Elsie’s Everyday Flat Iron Curls

Today I’m excited to share my most common everyday hairstyle. I style it this way after every washing (I try to only wash my hair 2-3 times per week), and on the in-between days, I usually only style my bangs and maybe comb my fingers through the rest of it real fast.

First, I wanted to share a photo of my natural hair texture. This is after being air dried (my bangs are already straightened here, I wish I would have left them too so you could see how truly crazy my natural texture is).

I wasn’t blessed with hair that air dries into a pretty curl or wave, but instead frizz that is pretty intense. And to add insult to injury, the top of my hair always dries flat and straight, but it’s the bottom that goes crazy—so it’s like I have natural hat hair. Cool.

If you have frizzy hair, you are going to love this method. You don’t have to use a ton of products to tame your hair. You’ll see here I only use one really simple oil. No hairspray or anything!

Note: I am almost always wearing hair extensions (20 inches) in photos I share here. But I decided to leave them out for this post because they have a different texture than my natural hair before being styled. If you happen to wear extensions, the best way to do this is with them already in your hair so it all gets styled together. I only left them out because I felt like it would make a better tutorial for you here.

First I add a little bit of this Mermaid Hair Oil to my ends. This helps to protect them from heat.

If your flat iron has adjustable heat settings, it’s a good idea to keep the temperature below 300 as well.

Start with the bottom layer of your hair, flat iron curling each piece, twisting it into a little ring like this and clipping it up to cool (I use these clips).

I used to do these exact same curls but without the clips, and the results were not nearly as good. The clips are the key factor for me. My hair holds curl pretty well, so as long as I use the clips and let each curl fully cool (just a few minutes) before taking them out, they will hold until my next wash.

OK, so here’s how to actually do each curl!

The smaller the section of hair you use, the more intense the curl. So do bigger sections if you want just a very soft wave.

I usually like to curl away from my face. Start at the top of each section and drag the iron out as if you are flat ironing. Halfway down, flip the iron around one full time to create a curl. Leave the ends out (even just a little bit) for a beachy wave.

As soon as you let go of the curl, twist it into the little “nests” or twists and clip them to your scalp. Let it fully cool before pulling the clip out.

Practice makes perfect! It took me some time and practice to find my own technique for my hair. Don’t give up.

At the end your hair will look kind of like this.

Once your curls are cool, pull all the clips out and tousle your hair until it feels natural. Don’t leave the curls too tight.

If your hair has a tough time holding curl, you can always give it a little hairspray at this stage. Mine does OK, and I like using minimal hair products, so I just leave it.

I have pretty dry hair, so something I do in between wash days, ESPECIALLY if I am heat styling it more, is to use a little more hair oil on my ends. This helps a lot. I am trying to grow my hair out and heat styling is pretty much the worst enemy of that, so I try to keep it pretty minimal.

By the way, the reason I don’t wash my hair too much is because since I dye my hair red, it fades extremely fast. Also washing too much can dry out your hair, and my hair is already naturally dry.

So one of the reasons I don’t like to use too many hair products is because I am sleeping with those products at night, which can be a gross thought. Haha.

Anyway! I hope this was helpful to you!

Thanks for reading! xx -Elsie

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Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Amber Ulmer, Styling Assistant: Alexa Montgomery.
  • Hi Elsie! I was just wondering what action/filter you used for these if you used one? I can’t find any way to edit my photos to make my red hair look so pretty:)

  • My girlfriend always iron her hair everyday. i love her hairstyle, is same as your.

  • What type of flat iron do you use? It doesn’t look like my flat iron. Your hair is beautiful!

  • I love the hair tutorials on here but I am not good with following pictures, especially with hair in my face and tools in my hands. I would love if the hair tutorials could be videos.

  • Possibly a dumb question, but on days you don’t shampoo your hair, I’m assuming you don’t get it wet either, since your curl would go away. So do you wear a shower cap? I don’t shampoo every day either, but I find that my hair gets so frizzy from the shower I end up having to at least wet it down and restyle it. I would love to find a better solution!

  • this actually worked for me! i love seeing hair tutorials, but i never attempt them because i don’t think my hair is going to do anything i want it to. i had some extra time and tried this and it was perfect! thanks for sharing!

  • Love the easy styling tips! I have been obsessing over red hair lately and really like the color of yours. I have brown hair. What color red do you use?

  • I always love your hair so thanks for this tutorial! I need to get ahold of some of those clips, that seems to be the key step that I’m missing when I curl my hair!

  • Thanks for sharing. I am always looking for easy styling with less products. This is perfect.


  • These curls are gorgeous! I need to get a better functioning flat iron so I can do this!


  • I’m going to try this. We have nearly the same type of hair! Love you!!!…mom

  • Yes, love this! I never thought about using the clips while the curls cool off.

    Why hasn’t anyone asked where is your shirt from yet?!

  • i’m glad i’m not the only one whose natural hair looks like that… 🙂 it’s SUPER frustrating when i’m in a hurry after showering!

  • Haha my hair gets crazy frizzy also when I blow dry it! That why I hardly ever blow dry it, after I shower I’ll put a little coconut oil and lavender oil but just a teansy bit then I’ll braid it and the next morning when I pull out my braid walla! No frizz! (: your hair color is absolutely gorgeous! It took my a minute to recognize you with your new hair color! it’s been a while since I’ve been on ABM!

  • Great post! Your hair looks great but. ..your LASHES! OMG. Gorgeous lashes. Is that mascara or strips or Latisse or a combo? I’d love to know. Thanks again! 🙂

  • Hi Els,

    thanks for this!
    for the in between days, what kind of drys shampoo do you use?
    or what do you usually do?

    i dont like washing my hair everyday (out of sheer laziness) and it’ll last me a while, it just drives me insane when it starts getting oily.


  • I have the same texture hair except my hair is thin! Thank you so much for this tutorial! I never thought to pin curls up as they cool. I’ll have to give it a shot!

  • My hair type is very similar to yours and I use a flat iron to get waves/curls, but for some reason the left side of my hair will NOT hold the curl. It drives me nuts! But after reading this I think I am going to get some clips to hold them curled while they cool. Fingers crossed!
    Also, I am in the market for a new flat iron. What one do you use?

  • Elsie,

    I have a question about not washing your hair that I always feel silly asking. Do you go in the shower and rinse your hair, but don’t add shampoo/conditioner, and then blow-dry it? Or do you wear a shower cap? I feel like I’ve heard both ways done and I was just never sure which is best! It sounds like to use a shower cap to keep your style. Do you use dry shampoo other days? My hair always ends up super greasy after one day not showering!


  • thanks for this tutorial, i’ll have to try this with the clips! i’m interested in extension advice as well… I have a pair of clip ins but they are ombré brown to blonde to teal so talk about inconsistency when I take them on and off! I definitely get lazy about wearing them, but I’d love to get a more natural looking set to wear more often. do you find it hard to put your hair up when you wear them? i’m curious if anyone has tried to halo type hair extensions, they seem really easy to use but curious how well it stays in. love these kinds of posts! i’d love a hair extension guide 🙂

  • You should update this post with a short video about how to flat iron the curls in. I’ve tried before and it’s never come out as nice. I feel like a better visual could help a lot of us.

  • I’ve never succeeded in doing curls with flat iron but maybe with your tips I will finally learn! I have to try again someday this week. Thanks for your post! 🙂

  • Great tutorial! My hair is naturally curly…think a messy 80’s perm, but most of the week I prefer a cleaner looking wave (it helps me get away with only washing every 5-6 days). The best tool I’ve found for the job is something that is actually designed for people with short hair and is called a volumizing iron: https://www.overstock.com/Health-Beauty/T3-Volumize-Dome-Plated-0.75-inch-Flat-Iron/5986518/product.html

    For whatever reason, the shape of this is like MAGIC for waves and curls, the hold it creates is amazing, both for my coarse frizzy hair and my sister’s fine straight hair.

    P.S. I love that red color on you <3

  • you literally just described my hair type. i’ve never had someone sum it up so perfectly before!! i share your frustration, thank you so much for posting this!

  • I am so happy you shared your natural hair texture! I have super frizzy curly-to-wavy hair and I always feel so alone in my hair texture when I look at hair tutorials online, but yours is fairly similar which makes me happy! (I look more like a lion though hahaha.)

  • Gorgeous as always, Elsie! Great post. A find a lot of my clients say their flat iron curls won’t hold, and it’s usually because they’re running their fingers through the hair before it’s cooled completely. So your clip method is great. That’s going to be the difference for how long the style lasts! I use clips for each section after round-brush blow drying as well, when I want the style to last. <3

  • Can you make a post about your experience with extensions? I’ve always wanted to use them but I’m so scared they will ruin my hair. I feel like there is a right way to use them but I’m totally missing it.


    • Hi Victoria,
      I have been wearing hair extensions on and off for almost 10 years. I have tried almost every kind and prefer clip ins. I like clips because you don’t have to shower with them every time (so they last much longer & get less wear and tear) and they don’t pull or damage my real hair.

      The downside is that I can get lazy and only wear them sometimes, which looks inconsistent and bad (long hair one day, short hair the next day….) and I do struggle with that.

      If you don’t want clips I highly recommend tape-ins over glue. They just work so much better, last longer and aren’t as bulky.

      Hope that helps!!

  • What a great tutorial. I just cut all my hair off and whilst I love the new freedom of no styling I do miss being able to have curls.

    And yes, please can you share your experience of extensions, I’ve always wondered about it, but was never sure how much upkeep they are and how to get natural looking ones (I NEVER would have guessed you wear them!).

    • I have clips. I get them dyed to match my hair and cut by my stylists so that they layer well with my natural hair. That is the MOST important step to make them look real.

      They last a long time, I only have to replace mine once or twice a year (tape ins you have to replace every 3 months and they are way more expensive).

      The downside the clips is they can be bulky and don’t work well with a ponytail so this last time I changed my hair color and get new extensions I also got a ponytail one (like Gwen Stefani wears) and I can use that for bigger messy buns and any kind of up-do or ponytail.

      Hope that helps!!

  • Hi Elsie! Thanks for the tips. I’ve been trying to get my curls to hold out and I think the clips are my next thing to tackle.

    What I was most curious about is your hair extensions. What brand do you use and what kind? I’ve been looking into different types recently and would love a seasoned stylists opinion!

  • It’s really pretty. I wonder how you do this every day… I have to wake up at 5h30 and just don’t have the time to do that to my hair every day. Maybe I’m too lazy, but man that seems like so much work 😀

    • Hi Jessi,
      I don’t do this every day. I only do it on the first day I wash my hair. After that I barely have to touch it up & I only wash my hair about twice a week.

  • Your hair is stunning and those curls look amazing and they seem so easy to you.

  • You know i recently cut my hair quite short for me and i was looking for a way to style them a little bit (as my natural waves only appears when my hair a very long) and i ended up trying out the flat iron and it is so much better than a curling one! Can’t believe it, the waves are just perfect and i’m definitely going to try your tip with the clips, and see how it keeps my curls curled! 😉 Thanks Elsie! Plus redhead rocks! Haha! xo

  • Yes! No matter the shampoo/conditioner red fades so fast. I’ve gotten down to washing my hair twice a week & my colorist is always impressed with how well my color sticks.

    I have similar hair (air dry frizzy yet flat on top) so thank you for this tutorial! My stylist used this technique for my wedding & I forgot about it until now. Off to get my clipping technique perfected!

  • Your hair looks so healthy and beautiful! Love the tutorial <3


  • Your hair colour is gorgeous! And thanks for the clipping your hair up while the hair cools tips, I think it might be one I use when I want my curls to last a lot longer than they normally do – which really isn’t very long!

    Katie | katieemmeabeauty.com

  • What brand extensions do you wear? I always thought it was ALL of your own hair!

  • So glad you shared this! Curling irons leave my hair looking too “done”, love how this is relaxed yet still so put together. Going to need to try some of that mermaid oil too!

  • You look amazing with these curls, but that sure is a lot of work!

    • Hi Michelle,
      It’s not that much work. It’s honestly just as fast for me as regular flat ironing and I only do this when I wash my hair about 2x a week.. the rest of the days I just barely touch it up (maybe just re-straighten my bangs and that’s it) xx! Elsie

  • I’ve been wondering how to do these – thanks! What shampoo and conditioner do you use? It sounds like we have the same texture issues.

    • Hi Meghan,
      I am STILL searching for a good shampoo/conditioner that doesn’t leave my hair feeling oily. So, nothing to recommend yet!
      xx- Elsie

      • Have you tried Awapuhi Shampoo by Paul Mitchell? It’s rich enough for dry hair, and doesn’t weigh it down or leave oily residue. I recommend it! (ps it’s also an awesome body wash!)

  • Thank you so much for this! I was literally just wondering last week if you’d ever ended up sharing this but didn’t find it on the site 😉 Knowing about the clips is super helpful! I can get the curls but they fall pretty quickly, I could not figure out how you got yours to last for days. Xo!

  • Thank you for the tutorial! I know how it feels having insane frizz. My hair is straight, but the frizz is out of control. I always have to wash my hair the night before to ensure that the natural oils settle in by next morning. It’s so annoying how I can’t exercise during the day because of this!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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