How to Create Modern Ringlet Curls

hair trends macgraw
Katrina Lawrence

Beauty Writer

Feb 17, 2024

Perhaps it’s a homage to the late, great Shirley Temple: ringlets have been rearing their twirly heads on the red carpet of late.

Witness the usually-sleekly-styled Gwyneth Paltrow (above), along with Brit it-girl Laura Whitmore (below left) and Selena Gomez, whose hairstylist coiled her ponytail to super-pretty effect.

“For years, we’ve held tongs horizontally, which creates those big beachy Gisele waves, but lately there’s been a move back to vertically tonging hair,” notes hairstylist Anthony Nader. “One advantage of a vertical curl, or ringlet, is that it keeps length in the hair, whereas a horizontal curl promotes a wider look. But luckily the new version is a softer, looser and fatter style of ringlet – it’s a world away from the tight, spiral ’80s ones!”

Ringlets certainly earned a bad name for themselves during the perm-loving 1980s. But flash forward a quarter of a century, and it might just be time to revisit – and reinterpret – ringlet curls.

The easiest way to create vertical ringlets is with a hair-curling contraption such as Rusk MiraCurl or VS Sassoon Curl Secret – these nifty gizmos feature a heated chamber that sucks up a section of hair, spins it around and sets it in a coil, which in turn creates a spiral effect.

“Just be sure to brush these curls out for the most modern look,” adds Nader, who personally prefers to create ringlets using a clamp-less 1- or 1.5-inch barrel tong.

“The key is to work on bigger sections of hair – think three inches by three inches,” he advises. “This way you’ll get more air in the hair and it will move, which makes it modern. Another way to ensure you look on-trend and not retro is to start curling at cheekbone height, so that you have a smoothness over the crown.”

Once fired up, Nader says to hold your tong vertically and wrap a section of hair – which should be flat, not twisted – around and down the rod, always directing away from your face. “Hold hair here for thirty seconds or so, then let it go,” he says. Work your way to the back of head, then repeat on your other side.

The finishing touch? “Don’t forget to lightly brush the curls through for the most modern look,” stresses Anthony.

Not that there’s anything wrong with retro-esque ringlets, if that’s the look you’re after – as Zooey Deschanel evidently was here:

Zooey Deschanel Ringlets

And, of course, if your hair is naturally full of tight curls, just like Kerry Washington, now is the time to wear them with pride.

Kerry Washington Ringlets

After all, it would be an ideal tribute to the late great Ms Temple.


By Katrina Lawrence

Beauty Writer

Katrina Lawrence has specialized in beauty journalism for more than 20 years. After starting her career as the beauty and lifestyle editor of Cleo magazine, she then went on to help launch SHOP Til You Drop magazine, where she held he reins as deputy editor/beauty director for several years. Next came a freelance role, based in both New York and Sydney and writing for titles including madison, Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan and Sunday Life and Katrina is one of Australia’s most awarded beauty writers, having won over ten industry awards. She now lives in Paris, where she wrote the book Paris Dreaming.



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