How I Learned to Curl My Hair Like a Celebrity Hairstylist


My road to cohesive curls did not come easily, nor quick.

In college, I would start from the very, very top of my scalp and twirl each lock in the exact same direction. When I moved to L.A., I went through a fun phase of letting my extremely wavy hair air-dry and proceeding to curl it from there (with a tiny-barreled curling iron, no less), making it immensely more chaotic (I marvel at how far I’ve come when I look at the pic of me below from NYE 2010).

I don’t recall the defining moment that I mastered the fresh-from-salon barrel curl (not to be confused with a full-on blowout, which I wouldn’t be able to even attempt if my life depended on it)—I just know it happened after much trial and error, and since then, I’ve felt pretty confident with my curling iron skills.

Keep reading for my easy guide to curling my hair like a celebrity hairstylist.

Step 1: Start with straight hair

Results are best if you start off with straightened (and even slightly greasy) hair. The straightened hair keeps the curls more organized, while the grease helps the hold.

curling iron tools styling tools beachwaver pro 1.25" sarah potempa curler waves

(via Beachwaver)

Step 2: Divide into sections

Part your hair down the middle and then start with one of the sides. Once you pick a side, divide that side into upper layer and lower layer.

Step 3: Curl in over under pattern

Starting with the upper layer first, take one medium-thick lock of hair and wrap it over the barrel of a regular-sized curling iron. Then take another and wrap it under the barrel. Keep going until you’ve done this over-under pattern approximately four times. Then take the curled hair and clip it to the top of your head.

Step 4: Repeat on lower half

Repeat the same pattern approximately six times for the lower layer. Once done, unclip the the top layer and let all of the hair fall together.

Step 5: Repeat on other side

Do all of the above to the other side of your hair. When you’re finished, your locks should look something like photo of me below (on the right).

Want your hair done from an actual celebrity hairstylist? Click HERE for a definitive guide to L.A.’s five most frequented celeb salons!