What effects does it have?

What is it?

Using heated curling tongs to add curls or waves to straight hair.

How long does it last?

The effects last until the hair becomes wet, but will gradually wear off over time.

More information


A common cause of serious injuries to children is burns from home use of hair curling tongs. If you are in a home containing children pay particular care to keep children away until the tongs have completely cooled, which may take several minutes.

Curling tongs (also known as curling irons) use a barrel which are heated up to approximately 200°C. The heat and tension from winding the hair around the barrel breaks chemical bonds in the hair proteins, causing them to reform into the new shape. A variety of different sizes and shapes of barrel are available, creating different shaped curls and waves.

To reduce the amount of damage to the hair caused by styling, it is important to use curling tongs on dry hair, and to use a heat-protection spray 1.

It also possible to use some hair straighteners to put waves in hair. You can find tutorial videos on YouTube that will tell you how to do this.

As your hair curling will be undone if your hair becomes wet, it may be useful to invest in a shower cap, which will keep your hair dry while you wash the rest of your body in the shower.

A more permanent alternative to using curling tongs is permanent hair curling using chemicals.

Curling tongs come in a large range of prices, from £10 to over £100.


  1. 1 Christian, Paul, Winsey, Nigel, Whatmough, Marie and Cornwell, Paul A (2011) “The effects of water on heat-styling damage.” Journal of cosmetic science, 62(1), p. 15.

Errors and omissions

Is there something missing from this page? Have you spotted something that isn't correct? Please tweet us or message us on Facebook to let us know, or file an issue on GitHub.

Page last updated: August 2017