How to Curl Short Hair, According to Celebrity Hairstylists

There's a technique.

Curly Hair
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If you have short hair, you know the freedom that comes with it. Apart from having a huge weight lifted off your shoulders (quite literally), shorter lengths may also relieve you from the hassles of caring for and styling your hair for hours.

However, if you have short hair and want to keep styling it, shorter lengths can come with their own set of complications as there's less of a canvas to play with. Certain hot tools may not even be able to hold the required amount of hair necessary to create a style on yourself.

We're speaking, specifically, about curling short hair. While flat irons can easily clamp strands that are over two inches long, curling irons and wands are harder to use, since the hair has to be able to wrap around the barrel for one ringlet.

Thankfully, though, we spoke to two celebrity hairstylists who shared exactly how to curl short hair. From different techniques to how to elongate the life of your style, read below for their expert tips.

What's Defined As Short Hair?

Before we continue, let's make sure we get on the same page to manage expectations. "When most people think of short hair, it's often thought to be a shorter, cropped look closer to a pixie. But I consider anything shorter than touching the top of your shoulders to be short hair," says Matthew Collins, a California-based celebrity hairstylist and Dyson brand ambassador.

What's the Best Way to Curl Short Hair With a Flat Iron?

According to David Lopez, a New York-based celebrity hairstylist T3 ambassador, the most important thing to do is to hold the iron vertically while you are curling your hair.

"This will create a much more elongated wavy curl," they explain. "If you hold your flat iron horizontally, you get a much tighter, springier curl, which may be too bouncy depending on the look you're trying to achieve."

An alternative to this look is to create "S" waves, which Collins says are great for people who want a curl without shrinking their length too much or creating more volume.

"Take inch by inch sections starting at the back and start with your iron on the root, bend it in a 'C' shape in one direction, then twist your wrist and bend it in a 'C' shape in the opposite direction and continue to do this to the ends," Collins advises.

Pro tip: If you want a subtler and more natural look, he says that the slower you make your 'C," the more bend you will have. Another pro tip: Use the Dyson Corrale, which Collins says maintains the integrity of the health of the hair, while the flexing plates allow for maximum control while styling.

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What's the Best Way to Curl Short Hair With a Curling Wand or Iron?

While using a wand, most people will wrap the section of hair around the iron continuously until you have all the hair wrapped. Collins, however, suggests wrapping the hair near the root. After it wraps the iron/wand once, pause for a second, then wrap your hair again, pause, and continue this movement until you reach the ends.

"The mid-shaft and roots generally don't take to curl as much, so if you wrap slowly, the wave will look more uniform when done," he adds.

Since short hair can be tricky to curl depending on how much length you have, Lopez suggests using a curling wand or iron with a tapered barrel. They suggest the Reverse Taper Barrel as part of the T3 Convertible Collection: "It has a smaller base and gets larger towards the ends so you get that tighter texture at the root and the automatically softer ends."

What's the Best Way to Extend the Life Of Your Curls?

Great news: Collins says that since short hair has less weight to it than long hair, it'll usually hold a curl shape longer.

With that said, Lopez recommends approaching maintenance the same way someone with long hair would. "Make sure you use the right products beforehand — things like mousse or anything starchy to put into your hair while it's damp that has a memory or a hold to it," they suggest.

If you have fine or medium-textured hair, Collins suggests using polymer products, such as mousse or texture spray, to give the hair more volume and hold. Alternatively, if you have curly or wavy hair, he suggests using emollients, such as oils or creams, to soften and decrease volume.

Lastly, to keep your curls intact overnight, Lopez suggests sleeping with a silk pillowcase.

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