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…
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!
(My hair in its natural, straight state. Oh, and it’s my head that’s lopsided here, by the way, not my haircut!)
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:
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:
Here’s the results I get from this method:
And here’s what it looks like when I’ve brushed it out a little:
Now, 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 here’s what my hair looked like the day after I took these photos:
(Um, this probably doesn’t look particularly impressive to you, but honestly, my hair doesn’t normally look like this an HOUR after curling it, let alone the next DAY…)
To get these loose waves, I put my hair up in a loose, high bun (Which is how I normally wear it to sleep) before bed, and left it like that while I showered and did my makeup the next morning. (Well, OK, I had to re-secure it before the shower, but you know what I mean…) When I let it down, I just gave the roots a quick blast with dry shampoo, and once again, the waves lasted ALL DAY LONG: it’s a Christmas miracle, people! Even more amazingly, having slept with my hair in a bun again, it looked almost exactly the same on day three, albeit with much greasier roots. I couldn’t hold out any longer at that stage, and washed it out, but if you have dryer/more co-operative hair than I do, you’d possibly be able to get three days worth of waves out of it, which I find AMAZING, seriously.
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!