Top Hairstyles to Do With a Curling Iron

The Style Glossy: Hair Studio

Top Hairstyles to Do With a Curling Iron

By Shelley Levitt for The Style Glossy

It’s the secret to Beyonce’s barrel waves, the sexy bedhead look and the glamorous cascade of curls that stars regularly show off on the red carpet. We’re talking about curling tongs. “You can change the whole texture and personality of your hair in just a few minutes with curling tongs”, says Mezei Jefferson, a salon educator. “It will also help boost volume and add fullness to baby-fine hair”.

There are a variety of different curling tongs that create curls of different size and tightness. Here’s how to find the one that’s right for you.

Spiral Curls
These curling tongs have raised ridges on the barrel. To create the telephone-cord curls of Mariah Carey or Sarah Jessica Parker, simply twist your hair around the spiral pattern. The closer the grooves, the tighter the curls. For cascading ribbon curls with volume at the roots, choose a spiral iron with a tapered barrel.


  • Work with diagonal sections of hair to get closer to your scalp and create small bouncy curls.
  • After you curl a section of your hair, pin it to your scalp to keep your curls intact as you continue styling the rest of your hair.

Loose Curls
Megan Fox rocked retro glamour at a recent awards’ show with romantic, wavy texture. To create this look, choose spring curling tongs with a barrel size of at least 1 inch. The longer your hair, the larger the barrel you’ll want: Opt for a barrel of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches for mid-length hair, or 2 inches if your hair is shoulder-length or longer. Spring curling tongs are a great tool for novice curlers; the clip helps you keep a firm grip on your hair as you work.


  • Begin working from the middle of the hair shaft. Roll hair in the direction of your scalp. Then open the clip and feed in your ends.
  • To protect hair, use as little heat as needed. Start with a temperature of 150°C. If that doesn’t give you the hold you want, gradually move on to hotter settings, increasing heat by 5°C at a time.

Double- or triple-barrelled curling tongs give you that just-back-from-the-beach look you’re craving in the middle of winter. This is the tool to choose if you want the tousled tresses of Taylor Swift.


  • For an authentic beachy look, start with day-old hair rather than just-shampooed locks.
  • Apply a light holding spray before curling, and then work with horizontal sections of hair, rolling up to about 1 inch from your scalp.

Tips for All Types of Curls

  • Apply a silicone-based serum before using the curling tongs to protect your hair against heat damage.
  • After curling, apply pomade or a silicone-based styling product. Work through your hair gently and then finger-comb your hair to separate curls.
  • Keep the barrel of your tongs clean. Run a smooth, dry cloth over it when it’s still warm -- not hot -- to remove dust and product buildup.
  • Make sure your hair is absolutely dry before you use your curling tongs. Otherwise, you’ll end up with limp, ill-formed curls that will wilt in one to two hours.
  • Always work with small sections of hair and hold the curl around the curling tongs for 10 seconds, then release.
  • Spray each section with a light mist of flexible-hold hairspray.

Shelley Levitt has contributed to a variety of women’s lifestyle magazines.


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  • niknak says
    Thank you for this article. I have naturally ringlets but the are unruly. So I constanly straightness them but this made me realise how lucky I am to have them and how to control them better
  • daisy says
    Great tips for an alternative to the straight look which can be boring curls can be sexy and more relaxed looking.
  • Juicy_Fruit says
    Oooo!! Time to crack out the curling tongs again!!
  • EmilyL says
    Wow, this article gives some really good tips. I have naturally curly hair but it's so thick and frizzy, this way I can have the curls without the frizz(:
  • Georgina28 says
    What a great article! I love curling my hair, although it does take me at least an hour and a half! Some good tips here!
  • landofchocolate says
    Thanks for this! I love curling irons, my hair is so flat I go for the curling iron over straighteners any day.
  • What's Normal says
    I have always sworn by curling tongs, the hot brushes don't cut it for me.
    My method is, blow-dry the hair, spray with hair lacquer and leave for a couple of minutes to dry.
    Then the curls wrapped around the tongs beautifully and hold their shape.
    (I got the Farrah Fawcett look, no trouble, but that was years ago ssshhhhhh)
  • rps says
    I always forget about the importance of day old hair when you are trying to do anything useful with it - it makes such a difference. My niece is always using her curling tongs and they are really quick and effective.
  • Karla B says
    Thanks for this article-my daughters' weddings coming up-we could have some trial runs so we know what suits her!
  • hjau002 says
    This article emphasizes the importance of curling iron which I don't have. I can hopefully buy one soon.

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