An everyday hair styling routine for loose, lived in curls

…aka how I try to give the illusion of having an Instagram-worthy mane on the regs despite actually having pretty rubbish hair.

I’m writing this because a couple of people requested it over on Instagram – I know, I know, I almost don’t believe it either, considering I spend alternate days looking like Hagrid (wild, kind of a mess) and an egg (fine hair problems).

Truthfully, I don’t have a rigid regime that I simply have to stick to, but I do have a routine of sorts, simply because I have two hair styles; I either do nothing to it and it’s straight and hopelessly flat, or I style it.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, it’s probably obvious that my go-to hairstyle is a curl with varying degrees of relaxedness; mostly because how relaxed the curls are seems to depend entirely on what my hair feels like doing that day, so I’m powerless beyond just rolling with it really. I like them to look lived-in and I like volume (to counter the egg problem), so as long as that’s happening it’s all good with me.

This is often a second day hairstyle for me, especially on a weekday; the added volume that curls provide tends to hide the fact that it’s a bit dirty. At the weekend, when shooting, or when I’ve just decided to both wash and style my hair on a given day though, I wash and condition then use a serum to tame the ends a bit (at the moment I’m using the Oway Silk ‘n Glow). If not, the prep is a glance in the mirror to check that the greasiness levels are passable, and some dry shampoo.

In terms of tools, I’m currently using the Nicky Clarke Supershine Rose curling tong. Full disclosure; I was lucky enough to be sent this, but I’ve been testing it for over a month now and as well as being very easy on the eye with it’s copper and pastel design, I’m enjoying the results too. It has built-in ionic conditioning technology, which apparently helps to keep everything smooth and frizz-free, and the size of the barrel is nice and chunky which is what I look for to give curls that look casual and flexible.

I also have a curling wand which I’ve been using for a few years, but all the writing has scratched off now so I’m not even sure which brand it’s from (helpful). I know some people prefer a wand because they find it easier to use, but I don’t really have a preference (never got the knack of curling with straighteners, however) – still, a tong gives you one hand free, which is ideal for multitasking in the form of concealer blending or scrolling on Twitter. Here is the process and products I use to get the hairstyle you’ll see in most of my photos:

How to get loose casual curls tutorial

ONE. Heat defence spray. Ha – sorry, I’ve already lied, because I rarely remember this but I am trying to get into the habit. The cruelty-free heat defence spray I’ve got at the moment is the Phil Smith Coco Licious one and it’s great (and even more so if you actually use it).

TWO. I’m sure you don’t need me to explain this because you’re all intelligent people, but curl the hair in sections by clamping at the bottom and winding around the tong. Where you clamp and how far up you wrap the hair as well as how big your sections are will determine what kind of curl you get. Clamping from the very end will look more ‘styled’ and I find this doesn’t suit my current hair length; leaving a little gap before you start the curl gives more of a lived in effect. Bigger sections give more relaxed curls and smaller sections give tighter ones, obviously.

How to get loose lived in curls tutorial

THREE. When I’ve done the whole head and look like a poodle, I let it cool for a couple of minutes so the style can set and use the time to pack my gym bag or have a wee or become distracted.

FOUR. When the curls are cool, I spray them with hairspray; again I’m using a Phil Smith Coco Licious one. I found it difficult to find a cruelty-free hairspray I loved as its not the kind of thing I want to spend a lot on, but this one is stocked at Sainsburys, very affordable, smells great and provides long-lasting hold.

How to style loose everyday curls tutorial

FIVE. After another minute or so, I brush through the curls with a wide-tooth comb or brush, then tip them upside down and shake them until they’re just a little less relaxed than I would like.

SIX. If I need some volume or it’s a greasy day, I add a little dry shampoo to the roots (Colab in the paradise scent is my current greasy hair/volume saver and it’s ace).

SEVEN. Just before I leave the house, I tip my head upside down again, tousle the curls up and give it one final hairspray from a reasonable distance for volume, then and a quick mist on the top to hold everything in place.

It takes 10-15 minutes all in, I can do it closer to five if pressed for time (but then I do have about 12 hairs on my entire head, so this will obviously vary depending on how much hair you have), and it lasts all day. That’s pretty much it – nothing special or revolutionary, but very reliable!

This blog post contains a gifted product; all opinions, photography, words and struggle with looking like an egg are entirely my own.

13 thoughts on “An everyday hair styling routine for loose, lived in curls”

    1. Thanks so much lovely! I had mine ages ago but then grew them out, as soon as they were the same length as the rest of my hair I cut them back in immediately haha x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is my favorite (and by favorite I mean only) way to style my hair! Other than that, I’m too lazy to do anything but put dry shampoo in it and hope for the best lollll


    1. Haha that is exactly me too, if I’m styling it then this is what I’m doing and if I’m not…then I just have to hope it’s not too awful. Thanks for reading gal!


  2. Gorg photos Soph. I LOVE having my hair in curls but they never stay! For some reason the only time I can have any kind of waves or texture in my hair is when it’s about 3 days old and smothered in a cocktail of dry shampoo and hairspray. Oh the joys!!xx

    Lucy |


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