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How to Get Your Hair to Finally Hold a Curl, According to the Pros

We all know the feeling. You get your tresses perfectly coifed and as the hours pass, your ringlets turn to waves, eventually deflating back to straight strands. In our quest to hold a curl past dinner, drinks, and dancing, we checked in with the pros who know it best—and who are responsible for some of the best tools in the biz. Below, they share their tips on achieving long-lasting curls. Discover how to get your hair to hold a curl once and for all!

Sarah Potempa

Celebrity Hairstylist & Inventor of the Beachwaver

  • Start by using a mousse and heat protectant before you blow dry, in order to give the hair more hold. Pick a professional tool like the Beachwaver that has a digital temperature setting that can be adjusted to fit your hair type.
  • First, you want to make sure you are sectioning your hair with clips to make curling easier and efficient. Once you section, curl one-inch sub-sections for an even curl pattern. Make sure to allow the curls to cool before running your fingers through them, which will help make your curls last longer.
  • If you need extra hold, you can set the curls with silver clips. You just wrap the curl, pin, and let it set for a few minutes. When you take the pins out, the curls will have even more structure and volume.
  • You also can switch to a smaller barrel size if your curls tend to fall. For example, if you are using a 1-inch barrel and your curls are falling, then try using a 3/4-inch barrel.
  • Curling smaller sections of hair will also give you tighter curls and more hold.
  • After you curl, allow to cool and spray the hair with a flexible hairspray to set the curl. For a relaxed look, spray a flexible hair spray on your brush of choice and brush through the curls. For a more natural, beachy curl, run your fingers through the curls to break them up.

Naeemah Lafond

Amika’s Global Artistic Director

  • Always prep the hair with a product that will extend the life of your style. I use Amika’s The Shield Style Extending Spray prior to any heat styling.
  • When curling the hair, it’s also important to choose the proper tool and tool size.
  • Use a curler that is slightly smaller than the curl that you actually want to achieve. Using a smaller curler allows you to have room for the curl to drop without compromising your style.
  • Once you remove the curler from each section, secure the curl using a pin curl clip so that the hair has a chance to cool off in its curled state. Pin curl the hair as you go, instead of waiting until you’ve curled the entire head of hair, as pin curling works best when the hair is still warm.
  • Once the hair is cool, spray with a working spray like Amika Touchable Hairspray.
  • For hair that is super resilient to heat styling, slightly backcomb the underside of each curl to prevent it from dropping. Following these steps will result in a defined, long-lasting curls.

Buddy Porter

Hair Stylist at Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills

  • My go-to size iron is a 1 1/4-inch barrel. I turn my iron’s heat all the way up (430 degrees.) If you feel like this is too hot because you’re moving slower, go down to 330.
  • Section the hair to separate the back of your head and the front of the head.
  • Starting with the front, work your way from the bottom up.
  • Never take sections bigger than the iron itself. This ensures each sections receives even heat and you can move faster and the style will last longer.
  • Alternate directions, but always curl away from the face near the hairline.
  • In the back, alternate every wave. Try your best! It takes practice.
  • Flip your head upside down and run your hands through your hair to break up the wave using a texture cream. My favorite is Creme Contour from Bumble and Bumble.
  • Use a texture spray for fullness and hold at the root. I use Bumble and Bumble Dryspun Texture Spray.
  • Spray lightly with hairspray—too much will weigh the hair down.
  • To keep this look for as long as possible, make sure you don’t take shortcuts in the styling process and don’t overload your hair with too much product. Most of my clients get two to four days out of a style like this.

Rocky Vitelli

CHI Global Artist

  • I love curls because you can style them in so many different ways. The key to styling and maintaining a curled look is the mix of the right product and the right tool. Here is any easy, go-to technique of mine for holding a curl.
  • Prep the hair with a hairspray to hold the style. I recommend CHI Royal Treatment Ultimate Control Spray.
  • Once you have sprayed that section, then curl with your preferred curling iron. I use the CHI Dura Curling Iron.

Roshan Tayefemohajer

SEVEN Haircare Partner Educator

  • After shampooing and conditioning, spray a lightweight hydrator like SEVEN’s Leave-In Conditioner Spray to detangle and add manageability.
  • Before you blow dry, prep hair with Satara Boost Spray all over to give volume light hold.
  • Once hair is dry, mist with a thermal protectant. Rinzu Heat Defense Spray protects hair from the high heat of curling irons and has a good amount of hold to help with style retention.
  • Here’s the most important part—Allow time for each curl to cool and set before trying to style or manipulate them.  After taking a section and curling with your iron, remove the barrel and drop the curl into your hand, holding it in its position for a few seconds until it cools. Mist the curl with a dry, workable hairspray like for touchable, lasting hold.
  • Continue to curl the rest of your hair in the same manner, making sure not to start styling your curls until you have completed all your iron work. This will ensure the curls have had time to set and cool down completely.
  • Once all your curls are cool, use a brush or your fingers to break up the curls and style as desired. Finish with a light misting of Cubica Tousle Spray for hold.

Looking for the secret to achieving sexy at-home waves? We’ve got it right HERE!


Hey, mane muse! We wanted to give you a heads up that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that Mane Addicts will collect a small share of the sale from any purchase you make from the products we recommend.




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