Getting the most volume when curling short hair
January 20, 2016 11:39 PM   Subscribe

I've got a new undercut 'do and want some tips for volume+curls for my short hair! I've curled my hair lots before - but not this style! Inspiration and more inside!

I've got a cut similar to this - but buzzed on the back too - that I just did myself (turned out awesome!) It's pretty similar to what I had before. I was able to curl my shorter cut into waves with my 1/2" curling iron, but it wasn't long enough for tons of volume like it is now.

So, what strategies do I use to get volume in my curls like she has in this?

I'm going a bit more for curl rather than pompadour like she has, but want similar volume. I know I should blow dry first. My texture is thick and wavy, sometimes fluffy, not too dry. Soft and not damaged/only pigment dyed not lightened.

Do I need to alternate the direction that I curl it on each layer? I have a new 1/2" curling iron that gets much hotter and should be a lot better than my old one. (Any larger and it probably wouldn't be able to grab a lot of hair because I have some layered bits. My hair is probably a bit shorter than hers on top. I'm aware she may be using a larger curling iron but larger curls tend to fall out of my thick hair.)

I know how to curl my hair and pull it away from the face for volume, etc. but I've mostly done it on long hair, or on my short hair where it was wavy. Searches for curling short hair bring up bobs that I wouldn't qualify as "short" and searches for curling pixie cuts don't bring up this fluffy curly texture.

Product: I have pigment dyed hair - that I'll be re-doing tomorrow before I curl - and so nothing too harsh. I have access to hairspray, wax, various pomades/creams, and cornstarch (which seems similar to those lifting powders.) In general I prefer using less product overall so I can preserve the color and wash it less. But I'm going to curl it after I dye it for a photo since I'm doing a two tone color! So a little extra product for a cute photo is fine.
posted by Crystalinne to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried really small rollers or hot sticks? They'd give you a tighter curl than you could achieve with the curling iron, and a ton of volume when you brush it out. Also, you could try blow-drying in a little volume mousse before you curl to give the whole thing a bit more chutzpah.
posted by nerdfish at 12:19 AM on January 21, 2016

I remember some of your previous AskMe hair posts!

For the look you want (the blue picture) it needs to be a LOT longer. And it looks super cute now.

I have crazy thick hair (i.e. lots of hair) but the hairs themselves are super fine, so it doesn't hold curl well and can lay pretty flat. Having dirty hair helps this, and you can "fake" dirty hair with some generic drugstore dry shampoo. However, my all-time favorite product for volume is Bumble and Bumble's DrySpun Finish. As you'll see from that link, it's expensive as shit. However, if you have a Sephora nearby you can find a small travel-sized can in order to give the product a try.
posted by Brittanie at 2:10 AM on January 21, 2016

Re: dry shampoo, most of the loose powder kinds (as opposed to aeresol) are primarily made of cornstarch.
posted by Brittanie at 2:12 AM on January 21, 2016

Sorry if it wasn't clear - that's an old photo of me - just showing what my curled texture sorta looks like. The top is nearly as long as the girl's in the photo now. Maybe an inch or so shorter with some texture - it's hard to tell since hers is up. I just cut it yesterday and haven't taken a decent picture as I still need to dye it. It goes down to the top of my left ear. ETAHere's a not great, no makeup bad lighting photo that I recovered.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:18 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Consider damp hair in Velcro rollers with some kind of styling product ... My long hair gets huge volume with Velcro rollers and curling irons have never come close to what the rollers can do.
You can sit around the house in rollers for a few hours which is always a fun retro housewifey thing for me.
I really like hair wax too but it will probably pull the curl out.
If you regularly want your hair to stand up like that, it will probably stand up better after you style it that way for a week or so, "training" it.
posted by littlewater at 6:08 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

And when I say damp hair - this is just washed not blow dried hair that's has a few minutes to go from dripping wet to damp. Don't blow dry before pulling in rollers. But you can put the dryer on once rollers are in.
posted by littlewater at 6:10 AM on January 21, 2016

If you're using the curling iron, pin the curl to itself afterwards (keeping the coil together like it was on the iron barrel). Let them all cool before taking them out. The curl will hold better.
posted by lizbunny at 6:59 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Okay, your hair is amazing! I love it. The picture you posted looks like curls from hot rollers. I would try small and medium size hot rollers (smaller in the front). Velcro rollers could work too -and they're less damaging - but hot rollers will be faster and in my experience, lend to a longer lasting curl.
posted by areaperson at 8:15 AM on January 21, 2016

Seconding pinning the curls before they cool--my stylist managed to put large curls into my (fine, very-hard-to-curl) hair that held for three days by using a curling iron, then carefully sliding the iron out, re-wrapping the curl around a curler the diameter of the iron while it was still hot, and pinning it down until it was thoroughly cool--he waited at least 10 minutes, and said if my hair was thicker, he'd wait longer to make sure it was 100% cool.
posted by telophase at 8:36 AM on January 21, 2016

I'd try texturizing mousse with damp hair, blow it out upside-down, then curl. There are also great texturizing sprays out there (Oribe makes a good one) that will give you tons of volume.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2016

Alright I hear you all on rollers and they were on my list - but what else can I do with a curling iron today so I can snap a fresh sweet hair pic before I can get my hands on some rollers? I do have mousse though!
posted by Crystalinne at 12:05 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm a hairdresser. I'd love to see your current hair, which seems to be a bit finer in texture than the blue-haired woman's. Her hair seems to be pretty coarse, which lends itself to fullness. But assuming it is a similar length to the hair pictured, I'd style it thus:

1. I'd apply a heat protection product that doesn't have a slippery texture. I like this spray a lot, as it also offers some hold.

2. Controlling the root direction is key to the overall shape and volume of the finished 'do. In your case, I'd use a blow dryer with a comb, and I'd get a lot of tension with that comb. I'd hold the hair straight UP and use a concentrator nozzle to dry in sections: first the root, then the midlength and end of each section. Make sure each area is dry before moving on. The roots need to be completely dry before the ends are done. Keep the comb and dryer moving, however, so you don't burn anything.

3. By this time, the hair should pretty much be standing up on its own. I'd then use a curling iron, wand, or even a flat iron to make some curls. It's important to NOT start wrapping the hair at the ends, but to curl from the root down. This makes for a more even curl and protects the ends, which really only need a few moments of heat-time.

4. For extra curl, I'd use clips like these to pin the curls til they cool. It's important to leave curls alone til they've completely set.

5. Once everything's cool, I'd mist with some kind of flexible-hold spray (like this one) and rake my fingers through those curls.

6. For super duper volume, I'd use HAIR POWDER. There's nothing like it. A little goes a LONG way, and yes, it'll make your hair feel kind of weird and gritty. There are lots of brands, but my favorites are this one (less expensive) and this one (more expensive). Shake a small amount onto your fingertips, rub them together to turn the powder into a weird liquid, and rub it right into the roots. Less is more!
posted by Miss Scarlet with the Candlestick in the Lounge at 2:43 PM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

By the way, the style in the photo can absolutely be achieved with just some product, a blow dryer, and a round brush. It's really hard to do it on yourself, however, which is why I'd recommend an iron.
posted by Miss Scarlet with the Candlestick in the Lounge at 2:46 PM on January 21, 2016

Everyone's the best! Here's the new hair, did something new with some blue roots onto a purplish. Photo 1 - Photo 2 I wasn't able to use all the techniques due to just dying it and the texture it gets right after dying it. But these tips are awesome!
posted by Crystalinne at 11:16 PM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

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