One of the most common complaints I hear from my friends when it comes to their hair is, "My curls never stay in!" As someone who curls her hair just about every other day (and gets access to some of the top hair pros), I’ve come to learn a few tricks of the trade. One of them I share when I hear this gripe? The secret of cooling.
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When many women curl their hair, their curls end up looking really tight, almost like Shirley Temple style, so their impulse reaction is to loosen them up a bit to get that more lived-in effect. This, however, is a no-no if you want your curls to last. The reason is that your curls need time to set in place and cool off in order to hold their shape. Once they’re completely cooled, you can shake them up a bit.
"Most women aren’t taught that cooling is extremely important in setting your style," says Jacynda Smith, stylist and creator of the TYME Iron. "Think about steel: When it’s hot, it is malleable and can be bent and molded. However, as steel cools, it holds form. Hair is similar in that where it cools is where it stays."
For me personally, I like to curl my hair rather tight and then let it cool as I drive to work. As soon as I get to my desk, I shake my hair out a bit until I get the effect I want. Typically, I can get through an entire work day and evening with intact curls—sometimes I don’t even need to touch them up the next morning (granted the second-day look is a bit more wavy and beachy than curly, but I like the variety).
"Every hair type is unique, so it’s important to consider this when styling," says Smith. "For example, often women with fine hair have a harder time holding curl. To let your curls cool in place longer, I recommend pinning your hair up after curling it to ensure a tighter or longer-lasting curl. If you don’t have pins, you can hold each curl in your hand to allow proper cooling time. As soon as your hair has cooled, you can let it fall as usual. This is mostly necessary when using a conventional curling iron or wrap-around iron."
And, if you’re using a heat protectant, which is always recommend when using hot styling tools, Smith says to look for one without heavy oils or silicones in it. "Using the right protector makes your hair moldable, so apply it before using your hot tool. Then when you’re done curling, complete your look with a finishing spray to help hold it in place after you have set your style."