HAIR | Making waves using a curling wand

Wavy hair with curling wand

I never claim to be a hair expert but lately I feel like I’ve figured out what I like and how to achieve it. I still see the whole hair washing, blow drying, styling process as a real burden but at least now I know my hair might look half decent at the end of it. (Despite the fact I’m technically qualified in hair styling, I’m not a huge fan of it and it’s way harder to do hair on your own head, too.)

I go for the air-dry-then-ponytail situation 29/30 days of the month but for a special occasion (like getting invited to the ballet this week—I went to the dress rehearsal of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet) I’m a big fan of the chill wave. Not the music genre, but a low-key wave in my hair that hopefully doesn’t look too aggressively curled.

My strategy for making waves like this is curling my hair the night before, and then sleeping on it before brushing it out in the morning. It looks cute, and people at work complimented me on my hair, and at least my hair looked nice when I fell down the stairs during the ballet intermission and spilled two glasses of wine all over my expensive twentysevennames dress.

To be fair, I’d already had enough wine by that point, as evidenced by my “wild” tweets (as my mother called them) about the dancers’ dicks and balls under lycra. (You should really be following me on Twitter, if you’re not already.) I had fun, but I can understand why I didn’t win the bottle of wine the RNZB were giving away for best tweets during the night.

Anyway, back to hair. Like I said, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but there are a few things I’ve figured out that help with making waves with a curling wand.

It doesn’t matter what wand you use

I’ve had some cheap curling wands and some less cheap ones and while you can go hunting through reviews for the best curling iron, just get the best that’s in your budget. All it needs to do is a) get hot and b) get evenly hot and c) have a long enough cord that you can hold your arms above your head and not yank the plug out of where it’s plugged in. Some people like irons with clips and some prefer clipless wands—at the moment I have a clipless one but all that means is I’m more likely to burn my fingers.

It does matter the width of the barrel

The smaller the barrel of the curling wand, the tighter your curls (duh) so for a wave, you want to use a wider barrel. I have a NuMe Titan wand* with interchangeable barrels, which looks like a collection of sex toys when it’s dismantled. (I think it’s impossible to isolate any discussion of curling wands from sex toy references unless you’re the most uptight and joyless person in the world. Ruth made an excellent effort in her recent review of a bobbled curling wand, which is also good for waves.)

Making waves using a NuMe curling wand

Take wider sections

Same thing as with the width of the barrel—the wider the section, the looser your curls will be. When I had my hair appointment with Matt on Wednesday he curled the sides of my head in just one section each. I don’t quite have the skills to do this without it looking awful and dropping instantly but I will still take wider sections than if I were trying to get truly curly hair.

Give it some time

My favourite way to get my curls into waves is to curl my hair at night and then sleep on it. If you don’t have the luxury of sleep to crush all your hard work, you can pull on the curled sections as they’re cooling to avoid them forming ringlets. You’ll get cool-girl tousled shape instead… but don’t do it too early or you’ll just end up with straight hair again.

How do you style your hair? Can you be bothered faffing with curling wands?

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  • I have never curled my hair! I considered buying a wand once but I knew I’d never use it. I consider it heaps of effort if I blowdry my hair rather than sleeping on it wet.

    • Not once??? I can’t believe it!

      • Other people have curled it for me, and I’ve made some vague attempts to do ghd curls but just ended up with some weirdly sticking out strands and gave up quickly.

        • Straightener curls are difficult, and they were banned in my class at weltec because we were meant to be learning the proper way to do things, lol.

          • I would love to do some classes not to do it as a job but just to get better at doing stuff for myself.

  • Great tips. I love curling my hair with my flat iron but sadly its not worth all the effort. My hair can’t hold the style longer than a couple of hours. Even with a can of hair spray. Haha! xxx

    • I never could get the hang of curling my hair with a straightener. And my hair usually drops a curl but if I’m after waves, that’s a good thing!

  • Great tips! I have long thick hair and it takes me so long to style it. I usually don’t bother. I like that I can do this the night before and sleep on it.

    • Thanks Jennifer! The most styling my hair ever gets in the morning is going into a ponytail!

  • Sam

    Somehow I’ve lost the ability to curl my hair with a straightener (or maybe mine is just getting too old) but now I exclusively curl my hair with a wand! Unfortunately though, my hair doesn’t last very well throughout the night – I get volume, but the curls aren’t what I hope for them to be D;

    Sam / My Beauty Cloud

    • Do you use a heat styling product? My hair used to drop curls really quickly but after getting a good styling spray it holds a bit better. I’m using a kms one at the moment.

      • Sam

        I just use the Tresemme flexible hold hairspray, but maybe I’ll have to change it up, as I’ve been using that one for years!

        • I find a combination of both a styling product and a finishing product works best – although that makes washing your hair the next day inevitable!

          • Sam

            I’ll have to try that then; thanks for the suggestion!!

  • punkdinosaur

    Have you heard about newfangled cleansing sticks? Apparently they’re some K-Beauty trend that popped up about a year ago. Basically solid sticks that lather up with water. Would love to hear your opinion on them!

    • Hmm I don’t think I have – they sound like a bar of soap?? but in packaging?? haha I’ll have to look them up!

  • Great! I usually just braid my hair into two plaits the night before, semi-tightly and usually in the morning they transform into pretty uniform waves. Add some volume and texturising spray and voila. If you’re in a time crunch, I do four or five small braids and run a straightener over it it takes a few minutes and you get the same result. Thank you for sharing Morgan hope you are having a great week xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

    • That’s a really good idea Kiran! I can’t sleep with my hair in braids because I find it too uncomfortable but straightening them to lock in the shape is smart!