To create the curl, the curling iron uses heat to break the physical side bonds and reshape the wave
pattern as the hair is wrapped around the heated barrel of the curling iron. When the iron is removed and the curl is allowed to cool
completely (an important step) the side bonds reform in the new wave pattern. The curls created this way are reasonably strong,
especially when strong-hold styling products are used in the process.
Curling irons are now available in many barrel sizes and shapes to allow the creation of everything
from pencil-thin curls to large, soft waves and even geometrically-shaped coils. On the downside, adding curl with a curling iron is a
labor-intensive process that requires careful attention as you do it to avoid scorching, singeing or downright burning the hair. The
use of curling irons and flat irons are the most common causes of heat-styling damage to the hair. The use of conditioning agents
designed to protect against this type of damage are always recommended.
As for the longevity of curling-iron curls, they donít tend to hold up as well as roller sets. This
is especially true with longer hair. The curls tend to go flat as the day wears on, and usually need to be redone if you want the style
to continue into the evening after a day at work.
Many women cheered when the first hot rollers were marketed. Finally, there was a tool that allowed
women to use a familiar method of adding curl (rollers) without the time requirements of a traditional wet set. The hot rollers could be
used to add curl where desired, just like a curling iron, but were much less likely to result in burns on the scalp and fingers.
Of course, it did take a few mishaps for some women to get the hang of letting the hot rollers cool
completely before removing them. Because the hot rollers create curl by using heat to break the side bonds, failing to let the rollers
cool completely meant that when the rollers were removed and the curls were still warm the weight of the hair pulled the curls right
out. However, the waiting period for cooling meant that the woman could put the hot rollers in, apply her make-up or continue getting
dressed, and finish styling her hair once she was done and the rollers had cooled completely. It was a convenient and time-saving addition to the styling routine.
On the downside, the curls created with the hot rollers tend to be much softer and much less strong
than the curls created with other methods. There is also the fact that, in general, curls created with hot rollers tend to loosen more
quickly than curling irons, especially in warmer, more humid environments. But for those hairstyles that call for a soft, romantic look,
hot rollers can be ideal. Even if the curls donít survive for evening wear, the ease of use makes restoring the curl a simple matter.
All of the methods above can be made more effective with the use of styling products. Different
products are better suited to various styling methods, and can help to customize the type, strength and longevity of the curl you desire by simply choosing the right product.
Styling gels are thick, usually-greaseless and somewhat-sticky products which are applied to damp
hair before drying the hair, or to help make wrapping hair onto a roller for a wet set easier. In roller sets, styling gel produces very
firm curls which are often hard, and require breaking up before the hair can be brushed. For use with curling irons and hot rollers,
styling gel must be applied to wet hair and dried before the heated tools are used. However, the gel gives the hair more substance and
helps make the curls created more durable and stronger.
Mousses are usually foamy substances that give a softer finish to the curls. It can be used on damp
hair when wrapping a roller set, or applied prior to drying for hair that will be heat styled. It helps to create longer-lasting curls
that are still soft to the touch and easier to style. Itís ideal for those who want a soft-looking style, but wonít hold a curl as long as styling gel.
In a wet set, hairspray is reserved for use after the hair has been dried and cooled on the rollers.
Once the curls are combed out and the hair configured into the desired style, hairspray is applied to hold the finished style and help it
stay in place. However, hairspray becomes a more active part of curl creation when using curling irons and hot rollers. By applying a
light mist of hairspray to the hair prior to wrapping the hair around the curling iron or onto the hot rollers, the hairspray helps to
bond the hairs together and create stronger curl. This adhesion means that the curl from a curling iron will hold together better while
it cools, making the curl firmer and longer-lasting. The spray is then also used to add extra hold to the finished style after curl is added.
Hopefully, this information may help some women make more informed choices about how they curl their
hair. Most of the time the choice of method is dependent on the amount of time available in the daily routine, but once you understand
the pros and cons of each method, as well as what kind of results to expect, you may decide to try a different method. And if youíre not
happy with the results youíre getting with the method you currently use, maybe adding one or more of the styling products listed in the
appropriate manner will give you results you can be happy with.