How to Do Pin Curls for Black Women

by Donna Tinus

Women of all ethnicities wore their hair in pin curls in the 1940s. Pin curls can create tight curls close to the head, for a woman who has short hair, or long, loopy curls for the woman who has longer hair. After women started using heating products such as curling irons and hot rollers in the 70s, many African-American women continued to set their hair in pin curls because they knew the heat would damage their hair. Pin curls allow African-American women to eliminate the frizz in their hair and add some controlled curls.

Items you will need

  • Moisturizing shampoo
  • Absorbent towel
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Frizz buster
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Hair wax
  • Metal hair clips
Step 1

Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo that is designed for curly hair, or use a brand designed specifically for African-American hair, which is often dry hair and in need of moisturizing products.

Step 2

Rinse your hair.

Step 3

Towel dry your hair with a large, absorbent towel. Wrap your head with the towel and pat your hair dry, avoiding any vigorous rubbing, which can cause frizzing.

Step 4

Squeeze a quarter-sized dollop of both a leave-in conditioner and a frizz buster into the palm of one hand.

Step 5

Rub your hands together to mix the two products.

Step 6

Rub the products onto your hair, and comb with a large-tooth comb to work the products through and remove tangles.

Step 7

Allow your hair to air dry for a half hour, if possible. This will leave your hair damp enough to hold a curl but not so wet that it can't dry out.

Step 8

Grab a section of hair approximately 1/2 inch in diameter to wrap into a curl. If you use a larger amount of hair, the curl will be larger and more wavy than curly. If you have thin hair, the diameter of the curl will be smaller.

Step 9

Apply a small amount of hair wax, approximately 1/2 the size of a dime, near the root of the hair and comb it through.

Step 10

Wind the hair around one finger, being sure to tuck the ends in, or they will come out straight.

Step 11

Push the curl off your finger and use a metal hair clip to clip it to the hair closest to your head.

Step 12

Grab a second section of hair and continue to make pin curls all around your head. The curls should be of uniform shape and in a row, not haphazardly arranged. Change the direction that you are winding the hair in, with some winding clockwise and some counterclockwise.

Step 13

Either allow your hair to dry naturally, or use a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment on the end to dry your hair.

Step 14

Remove the pins for each curl and allow the curls to fall naturally.

Step 15

Finger-comb your hair to break up the curls into smaller curls, or let them stay the way they are.


  • If it's not possible to allow your hair to dry naturally after washing, then continue to dry it with the towel, wrapping the towel around a fist-full of hair and pulling the towel along the strands, from the scalp to the ends.

    For larger curls, curl your hair around two fingers instead of one.


  • Brushing pin curls will produce a frizzy look. Only comb the curls with your fingers, or a very large wide-tooth comb, commonly referred to as a pick.

    Avoid using bobby pins for pin curls because they will leave indentations in your hair.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Donna Tinus has been a writer since 2005. She has a background in medical terminology and has written articles for various websites on topics such as family, finance, medicine, health, pets, gardening, beauty and relationships. Tinus holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Centenary College.