For the ladies who love to rock curly strands on the daily, we know you have your styling routine down pat. You’ve figured out the ideal setting to get long-lasting bends and your go-to finishing products are lined up on your vanity at all times. Sure, you’re in your groove, but even the most seasoned curling iron pro can make a slew of mistakes along the way, resulting in a style that reads more unfinished than unbelievable. Read on to learn about five common mistakes you might be making — and how to fix them.

Mistake #1: Creating waves that go toward your face: Your waves could actually be closing off your face, depending on which direction they go. “Waves that go away from your face — instead of facing inward — open up the area around your cheekbones,” says Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist. Switching the side of your curl can trip up some people, so try a hot tool that automatically rotates in each direction, like Potempa’s Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron ($129) or a clipless wand like the Drybar The Wrap Party Styling Wand ($165) to make the process easier.

Mistake #2: Overloading the curling iron barrel: “If too much hair is on the barrel, some of it won’t get hot,” explains Alli Webb, founder of Drybar. “You’ll be left with a wonky, unfinished wave or curl.” Patience is a virtue, y’all, so take your time and work in small, manageable sections. “Generally speaking, one to two-inch sections are best,” Webb says.

Mistake #3: Brushing curls out too quickly: It’s no secret that breaking up curls is the secret to that tousled, beachy look, but timing is key. “Brushing or running your fingers through the hair immediately after curling will cause the curls to fall out quickly,” says Potempa. Remember when we said patience is important during the curling process? The same concept applies after you’re done styling. “To make the waves last, wait to brush your curls out until they are completely cool,” Potempa recommends.

Mistake #4: Not using proper heat protection: Skip this essential hair product and sooner or later, you’ll be dealing with weakened strands, breakage, frizz, and dullness. “A heat protectant that claims it protects up to a professional grade of 450 degrees is an incredible way to create a barrier between the cuticle of the hair and the heat of the iron,” Potempa says. Webb echoes that sentiment and adds, “It’s an absolute must-have when using any hot tool. Period.”

Mistake #5: Holding the tool horizontally: Angles are everything! The way in which you handle your tool can drastically change the final outcome of your ‘do. Gripping your curling iron or wand horizontally can lead to tight, Shirley Temple-like ringlets. “I always recommend holding the curling iron or wand vertically,” Webb explains. “It’s the best way to achieve a natural-looking wave.”

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