Common Bridal Hair Concern - My Hair Doesn't Hold Curls

Updated: Jan 5

Here are the different ways to help your hair hold curls and waves for longer on your wedding day. Different techniques will be used based on your individual hairs type, texture and condition for the desired result for your dream wedding hairstyle.




The Preparation - Knowing When To Wash Your Hair.

There has been the rule around for years from hairdressers that hair curls better on 'dirty' hair. This term is misleading because the interpretation of 'dirty hair' can result in the stylist having to work with greasy, flat hair on the wedding day.

What should be said is freshly washed hair with shampoo and conditioner before the service of curling hair can make the hair too soft and slippery to work with resulting in curls dropping quickly.


I generally recommend washing hair the night before the wedding with x 2 shampoos and x 1 conditioner on the mid-lengths to ends only. But this can be addressed case by case as everyone's hair and scalp are different.


I suggest x 2 shampoos because sometimes the first shampoo doesn't lather well, or doesn't work its way evenly through to the scalp.


Your hair may curl better with minimal to no conditioner the day before, or it may need washing the morning of because it gets oily overnight while you sleep.


The best way to see how your hair behaves is to test it using the x 2 shampoo & conditioner method at your bridal hair trial with the waved hairstyled. Your hairstylist will suggest if it works well or if a different approach will be best for your hair.


I recommend using salon-quality shampoos and conditioners as they won't add unnecessary product build-up in the hair like supermarket brands, that can make the hair harder to style.


Ask for professional advice from your stylist on which would be the best for your hair type.

Examples may be;

Fine Hair - volumising shampoo and conditioner as they don't weigh the hair down.

Normal Hair - There is usually a normal hair care system in a professional hair brand for hair that is either uncoloured, thicker in density or excellent condition. If this is still too heavy try a light-weighted formula of shampoo or switch out the cream conditioner for a light mist spray conditioner for the ends.

Damaged Hair - For hair that has been lightened with colour or damaged from heated tools or the outdoor elements select more hydrating and conditioning products.


The Preparation - Using The Correct Products For Your Hair

The next process is to select the right products to create the desired texture and style support without weighing the hair down. These steps may include a styling mousse, a dry texture spray or a sea salt spray blast dried into the hair to create added volume and grit before heat styling. You can apply additional layers of product at this stage depending on the hair type and desired texture level while adding thickness to the hair.


Some hair texture might require additional smoothing of the hair with a round brush for extra volume.

For bridal party members who want to enhance their natural curl formation, creams and gels can be combed through to lock the moisture while scrunch drying with a diffuser to reducing frizz.


Product Hold During The Curling Process - Use A Heat Protectant Spray For Damaged Hair.

The product combination added to the hair above will provide some protection from the heat styling tools. For damaged hair, I recommend spraying each section of hair with a light mist of a heat protectant spray and wait a few moments for it to dry before applying heat.

Product Hold During The Curling Process - Apply A Lightweight Hairspray While Curling

If the hair isn't damaged and in good condition, a light hold or 'working' hairspray can replace the heat protectant spray. Spraying the hair with a lightweight formula doesn't weigh the hair down while allowing the hair to brushed into place when creating the waves. It's a product that can be built up without adding heavy product residue to the hair.


Selecting The Right Heated Styling Tool For Your Hair Type.

It's always best to use a professional styling tool designed to reduce damage to the hair. These curling irons, curling wands and straightening irons will generally have a ceramic or tourmaline heated plate that reduces damage to the hair. The heated plates apply even heat throughout, allowing the hair to glide through effortless while controlling frizz.


They may also have variable temperature settings to adjust based on the type and condition of the hair. For thicker hair, the temperature settings can be higher than more fragile hair types.


I also prefer to use a clamp based curling iron over a wand-style as the clamp helps smooth the hair while curling to eliminate frizz. For naturally curlier hair or frizzy hair, I like to curl the hair with a straightening iron as I'm able to get closer to the roots to stretch and smooth at the same time.


Selecting The Correct Barrel Size For Your Hair.

The size of the curling iron barrel can be adjusted based on a few of the below factors;


Fine Hair Density - To achieve the desired curl or wave formation seen in an inspiration image, It may require a smaller size barrel on fine hair as it will provide more hold factor and style support when brushing out waves.


Thick Hair Density - If the hair is thick and heavy the stylist may also need to use a smaller sized barrel as the hair's weight will drag the curls down.


Long Hair Length - If the hair is long with no layers cut in, the curls may drop quickly from the hair's weight from the roots to the ends. Adding layers into the hair and reducing the curling iron barrel's size can help create more bounce in the hairstyle.


Short Hair Length - You may be after a sexy beach wave bob and think that a larger sized curling iron is what you need, but to get the desired texture a smaller barrel may be the best approach as the larger barrel curl is too loose.


Textured Wave - A half-half half-down hairstyle alternating between two different sized curling irons may provide a more natural-looking wave.


Hair Extension Pieces - You can use either the correct size barrel for the desired effect or you can go larger as the hair holds the curl extremely well.


Size Of The Sections Of Hair

Another factor to consider is the amount of hair that is wrapping around the barrel can adjust the curl's sizing.


Texture and Movement - In a hairstyle, smaller sections of hair are wrapped around a curling iron for more delicate detailing.


Even Wave Formation - Small even sections of hair can be curled in the same direction for even heat distribution and curl shape. If the hair is fine or very heavy, a smaller barrel curling iron will provide more hold.


Allowing The Hair To Cool Before Styling

There are two ways your stylist can help with the duration of a hairstyle. With all heated hairstyles, you must allow the hair to cool first in its form.

Pin Hair Up After Set - When the hair has finished heating from the barrel, the hairstylist can pin the hair in its curled formation onto the scalp. This method allows the hair to cool with no weight on the hair strands.


Do Not Touch Curled Hair - The Hairstylist can work around the full head curling without pinning the hair up, hair spraying each section and not touching until the hair has adequately cooled down or till after the makeup application. This process allows the hair to cool as long as possible before combing or brushing out.


Pin Hair Up After Brushing - Another method is once the hairstylist has brushed and moulded the waves into place, they can take larger sections and pin-up to take the weight off the ends until the final touch-up stage to reduce the time the hair is down.


Finishing The Hair With Products


Using texturising sprays or light hold hairsprays at the end of the styling won't weigh the hair down and add extra volume for body and texture.


If it is a windy day or the hairstyle needs a little more oomph, a finishing spray can help for style duration. I would only apply once the bridal party are in their dresses for the last touch up. Spraying too much with a firm hold spray can weigh the hair down.


Adding In Hair Extensions For Support

Most people don't want to add in clip-on hair extensions to their hairstyle as the common belief is they are for added length.


Most hairstylists recommend to brides that wish to have their hair down for their dream wedding hairstyle to add in some clip-in pieces. The reasons for this is;

  • They curl exceptionally well, providing long-lasting hairstyles for the duration of the wedding.

  • They also provide added volume to fine hair and keep the structure of a wave in place.

  • They help achieve the desired result from an inspiration image. Most styles seen on Instagram have extensions added, or all the hair pushed forward to make the hair look full. When brides have their trial without extensions, their hair can drop quickly, and the style doesn't look as voluminous as the reference image, leaving them to feel dissatisfied with the service.

I hope this information helps you to understand ways to enhance your curls or waves for your wedding hairstyle and to discuss options with your hairstylist.

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