Sunday 15 December 2019

A straight guide to perfect curls

On a mission to learn how to curl her hair with a GHD, Andrea Byrne turned to the experts for help. Here's her step by step guide to mastering the technique.

On a mission: Andrea Byrne went in search of perfect curls. Photo: Tony Gavin.
On a mission: Andrea Byrne went in search of perfect curls. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Danielle gets to work on Andrea.
Danielle prefers to work front to back.
You can apply a finishing spray at the end.
After ten years, Andrea Byrne finally has the know-how for perfect curls.

I like to think of myself as being good with hair. I've a few different styles in my repertoire, and am frequently asked to help out with friends' hair. However, there is one style that has always escaped my creative clutches: GHD waves. I've tried. Many times. Watched endless tutorials. Each time I've failed spectacularly and on more than one occasion have emerged with not just bad hair, but burned fingers.

The reason I've risked injury and self-mutilation and been so desperate to master the technique is because it's my favourite hair look. It's instantly glamorous and ultra sexy. For the last few years, GHD have been responsible for the hair at the Victoria Secrets' fashion show and we all know the extent to which that show evokes mass hair envy the world over.

Also, perfecting the technique would mean I would only have to bring one hair tool on holidays and weekend breaks. No hairdryer and no tongs needed, thus greatly streamlining my beauty arsenal. Furthermore, having had GHD waves done professionally for weddings and balls, I'm aware of the extent to which they last so much longer than a curl that is achieved using a barrel tongs. And so, with my learning hat on, I headed off to Dylan Bradshaw to get a private lesson on GHD waves from one of their leading stylists, Danielle Doyle.

Danielle used one of the salon's own-brand straighteners, but a GHD or a flat iron of equal quality and similar makeup (you want one with an iron width of about 1 inch) will do the trick, she assured me.

What you will need:

A heat protectant spray

A hair oil

A good quality hair straightener

A large paddle brush

Strong hairspray

Danielle Doyle of Dylan Bradshaw, Dublin, guides us through the process

Danielle gets to work on Andrea.

Step 1: Wash hair and spray with a heat protectant.

Step 2: Blow dry, ensuring it is completely dry.

Step 3: Apply a hair oil through the ends to give it increased protection from the high heat of the straightener.

Step 4: If your hair is extremely straight and tends to resist a curl, Danielle advises applying a strong mousse or setting lotion in wet hair before blow drying. Then, just before you're about to start curling your hair, spray L'Oreal Professional Techni Art Constructor Spray, on to the sectioned hair. This product acts as a curl memory, which helps to ensure the curl that's created never drops.

Step 5: Brush hair through to ensure it's knot-free, parting it in the centre, or wherever you prefer.

Step 6: Next, section the hair. It's important when doing GHD curls to work with small sections of hair. Large sections won't curl as effectively.

Step 7: With the straightener heated up fully, clamp down a few centimetres from the root, then turn it back on itself (about 180 degrees) as you pull down the hair shaft in one fluid motion. It's all in the wrist action. Don't leave the straightener anywhere for any length as it will leave a kink.

Step 8: Once that's done, twirl your hair with your finger following the shape of the curl you have just created. Make sure that the curl is well-defined through the ends. If you feel they're not sufficiently defined, you can always go back over the ends with the straightener using the same technique.

Step 9: When curling the front, it's more flattering to curl away from the face, which gives the illusion of more volume. Through the back of the hair, Danielle tends to alternate between strands curling inwards and outwards to create volume and make it look less 'set'.

Step 10: Danielle prefers to work front to back as it allows her to see how the style is taking shape.

Step 11: If you have a fringe, or shorter bits at the front, Danielle recommends softening and smoothening the curl with the hairdryer and blow-drying brush, pulling it downwards but maintaining volume.

Step 12: Once you've curled all the hair, brush through gently using a large paddle brush.

Step 13: Finish with a spritz of strong hair spray. Danielle recommends that we spray into the curls rather than on top, holding the can a good distance from the hair. If you want to add shine, you can apply a finishing spray at this point too.

The verdict

After ten years, Andrea Byrne finally has the know-how for perfect curls.

Like anything, it’s easy once you know how. And finally, after maybe 10 years of trying, I’ve finally nailed the technique. So, here’s to a future altogether more bouncy! 

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