Once again it's Prom, Spring formal and wedding time. While many people opt for the traditional updo, hairstyles with a special emphasis on spiral curls, are more popular than ever. Actually spiral curls never go out of style.
If you have your heart set on turning your hair into a beautiful mass of shiny spiral curls that cascade down to your shoulders or beyond, you can either visit your favorite hairdresser or use a variety of curling techniques at home.
Different Spiral Curl Looks
Spiral curls can be created most successfully on hair that is shoulder length or longer. Thicker straighter hair does better than thinner or curly hair.
The right cut also helps achieve more success. A smooth solid hair line that falls to the shoulder or below is an ideal hair style for creating spiral curls.
The most optimal bang length would curve from the bridge of the nose to the cheeks.
Shorter bangs would probably produce less satisfactory results.
Spiral curls work great for long straight or wavy hair. If you have lots of hair, you may want to stock up on a couple different types of curling iron sizes and more than one set of hot rollers.
Hair that is layered and shoulder length or longer will also work great with a spiral set.
To create spirals of different thickness and length alternate the size of the individual sections and the type of hot curlers or the barrel of the curling irons.
The important thing to remember is that the smaller the curler, the tighter the spiral curl. You may want to experiment with different sizes and curler placements to get different looks.
If your hair is long or thick and you don't want spiral curls from your crown to the ends, you can use the curlers to curl only the bottom of the hair as shown in the picture to the right.
Depending on how large or soft you want the curls, use different sized spiral rollers and only roll them partially up the hair shaft.
Spiral Curl Tools
Keep in mind that while it is possible to create spiral curls on most types, textures and lengths of tresses, there are always some limitations.
If your hair is super short, fine or thin, sticky straight or ultra soft you may not be as successful as someone with natural texture.
If your hair is "curl challenged" it is still possible to create your own version of spirals with the right hair care products, proper curling tools and the help of a hair pro or lots of practice.
Spiral curls can be created with a variety of tools including:'
1. Curling irons. 2. Hot rollers. 3. Traditional wet sets with soft hair rollers. 4. Rag rollers set in a spiral pattern. 5. Pin curls that are reformed into spirals. 6. Velcro rollers. 7. Non-traditional rollers such as straws, pipe cleaners, forks or tin foil. 8. Combination of all of the above.
Before you choose your curling weapons, be sure to access your hair's curl IQ.
If you have hair which easily forms and holds a curl or natural curls and waves, you can probably have success with just about any of the tools listed above.
If your hair is "curl or texture challenges" you may need to use a combination of methods in conjunction with lots of styling products to form and lock in a curl pattern.
While spiral curls may be created using chemicals such as a perm, it may not create spirals with tight ringlet patterns. Before you commit to using a spiral perm option, be sure that you have discussed all the pros and cons with your professional stylist to make sure that your hair is a good candidate.
Curl Enhancing Products
As a general rule of thumb, hair will hold curls longer and tighter when created on "day old hair" that has not been recently washed.
This is because the natural oils in the hair will help curls to form and last.
If you must wash your hair right before creating spiral curls, be sure to prep the hair with the proper styling products that will help you achieve your spiral dreams.
For a wash and wear spiral set you can apply a soft gel to help hold the set. Select a product which holds shapes. If you have a special setting gel that works great for your hair, be sure to use that too.
If your hair has a tendency to get frizzy, apply a dollop of the Phytodefrisant balm to the palm of your hands and smooth over damp hair before you use your blow dryer.
After you remove your curlers and have finger styled your hair, use a tiny amount of the serum and again smooth over the top of your style. This will seal in shine and prevent frizz-busting moisture from taking hold.
As a general rule of thumb, hair will hold curls longer and tighter when created on "day old hair" that has not been recently washed. This is because the natural oils in the hair will help curls to form and last.
Curling irons may be harder to use effectively for some people but most professional hairdressers prefer to use curling irons because they heat to a higher heat, as a rule, than hot rollers and create more controllable curls.
To create spiral curls you need to start with spiral curlers or rods. These are required whether you want to create long term spiral curls from a perm or temporary spiral curls via a shampoo/wet set.
Spiral rods are available in many different designs. Two popular types are the attached pop up cap and the spiral curlers with the separate clip.
Instructions For Using Curling Irons
Creating spiral curls using a curling iron involves the following basic steps:
1. Section hair into small triangular sections that range in size from 1 to 2 inches. Keep in mind that the smaller the section, the tighter the curls.
2. Starting at the nape of the neck and working upwards towards the crown of the head slowly wrap each strand around the outside of the curling iron barrel. Keep in mind that the smaller the curling iron that is used, the tighter the curls.
3. Do not use the curling iron clip because this can cause creases. Also, wrapping strands around the outside of the curling iron will allow the hair to get hotter and help the curls form more tightly.
Note: If your ends are damaged either apply a pomade or other protective styling product to protect the ends.
4. Hold the curling iron in place for up to 30 seconds. Do not hold any one section around the curling iron longer than one minute or heat damage can occur.
5. After the hair is removed from the curling iron, use your fingers to form a spiral curl, spray with hairspray and then pin the reformed spiral curl against your scalp.
6. When you have finished curling the entire head and have finished pinning them to your head, let them set for at least one hour.
7. Right before leaving the house remove the pins and use only fingers to carefully arrange curls in the desired pattern.
8. Spray entire head with light hairspray to allow curls to bounce and move.
9. For extra shimmer and shine apply 1-2 drops of shine serum to the palms of your hands, rub together and then swipe over the top of your tresses.
Note: You may choose not to roll your entire head in spiral curlers.
You may want to curl the bangs and the very top of the hair separately with a curling iron to avoid an "overly curled" look.
Instructions For Using Hot Rollers
Creating spiral curls using hot rollers involves the following basic steps:
1. Section hair into small triangular sections which range in size from 1 to 2 inches. Keep in mind that the smaller the section, the tighter the curls.
2. Roll the curlers starting at the nape of the neck and work upwards towards the crown of the head.
If your ends are damaged either apply a pomade or other protective styling product to protect the ends. You can also experiment with using end papers. When using end papers, make sure not to overlap the tresses.
Complete the rolling process with the steps listed below:
1. Secure the hot rollers against your scalp as tightly as possible. 2. Once the entire head has been curled, let rollers completely cool. 3. Remove rollers one at a time. After the hair is removed from the roller, use your fingers to form a spiral curl. Spray with hairspray and then pin the reformed spiral curl against your scalp. 4. When you've finished removing all your curlers and have finished pinning them to your head, let them set for at least one hour. 5. Right before leaving the house remove the pins and use only fingers to carefully arrange curls in desired pattern. 6. Spray entire head with light hairspray to allow curls to bounce and move.
Note: You may choose not to roll your entire head in spiral curlers. You may want to curl the bangs and the very top of the hair separately with a curling iron to avoid an "overly curled" look..
Don't use a brush or comb on the spiral curls. To get extra lift you can use a curling iron to carefully lift the base of the top curls.
Like everything else, if you've never played with spiral curls for your hair, take lots of time to practice with your tool of choice whether it be curling irons, hot curlers or other rolling tools.
You may want to experiment with different setting gels and curling techniques.
If you are unsure of creating the spiral curl look you dream of, ask your stylist to work with you on creating your perfect look.
Remember to take a photo of the style that you like best so your stylist will have a good starting point.
Original Publication Date: 01/15/1998 - Revised Publication Date: 01/28/12