“Straight-haired girls, this one’s for you. And let us guess: You spend 20 minutes curling your hair and it falls limp before you even get to the office—sound familiar? Truth is, it might not be your fault. The way your hair holds its shape has a lot to do with genetics, and honestly isn’t up to you at all.
Before we get into styling advice, a little science: The shape of the root of your hair follicle determines the kind of hair you have, says hair restoration surgeon Robert J. Dorin, D.O., ACOFP. If the root is a circle, you’ll have straighter hair. If your root is curved into a hook shape, you’ll have natural curls. Unfortunately, you’ve got what you got, and there’s no way to change it. So what’s that mean when you want to add your own curls? “If you have straight hair, it will ‘remember’ that it wants to stay straight,” says Dorin.
Meaning that no matter how much heat you apply initially, eventually your hair’s curl will undo itself. But using the right mix of curling tools and styling products can get you a good temporary look. Just keep these prep tips in mind for waves that last:
1. Start with day-old hair
And by that we mean unwashed or at least, wash it the night before and style it dry the next morning. “Day-old hair is ideal because your hair’s natural oils make it more adaptable,” says Justin Anderson, Creative Director of dpHUE. Simply put: Slightly oily hair will hold a curl much better than slippery, just-cleaned hair. And skip conditioner which weighs down hair, making it harder to stay curly if you can. This will help give your hair a bit more bounce.
2. Use products to your advantage
A texturizer or volumizer will give your hair much-needed body. Then, consider curling with a flat iron (yes, a flat iron here’s how) or 1 1/2-inch curling iron. But if you really want to keep your hair healthy, go light on the heat, warns Dorin. Too much heat styling can do irreversible damage over time. Try wearing soft sponge rollers overnight— the longer, the better. Yes, it screams grandma, but the curlers combined with your body heat will actually help produce longer-lasting curls the next day.
And when you’ve got what you want, finish off your style with a light mist of hairspray. It’ll help “define and maintain curls to keep them really shiny,” says celebrity stylist Jenny Cho.
3. And then don’t touch
It’ll be the death of your curls. Play too much with your hair during styling and you risk flat hair in minutes. And definitely keep your hands off throughout the day.
By the way, your hair’s length also matters. In fact, the shorter, the better—it’s physics. Not that you need to have a bob for perfect waves, but the less weight pulling down on your strands, the easier they will curl and the longer they’ll stay bouncy.”