How to Create Loose Curls With a Curling Iron

by Grace Phan ; Updated September 28, 2017

Loose curls never seem to go out of style. They give off an effortless vibe while making hair look healthy and polished. If you’ve been wrestling with the blow dryer and round brush in hopes of getting Lauren Conrad’s signature locks, you can take a deep breath, as a curling iron is your new best friend. Whip up some loose curls with an iron that will have your friends thinking you just left the blow-dry bar.


  • Loose curls work on hair of all lengths that has long layers. Regardless of your cut, have your stylist add one layer to your hair that is 1/2 inch shorter than the rest. This lightens hair to help it hold a curl, while adding dimension.

Spritz your hair with heat protectant. Apply it to the bottom 3 inches for hair that is longer than shoulder-length, and the bottom 2 inches for hair that falls above the shoulders. Brush it through from root to tip to evenly distribute the product, without weighing down the roots.


  • Try curling your hair one day after washing it, as freshly washed hair lacks grip and texture. Spritz your roots with dry shampoo to absorb excess oils.

Place one thumb above each ear. Drag them towards the back of your head until they meet. Pick up all hair that falls above your thumbs, and clip it to the top of your head with a duck-bill clip.

Heat up you curling iron. Use the low heat setting if you have fine hair, and the medium setting for coarse or thick hair.

Pick up the 2-inch-wide section of hair closest to your ear on your left side, and hold it at the end, parallel to your face. If your hair is mid-back length or longer, use 1-inch sections of hair. Hold the iron with your other hand, and position it parallel to the section of hair, positioning the hair between your face and the iron. Press down on the handle to open the clamp.

Wrap the section of hair around the barrel, rotating it away from your face with the clamp open, from root to tip. Keep the hair close together if your hair is longer than shoulder length, as leaving space between the spiral of hair will create a loose wave instead of a curl. If your hair is shorter than shoulder length, leave a 1/2 inch space between each loop to avoid creating ringlets.

Close the clamp and hold your hair in the iron for 10 seconds. Release the clamp and gently pull the iron down to remove the curl.

Place the palm of your hand under the curl, and push it back towards your scalp, so that it winds into a circle. Use a duck-billed clip to secure it to your scalp. This will allow it to set into a long-lasting curl, and prevent it from losing its shape while you work on the rest of your hair.

Repeat the curl process on the entire bottom layer of your hair. For added volume, alternate between curling hair towards and away from your face.

Release the top section of hair and curl and clip it in 2-inch sections.

Hold a can of light-hold hairspray 10 inches away from your hair, and spritz the pinned curls once. Allow them to cool completely. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.

Release the clips and use your fingertips to gently brush through the curls. If they are tighter than desired, brush them through with a natural-bristle brush to loosen curls while maintaining softness. If your hair is fine or straight, apply one more coat of light hairspray to set the style.


  • Wipe your curling iron clean with a microfiber cloth once cool, to remove any hair product residue and produce shiny hair every time you curl.

About the Author

Grace Phan is a trained hairstylist and aesthetician with a penchant for natural and DIY beauty. At the age of six she was skimming from her parents avocado supply to whip up face masks, and hasn't looked back. A graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics, she loves working with all hair textures and skin types to create routines that can be practiced at home.