How to create pin curls

Introduction: Pin Curls 101!

How to create pin curls

How to create pin curls

How to create pin curls

Pin curls were the basis of many different classic styles, from the 18th century all the way up to the 1960’s. You can put these in pin curls your hair at night before bed, and in the morning brush it out to Veronica Lake waves, Clara Bow frizz, or a Doris Day flip! Pin curls are a super easy and versatile way to style your hair once you get the technique down.

Step 1: Prep & Supplies

  • a TON of duckbill clips. Like 5 times more than you’d think you need. Use these instead of bobby pins– they’ll be more secure and won’t leave crinkles in your curls.
  • a LOT of super hold gel. If your hair feels like a crunchy helmet when you’re done then you’ve used the correct amount of gel.
  • a rat-tail comb to separate the hair.
  • butterfly clips to section the hair.
  • a spray bottle of water is handy to re-wet the hair if it starts to dry while you’re still working.

This process is best on medium-length to long hair, unless you’re some sort of pin curl savant. It’s very difficult to form a curl on short hair.

Start with sopping wet hair. The wetness will help the hair adhere to itself and stay in place without getting frizzy or bumpy.

Work the gel through the hair. Make sure that the entire head is saturated in gel– don’t be stingy! The more gel you use, the smoother your curls will be and the longer they will last.

Step 2: Section the Hair

Begin by using your rat-tail comb to section the hair. The top section will be what is known as a “mohawk part”– the section from your temples back. Twist it up out of the way and secure it with a butterfly clip.

Next, section the hair above the tops of the ears, twist it up, and secure it.

Step 3: Form Your First Pin Curl

Start with a one-inch section of hair.

Comb through it with the comb facing upwards while drawing the hair upwards. This smooths the hair by making sure it is all going in the same direction.

Now, if you’ve started on your left-hand side, place your index and middle fingers together near the middle of the hair shaft. Loop the hair underneath your fingers and wrap it around. If you’ve started on your right-hand side, wrap the hair OVER your fingers. You want the curl always facing away from your face.

Carefully slide your fingers out of the curl you’ve formed. You can use your thumb and forefinger to pinch it together to hold it.

Utilizing the curl shape you’ve already created, roll the curl all the way to the base of the hair shaft.

Make sure that the curl is flat against the head and is rolled away from the direction of the face.

Slide a duckbill clip through the curl to secure it. Slip the bottom through the root of the hair, next to the scalp, to hold it; then clip the top part THROUGH the curl, not across the entire thing.

Step 4: Continue Pin Curling

Continue creating pin curls, using uniform sections of hair in straight rows. Keep the pins all going the same way.

Once you’ve pin curled all of the hair except for the top “mohawk part” section, you can decide where you’d like your hair to part. For a deep side part a la Veronica Lake, roll the pin curls in the mohawk section all the same way (in the direction that you’d like your hair to part). You can also part it in the middle or give yourself a less deep side part, just keep the curls all going away from your face.

Step 5: Dry & Done!

If you’re sleeping in your pin curls, I would recommend tying a scarf all around your head before going to bed to protect the curls (and your pillowcases!). If you have a hood dryer, USE IT! You can sit underneath it until the curls are partially dry, wrap your head, go to bed, and sit underneath it again in the morning before removing the pins to refresh your style, instead of sitting under it until you’re completely dry.

If you have thick hair, you might want to do your pin curls in the morning on a day when you don’t have to leave the house and keep them in until they’re dry the next morning. It usually takes my hair about 2-3 days to dry when I do pin curls, which is why when my hair is long I’ve moved on to the hard set (tutorial up Friday!).

When you remove the pins, start at the bottom and slide them out carefully to avoid catching the hair and messing up your curl pattern. Finger-tousle the curls to relax them slightly before doing any sort of styling.

For springy curls and waves that don’t look like dreadlocks, comb through your hair with a wide-toothed comb.

For a 1920’s teased look, comb through your hair with a fine-toothed comb, smoothing down the top and teasing the bottom.

For serious waves and volume that will stay all day, brush through hair with a bristle brush.

If you have long hair, you can finger wave the top and pin curl the bottom.

There are seriously OODLES of styles that you can create with pin curls as the basis. My model had extremely damaged hair and didn’t quite dry all the way overnight so she ended up with the tousled-curl look you see above, but the great thing about that is that even slightly damp, as long as you hairspray it, the shape will hold all day (or until you get it wet). This is GREAT for ethnic hair as well (though I’d recommend checking out a tutorial specifically designed for that hair texture as it does behave differently than my type of hair).

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How to create pin curls

Tight pin curls are such a fun look for short hair!

Pin curls are little spiral ringlets. The method below is one that has been used since the 1920s. Although styling irons are much more practical in this day and age, pin curling can still give you the same luscious and bouncy curls without the damage caused by heat styling.

How to Do Pin Curls to Get Tight Ringlets

Tight ringlets are easy to achieve with this method, but it does take some time.

What You Need

  • Bobby pins (twice as many as the number of desired curls)
  • A comb
  • Spray bottle of water


  1. Dampen your hair.
  2. Separate your hair into sections.
  3. Start with one section. Take small strands of hair and wrap them around your finger.
  4. Once the hair is wrapped tightly around your finger, slide the curl off of your finger and pin it to your scalp with two bobby pins in an X shape. (The tighter you wrap the hair, the tighter your ringlet will be.)
  5. Work your way around to each section.
  6. Once all the curls are pinned, leave them in until they are dry.
  7. Leaving the pins in overnight will set your hair even better.
  8. Once dry, remove the pins.
  9. Use hair spray to help the curls keep their shape better.

This is a great evening look for women and also fun to do for children.

How to Do Pin Curls for Big, Loose Curls

You can also use this tutorial to get big, beautiful waves without using a curling iron. This process is exactly the same as the one above, except you will be using bigger sections of hair.

What You Need

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  • Bobby pins ( twice as many as the number of desired curls)
  • Spray bottle full of water
  • Comb


  • Comb through your hair to get out all tangles.
  • Using a spray bottle, dampen your hair with water.
  • Part your hair into sections.
  • Take large pieces of hair and swirl it into a circle. You can use your finger as a guide, but don’t wrap it around your finger.
  • Pin the circles in an X shape using two pins.
  • Repeat this for each section.
  • Once finished, let your hair dry out.
  • Unpin the curls after drying and spray with holding spray, if needed.

About Pin Curls

Pin curling started in the 1920s, and this hairstyle was a very popular look for women throughout the ’20s and ’30s. However, because heat styling did not exist back in the day, curls were not the easiest hairstyle to achieve. Nowadays, with modern hairstyling tools, pin curling is not quite as popular as it used to be, but it is still a great way to get beautiful curls without heat damage.

Some More of My Work

  • How to Darken Your Hair Color Naturally at Home
    How to darken your hair color with natural products at home. Use ingredients like cocoa and sage.
  • How to Lighten Your Hair Naturally at Home
    These tips use natural ingredients, are inexpensive, and will not cause damage to your hair.

© 2012 Brittanie Anne


Annmarie OGrady on April 23, 2019:

Do you put in any gel or anything beforehand?

Brittanie Anne (author) from Seattle WA on September 22, 2012:

Thank you for commenting I really like using pin curls because they don’t cause the damage that curling irons do but it does take a lot more time 🙂

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on August 29, 2012:

I have fine hair and I know pincurls really bulk it up. Only problems are the time-consuming aspect of getting the pincurls in. However the style has real staying power.

Enjoyed reading this Hub. Good information on pincurls!

How to create pin curls

Instructor Stacey Broughton
Duration 17 minutes
Skill level Foundation


Learn how to create pin curls and finger waves in this foundation MHD styling and dressing video tutorial with freelance educator Stacey Broughton. You will explore the history of finger waves, the key points for a successful application and the various types of pin curls. The final result is a modern take on a twenties flapper look.

Members can also download our Creatively Pin Curling & Finger Wave Hair step-by-step guide.


Learn how to create pin curls and finger waves in this foundation MHD styling and dressing video tutorial with freelance educator Stacey Broughton. You will explore the history of finger waves, the key points for a successful application and the various types of pin curls. The final result is a modern take on a twenties flapper look.

Members can also download our Creatively Pin Curling & Finger Wave Hair step-by-step guide.

  • Beta keratin
  • Clock sprung pin curls
  • Finger waves
  • Flat barrel pin curls
  • Flat clips
  • Half stand barrel pin curls
  • Humidity
  • Hydrogen bonds
  • Long stem pin curls
  • Mousse
  • Movement
  • Parting
  • Pin curls
  • Product
  • Sculptured pin curls
  • Sectioning
  • Styling products
  • Tension

Do you want to have gorgeous curls, without having to use hot tools that may damage your hair? Or, do you want a curl that will finally hold in your hair? If your answer is yes, then this blog is for you. Today we will be showing you how to create beautiful pin curls.

Pin curls are a perfect heatless hairstyle that has been popular since the 1900s. Pin curls are easy to create, and will help you create beautiful Hollywood glam curls that will last you for days!

Is your hair too short to re-create this look or would you like more added thickness? We have you covered. You can add your very own Eden Hair Extensions to help you achieve this amazing look. Both Eden Clip In Hair Extensions and Eden Tape-In Hair Extensions are perfect for pin curls.

Step 1: Apply curl-setting cream.

First, apply a generous amount of curling cream. This will help to define your pin curls, reduce any freeze and hold them in place.

Step 2: Section.

Grab a two-inch section from the front of your head.

Step 3: Roll Hair.

Step 4: Repeat Rolling Process.

Continue to complete rolling your hair, until your hairline is filled with pin curls.

How to create pin curls

Step 5: Complete the sides.

Create sections on the side of your head and continue rolling.

Step 6: Curl the bottom.

Now, section the back of your hair and place it in a ponytail or clip. Create two sections, at the nape of your neck, and continue to create pin curls.

Step 7: Curl the rest of your hair.

Undo the section of hair in a ponytail or clip and begin to complete the last pin curls.

Step 8: Let your hair set and then take our your pin curls.

You can let your hair set for a couple of hours or let it set overnight. Once you are ready, unravel your pin curls one at a time for the best result.

Step 9: Apply hair wax and serum.

We recommend using a dime-size amount of hair wax to hold the curls and keep them long-lasting. We also like to apply some hair serum to reduce any frizz.

Step 10:Add your Hair Extensions.

You can choose to add your Eden Clip In Extensions at the beginning of this style however we prefer to repeat the above steps on our clip in wefts when they are out and then add them to our hair before we complete the entire look.

How to create pin curls

Step 11: Brush your hair.

Step 12: Set in place.

Spray a bit of hair spray to set your pin curls and keep them looking great for days!