how to get curls that last

How I Get Curls That Last For Days In My Stick-Straight Hair

Lately my hair has been absolutely impossible to curl.

I mean, my hair is ALWAYS pretty much impossible to curl, so no surprises there, really: I have the kind of stick-straight hair that can look fabulously curly a few minutes after I finish doing it, and then be right back to stick-straight again by the time I’ve walked downstairs. I’m only exaggerating very slightly here.

I’m not sure if it’s just the damper weather we’ve been having recently, though, but for the past few weeks it’s been even MORE curl-resistant than usual, so when Nicky Clarke Electricals asked if I’d like to try their new SuperShine Steam Curling Tong, I thought, ‘Why not?’ It couldn’t make my hair any straighter, after all (although, knowing my luck, I wouldn’t have been AT ALL surprised if it had…), so I agreed to give it a go: and here it is…

Nicky Clarke Electricals SuperShine Steam Curling Iorn

At first glance, this is a lot like any other curling tong you might have tried. There’s a temperature control on the handle, a clamp on the barrel, and a long, swivel cord, so you don’t get tangled up in it during those ‘curling the back of my hair’ contortions we all go through. (Er, we DO all go through those, don’t we?) What makes this tong a little bit different, however, is the water reservoir on the very end: this is the part of the tong  which creates the steam released during styling: the idea being that you give each curl a shot of steam as you’re creating it, to both lock in the curl and add a bit of shine. To use it, you simply fill up the water container before you start styling, then, once your hair is wrapped around the barrel of the tong, you press the black button on top of the styler for a few seconds. This pushes the reservoir down into the barrel, releasing steam from a series of little holes located just under the clamp. It’s much easier than I’m probably making it sound here, so I hope you get the idea!

Now, having had this for a week or so, and used it almost ever day in that time, I’ve discovered there are actually two different ways to use it – both with and without the steam shot. In the first method, you basically clamp each lock of hair close to the ends, roll it around the barrel, and then press the button on top, as described above. This creates lovely, ringlet-style curls, which I took quite a few photos of… only to delete them all from the camera by accident. Why yes, I DO hate myself a little bit right now! Here’s the only photo that survived, which is an ACTUAL candid (as opposed to all of those totally-staged candids we bloggers are known for…) which Terry took while testing the settings on the camera:

ringlet style curls using the Nicky Clarke SuperShine Steam Curling Tong

LOLZ! I win at life!

Anyway, I DID manage NOT to delete the photos of the second method, which involves completely ignoring the steam function AND the clamp, and using the tong much as you would a curling iron: so you start winding the hair close to the root (rather than clamping it at the end), and then hold it in place for a few seconds before releasing it. (You can’t really use the steam shot if you’re using this method, because, as well as needing both hands to create the curl, the fact that the steam is released from below the clamp means that if you’re not using the clamp, you’re not getting the steam…) With both of these methods of curling, I’ll then normally pin the curl to my head, much as you would if you were doing pincurls, just to let it cool down:

curling hair with Nicky Clarke steam curling tong
Here’s the results I get from this method:

curly red hairAnd here’s what it looks like when I’ve brushed it out a little:

ow, these curls won’t stay exactly like this – or not in my hair, anyway. After half an hour or so, they will have loosened a little – so I’ll still have a nice, defined curl, but with a bit less of the ‘Orphan Annie’ effect. One thing I’ve learned about hard-to-curl hair, though, is that it’s better to start out with tighter curls than you really want, so that when they DO start to drop a little, you’ll achieve the desired effect: if I were to start off with loose curls, my hair would be straight again within minutes! My other tip is to use the hottest setting on your tong (with a good heat protector spray, obviously): in this case, there are five different heat settings, with five being the highest. That’s the one I use, and it’s very, very hot, so be aware of that: luckily, the tong does have a built-in stand, so it won’t burn your furniture or anything like that – it will, however, burn your fingers if you’re not careful, so use with caution, especially if you’re as clumsy as I am!

Here’s the good news, though: although the curls will drop slightly just after using the tong, they’ll then remain in place ALL DAY LONG. And actually, all night, too, because as long as I throw it up in a bun before I go to bed, the next morning I’ll still have some loose waves – which might not sound particularly impressive, really, but trust me, when your hair’s as straight as mine is, ANY kind of wave at all is welcome. 

I will say here that the curls created using the steam shot last even longer than the ones without it, although as the tong gets so hot, both of the methods I’ve tried have given me really long-lasting results, and, for the price, I think this curling tong would be really hard to beat. If I were to nit-pick over one thing (and I kinda feel like I should, if only to offset all of the gushing I’m doing here…), it would be the fact that this tong does take a while to heat up fully. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just a few minutes, which is no big deal at all – I guess I’m just used to my GHDs, which heat up in seconds! This is definitely worth the wait, though, so if you have hard-to-curl hair, I can highly recommend it: don’t forget to tell me how you get on!

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  • Wowzers, these curls look amazing. And although I already own a million gadgets for curling my hair (exact figure), I am always a sucker for thinking the next one is going to be THE ONE. So this is going on my list 🙂

    November 7, 2016
  • Helen


    Loving the curly look! Fab. xx

    November 7, 2016
  • I have hair EXACTLY like yours in its curlability! Or at least I did until chemo made it fall out, lol. If I don’t get the promised thick luscious curls that nearly all chemo patients get when their hair grows back then I’m heading straight out to buy some of these. I might even buy two so I’ve one in reserve!

    November 7, 2016
  • I need this, because even though my curls will last most* of the day, I never ever ever get day two curls even if I put it in a carefully loose bun.

    And all of the “no heat” curls end up looking awful on my hair (I don’t know what on earth I’m doing wrong but these always fail)

    November 8, 2016
  • Myra Boyle


    Loving your curls.

    November 8, 2016
  • Myra Boyle


    PS I am probably going to buy from Kitbag . If I click from your link does that mean you earn something?

    November 8, 2016
  • Miss Kitty


    I have hair exactly like yours, to the point that I have pretty much given up trying, because for all the time I spend curling my hair, it’s pretty much disappeared within an hour. About the only time I got curls to last in my hair for any length of time was at my sister’s wedding, and the hairdresser knew my hair, and used so much product both before and after curling it, that my hair was crunchy, LOL! Like plastic doll’s hair. But the curls did stay in for the ceremony and photo session, and a good part of the reception, so that was the main thing! I have seen a curler similar to this but haven’t tried it, maybe I need to give curling another go.

    November 8, 2016
  • Your hair is beautiful straight or curly. I actually love the second day curls – they look so effortless and gorgeous.

    November 8, 2016
  • I definitely want to look into this product now! My hair is stick straight and has never, ever curled unless I sleep on rollers overnight (which means I don’t really sleep and am exhausted the next day. haha.) This sounds too good to be true.

    November 8, 2016
  • I have six pair of curlers including the ones that sook the hair in AND the all singing all dancing GHD curl tongs. None of which give me a curl that stays in, it looks good an hour later curl drops which you expect then another hour later ends up a frizzy wave if that. I may need to invest in these. Xxx

    February 16, 2017
  • Regina


    People with curly want straight and straight want curly. I love your stick straight hair. You are so beautiful!

    February 17, 2017
  • Emmojane


    Yours look beautiful ❤ and I love the colour of your hair. When I curl my hair each day I use plenty of mouse and some heat protected. I put all my hair into a ponytail on the very top of my head. Divide into 6 then taking one at a time twirl it around the heated tong for a about 10 seconds. Leave them in the pony tail for about 5 mins then take them out. Gently arrange the curls to how you like, then use some hair spray. They stay curly for ages. ?

    August 30, 2017