If you have fine, straight hair (a.k.a. type 1A) that can’t seem to hold a curl, you’re not alone. “These hair types lack the body and amount of hair to hold a curl. The natural oils on the scalp weigh down the hair at the roots making hair easily fall flat. It might also appear ‘greasier’ than other hair types,” says Graham Nation, ambassador and celebrity hairstylist of UNITE Hair. But, if you have type 1A hair, don’t give up on your beachy wave dreams just yet. You might just be making one of the following styling no-nos that are inhibiting your hair from living its best curly life. Here’s how to tweak your routine to get straight hair to hold a curl:
You’re not drying your hair completely.
If you’re working with freshly washed hair, brushed and blow-dried hair and your hair starts to make a sizzling noise when you put it to a curling iron, it’s still too damp. Use a heat protectant like Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray before blow-drying to make sure your hair doesn’t fry from all the hot tool usage. To make sure your hair is totally dry, blast your hair with the cool setting on your blow-dryer to make it easier to feel for any damp strands.
You’re not prepping your hair correctly.
Second-day hair gives other hair types a natural texture and grip that’s great for holding a curl, however “type 1A hair rarely gets a second day, because this hair type usually gets oily very easily,” says Nation. If you typically shampoo every day, on next-day hair use a dry shampoo just at your roots to blast away any excess oil. “UNITE U:DRY Clear Dry Shampoo is perfect for type 1A hair because it’s so lightweight,” he says. If you use dry shampoo pretty often, you should add a rinse-off serum to clarify the scalp of product buildup, excess oil, dead skin, and pollution for a cleaner, healthier-looking scalp and refreshed hair.
You’re only spritzing on hairspray after curling.
You’ve always considered hairspray as a final step to setting your look, but it’s also important to spray each section of hair right before you curl it so you can make sure your curls last. Use a couple of spritzes of a lightweight product like UNITE Le:Play Hairspray that won’t give you any stickiness or crunchiness. Again, if you hear a sizzle when your hair touches the curling iron, you’ve used too much wet product.
You’re curling your hair in a humid bathroom.
If you just hopped out of a hot shower, your curls will be fighting against the humidity in your bathroom. All the excess moisture in your environment will prohibit your hair from properly being able to hold a curl. Bring your curling iron over to your bedroom vanity or another location that isn’t as humid to give your curls the best chance at longevity.
You’re not using the right curling iron and barrel size.
“I love ceramic irons because they are more consistent in how they spread heat across the iron. Barrel size matters most in the desired outcome, like if you want tighter curls or more of a body wave,” he says. For type 1A hair, however, barrel size plays a factor: You may want to start with a smaller, 1” iron regardless of hair type since looser curls will fall out easily, says Nation.
You’re turning the heat up too high.
Some people may think that the hotter your hot tools, the better the hold. While a higher temperature does make your curl set faster, it can also cause heat damage, especially if your hair is fine and/or color-treated. “You should definitely be using different temperatures depending on the density of your hair. If you have fine hair I would use a temperature no more than 350 degrees and on medium to thick hair, I would use closer to 400 degrees,” he says. If your curl is already drooping a few minutes after you styled it, you probably can crank it up to the next heat setting.
You’re not using the right technique.
First, divide your hair using sectioning clips like the Kitsch No Slip Crocodile Clips so you don’t miss any strands. If you’re curling from bottom to the top, it means the ends of your hair are receiving the bulk of the heat from your iron and your curls are tighter at the ends than your roots, which makes curls fall flat. If you find that you’re not getting enough volume and curl at the roots, try holding the wand vertically and wrap a 1” section of hair around the barrel with the hair that’s closest to your scalp. Leave the ends hanging out (don’t clamp down with the iron) to give curls a natural, lived-in look.
You’re not holding the iron for the right amount of time.
For type 1A hair, holding your iron to your hair for about 10 seconds is the sweet spot. Any less than that and your hair would hold the curl for long enough and any longer you risk burning your hair. If your hair isn’t holding a curl with 10 seconds of heat, check your temperature setting – you might need to take it up a notch. Just make sure to hold each section of hair for the same amount of time to get a consistent outcome.
You aren’t pinning your curls in place.
“For maximum curl and volume, I always set the hair on rollers or pins for about 20-30 minutes. The idea is to get your hair hot enough to become very pliable and easy to shape, then use a roller or pins to set the hair so it can cool down and hold shape,” he says. Now’s also a great time to give your curls another quick blast of hairspray so they retain their shape when you release your hairpins.
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