Welcome to The Golden Girl–a real girl approach to living your best life! (Because the internet needed a happy medium between real life and the highlight reel.)

learn more >

currently loving

shop all favorites

How to Get Sleek, Old Hollywood Curls

Mar 18, 2016

Easy and Quick Hollywood Hair Tutorial

Wahoo! Happy Friday! I’ve been looking forward to publishing this post ALL WEEK! 

You guys frequently ask questions about my hair–how I curl it, what products I use, and the like, so today I’m excited to share one of my favorite new curling techniques with you–old hollywood curls! It looks really complicated, but it’s actually really simple, and faster than you would think! 

I remember a few years back, scouring Pinterest for an easy way to get those big, glamorous, retro-inspired curls, but I was intimidated and could never quite master the look correctly. 

Then recently, I tweaked my usual curling method slightly, and almost by accident, ended up with my favorite hairstyle to date! Want to know how to do it? Read on! 

Hollywood curls hair tutorial

First, let’s talk about the supplies. The essentials for this tutorial include hair spray (something that is flexible and not too crunchy), duck bill hair clips (these are essential–you can find them at Ulta or any beauty supply store), anti-frizz serum (I love MoroccanOil), a natural bristle brush (I just use my teasing brush) and of course, your curling iron.

A note on curling iron size: Make sure you’re using a 1-1.5 inch iron for this tutorial. I know this can be misleading, because you would think bigger curls=bigger iron, but that’s not really the case. You want to have a tighter curl at the beginning, because we’ll brush them out in the end to create big, loose waves. 

A note on my curling iron in particular: I own a couple curling irons, but if you’re in the market for a new one, I highly recommend Xtava’s 5 in one curling iron, because it’s definitely the most versatile one I own. It comes with five different barrel attachments (both with the traditional clamp AND two wands!) so you can create virtually any curled hairstyle you want without the need for several different sized curling irons. I use mine to create beachy waves, big, loose curls, and pretty much everything in between! It comes with a case to store them all in, and a heat-proof glove to use with the wands so you don’t burn yourself! 

The barrels are all ceramic, which creates super shiny curls, even if my hair is frizzy beforehand! (Which is actually great for me seeing as I haven’t had my hair cut in over a year. YIKES. Putting that on the to-do list…) Additionally, it has an auto turn off feature for forgetful people like me who are at high risk for burning their house down. (Phew.)

Okay, you’ve got the supplies–let’s get down to technique!




Step #1: Prep thoroughly brushed hair with hair spray 

This is self explanatory, but I’ve actually been shocked to learn how many girls out there don’t use hair spray before they curl their hair. There is a perception that it leaves your hair crunchy and sticky, but those days of 80’s Aquanet are long over! Just make sure you go with a light to medium hold–hold your head upside down and give it a thorough spray, and then brush through again. Voila–lot’s of staying power with no crunch! 

Step #2: Curl toward your face 

The biggest thing to remember when going for the old hollywood hair look is to curl toward your face. (Now, if you were going for loose, beachy waves, you’d want to curl away from your face.) You’ll want to work in sections of hair about the width of two fingers (or just slightly wider than your curling iron.) 

The technique I use to get that full curl with volume on top, is to clamp the iron in the middle of your strands, curl the barrel toward your face, and wrap the ends around the bottom. Hold for a couple seconds, opening and closing the clamp a couple times to ensure you don’t create a crease. 

Why hold for such a short amount of time? Because we’re just looking to get the curl super hot, and then we’ll pin it to cool–this process is what creates those pretty waves. The “curl and pin” technique is what makes this method of curling so fast, because you’re only spending a few seconds on each strand. 

(Watch the gif below for a step by step!) 



Step #3: Release and catch the curl

Now, open the clamp (you’ll have to do it a few times) to release your curl, holding the curling iron vertically. Using your other palm, catch the curl in your hand. (It will be hot! So let it cool for a second!) 

You now have a “pin curl” in your hand. Now, twist it back horizontally, rolling against your scalp. Using your hair clip, clamp it in place to let cool. It should look as if you had a curler in your hair. 


IMG_8119 Old Hollywood Pin Curls Made Easy

DIY Old Hollywood Hair Tutorial

Step #4: Repeat until your whole head is curled

Now, you can do this one of two ways. I only own about 5 of these clips, so I typically just curl until I run out, and by then, the first curls I had done are cooled, so then I let those down, and continue until I’m done. If you have enough clips, you can do your whole head, and then go about your business getting ready, doing your makeup, and so-on, before you let your curls down. Totally up to you! 


Step #5: When curls are fully cooled, take clips out, and brush through. 

BRUSH THROUGH!? You say? Won’t that ruin my curls? 

Stick with me–this sounds weird, I know, but just do it. We don’t want to look like Shirley Temple.

I like to use a natural bristle brush (my teasing comb works just fine for this!) and spray a bit of hairspray on it before I run it through my hair. This helps to tame frizz and set everything in place. Brush gently, all the way through from the roots to tip. (A good rule of thumb is to brush from where the curl begins at the top, all the way through the ends.) 

Old Hollywood Hair Tips and TricksHow to get old hollywood hair

Step 6: Finish with a shine serum 

While I often love going for the messy, textured, bed head look, this type of hair style is meant to be glossy and sleek–so pile on the shine serum! I personally love using MoroccanOil, but your favorite finishing serum will do the trick here. 


Easy old hollywood hair tutorial

Hooray! You’re done! That was easy, right? 

For an ultra retro look, tuck one side behind your ear (the one on the same side as your part!) and finish with a classic earring, red lipstick, and full lashes. 

One thing to keep in mind–there is an element of “practice makes perfect” here. The process might take a little bit to get the hang of, but once you’ve done your first few curls, you’ll be able to whip through it with ease. I also do think the quality of your curling iron is important here. With many styles, you can get away with an OK iron, but for this, you’ll need it to be hot. (My Xtava iron heats up to 410 degrees–another reason why I love it so much!) 

Old Hollywood Hair

Get the look: Pink gingham PJ’s c/o Soma (they’re my latest obsession and are the comfiest pajama’s I’ve ever owned!) // Vintage dress //  Givenchy lip color #307 // Essence Cosmetics Mascara // BareMinerals Bare Serum Foundation // E.L.F. Blush + Bronzer Duo

Will you be trying out these old hollywood curls for a night out this weekend? 

This post is sponsored by Xtava, a brand I love and use daily. However, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep GG up and running!

Keep reading...