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Splurge vs Steal: How to Get Your Hair To Curl

How to get your hair to hold a curl

A few days ago I was at work, talking to my friend Christine (yes, we have the same name, it can get confusing). She has an amazing teenage daughter, D, who is beautiful. And I mean beautiful. This girl is smart, athletic, very sweet and somehow has managed to not get wrapped up in tons of teenage drama, on top of just being a stunner. I really like D., she’s been over to my house even to come and get freebie beauty products.

Christine and I were talking because D. is having a hair styling issue. Her hair is quite a bit like mine, straight and silky, and it doesn’t want to hold a curl at all. Christine hasn’t been able to help much, mainly because Christine has that amazing curly hair that can air dry and look just perfect (I know, I hate her too). Just like me, D. wants to curl her hair, but she’s been having issues keeping those curls in place for more than a few hours. They were planning an outing to the store that night to look at products to help, so Christine and I had a big hair product pow wow. I shared my favorites to add volume and keep curls, but I thought explaining everything in a blog post would be helpful for others as well.

First, my prep starts as soon as I get out of the shower with wet hair. Preparing my hair for styling requires quite a few products, and while I typically apply them to my hair in this order (and comb my hair in between each product with a wide tooth comb), I did ask my hair stylist at my last appointment if there was a “correct” order to apply them in. She thought about it and said she’d never been taught anything like that and she didn’t think it mattered really. Also, note that whenever possible I buy products that also provide heat protection. Even if I am already using one, I will double (and triple) up on the heat protectant. I do not want to fry my hair (again).

Smoothing/Hydrating Cream
My first product is always a multi-purpose cream. They add moisture, smooth frizz, protect against heat and just generally make my hair easier to deal with. The Oribe is my go-to because it is the most hydrating and works the best for me, but I’ve had good results from the others as well!

My Picks:
• Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream (at Neiman Marcus)
• Redken Align 12 Protective and Smoothing Lotion (at ULTA)
• L’Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Blow Dry It Thermal Smoother Cream (at Amazon or ULTA)

Volumizing Mouse
When hair is hard to curl, I’ve been told by many celeb hair stylists that their secret is mousse, and lots of it! If mousse isn’t working for you, you likely just aren’t using enough of it. I like to use a volumizing version because my hair is so heavy that it easily weighs itself down. The mousse helps combat that and offers hold for curling later on. I use a very full handful of mousse.

My Picks:
Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse (from Neiman Marcus)
Redken Full Frame 07 (at ULTA)
TRESemmé Thermal Creations Volumizing Mousse (at Amazon)

Sea Salt Spray (sometimes)
If I’m planning to be a bit extra beachy, I’ll use less mousse and add in some sea salt spray. It adds much needed texture! The Kérastase is by far the most expensive, but it really is the best as it offers more hold and my results are much longer lasting.

My Picks:
Kérastase Spray à Porter (get it from Kérastase)
Pureology Highlight Stylist Sea-Kissed Texturizer (at ULTA)
Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray (at Amazon or ULTA)

Heat Protectant/Blow Out Spray
If I’m planning to do any heat styling at all (and I include blow drying in that), I’ll add a light misting of a heat protectant all over my hair as well.

My Picks:
Oribe Signature Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray (from Neiman Marcus)
Redken Iron Shape 11 (at ULTA)
L’Oreal Paris Hair Care Advanced Hairstyle Boost It Blow Out Heat Spray (at Amazon)

he best tools to dry your hair with volume
Once I’ve applied all of those products, I’ll blow dry my hair. I use a high powered blow dryer with nozzle attachment to concentrate the air in one direction. I blow dry my hair with my head upside down, especially at the roots. This trains my roots to go upwards and adds a lot of volume to my hair! While drying my hair, I mostly just move my hair around with my fingers, roughly blow drying it. Once my hair is almost completely dry, I grab my round brush, flip my hair right side up, and do round brush the very top layer of my hair all around my head. This really smooths my hair and makes it look more polished.

Blow Dryer
I’ve had a lot of blow dryers over the years, and obviously the big splurge T3 that I have now is the best! It really does cut down on drying time and my hair is shinier and less frizzy with it. The Sam Villa is the same one I had for a few years and I got great results from it as well, and my hair stylist uses it as well. Finally, I used to use Conair dryers for years and of the less expensive options, this is my go-to brand. I look for high power, the right attachments and ions.

My Picks:
• T3 PROi Professional Hair Dryer (at Sephora)
• Sam Villa Light Professional Ionic Blow Dryer (at Sam Villa or Amazon)
• Conair Infiniti Pro Dryer (at ULTA or Amazon)

Round Brush
I have a lot of very long hair, and over the years I’ve had a really hard time with round brushing. Sure, others can do it to my hair, but once you hand me a brush and the dryer… not so much! It’s much harder to get those motions down on your own head! It didn’t help that I always seem to get my hair tangled in the brush.

I’ve finally found a brush that’s nearly impossible for me to tangle my hair in! I bought it because I noticed that every single stylist at my salon was using it, and the hair was just effortlessly coming off of this brush. Even I can do it! I can use it to round brush the very top layers of my hair, and the few minutes I spend smoothing those top layers of hair even more make my curls look much nicer. It’s the Moroccanoil Ceramic Thermal Round Brush (at Amazon or Nordstrom), I use the big 55mm.

the best curling irons and rods
Once my hair is dry, it’s time to curl! Depending on the look I want, I’ll use a curling iron, wand or even hot rollers. If I’m using a curling iron or wand, I will actually spray my hair with a light mist of flexible hold hair spray, let it dry for about 30 seconds and then brush through it before curling (the exception to this is when I use a flat iron to curl, the extra heat exposure and layer of hair spray aren’t a good combo).

My Favorite Curling Tools:
• T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand (at Sephora)
• T3 Twirl 360 1.25” Curling Iron (at Sephora)
• Tyme Iron (at Tyme)
• Revlon Perfect Heat Longwave Hair Setter (at ULTA or Amazon)

Flexible Hold Hairspray
Once my hair has been curled, I spray it all over with a brushable, flexible hold hair spray. I do this while the curls are in place and leave it be for about 10 minutes or so, and then I’ll run my fingers through it to separate the curls if necessary.

My Picks:
• Kérastase Laque Dentelle (get it from Kérastase)
• Kenra Platinum Working Spray 14 (at ULTA or Amazon)
• Elnett Satin Hairspray Strong Hold (at Amazon)

the best frizz fighting living proof products
Living Proof Swap Outs
If your hair is really frizzy (or live in high humidity), my favorite anti-frizz products are all from Living Proof. These all could have been in the categories up above, but I really felt like they needed a special call out. I don’t even know what we did before this brand existed. It’s all kinds of amazing. If your hair gets frizzy, needs extra help (beyond normal products) to stay curled, etc. You need Living Proof. You just do.

My Picks:
• Perfect hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment (at Living Proof or Sephora)
• Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse (at Living Proof or Sephora)
• Living Proof Instant Texture Mist (at Living Proof or Sephora)
• Living Proof Flex Shaping Hairspray (at Living Proof or Sephora)

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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