Ok, so you’ve made the decision to purchase a flat iron. You’ve taken it out of it’s pretty packaging, plugged it in and turned it on. Now what? You have different choices in how to use a hair straightener depending on the desired look you are going for.

Are you simply wanting to straighten and smooth, or do you want to add a little twist and shine to your hair without having to use both a curling iron and hair straightener? Below we will walk you through how to curl your hair with a flat iron step by step.

Step 1: Heat Protectant Spray – Optional but Optimal

Although heat protectant spray is optional, it’s purpose is to help protect against heat damage from hot hair tools. If you are going to be using a hair straightener often, this may be a step you do not want to skip. We recommend using a spray such as John Frieda Frizz Ease Heat Defeat or Chi 44 Iron Guard for styling protection from the inside out.


Make sure hair is dry to begin. Divide hair into small sections and spray the protectant over one section at a time. You do not want to make hair wet, but slightly damp. Comb through and wait a few minutes for hair to dry. Read the specific label on the product for more detailed instructions.

Step 2: Part Hair Into Sections

Once again you will be parting your hair into sections. Tie your hair up into a bun at the top of your head or pin it up to keep it out of the way, leaving the very bottom section down (approximately 1 inch sections). You will be working in layers from the neck up. The smaller the layers, the curlier it will be.

Step 3: Flat Iron Curling Techniques

Standard Curls:

Have you ever curled a ribbon on a gift? Curling your hair with a straightener is a similar technique. Taking 1 strand at a time, clamp the flat iron down on the top part of the section and wrap the hair around once. (Careful not to get too close to the scalp and burn yourself!) Holding the end strands of the section with one hand, glide the flat iron down the strand with the other until you reach the bottom of the section. Use this curling technique along the rest of the layer. Then unpin another section of hair down and work your way up until all of the layers are complete and curled.

How to Create Bouncy Curls with a Flat Iron:

Repeat the above curling technique but make bigger layers and larger sections for big bouncy curls. Also start further away from the scalp and glide the iron down the strands quicker than you would for tighter curls.


Beach Waves with Flat Iron:

Beach waves are a great look, especially if you have long hair to work with. Divide your hair into 4 vertical sections. Take 2 of the sections from 1 side and twist them like a rope separately. Then twist the 2 cords together the same way. Clamp the iron down at the top of the cord (Again, not too close to the scalp!) and work your way down the cord, a few seconds at a time. Allow to cool completely and then unravel the corded hair. Repeat on the other side.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Once fully curled, simply leave your hair as is or you can run your fingers or a pick through it. If desired you can spray the finished style with a flexible hair spray like Kerastase Laque Dentelle that was seen in the beach waves video. You can also use a wax or pomade like AG Hair Texture Paste to give the hair a smooth, matte look and better keep it in place.


Hair Straightening Tips

  • Hair near the hairline is thinner than other areas of the head, so keep in mind that not as much time is needed with the flat iron in that area to get the same result as the thicker areas.
  • If may help to spray a section of stubborn hair that does not want to curl with hair spray right before running the flat iron over it.
  • Gripping the flat iron on the hair too tightly can cause kinks rather than curls.
  • Heat the hair straightener up to the desired temperature ahead of time.


From loose curls to tight curls to flat iron beach waves, there are many different techniques used for curling your hair with a flat iron. Don’t be afraid to play around and discover your own technique or what works best for your hair. Remember it’s best to start with dry hair that has been combed through and optional to spray hair to protect from the heat damage that can occur with repeated use of hot tools. It will get easier the more you practice! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to curl your hair with a flat iron.

Still deciding on which flat iron to purchase? Check out our top hair straightener reviews here.

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