How to curl short hair with straighteners

Updated February 21, 2017

Flat irons, also called hair straighteners, are as versatile as they are easy to use. For short hair that is no longer than 6 inches or shoulder length, flat irons with small plates can be used for both straightening and curling the hair. Instead of purchasing an array of curling irons, you can rely on this one tool to create multiple curly looks.

Wash and condition the hair prior to styling it. You want to rid your strands and scalp of any dirt or product, as this might cause damage under the heat of the straightener.

Make sure the hair is completely dry and use a blow dryer if necessary. The heat from the flat iron will smooth out hair strands, but if the hair is damp, it will quickly revert back to its natural state.

Separate a 1-inch section of hair from the rest of your hair using plastic hair clamps. Apply to this section a dime-sized amount of heat-protecting serum or spray. The silicones in these products coat the hair and protect it from heat damage due to the high temperature of the flat iron.

Hold the section of hair that you've separated between your fingers. Then place it between the plates of the flat iron, which you should hold in the other hand. Clamp the hair and glide the iron slowly in a downward direction. Once you are three quarters of the way down the length of the hair, turn your wrist upward so that the flat iron curls the hair upward. This will create a "flipped" look.

Try a spiralled look by clamping the plates of the flat iron around a 1-inch section of hair. Start at the root and then twirl the iron while you pull it gently along the length of the hair. Remember to apply heat protectant to each hair section before you use the straightener.

Use the spiral technique on larger sections of hair to achieve looser curls or waves in short hair. Working with larger sections of hair will also require less styling time.

Things You'll Need

  • Blow dryer
  • Small plastic hair clamps
  • Heat protectant spray or serum
  • 1/2-inch ceramic flat iron
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About the Author

Since 2006, Pilar Ethridge has had the pleasure of honing her writing skills as the assistant editor of the newsletter from a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization. Her interests include children's media, film, American pop culture, crafts, and performing arts in general. Based in Southern California, Ethridge received a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies from the University of California.