No Clamp Curling Iron Technique

Who’s ready to witness a chick in her robe sans makeup dealing with hair appliances in her bathroom at 7 a.m.? Let’s get going!

The cast of characters: A Mason Pearson brush and a good ceramic curling iron. Ladies (and gents?), there is nothing more important than a good brush. I just recently bought a new one, but the previous Mason Pearson I owned (and STILL used) was given to me when I was 8 years old. Forgive my math, but I do believe it lasted 24 years. They are worth the cashola, is all I’m sayin’. As for the curling iron, I have a Hot Tools Tourmaline Ceramic 1-inch iron. Ceramic is super important for the shine and who the hell knows what the use of tourmaline is supposed to accomplish. (Un)Fortunately, I mentally wandered off to my happy place (the one where you float on chile con queso clouds) while the ULTA sales associate was explaining it to me.

Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream and Sheer Shine Mist. I love these products, and they last forever. In fact, I just buy the travel sizes. I don’t think I could ever get through the regular ones. Plus, you can pack them in your carry-on. Am I always thinking or WHAT?

Now, stop right there. Any person who, up to this point, has been thinking, “Gee, that Whoorl is quite the narcissist”, needs to take a gander at this mug shot. Will you take a look at this sorry soul? This is the face of someone who has already showered at 6:30am because their toddler decided to wake up at 5:15am READY! FOR! THE! DAY! But look at me, diggin’ in and doing it for the team. Holla!

Oh yeah, so step one. Take a shower. Towel-dry hair.

Put a pea-sized drop of the glossing cream in the palm of your hand. Yes, that’s right- I don’t have man hands. The size of a pea, not a dime, a nickel or a quarter. That cream can get a leeettle on the greasy side. Rub it your palms until it warms and then work it through from the middle to the ends. While working it, look in the mirror, purr and say, “I’m worth it.”

Now, here’s a little fork in the road for everyone. I don’t blow-dry my hair unless forced. However, I know lots of you actually have to BE somewhere looking all hot and sassy in a certain amount of time. So, by all means, please blow-dry your hair at this point. You don’t need to dry it stick straight- just blow-dry while brushing to close the cuticle. (That’s right, I just sassooned you with a little hair terminology). After drying, don’t worry if your hair looks frizzy/lame/heinous/stringy. The curling iron will take care of you.

Here I am about an hour later, after I completed my morning routine of:

1. Feeding toddler.
2. Cleaning up after toddler.
3. Dressing toddler.
4. Wiping toddler’s bum.
5. Contacting local black market for baby-selling opportunities.
6. Unloading dishwasher.
7. Belittling my husband.
8. Husband belittling me.
9. Drinking 1/2 cup of coffee. (With REAL caffeine! I’m crazy!)
10. Checking Google Reader, Twitter, Flickr and email.
11. Applying a little undereye concealer, mascara and blush.
12. Looking at wavy hair in mirror.

And there you go! Thanks for visiting the Whoorl Hair Photo Essay! See you next time!

Okay, so we’re not done for the purposes of this post, but 85% of the time, this is the end of the road for me. I’m a wash-n-wear kind of gal. Not today, however. Today I’ll be the Super Me. I know what you’re thinking, “What if the super you meets the super her and the super her rejects the super you?” Well, then it’s no problem because it was never you, it was just an act. I live my life like a French movie.

Bring on the tools!

Get your sexy brush and work it. Brush with many strokes (so if you have hair like mine, you get the waves to relax a little). Then pin about half of your hair up in a clippy thing.

At this point, I realize taking photos and using a curling iron at the same time presents a challenge. Enter husband.

“Honey? I know you’re in the middle of drafting, but could I borrow you for a second?”
“I need you to take pictures of me curling my hair.”
“Because I’m doing this photo essay for Whoorl about my hair…you know, how I do it.”
“Because people are always asking about my hair, honey. I thought it would be funny…you know quirky kind of funny…not FUNNY, funny…I don’t think I’m some sort of comedien…comedienne? Comedienne, comedienne…wow, that word sounds kind of funny when you say it repeatedly…comedienne, cah-MEEEE-dienne, cah-meeeee-dieNNE. Heh.”

*silent, judgemental staring*

Here’s the important part. Up until recently, I wasn’t very familiar with curling irons. I presumed you were supposed to clamp your hair down and then roll upwards like in high school. Stupid, stupid me. Apparently, you don’t use the clampy part at all. (Are you all shaking you heads right now? Like C’MON, everybody knows THAT!)

Basically, hold the iron parallel to your head, and starting a couple of inches from your scalp, wrap a 1-1/2 inch section of hair around the barrel (in the away-from-your-face direction). Continue wrapping up the barrel until you are holding the ends up against the iron and simultaneously trying to keep your fingers from blistering due to the 300 degree heat.

In the above photo, my perfectionist husband is taking his sweet-ass time lining up the shot to his liking, while my defenseless hair cauterizes and falls off.


*hair breathes a sigh of relief, trembling*

Repeat. This process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Consider starting a rooster-hair trend. When curling the top layer, use much larger sections of hair to keep from looking too curling-ironish.

Here I am half-way through, thinking the bathroom light makes my skin look peachy-pretty.

ACK! Natural light! Close the window shade already!

See how curling larger sections on top gives it a less perfectionist look? Because, you know, that’s me, Miss Carefree.

Spray one spritz of the mist on each side of hair. Let it cool completely.

Look at clock and realize you have 20 minutes until your appointment with you-know-who. Freak out because you’re not dressed and your child is sitting in the living room naked, feasting on an electrical cord.

Yell, “SHIT!” (Just to watch your husband shudder. He does it every single time.)

Dress yourself, dress your baby, shake your head and put on your new sexpot lip gloss. Take picture of final result. Preview photo, see nothing but blurry. Yell, “SHIT!” again. Take another photo.

Look at photo. OCD kicks in. Hair is not looking optimal. No time to worry about it. Rush out the door and into the crazy world, spreading the hair joy. Much like a prophet.

  • My Top Tools Right Now : Hair Thursday

    May 21, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    […] 1. Hot Tools Ceramic Curling Iron – I have the 1-inch model and it works perfectly on my long hair. The size of the ringlets look like this. […]

  • Samantha

    June 20, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you SO much for this tutorial – it’s delightful, informative, funny and helpful! My natural curls typically end up in a casual beachy undone look, and I’ve been despairing of being able to do anything but divacurl ringlets – servicable but not wowsa.

    I tried your technique for the first time the other day and heard later that I looked stunning, so count me among those who are grateful you agreed to enlighten the masses.

    The clamp on my Revlon curling iron looks like it might be detachable, once I can find a Philips head screwdriver, so I will really be able to get the no-clamp mojo going next time. Cheers!

  • […] Rocked the Whoorl no clamp curling iron style to many compliments. I highly suggest you all check it out. It may change your life. My hair looked […]

  • Trigger

    July 1, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    But…what color Nars gloss is your sexpot lip gloss???

  • Laurie | Your lll-fitting Overcoat

    July 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    You just changed my life. Ok… that’s kind of sad. You just changed my hair-related life. Although my hair is super short, so I’m not sure if this will work as effectively on me. But dang, miss, you are gorgeous!

  • Jamie

    July 2, 2008 at 6:57 am

    That was the most thorough, informative and entertaining hair tutorial I’ve ever read! I am always left with questions after reading articles in magazines about curling hair, but I’m left with none! I’m actually left with the anticipation of giving this look a try! Thank you!

  • Kiley

    July 2, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    love it!
    I actually did NOT know this technique. I feel so out of the loop…

    I can’t wait for my hair to grow out some more so I can try this!

    and LOVE your blog!

  • […] Also, I’m glad everyone loved the Whoorl curling hair technique. Isn’t that genius? It was asked, so I will answer- I use the same glossing cream (and even […]

  • Need New Flat Iron STAT : Hair Thursday

    July 8, 2008 at 8:11 am

    […] in a new photo tutorial. I’m very curious to see if it really can create waves like the no-clamp curling technique. […]

  • Judith Tiedemann

    July 10, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    If I may make a suggestion. Actually two suggestions. Try this method holding the curling iron with the handle up, so that when you are winding the hair around the iron, it will naturally fall off the bottom of the iron at the end of the strand.
    Also, you can use the clamp if you wish. (I use a Marcel style iron, but the clamp is pretty much the same)
    Holding the iron with the handle up, open the clamp, and when you get to the end of the strand, after you have thoroughly burned yourself, close the clamp around the end of the hair so you don’t get a straight end, or a fish hook. The clamp will hold the end instead of your poor, now finger print-less fingers.

  • […] I like the length and shape of the cut and think it would look nice dried naturally. (Although, a whoorl curl would look mighty nice once in […]

  • Katie

    August 4, 2008 at 6:51 am

    THANK YOU! I can’t wait to go home and try it…

  • […] Hot Tools 1-inch Ceramic Curling Iron (Also seen here.) […]

  • Laura

    August 14, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I think your awesome. and your hair curling tips are right on..i have the same type of hair and i couldnt live without my ceramic tools!!

  • Pu Niao

    August 15, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Wow! Thank you for this technique post. I figured out I was curling my hair the wrong way and seems like I’m right about that one. Thank you once again for sharing this technique, I’ll remember it and bookmark it too.

  • A.

    October 27, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    lol, you’re hilarious. I’m like you and have naturally wavy / curly hair that is so well behaved it needs nothing other than serum and looks flawless (which my friends hate me for), so now I can forward them this post! ;) Thanks for the great tutorial and humor along the way. ;)

  • Amy

    December 10, 2008 at 5:15 am

    After studying this tutorial about eleventy billion times, I finally figured it out and am now sassy as can be. I actually had better luck using Judith’s suggestion of holding the iron with the handle up (didn’t use the clamp, though). I’m hair-challenged, so it took me awhile to figure it out. But I love it, so thanks for posting! Look forward to more hair fun.

  • […] man, where would I be without this clampless curling iron technique? I love it more than just about anything, as it is simple and a bit lazy and creates beautiful, […]

  • laser

    February 15, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    wow nice hair thanks for this tutorial.cant wait to try this later..

  • sydney

    February 22, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    nice tips..quick and easy..thanks for this..

  • Kimbre

    June 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Omg, I love your hair. Mine’s all dried out from hair dye but this really helped alot and was hilarious.

  • Holly

    July 19, 2009 at 5:45 am

    This helped me a lot.
    I was using the curling iron with the clip thing aha.
    Im’a try it this way :D

  • […] of the most popular posts on this website is my no-clamp curling iron tutorial, which leads to one of the most frequently asked questions: how can I curl shorter hair with a […]

  • […] of the post (BURYING THE LEDE, YOU GUYS!) – is a lifesaver. Life. Saver. I use it to quickly Whoorl Curl a day-old blow dry, I pin up tighter curls, let them cool, then unpin for a more structured look, […]

  • Samantha

    September 15, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I think your hair looks MUCH better natural. In fact it looks fantastic!

  • grace

    October 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    hahahaha! That was very entertaining to read!!! :D I just read one post and I already love your site! Your hair looks way cute! Thank you for the tutorial!

  • Marisa

    October 16, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Don’t feel bad till I read your tutorial I had no idea about the curling iron thing either. Jeez I feel like a tom boy now….

    -yells down the hall-


    -is being ignored-



    “take me shopping”

    “What?! Why?!”

    “cvuz I need to feel gurly…”

    husband stares open mouthed then walks away shaking head in man corn fusion

    “well you coming then?”

    jesus I’m spoiled!

    “Comin honey”


  • Jenny

    November 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks SO much for this amazing tutorial…I’ve been clamping and rolling up for forever and had no idea why it didn’t look like I wanted it to. I tried your steps and it looks a lot better.

    Thanks again! :)

  • inas

    November 28, 2009 at 12:31 am

    i love your tutorials and your site is so nice it does shaw that you have spend much tim on it.. keep it up with those tutorials

  • Shirley

    May 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “just blow-dry while brushing to close the cuticle”

    If you want that cuticle closed use your cool shot. Heat will open cuticle cool air closes it. Just fyi.

    I only use a Marcel iron. I agree with Judith Tiedemann.

  • Kara

    February 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    OMG I have been trying to create this look for months and was finally successful using your helpful and f’ing hilarious instructions. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! :D