Skip to Content

How to Curl Short Hair Step-by-Step With a Flat Iron or Curling Wand for 2024

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

how to curl short hair with flat ironCut your locks short but want to add va-va-voom? You can curl short hair with flat iron by:

  • Choosing the right tool
  • Preparing your strands properly with heat protectant
  • Sectioning hair
  • Clamping hair in the iron and flipping it as you slide to the ends.

Follow the simple step-by-step and unlock a world of sassy, flirty curls – no curling iron required.

Key Takeaways

  • Apply heat protectant and volumizing texture spray before curling.
  • Select the right flat iron size and temperature for your hair.
  • Use proper sectioning techniques for better control and uniform curls.
  • Experiment with different curling techniques like clamp and flip or wand curls.

Prep Your Hair

Prep Your Hair
Before curling, prep your hair properly to enable smooth, damage-free styling.

  • Apply a heat protectant like Tresemme’s Thermal Creations or Kenra’s Hot Spray to shield strands.
  • Spritz in a volumizing texture spray such as Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe spray for grip and bounce.

Distribute both products evenly from roots to ends, then brush hair thoroughly so it’s smooth, detangled and ready for curling.

Heat Protectants

Before you curl, apply a heat protectant spray so your hair stays smooth and shiny while safeguarding it from thermal damage.

  • Shields hair from heat up to 450°F
  • Creates a protective barrier
  • Seals in moisture
  • Prevents breakage


  • Tresemme
  • Kenra
  • Chi

Texture Sprays

Another key product to use when prepping your hair is texture spray, which adds grit and volume that aids curl formation.

Mist strands with a light hold formula before heat styling creates a textured base so curls grabbed onto something, resulting in better bounce and longevity.

Apply it sparingly and brush through for even distribution without making hair crunchy or sticky.

Choose the Right Flat Iron

Choose the Right Flat Iron
When curling short hair with a flat iron, selecting the proper tool is key.

  • Opt for a 1/2-inch or 1-inch iron to achieve messy, touchable curls on cropped cuts; adjust plate size up or down to suit your hair’s thickness.
  • Setting the correct temperature for your hair texture prevents damage while still allowing you to create soft waves or defined spirals.

Proper Flat Iron Size

When curling short hair, pick out a half or one-inch flat iron to create defined, messy curls you’re aiming for.

Opt for smaller plates better suited for shorter locks, allowing you to wrap hair evenly around the barrel and achieve the face-framing, undone texture your desired style demands.

Adjust heat based on thickness – lower for fine or damaged strands, higher for coarse or thick. This gives you control over tightness while protecting integrity as you flip, clamp, and wrap hair around the iron’s petite frame.

Adjusting Heat Settings

Tailor the flat iron’s heat level to your hair type for optimal results without damage.

Fine or damaged hair requires lower temperatures from 300-350°F.

For medium or wavy hair, 370-400°F works well.

Thick, coarse hair can handle 410-450°F.

Using lower heat protects hair health while still allowing proper curl formation.

An adjustable flat iron enables precision styling control.

Hair Thickness Considerations

Consider the thickness of your hair when selecting the right flat iron for curling short hair.

Those with fine hair should choose smaller irons around 1/2-inch to better wrap hair; larger irons may be too wide to curl shorter pieces.

For thick or coarse hair, opt for a 1-inch or larger iron to fully saturate strands with heat needed to set curls.

Adjust heat based on your hair’s health and texture as well – use lower settings for fine or damaged hair.

Applying a heat protectant beforehand is crucial for all hair types to shield from excessive heat exposure while curling.

Section Your Hair

Section Your Hair
To achieve the best results when curling short hair, start by sectioning your hair into manageable portions.

Using the tip of a tail comb, create a clean side part from ear to ear then divide hair horizontally from front to nape.

For extra lift, backcomb hair lightly before dividing into vertical partings about 1-2 inches wide.

Smaller sections allow better control while curling.

When using a curling iron, work with narrow subsections around 1 inch wide.

With a flat iron, slightly larger portions 2 inches wide suffice since you clamp hair between plates.

Whether using hot tools designed for curls or improvising with straightening irons, properly sectioning hair first enables working through styling methodically for uniform, polished results every time.

Curl Your Hair

Curl Your Hair
Now it’s time to curl your short hair using a flat iron or curling wand.

Two popular techniques for achieving different types of curls are the clamp and flip method and using a wand.

With the clamp and flip technique, you’ll simply clamp sections of hair with the flat iron, then quickly flip it backward or under depending on your desired style.

If you prefer wand curls, wrap small sections of hair around the barrel without clamping down.

Both methods offer versatility in creating various looks that suit any occasion or setting

Clamp and Flip

After sectioning your hair, clamp the flat iron near the roots and flip your hair backwards to start forming curls.

  1. Grasp sections by the roots for precision styling and controlled flips.
  2. Fluidly move the iron in a backwards painting motion.
  3. Vary speed and angles artistically per section.
  4. Watch hair movement to gauge optimal heat.

Wand Curls

Wrap sections of your hair around a curling wand to create polished, bouncy ringlets.

Hold the wand vertically and wrap hair around the barrel away from your face for uniform coils.

Vary the wand’s angle to produce looser waves or alternate curl directions.

Use lower heat settings and limit time wrapped to prevent damage.

Experiment with spiral curls, tousled waves, or glamorous Botticelli tendrils.

Match wand size and technique to your hair texture and desired definition.

Finish the Look

Finish the Look
With your curls set, it’s time to lock them in place.

Lightly spray your hair with a flexible hold hair spray, covering all sides.

Then gently break apart any tight uniform curls with your fingers for a relaxed, touchable finish.

Hair Spray

Spritz your short curls with a flexible hold hairspray to lock in the style without stiffness.

Opt for formulas that provide touchable yet long-lasting hold like Kenra’s Strong Hold or Oribe’s Superfine to maintain curls.

Apply evenly 8-10 inches from hair, spraying roots to ends.

Let set 1 minute before gently breaking any stiff sections.

Getting professional hairsprays helps short styles keep their bounce without crunchy texture.

Gently Break Up Curls

Although you may want perfectly defined curls, gently breaking them up with your fingers will give you a more natural, touchable look that works beautifully for short hair.

Run fingers through curls once cool, disturbing uniformity for variation.

Twist ends, gently pull curls for dimension.

Balance with tousling for texture without excess frizz.

Finger-style as needed, breaking casts and reviving form between washes for laidback yet polished finish.

Maintain Your Curls

Maintain Your Curls
You’ll want to gently run your fingers through the curls and break them up once your hair has cooled completely to avoid frizz and keep your curls bouncy.

Maintaining your curls requires consistency with a few key steps:

  1. Daily Routine
    • Apply a curl cream or mousse
    • Use silk pillowcases at night
  • Night Care
    • Pineapple your curls on top of your head
    • Wrap hair in a silk scarf or bonnet
  • Humidity Control
    • Carry a travel-size hair spray
    • Use lightweight gels or creams
  • Scalp Health
  • Refresh day-old curls with a spray bottle, reconcentrate product, or finger coil pieces as needed.

    Troubleshooting Tips

    Troubleshooting Tips
    If your curls fall flat, experiment with smaller sections and hold the iron in place longer before releasing.

    Troubleshoot common curling challenges with these tips:

    1. Use a heat protectant like Tresemme Thermal Creations to guard hair. Adjust to lower heat settings if hair seems damaged.
    2. For stubborn straight pieces, go over them with the curling wand again, clamping hair tightly before curling.
    3. Very short hair may require a 3/4-inch iron for enough tension. Try a curling wand if struggling with a flat iron.
    4. Remix your part or curl direction for added volume. Texture sprays like IGK Beach Club lend grit and help curls last.

    Inspiration for Short Hair Curls

    Inspiration for Short Hair Curls
    When looking for inspiration for curling short hair, browse social media and hairstyle blogs to find photos and videos showcasing the latest trends and techniques.

    Instagram is a great source to discover styling accessories like hair clamps and coils that add fun details to curls.

    YouTube has tutorials demonstrating volume techniques like teasing and backcombing to pump up short locks before curling.

    Follow celebrity stylists to view innovations like three-strand braids leading into iron waves or fishtail pins perfect for separating curls.

    Analyze hair textures and dimensions similar to yours when selecting products and tools for recreating a look. For example, those with very short hair may prefer a triple barrel waver while lob styles work well with a rotating curling iron.

    Saving photos of styles you love provides inspiration when tackling your own short hair care and curling journey.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What’s the best flat iron for short fine hair?

    For fine, short hair, look for a one-inch iron.

    You’ll want tourmaline-ceramic plates that gently straighten without damage.

    Adjustable temperature gives you control over styling, while negative ions and infrared heat add shine and seal the cuticle.

    The key is evenly distributing heat to avoid sizzle.

    Stay under 400°F, section hair properly and be patient for sleek, smooth results.

    How do I add volume to my short curled hair?

    Start applying a volumizing mousse from roots to ends, then diffuse upside down.

    Next, lightly backcomb the crown and pin up while curling underneath sections.

    Finally, gently tousle curls, allowing them to cool completely before releasing for maximum lift.

    Touch up wispy pieces individually.

    Can I use a flat iron to curl very short pixie cuts?

    Yes, you can easily curl pixie cuts with a flat iron.

    Section damp hair first.

    Then, clamp hair near the roots, twist the iron 180 degrees, and slide down to the ends.

    Vary directions for texture.

    Use a heat protectant and finish with holding spray.

    Experiment with techniques to find what suits your cut best.

    What temperature should I use to curl short hair with a flat iron?

    When curling short hair with a flat iron, set the temperature to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This allows just enough heat to create curls without damaging delicate strands.

    Remember to use a heat protectant and work in small sections for best results!

    How long do curls last when using a flat iron on short hair?

    The curls should last around 2-3 days when curling short hair with a flat iron if you use a good holding hairspray.

    Sleep with the curls pinned up to help preserve the style.

    Touch up pieces in the morning as needed with the iron to refresh them.


    With some prep and the right tools, you can unlock a world of bouncy, bombshell curls—no matter your strands’ length.

    Section wisely, clamp confidently, and flip with flair to curl short hair of all textures beautifully.

    Finish the va-va-voom look by gently breaking up clumps.

    Then simply spray, style and go forth to turn heads with your salon-worthy curls created how to curl short hair with a flat iron right at home.

    Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

    Mutasim Sweileh

    Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.