The Heat Styling Techniques Every Cosmetologist Needs to Know



Naturally, any good cosmetologist program will have you mastering heat styling and the tools to make it happen: straightening irons, curling rods and wands, hot curlers, foam curlers, heated brushes, blow dryers, hood dryers, steam infusion irons, and crimpers…

Your initial training and plenty of practice in heat styling will have you perfecting some of the hottest styles – from luxurious come hither curls and waves, to the chicest straight locks and glamorous updos.

Although you’ll learn how to use the newest tools on the market as well as traditional tools through your cosmetology program, you may want to boost your business by taking advanced courses.

Many salons and beauty schools throughout the country offer advanced training for licensed cosmetologists, providing you with the opportunity you need to master some of the hottest new styles.

To straighten hair and to create curls and waves, there are several tools you would use:

  • Curling rod
  • Curling wand
  • Straightener
  • Hot curlers
  • Foam curlers
  • Blow dryer and round brush
  • Crimper
  • Heated brush
  • Hood dryer
  • Steam infused iron

Using Curling Irons and Wands to Transform Straight Hair

Loose, bouncy curls are the most fashionable look, and curling wands are a fuss-free way to create them. However, if your client is wanting larger curls, you might consider using a larger barreled curling iron with a clamp. Another trending tool is the bubble wand, which create waves because of the texture of the wand. Curling rods and wands come in all shapes and sizes—you might use a double-barreled curling rod to create tight curls all over the head, or a thicker curling wand to create loose waves.

Another popular look is creating a loose, voluminous wave without curling the ends of the hair. To create this look, it’s best to use a clamp-free wand. You’ll separate out a strand of hair, but only wrap the middle of the strand around the wand, being careful not to curl from the roots or to curl the end of the hair. To add more drama, you might comb some root lifter through the roots of the hair and tease it to give the hair a boost. This look is especially popular on shorter styles like bobs and lobs, as it gives the cut volume and drama.

If your client has frizzy or voluminous hair and wants sleek curls, you could use the press and curl technique, which involves straightening the hair first with a straightening iron to give it a sleek texture and then using a curling iron to create curls.

Although hot curlers have fallen out of fashion, your elderly clients may request them in order to give their hair some texture. These curlers are first heated and then applied to the hair. Alternately, foam curlers transform the hair’s texture without heat as long as you set the curls with a hairspray and leave them in the hair for a period of time (usually several hours). Because they don’t require heat to set the hair, foam curlers are a good method for damaged hair.

Crimping has fallen out of style, but you might still learn the technique—you’ll simply section off the hair and slide the crimper down each section like a straightener, leaving tight waves.

Straighteners, Hood Dryers, and the Hottest New Tools

You can use a straightener to create waves if your client is looking for a looser, more causal texture. This look is very popular for its casual chic appearance. Straighteners can also be used to create classic pin curls—simply take a strand of hair, bend it into an “s” shape, and clamp the iron over the strand for a few seconds.

If you’re doing a wash and shampoo, you can create waves with a blow dryer and a round brush wrapped around the ends of the hair. A new tool on the market is the heated brush—it’s a paddle brush that blows hot hair as you comb the hair out. It’s great for straightening hair as you dry, and you can also use the brush to flip the ends of the hair outwards for a fun, flirty look.

Hood dryers are a new tool that dry the hair while curling it, like the heated brush. Great for saving time if your client is on a time crunch, a hood dryer is exactly what it sounds like—a “hood” that slips over your client’s head and distributes the heat evenly. To create curls, you’ll need to separate small sections of hair and twist them into small coils. You can use bobby pins or clips to secure the knots to their head. Then you’ll slip the hood over the hair and let it dry—it usually takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on how thick the hair is. If you did a wash and shampoo and your client wants a quick style before going about their routine, the hood dryer is a quick, gentle way to dry and curl their locks. Hood-dryer curls aren’t perfectly coiffed—they create the more unruly, natural look that’s so in right now.

Another new tool—the steam-infused iron—is gaining popularity because of the sleek styles that it creates. The steam keeps the hair from becoming frizzy and is especially helpful for clients who struggle with taming flyaways. The iron, like a straightener, can be used to create loose curls or super-straight strands. You’ll just need to fill it with water first to create the steam, then clamp it onto the hair and let the steam work its magic.

Styling Straight Hair

Straightening your client’s hair can take anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours, depending on the natural texture of the hair. Voluminous curls can be harder to work with, and you’ll need to use heat protection spray in order to prevent the hair from becoming damaged, dry, and brittle.

You’ll section off the hair by pulling the top layers out of the way and straightening the bottom layer first; separating the hair into sections will ensure that you don’t miss any curls!

Styling Updos for a Touch of Glamour

Your expertise will surely be needed for special events in your client’s lives: proms, weddings, special dates, and photoshoots.

You’ll often curl your client’s hair before creating the updo. Depending on the look your client is wanting, you might create tight curls or more relaxed waves.

Using bobby pins and hair bands, you might create braids or pin the hair to the head. The best way to perfect updos is to practice, practice, practice, and you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience through your cosmetology program.

A large part of your role as a hairstylist will be to cut your client’s hair when they need a new style. Whether you’re taking off length or just updating the texture, it’s important to understand all of the modern cuts that have been making an appearance in style magazines across the country.

What About Hair Damage?

Our hair tends to experience a lot of damage in our modern world—from hair dyes to harsh chemicals in our shampoo to heat styling it several times a week, the day-to-day stress on the hair shaft can cause the hair to become brittle and more easily broken.

It’s important to understand your clients’ individual hair history. Do they heat style their hair every day? Do they air dry their hair or use a blow dryer? Do they often color or bleach their hair? It’s important to get to know your clients’ regimen in order to offer them the best possible services.

Hair that has been dyed or heat styled more often will be more subject to breakage. However, you can do your best to maintain the integrity of the hair by adjusting your heat styling tools’ temperature to the right setting.

If your client is struggling with breakage and split ends, let them know that heat styling damp hair breaks down the hair’s hydrogen bonds and can cause permanent damage to the hair. It may be tempting to run a straightener through the hair before it’s dry, but hood dryers and heated brushes were created in order to provide a quick two-in-one solution that won’t damage the hair.

Your client’s individual hair type will also shape your recommendations. For fine hair, try to keep heat styling tools at a temperature of 250-340 degrees Fahrenheit. Thicker hair can usually withstand higher temperatures, from 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another great way to protect your client’s hair is to saturate each section with heat protection spray before you begin styling it. Heat styling robs your hair of internal moisture and breaks down the hair’s chromophores, which is what causes cracking after time. However, heat protectant sprays contain components such as acrylates copolymer and hydrolyzed what protein, which bind to the hair and protect the hair shaft from cracking when heat is applied.

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