It's time to come clean: Despite being a beauty editor, I am totally useless at doing my own hair. My natural texture is a cacophonous mix of waves, loose curls, and even some totally straight strands—I've lost count of the number of hairdressers who have commented on it in bemused fashion—and coaxing it into any kind of recognisable style is basically impossible. So generally, I stick with what I know: a quick blast with the hairdryer before leaving the rest to air-dry and a couple of minutes going over any particularly wayward strands with a curling tong or straightening iron, depending on whether I want more or less texture that day.
However, there's one thing that I've always wanted to know, and that's how to do a decent job of curling my hair at home. Yes, it's not just straight-haired girls who want to tease their strands into beachy waves and laid-back coils. I want to embrace curly styles, too. Whenever I attempt to curl my entire head of hair, though, I always end up looking like I'm about to enter a pageant—I'm talking full-on ringlet territory. I honestly have no clue how to create the kind of bouncy, effortless-looking curls that celebs and cool girls always step out in.
Basically, I need professional help, and luckily, David Lopez, celebrity stylist and T3 ambassador, was more than happy to oblige. With a regular client list including the likes of Hailey Bieber, Ashley Graham and Chrissy Teigen, Lopez knows a thing or two about creating beautiful hairstyles, and one quick peek at his Instagram page proves that he's a total whizz with a curling iron.
Ahead, he shares all of his expert tips on how to curl your hair and actually make it look good. Plus, he lets me in on the number one mistake that we should all avoid when styling our hair at home.
Can you talk me through how to curl your hair at home?
To avoid your curls looking too "done," I definitely recommend practicing a different technique with your [curling] iron. I call it the "twist-out" technique. Essentially, what you do is pull your hair into the curling iron as normal, clamp it shut, then gently unwind it, sliding the iron through the bottom of your hair to smooth the ends.
Alternatively, sometimes what I will do is actually turn down the heat… if you want it to be a little bit looser. You’ll notice that it’s not going to create quite as much of a ringlet as at your normal [temperature] setting.
Something else I like to do—for people who can’t quite get the hang of the twist-out technique—is once you’ve curled your hair, take a paddle brush and a hairdryer and, just through the ends, gently blow-dry to relax the curls. You keep all that body at the crown and mid-lengths, and you gently release the curl at the ends. It’s something you can do really quickly, even if you are really good at curling your hair with high speed and high heat, to prevent the curl from looking like a ringlet.
Do you have any tips to help curls to last all day?
Always remember that your hair is like a fabric—the more you stretch it out, the limper it is going to be, the less elasticity it is going to have, and the harder time it’s going to have holding a shape. Whatever you’re doing from wet to dry, try not to stretch [the hair]. Try not to brush it while you’re drying it, as you’re stretching out the fabric of your hair and locking in that stretched-out shape. I always recommend roughly drying your hair on a normal heat and lower speed using your hands until it's completely dry. You can smooth out with a paddle brush if you need to, then you can go ahead and curl.
I also love to use mousse in hair—anything that is going to give hold, grip, and style memory. Just brush it through, then roughly dry it into your hair. I also love using heat protectants, which come out like a hairspray and are applied to dry hair. They have polymers in them that help lock in that shape even more.
What is the number one mistake that people make when curling their hair at home?
The number one mistake people make is turning up the temperature way too high. If it had 1000 degrees on there, they’d put it to 1000 degrees! What we’ve learnt is that you don’t need that excessive amount of heat on your hair to make your curls last, so dialling into the right temperature for you is going to be the key to ensure that your style lasts and lasts.
The Heat ID technology in the T3 Curl ID (£189) solves the question of what temperature you should be using your iron at. As opposed to dialling into one temperature or thinking that you have to whack it up all the way to 100, you have nine heat settings that you could possibly get prescribed. Once you input your texture and whether your hair is colour treated and chemically treated, it gives you a heat ID that is personalised to your hair type for the most optimal results and longer-lasting styles.
You have so many celebrity clients—what's the most common thing that they ask for in a hairstyle?
It’s two things. One, they want it to look effortless, even when it’s very done. Two, they want it to last beyond the time that I see them. What often happens is called a "do and go." I'll do their hair, and then, I won’t see them again. They’ll get in the car and be straight on the red carpet. When I curl Hailey Bieber, Chrissy Tiegen, or Ashley Graham’s hair and I’m not going to see them for the rest of the event, I need to make sure that by the time they’ve got to where they’re going that nothing has fallen.
We're all spending so much time at home these days. What are your quick hair hacks for making your hair look good before a video call?
Utilise whatever natural texture you have, and only focus on the areas that you can see on your Zoom call! I would say to focus on the hairline and curl the front. Then, you can take one-inch squares along your parting and just curl them away from the face. Give yourself a little more purposeful texture along the crown area, and that’s all you need to do.
Finally, what do your celebrity clients think of the new T3 Curl ID curling iron?
On my clients, it’s been really good to be able to tell them that I’ve dialled in to their specific hair type to give them heat personalised to their hair. This is perfect for working with celebrities, as they love anything that is personalised for them!
Someone like Ashley Graham, she’s a busy mum and a working model, so when I do her hair, she’ll keep her waves for a couple of days to get the most out of it. [With this curling iron] the waves stay. Trust me—I’ve tried it!
It’s been nice to be able to create many different types of styles. I love a relaxed wave, but you can do a really beautiful full-body wave, and you can fake a bouncy blowout with it. There are so many different ways you can use a clip iron… It has the power of versatility.
Keep scrolling to shop the products you need to curl your hair, including Lopez's favourites:
The first "smart curling iron," this new launch from T3 is Lopez's pick for creating the best curls at home. It personalises the heat setting to your specific hair type and condition for shiny, smooth curls that last all day.
Choose a curling tong with a clamp—or a "clip iron" as Lopez calls it—if you're curling your hair at home. It makes it so much easier.
Lopez uses this to brush through curls to prevent them from looking too polished and perfect.
This brush cushions your scalp and protects your hair from damage while you use it.
Blow-dry your hair on low heat using your hands to encourage natural texture and help your curls last all day.
Specially designed for drying natural curls, this new hairdryer from Babyliss is engineered to hydrate hair and define natural texture using Advanced Plasma
Forget what you think you know about hair mousse. This one is lightweight, moisturising, and undetectable once applied, but it leaves curls looking bouncy and defined.
This product is specifically designed for finer hair types who want the texture and hold that mousse provides but with none of the unwanted weight.
Lopez recommends using a heat-protection spray on dry hair before you start curling, like this one from Ouai. It contains advanced memory polymer technology to lock your curls in place for longer.
Not only does this spray protect hair from temperatures up to 230°C, but it also leaves hair looking super shiny.