If you want to curl your hair but don't necessarily need the ribbon curls or spirals that can be created with a curling iron, you can use a flat iron that you already own to make barrel curls. If you enjoy styling your hair in a variety of ways but are on a budget, purchase a flat iron for versatility in hairstyling. Not only can you straighten your hair with a small to mid size flat iron, you can also use one to add body to your locks and shape your tresses in tight or loose curls, depending on your preference.
Comb hair to completely remove all snags and tangles. This will create smooth, shiny curls.
Turn the flat iron to the appropriate settings and allow it to heat up. Squirt a pinch of heat-protective serum onto your palm and rub your hands together briskly before working the product onto hair, all the way down to the ends. Avoid getting any serum on the roots as this will weigh your hair down and make it appear dirty.
Clamp onto a fine section of hair at least about an inch away from the scalp. You may start midway down the hair if you prefer to curl only the lower section of your hair. Come in at an angle towards the hair instead of at a straight horizontal level as you would if you were straightening it (see Resources).
Twist your wrist before you begin sliding the flat iron down the section of hair. Maintain this position as you slide all the way down the lock of hair. When the hair is released from the flat iron, it will bounce into the shape of a barrel curl. The quicker you slide the flat iron down your hair, the looser the resulting curl; if you do it in a slightly slower manner, the curls will be tighter and more evident.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until you have an entire head of barrel curls.
Use a ceramic iron for minimal damage to the hair. A metal plated iron is the most damaging, so invest in a ceramic hair straightener if you regularly style your hair with this tool. A large flat iron is intended solely for straightening especially long hair. Do not use this tool if you want to create curls.