift

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Spiral curls can range from very tight corkscrew shaped to soft to Pre-Raphaelite waves and loose geometric curls. Short bridal hair can be styled in soft perimeter spirals that cascaded from a center part.

Bendy spiral rollers will create glossy, well-defined and behaved curls. These curls should be created on naturally curly hair that is dull, lifeless or out of control. They can also work great for straight or wavy textures.

Do not brush out spiral curls because frizz can result. For looser curls rolls more hair in each bendy curler.

For perimeter spirals only roll the bottom section of the hair. Try a variety of parts to create different looks.

Create spiral shaped curled styles by following these steps:

- Shampoo hair and apply heat protectant leave-in conditioner or similar product. - Blow dry completely dry individual strands by wrapping around fingers in spiral shape. - Separate hair into sections and roll on hot curlers or regular style bendy curlers. - Let hair completely cool before removing curlers. - Pin cooled spiral curls against your scalp with a bobby pin. - Spritz with setting spray or hairspray. - Let hair dry or use blow dryer with concentrator nozzle to dry pinned curls. - Remove curls using a curling iron to tighten loose curls. - Tousle and arrange with fingers. - Spray with hairspray to finish.

Creating Curvaceous Curls

Image Paula Abdul

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Whether natural or created, these curls will need plenty of tender loving care to keep them looking radiant, healthy and well-defined.

Create "S" shaped curled styles by following these steps:

  • Shampoo hair and apply leave-in protection cream.
  • Blow dry completely dry using a round brush to create volume and movement.
  • Set hair on largest hot rollers available.
  • Let hair completely cool.
  • Remove each individual cooled roller.
  • Immediately roll each cooled strand on jumbo Velcroself-adhesive style rollers which are approximately 2” in diameter.
  • Spritz rolled hair with setting or hair spray.
  • Direct blow dryer air flow over curlers.
  • Let hair set on self adhesive rollers for at least 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove curlers and carefully arrange with fingers for soft curls.
  • Use a hot curling iron for touch up of rogue curls.
  • Spray with hairspray to set.

Alter the look of Curvaceous Curls by adding random crimped strands around the hairline or underneath near the nape of the neck. Crimping irons do not create curls but when used in small sections they can create waves that lay close to the head.

For a messy look use fingers to brush through curls and create soft waves that have a kick at the ends. Use a curling iron to touch up the very ends.

Image Taylor Swift

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For more rich bitch glamour, use medium sized rollers instead of large rollers. Carefully relax curls with a large all natural boar’s head paddle brush like a Mason Pearson.

Mixing N Matching Curls & Waves

Combine different curling methods for ultra curls. Match Finger or Marcel waves with crimped locks. Or create tight waves by setting sections of the hair on strips of fabric or rags and rolling other random sections with pin curls.

Blow dry with round brush. Use largest curling iron. Remove curlers and immediately roll around larger self adhesive rollers. Pin and let cool completely.

Spray with hairspray and then carefully arrange with fingers.

Blow dry until hair is slightly damp. Set on self adhesive or sponge rollers. Sit under dryer hood. Use curling iron to "set" curls.


Image Taylor Swift

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Whether you have stick straight hair or natural curls you can easily and quickly design a hot new style that utilizes a wide range of crafted curls and waves.

Big bouncy curls and soft sensuous waves can be yours with the right cut, good styling tools and a little bit of practice. So go ahead and create some fabulous new texture.

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- Revised Publication Date: 01/19/11

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