How To Make Your Stubbornly Straight Hair Hold A Curl

There's nothing more frustrating than curling your hair only for it to fall straight again in an hour. But there is hope!

By Hannah Leah3 min read
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Learning how to curl your hair can be a challenge, but it can be an even bigger challenge for those who have stick-straight hair. Certain hair types and textures aren’t as curl-friendly as others. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear your hair curly! It just might take a little extra effort. There are a few extra steps you can take when curling your hair to make it hold longer. 

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Different Types of Curls

First off, there are a few kinds of curls you can do in your hair, and there are some types that have a better chance of holding than the rest. If you have pin-straight hair, a looser curl will fall out faster. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it’s just good to keep in mind. Loose curls are done by using a large barrel curling iron. An iron size over 1.25 inches will take a little more product to hold and won’t last quite as long. 

Beach waves might be a good option for those with straight hair. They can still be loose, but they aren’t a uniform curl — the messier the better. As a hairstylist, I find that beach waves formed by a wand curling iron work really well on straight hair. A wand iron is a clampless curling iron that you use by simply wrapping a section of hair around with your hand, hold, and release. You could also use a curling iron with a clamp to create these curls, you will just use a different technique when making the curl. Typically, you will leave out the last 1-2 inches of hair, and you’ll rotate the iron as you release the curl. 

Some people mistake wand curls for natural curls because of the “messy” look, and they assume that getting a perm will have the same effect. This is not the case, and moreover, perms are likely to dry out and damage your hair, especially if it has already been colored and highlighted. People with straight hair often ask me if getting a perm will give them body and hold when they curl their hair, but I don’t usually recommend it, as it can cause the hair to be brittle and damaged from the chemicals. 

If you still want a more uniform curl with better hold, I suggest a smaller barrel iron. Not anything too small (unless you’re going for Shirley Temple curls), but something around 1 inch might work well for you. A smaller curling iron will create tighter curls that give it a bit more hold. 

Products To Support Your Curls

Products might just be the missing key to holding your curls. Without any products, your hair will quickly fall straight again. With that being said, too much product could also weigh down your hair, so be careful not to overdo it. Look for a volume spray to use on damp hair before drying it, a heat defense serum, texture spray on dry hair before styling, and then a good hairspray. 

Volume spray or a pre-blowout product will give your hair some lift and hold before attempting to style it. Some people also use a mousse for this. If you have really thin hair, then I would recommend something lighter such as a spray to avoid weighing down the hair. 

Here are some different options for you:

Some styling products have heat protectant in them, so if that’s the case, you don’t have to be as diligent about using an additional one. But if you want to be sure that before you style your hair you’re preventing damage, here are a few different things you could use: 

I use texture spray very regularly on my clients. It just gives the hair some extra grit when styling. If you’ve heard the myth that dirty hair holds better, what that really means is if the hair has some grit and product on it, then it will hold longer and style easier than freshly washed, silky hair. Note: Don’t go to your hair appointment with really oily hair because the oils can actually make the hair harder to style. For best results, let your hairstylist “dirty” your hair for you, and just show up with it clean and dry.

Here are some texture spray options:

Lastly, hairspray will be your friend when styling your hair. I prefer a lighter hairspray for a more natural feel, but a stronger hold hairspray might be nice for special occasions. When curling your hair, I would recommend spraying every few curls lightly. Then when you’re finished, spray everything well and let the curls sit and cool off to set before running your fingers through them. 

Hairspray options you might like:

Heatless Curls

If you struggle to curl your hair with a curling iron, you might be interested in heatless curls. You’ll need a few spare hours for them to set, but it’s easy. All you need is a belt from a robe and two scrunchies, or a heatless curl kit. Wrap your hair around the belt and secure with scrunchies. After a few hours, when you unravel it, you'll have beautiful curls. 

Closing Thoughts

The benefit of having stubbornly straight hair is that once it dries after the shower, there is little that has to be done to it to look great. But it can be frustrating if you want a different style and nothing seems to hold. Thankfully, with the right kind of curls, products, and techniques, you can have beautiful curls just like anyone else. 

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