Watching someone adept at using a Marcel iron is both beautiful and intimidating if you’re not part of the tribe. And it’s a tribe worth joining for a very important reason. “It’s so fast!” says Detra Smith, Artistic Director for HOT Tools Professional. “And really much easier than curling hair with a spring iron.” Here, Detra shares her tried and true tips and techniques for mastering the Marcel and provides a riveting demo!

Watch Detra and her HOT Tools Professional Black Gold Marcel Curling Iron/Wand in action!

  1. Prep properly. Your chances for success go up 1,000 times if you prepare the hair with a smooth, proper blowout before you begin curling the hair.
  2. Section size matters. The equation goes like this: to determine section size, evaluate hair texture + desired curl result. Thicker hair requires smaller sections than fine hair. Tighter curl requires smaller sections than looser curl. And if you want to loosen a too-tight curl, simply re-curl a larger section.
  3. Clasp and release. “Every professional stylist should know how to use a Marcel iron,” says Detra. 

    On the HOT Tools Pro Black Gold Marcel, both the base and marcel handles rotate.  Be sure to unlock both. Be sure to unlock the handle. Grasp the base in your palm between your thumb and forefinger and place the handle between your index and middle finger. Move those fingers to open and close the handle. After placing the hair in the iron, close the handle around the hair, move all fingers to the top of the handle, and twirl the hair around the entire iron. Then reposition your fingers around the handle to release it.

  4. Use protection. Everyone knows heat protection sprays are essential for staving off thermal damage. “I like to spray the hair and then brush it through before I start curling,” says Detra. “That way it’s evenly distributed, the product won’t stick to the iron and the hair won’t tangle. If you do use a lot of product, the Black Gold iron is ideal. It has a corrosion-resistant surface that you can easily wipe off so there is no build up.”
  5. Monitor the temp. Detra says the biggest pitfall with any iron is when stylists and clients set the temperature too high. “If you’re ironing your clothes and you’re doing a silk blouse,” she explains, “setting the iron for cotton will melt the garment. Same is true for hair. So be sure to choose an iron like the Black Gold which offers a wide variety of settings for every type of hair.” This is Detra’s go-to temperature guide:
  • Fragile: 250 degrees
  • Fine: 300 degrees
  • Medium: 350 degrees
  • Medium to Coarse: 400 degrees
  • Coarse: 425 degrees
  1. Follow the color. Curls and balayage go together like peanut butter and jelly. Each makes the other even better. When curling balayaged hair, place the iron to start the curl at the point on each section where the balayage really “kicks in” advises Detra. It may be at different points around the head, so follow the color pattern with your curls. And remember, balayaged and lightened hair is often not as sleek and shiny on the ends as it is on top. So when blow drying, use a smoothing cream and blow dry from roots to ends to polish the hair completely.
  2. End on the right note. For modern, undone ends, stop curling before you reach the end of each section. Then simply drag the iron through the ends to warm and smooth the hair and eliminate frizz.

Show us your best curl creations using a marcel and you could win one for free! 


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