Vertical vs. Horizontal Curls: Learn How to Master the 2 Techniques

Eric Foster

The best part about curling your hair is it's actually pretty hard to mess up (unless you leave your hair on the iron for too long and singe your strands, then we can't really help you there). If it begins to look a little too tight, you can brush out the curls or tug on them to loosen the coil, or if they aren't looking curly enough, you can put them through another pass, wind them around your fingers to shape them, and pin them in place until they cool. Most wands and irons are forgiving enough that doing a quick wrap around the barrel will yield a natural-looking curl without needing to take a crash course in styling.

Take, for example, the Ghd Curve 1" Classic Curling Iron ($199). It's the Rolls-Royce of curling irons with even heat distribution, fast heat-up time, and a user-friendly design to easily create a wide range of looks. Even if your hand-eye coordination isn't top-notch and you can't figure out how to wrap the hair in different directions while looking in the mirror (it's a learned technique), with one flick of the wrist, you can go from a loose wave to a bouncier, carefree curl.

For a Loose Wave:

1. Brush your hair.

In order to get a smooth foundation for your curls, use a paddle brush to remove any knots and tangles.

2. Clip into sections.

To focus on smaller sections at a time, use a sturdy clip like these from HH&LL to separate your hair as you move along. (Breaking your hair up into thirds may be easiest.)

3. Wrap the hair away from your face.

Starting with a one- to two-inch section of hair, open the clamp and twist the hair around the barrel only, placing the hair on top of the barrel first rather than underneath, and wrap it away from your face. (This way, the curls will fan away instead of awkwardly curling inward.) Leave the ends out for an "undone" look.

4. Hold the iron vertically.

With the cord aiming toward the ceiling, hold the iron vertically for a loose, uniform wave. Hold the hair in place for a few seconds, only clamping down gently at the very end before releasing the curl. Repeat throughout the rest of the hair.

5. Finger-comb through.

Use your digits to gently relax the curl pattern and complete the look. Fin!

For a Bouncier Curl:

Follow steps 1 through 3 above, but instead of holding the wand vertically, keep it horizontal as you wrap and leave as-is until you're ready to release the curl. Repeat around the rest of the head.


Instead of finger-combing, scrunch the horizontal curls for volume since they're a bit more unstructured and bouncier than the vertical waves. Then, you're all set!

Credits: DIRECTOR: Clarence Fuller; MODEL: Nidhi Sunil with Industry Model Management; PRODUCER: Adam Hammer; VIDEOGRAPHY: Eric Foster; EDITORS: Clarence Fuller and Kathria Tizon; MAKEUP: Afton Williams; HAIR: Justine Marjan; STYLING: Morgan Bogle; NAILS: Natalie Minerva from Nail Swag.

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