How to Curl Short Hair with a Curling Iron

One 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 curling iron?

Obviously I’m not an expert due to my loooong hair, but boy have I found one for you!

Meet Kristen.


I recently met Kristen in Chicago and let’s face it, her hair rocks. Luckily for us, she graciously accepted my request to film a video tutorial of how she achieves this look.

Before watching, take note of these important tips.

1. For this hair length, you need to use a 1/2-inch curling iron. The shorter the hair, the smaller the barrel…the longer the hair, the larger the barrel. (Hot Tools Curling Irons are my favorites, and I actually prefer the less expensive gold ones over the ceramic ones.)

2. Don’t pull the last 1/2-inch of your ends through the clamp to prevent the dreaded “clamp crimp”.

3. You should curl the hair right up to the scalp for best hold and volume.

4. This style, with a couple of touch ups, works great the next day. Just add hairspray and a bobby pin and you’re good to go.

Short Hair from Kristen Seymour on Vimeo.

Products used in this video:

1. Aussie Opposites Attract Strong Hold Mousse on wet hair, dried upside down with a large round brush
2. Bed Head Superstar Volumizing Hairspray before curling and after for any curls losing hold
3. Bed Head Hard Head Hard Hold Hairspray for final spray
4. Profound Beauty Hair Matte Hold to define ends and give bangs extra hold

Thanks for this great tutorial, Kristen!

  1. Jen

    August 12, 2009 at 6:53 am

    This is the post I’ve been waiting for!!! :-) Thank you, thank you.

  2. Chrissy Krampert

    August 12, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Thank you! Short Hair Love!
    .-= Chrissy Krampert´s last blog ..I promise, I’m not going to *buy* anything… =-.

  3. metalia

    August 12, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I, too, have long hair, but I’ve seen Kristen’s hair up close and in person, and I’m here to attest to to its amazing style and utter gorgeousness. Listen to what she has to say, short-haired girls! :)
    .-= metalia´s last blog ..Weekend in review, and a Kristin Stewart impression =-.

  4. Kristen

    August 12, 2009 at 8:11 am

    So glad you all liked it! And Metalia, you’re so sweet. My hair DEFINITELY works better short because it’s so thin and flat by nature, and I hope this helps someone else out there. I have lots more tricks up my sleeve, too … Well, one more, anyway.

  5. Rachel

    August 12, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m in the middle of a hair crisis and trying to sort out the best way to fix it. This gives me a great option. One question though, I see that Kristen’s hair is really shiny in the photo. Is that ‘Shop magic or does she use another product that makes it look so brilliant?

  6. Kristen

    August 12, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Hey Rachel,

    There’s no photoshop (making a video taxes my techy powers)! It’s a mixture of my hair not being too clean, so there’s some natural oil, and then PRODUCT. Oh, and highlights. Using some spray before curling really helps my hair stay sleek, and, therefore, shiny. Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other q’s!

    (Also, thanks! Nobody’s ever called my hair brilliant before!)

  7. Mia

    August 12, 2009 at 10:19 am

    This is great! I will be trying this tonight. Thanks for sharing!

  8. amanda

    August 12, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Kristen, thanks so much! I’ve been getting bored w/ my bob and this will be a great change. One question: it looks like you didn’t section the hair at all — do you mostly just curl the top layer of hair?

  9. sunny

    August 12, 2009 at 11:05 am

    great video – love the filming angle too, super easy to see what you’re doing! more videos!
    .-= sunny´s last blog ..Frida Kahlo Hair Tutorial (request) =-.

  10. Kristen

    August 12, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Hey Amanda,

    In the front, I curled it all. In the back, I curled the top and medium layers, and the bottom layer I mostly just flipped up — it’s too short to do anything else. My hair is pretty thin, so I can get away without sectioning it. But, if you have a lot of it, I’d definitely create some sections. The top layer gets the most love, though, for sure!

  11. Lyndsay

    August 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I was googling “Short hair curling tutorials” all last week……..and they all sucked. This one was awesome. I was using too big of a barrel and the results were disastrous. Thank you for posting this.
    .-= Lyndsay´s last blog ..Retreat =-.

  12. All Women Stalker

    August 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    What a great post! Definitely helpful. Will try this soon. :D

    .-= All Women Stalker´s last blog ..7 Best Dressed at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards =-.

  13. Kristin

    August 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I have hair about that length and I get curls like that by using my flat-iron. I start at the top and twist as I pull the iron down the length. Takes some coordination, though!

  14. Sharri

    August 13, 2009 at 5:34 am

    LOVE IT! Thank you for the quick, clear, easy tutorial. You rock.

  15. Kristy

    August 13, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Thank you! I’ll definitely try this over the weekend!