How to Use a Marcel Curling Iron for Gorgeous Hairstyles

There are lots of various hair styling devices available. Some are more popular with ordinary users for their simplicity; others are preferred by professional hairstylists for versatility.

In this article, I decided to share with you my secrets on how to use a marcel curling iron, talk about the features of this type of instrument, and honestly describe its advantages and disadvantages.

It is quite possible that you have not even heard of such a tool, so go ahead and read my detailed guide.

Marcel Hair Curler Guide

This instrument has an old-school design and differs from its peers in that it does not have a spring clamp. At the same time, the absence of a spring in a marcel clamp, in combination with a rotating handle, gives professional hairstylists freedom of action.

It will take some time to understand how to curl with a marcel iron, but the result is really worth it.

marcel curling iron testing

What is a marcel curling iron

A marcel iron is kind of like an old-school hair styling tool. Like conventional models, it is equipped with a clamp pressed against the main barrel. However, it does not have a spring that firmly presses the clamp against the barrel.

The mechanism is called a “marcel handle,” and its principle of opening and closing resembles scissors. Although this technique may seem inconvenient and impractical at first glance, in reality, it gives a user more freedom and allows more precise control over the curling process.

Of course, it’s easier to use it when you use such a tool to style someone’s hair. However, a few practical exercises are enough for you to understand the principle of its work and learn how to style your own curls.

Pros and cons of using a marcel curling iron

Even though this type of curling iron looks like old devices from the 19th century, it is equipped with all the necessary features that more modern tools have.

I mean different temperature settings, overheat shutdown, various coating materials to choose from, multiple sizes, and so on. Among the absolute advantages, I can note the following:

marcel curler on cherry hair

  • Excellent heating properties. A barrel heats up fast enough and conducts heat well, so you spend less time styling and reduce the time your curls are exposed to high temperatures.
  • A rotating handle with a soft coating provides maximum comfort during operation. It also lowers stress on the wrist.
  • A clamp without a spring is actually more convenient. There is no need to make an effort to lift it. It makes the device more ergonomic.
  • Although there are tools with different coatings (ceramic, titanium, tourmaline, etc.), marcel curling irons are most often plated with 24K gold. It releases positively charged ions that neutralize negative particles and then makes hair smooth and shiny and removes excess frizz.

Based on these advantages, I think it becomes clear why professionals prefer to use them in their work. However, a marcel curler is not without flaws:

  • Non-standard design and lack of a spring require a certain skill and agility from a user. Learning how to use this tool will take some time and more than one training.
  • If misused, there is a risk of burns to the face, scalp, and hands. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to use heat-protective gloves and protect your scalp with a flat comb as you wind the curl down to the roots.

To minimize these shortcomings, I advise you to try curling your strands with a cold tool. It will help you understand how it works and determine the position of your hands during styling. When you master the basic skills, turn on the device and heat it to the minimum temperature.

How to use a marcel curling iron

Before I get into the step-by-step styling guide, I’d like to go into more detail on how to hold a marcel curler. Whether you’re left-handed or right-handed, hold a barrel handle with your thumb and peace sign fingers (index and middle).

The ring and little fingers should be on a clamp handle. This hand position will allow you to easily raise and lower the clamp, as well as control the curl tightness. Practice for a start and only then go directly to styling.

Step 1: Preparing the strands

Wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner and dry it completely. If you have time, let the locks dry naturally so as not to subject them to extra heat treatment. If you can’t wait, use a blowdryer.

Treat the strands with heat protection products; it can be a spray, oil (argan oil is especially useful), cream, mousse, etc. Do not apply them right to the roots to not weigh them down.

Step 2: Sectioning

Divide your hair into several sections to make it easier for you to process them. Always start at the back of your head and work your way up to the locks near your face.

Leave one part free and secure the rest with hairpins or elastic bands. You need to comb the remaining section and divide it into several strands, no more than 2 inches thick.

marcel curling iron on black hair

Step 3: Starting curling

Heat the device to a temperature suitable for your hair and unlock a clamp (a special button on the handle). Take one of the strands by the tip, bring the barrel under the roots, close the clamp, pull the tool to the ends, and twist the lock.

You can leave some space at the roots and ends for a more natural look. Treat all hair in this way.

Step 4: Fixing the curls

In the process of curling hair, you can secure each curl with bobby pins. Remove the pins when locks have cooled. It will help keep the result for a long time. Also, apply a homemade or professional fixing spray to fix each curl.

hair care tools

FAQs About an Electric Marcel Curling Iron

Mastering a marcel iron is a rather tricky process. To understand all the details, I have collected the most frequent questions from readers in this block.

What is the purpose of a Marcel curling iron?

The unique design of this tool (rotating handle and no clamp spring) gives professionals more control over the hair. They can regulate the degree of strand clamping and thereby determine their tightness. With this device, you can easily create old-Hollywood styling.

What is the difference between a curling iron and a marcel iron?

Classic curling irons have a strong spring that holds a clamp in place and does not have a rotating handle. Also, at the barrel end, such devices usually have a plastic tip, for which you can hold the instrument with your second hand.

Marcel curlers, on the contrary, do not have a spring and a tip, but there is a rotating handle.

How do you hold Marcel iron?

I place my thumb, index, and middle fingers on the main handle, and my ring and little fingers are on the clamp handle. It allows me to hold the tool firmly with my thumb and forefinger and use my other fingers to raise and lower the clamp as needed. This hand position makes it possible to rotate the device, if necessary.

Master an Old School Marcel Iron for Glamorous Looks

Now you know everything about such an awesome tool as a marcel curler. It’s time to go and try it on your hair. Always remember the correct positioning of the fingers and protect your curls from the harmful effects of high temperatures.

Be prepared that it will take some time to hone your skills. But I guarantee that the professional result you get is worth it.

Do you have marcel iron? Are you comfortable using it to style your own hair? Which curling device do you like best?

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Monica Davis

Monica Davis

Monica is a professional men and women's hairstylist and a success coach. She started MyStraightener as a personal blog and it has grown into something bigger. You can also find her writing/speaking about new styling tools, hair products, and the latest things in hairdressing on HuffPost, NBC News, Healthline, etc. Learn more about Monica.

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