Girls with Curls

Chances are, you have seen those Irish Step Dancers with their sproingy-boingy curls that bounce right along with the music.

A Full Head of Curls

Have you ever wondered how the dancers get those lustrous curls?   OK, I admit, quite a few of them might be wearing wigs, but many, many of those girls spend a great deal of time fashioning those curls.  Follow the steps below, and you will be able to turn even the most stick straight hair into a cascade of ringlets.

By way of background, my daughter has been taking Irish Step Dancing for only 2 years now, but she has participated in about 10 events, including public performances, private performances and parades, we have had a great deal of practice making our curls.  Let me just say, I completely understand the appeal of wearing a wig.  My daughter has 4 performances and one parade over St. Patrick’s Day week this year; however the older girls may have twice as many.  Understanding the amount of time it takes to do one’s hair, topping off with a wig makes perfect sense.  However, there is still something fun and satisfying about launching an explosion of curls on your daughter’s head.

So, here you go – the secret, unveiled:

What you will need:

What You Will Need

  • Bendable curlers such flexi rod or soft spikes.  We use about 30 flexi rod curlers.  The narrower the rod, the tighter the curl.
  • Spray gel – we used Garnier Fructis.  Just make sure it is strong hold.
  • End papers – those little tissue paper squares which can be bought a beauty supply store like Sally Beauty Supply or, simply, CVS

Ready, set, curl!

Curlers Are In Place – The Waiting Begins!

  • Begin with dry hair that has not been washed in at least 24 hours
  • Beginning at the top, front of the head, you will work with 1 – 1.5 square inch sections
  • Pull out a section and spray on a light coating of spray gel, enough to dampen, but not soak the hair
  • Wrap the end-paper around the tip of the hair
  • Roll the section of hair completely and bend the curler to hold the hair
  • Working top to bottom, front to back, roll the entire head of hair in sections
  • If you can let it dry overnight, that is great, but not necessary; a few hours will do the trick.  It just needs to be long enough for the spray gel to dry completely
  • Blow the whole head with a hot hair dryer for a few minutes to set the curl.  Be sure to keep the dryer moving so you don’t burn the scalp
  • If your hair dryer has a cool setting, blow on cool for a couple minutes.
  • Unroll the curlers, starting at the bottom of head, being careful to ‘twist’ off the curl, rather than unwind it
  • Now, time to spring!

Right After the Curlers Came Out

Lot’s of Curls!

From the Front – We Left the Bangs Straight


As you can see from the picture to the side, my daughter’s hair is thick, but very straight.

Using this method, we can get the curls to stay in her hair for about 2 days.  You can also see that her hair is a few inches below her shoulders.  When curled, it is just below her chin.  We put the curlers in at night, since her most recent performance was early morning.   In the top photo, you can see a few stray pieces from where she took out a few curlers because they were making it uncomfortable to sleep.  Normally, I would twist the stray hair in with another curl to hide it.

As I was writing this post, I started wondering why do Irish Step Dancer actually wear their hair in those curls?  I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this story, but apparently, Irish women would set their hair in curlers on Saturday night in preparation for Mass on Sunday.  Then, they would dance at the Ceilis in the afternoon with their hair still curled from church.  Dancers today still curl their hair to carry on the custom.

And, yes, boys can dance, too!  Here is a picture of both kids getting ready for performances this St. Patrick’s Day.  You would never guess it from the picture, but my son actually loves to dance.

Ready To Dance!

St. Patrick’s Day – 2013

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