Get beach waves or bouncy curls using just a straightener as a tool.

A curling iron seems like the obvious tool for creating voluminous curls at home. But, according to pro stylists, a straightener can deliver curls that are just as bouncy or beachy. All you’ve got to do is nail the technique.

Follow our five-step guide below, on how to curl your hair with a straightener or flat iron, including top tips from expert stylists. Once you’ve locked down the tricks, you won’t look back. And for extra guidance, watch our video tutorial below.

How to curl your hair with straighteners in 5 steps

1. Choose the right straightener for your hair type and length

2. Prep hair with a heat protectant, then brush through and section

3. Feed one to two inch wide sections of hair through your straightener, twisting them away from the face and sliding down

4. Apply hairspray

5. Clip your curls

Step 1: Choose your tool

With so many options to choose from, how can you know which straightener is right for you? What should you look for? These are the features to consider:

• Variable temperature settings are especially handy for protecting the health of your hair

• Cordless options are great for travelling

• Ceramic plates ensure even heat distribution. Titanium plates heat up faster – a good choice if you’re short on time

• Plate size – the wider the plate, the looser the curl

If you have short or fine hair or a fringe, try a straightener with narrow plates – they’ll provide that extra dose of precision you’re looking for – whereas if you have long or thick hair, wider plates are great for waves and speed.

For all hair types 

Dyson Corrale Cord-Free Straightener

• Manganese copper alloy plates

• Cord-free

• Heat-resistant travel pouch

• Three heat settings

For a straightener that offers impressive tech, look no further than a Dyson. Engineered to stay perfectly balanced in your hand for maximum control, the medium-sized plates work great for creating a wide range of curls, especially fuller-looking curls and waves.

For speed

BaByliss Straight and Curl Brilliance Rose Gold Straightener

• Titanium ceramic plates 

• Five temperature settings 

• Heat protection wrap

If you’re partial to rose gold, this straightener is a stunner. But it has bags of substance as well as style. We love how quickly it heats up and how its longer plates help speed up the styling time.

For travel

Revamp Progloss Liberate Cordless Ceramic Compact Straightener

• Ceramic and ionic floating plates

• Cord-free

• Three temperature settings

• Heat-resistant pouch

If you’re always on the go and want to take it with you, a compact and cordless straightener is a must. The Liberate’s ceramic plates are infused with keratin, argan oil and coconut oil to help make hair gloriously glossy and for more defined curls.

For waves

Cloud Nine The Wide Iron

• For thick and long hair

• Ceramic plates

• Wide plates

• Variable temperature control

Love tousled waves? Create the type of texture that looks like you’ve stepped off a beach with this wide-plated straightener. Plus, its mineral-infused ceramic plates help to keep snags to a minimum.

Step 2: Prep the hair

“Prep hair with a heat protectant spray before you start styling,” suggests Syd Hayes, hair stylist and ambassador for BaByliss.

Domenico Casella, senior stylist at Neville Hair & Beauty, recommends using a texturising product, too. “A texturising spray will boost body, add volume and encourage the curls to hold.”

Next, brush your hair, working from the ends up, to detangle without causing breakage.

Try: Bed Head by TIGI Some Like It Hot Heat Protection Spray

• Size: 100ml

• Protects hair up to 230°C

Not only can this protective spray help shield hair from heat styling, it also works to repel humidity, for softer-feeling and smoother-looking locks.

Try: Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat

• Size: 250ml

• Cruelty-free

This pre-styling oil is a must for anyone with dry to very dry hair. Not only does it offer heat protection, it also gently detangles and dials down frizz.

Try: VO5 Heat Protect Serum

• Size: 50ml

• Frizz-free

This protective serum adds shine and lustre to locks as well as heat protection and definition. A hard-working multitasker well worth having on your radar.

Try: Mark Hill Style Addict Styling Heat Protection Spray

• Size: 300ml

• Protects hair up to 240°C

That crunch you sometimes feel in your hair after applying heat protection spray? With Mark Hill, it’s non-existent. Plus, its heat-activated hold will stop your curls from dropping, too.

Step 3: Feed a one-inch strand into your straightener

Domenico says that to help make curling hair easier, especially if you have thick hair: “It’s a good idea to section the hair first.” Then, take a one-inch width of hair and start the curl wherever you fancy.

“Clamp hair with the straightener and twist the iron backwards, away from the face, before sliding it down in one fluid motion,” he adds. “Twirl the curl with your fingers, before going on to the next section.”

For a beachy, undone look, alternate the direction you curl the hair and leave the ends straight.

If you want to get creative, experiment with the size of the section of hair that you feed through your straightener. Start with a width of one to two inches, then feed through smaller or larger sections, depending on the size of the curl you’d like to achieve.

Step 4: Apply hairspray

Before fixing with spray, let the curls cool down first. “Apply a generous misting of hairspray all over to fix the curls in place,” says Domenico. For a glam Hollywood look, he suggests using a hairbrush or wide tooth comb to brush through and loosen the curls.

Try: Schwarzkopf Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray

• Size: 300ml

• Strong hold

If you want your curls to hold fast, you should freeze them. Not literally, of course! But with this amazing hairspray your hair will stay curly until you choose to shampoo it out.

Try: L’Oréal Elnett Hairspray for Normal Hold

• Size: 200ml

• Normal hold

This cult classic hairspray is a salon favourite for a reason. Providing a normal level of hold, it’s also great for protecting hair against the effects of humidity without unwanted stiffness or stickiness.

Try: Philip Kingsley Finishing Touch Flexible Hold Mist

• Size: 100ml

• Flexible hold

If you want to set your curls while still allowing for natural movement, this is perfect. While it resists humidity well, it’s also super easy to brush out.

Step 5: Clip your curls

If you don’t want your curls to drop, hair styling clips can help keep their shape. Simply slide them into the bends of the hair and leave for five minutes (or until you’re ready to go out) before removing.

The results? Defined curls or waves that will last well into the day or night.

Try: Boots Non-slip Sectioning Clips in Black

• 4-pack

• Non-slip

Use these handy non-slip sectioning clips to clip your waves and help your new-found curls retain their shape. They’re super soft for snag-free styling and won’t break the bank either.