Fight for Your Right to Party with Big, Bouncy Party Curls

Published in: Hair

This series is powered by Pantene.

Big, bouncy curls


True story: I used to run around the house singing (rapping?) the Beastie Boys’ Fight for Your Right to Party at the top of my lungs when it came out back in 1986, and it totally threw my parents for a loop. Bless their hearts, they were first generation Americans, and they didn’t always grasp the subtleties of pop culture or understand my appreciation for things like rap.

“You gotta fight for your right to party.”
— Beastie Boys

Never mind that I was only 11 at the time. My mum literally thought that I was ready to fight for my right to party, and she reacted like any responsible parent would. She banned me from dating until 25 and said “No parties until you finish medical school at the top of your class!”

That plan didn’t last long, of course. I went on my first date at 14 and never quite made it to med school (I can’t stand the sight of blood). As for the partying, well, I did my share in college, but not enough to turn me into a cautionary tale.

These days, the parties I go to usually involve the letter B — bridal showers, baby showers and birthdays (NOTE: more often with inflatable bounce houses than kegs). But every once in a blue moon someone will invite me to a fancier shindig, and when they do, WOOHOO! It’s time to bust out the Spanx, put away the stretchy pants and build some big, bouncy curls. πŸ™‚

When it comes to party hair, I like BIG volume and curls (think Victoria’s Secret runway hair). It can look hard to style, but it doesn’t have to be if you have enough time and the right tools.

I learned this particular method from a hairstylist I visited before an event a few years ago, and I’ve been using it ever since.

It begins with a dry head of hair and three things — a curling iron, a heat protectant spray and a bottle of flexible/soft hold hairspray. I usually get the best results one or two days after my last shampoo, but freshly washed dry hair works too.

Next, working with a single one-inch section of hair at a time, I spray a small amount of heat protectant from roots to ends. Then, to give the hair some hold, I spritz hair spray along the length of the same section before popping it into the curling iron. I let the iron do its thing for anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute before gently releasing the curl.

As I do each section, I alternate the direction of the curls (clockwise and counter-clockwise), with some facing outward and some inward, to keep things from looking too uniform.

After the last section, I let the curls cool for about 15-30 minutes while I finish getting ready. Once they’ve cooled, I gently run my fingers through the curls to break them up, and then spray my entire head again with hair spray to lock the style into place.


Whoa-oh, we’re halfway there (whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!)

And after!

I have a lot of hair, so this takes me about an hour to do. It may take you a little more or less, but when you’re done you’ll be rewarded with big, bouncy, runway-worthy curls that are ready to dance the night away. πŸ™‚


My calendar is currently clear of parties, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Do you have a go-to party hair look, or do you like to switch it up? What are your favorite party girl hair styles, and how do you do them?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict


P.S. Happy Monday!


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 74 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Gina says:

    I’ve never given big, bouncy curls a try. Hmm… I might have to soon! Also, what lipstick are you wearing? It looks fantastic!

  2. Fieran says:

    Awww πŸ™‚ You look awesome. That coral-ish lipstick is so spring.

    All that treadmill workouts are paying off, woman!
    Fieran recently posted … A Good Weekend Yet Another Reason Why I Like Norway

  3. Tara Jobe says:

    I also love big curls for parties! Your hair looks amazing, by the way! I like the tip about alternating the direction of the curls…very cool! Thanks for the tips!
    Tara Jobe recently posted … How to Properly Apply Perfume

  4. Emily says:

    I liked to go for curls and a super straight fringe before my bangs grew out. Now I usually reach for my flat iron and a half-up pony tail for special events.

    The tips for curling hair are something I’ll have to give a go. My hair doesn’t seem to like the curling iron, and usually I have to reach for a mousse, but maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily,

      Try the hair spray. You could always also applying a lightweight spray gel first on damp hair, let it dry and then do the heat protectant/hairspray combo.

  5. Saffron says:

    This is my first ever insight into how the other (not naturally supercurly) half live – one of the upsides of curly hair is that you wake up in the morning with huge hair and any styling efforts are aimed at toning it down so that you don’t go thru the day looking like Alice from Dilbert. That ‘do is rockin, there’s no way I’d have self control enough to walk around with hair like that and not try to swish it around constantly like my own personal Pantene commercial.

    • Karen says:

      After I did that hair style I spent the rest of the day tossing my hair around and pretending I was in a hair commercial. I think I might’ve pulled a neck muscle, LOL!

  6. Laurina says:

    That lipstick looks really fab on you!!! Wish I had longer hair so I could try this for my next party!

  7. lexi says:

    “I’ll kick you outta my house if you don’t cut that hair!”


    love it! looks gorg

  8. Vijaya says:

    Your curls look amazing! My hair doesn’t style well, so I have to settle with what my curls look like naturally.
    Vijaya recently posted … Kat Von D Painted Love Lipstick- Homegirl and Mi Vida Loca

  9. Annie says:

    the curls look great! (but your hair also looks so healthy even when its straight!)

    The makeup looks stunning as well… your blush is particularly natural looking for your skintone! What are you using on the face?

  10. lia says:

    oo, love the curls! They look great on you. Unfortunately, my hair is short right now, so no big bouncy curls for at least 6 months. …unless summer has it’s way with me and I get a pixie cut. Then it might be a few years, lol.

  11. Ruchita says:

    Love this look on you Karen! Definitely a fun idea for parties.

    When I had longer (shoulder-length) hair, I used to use hot rollers to get bouncy curls. My hair is around chin length now, but sometimes I’ll use a small barrel curling iron to add some waves.

    Happy Monday to you as well! πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruchita,

      Fun! I love the look of waves on chin-length hair. I’m tempted to cut mine off into a bob…

      • Ashley says:

        Ack! Don’t Karen! You have beautiful hair!!! PLUS bobs are cute BUUUUUT they are a PIA to style trust me I know. Gone are the ponytail days and the loose buns on the run… I am growing mine out now! Too much work between the drying, the styling and then the flat ironing. Only to wake up the next morning with severe bed head and having to repeat the process ALL over again… Get a wig and go bob! ;D

  12. Lucy says:

    Love this, it really suits you – I can never get my hair in as big a curl as this πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lucy,

      What kind of curling iron are you using? If you want big, loose curls like this one the ones with the bigger barrel seem to offer the best results.

  13. shusheshe says:

    I’m always envious of people who can do big bouncy curls like you do. Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough hair to pull of that look, and what I do have is too thin and soft to hold curls like that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shusheshe,

      I bet your hair can do some seriously cute updos though! I have a hard time with those… they take forever and it takes a mountain of pins/hairspray to keep it in place.

  14. Jessica says:

    I could never fully accomplish the big bouncy curl look, which I absolutely adore and it looks fab on you! Keep up the great work – ps, loving your blog!
    Jessica recently posted … Sigmabeautycom Top Seller- Heart Shaped Mirror – High Society

  15. Kate says:

    Wow, you look so beautiful here. Love the orange lipstick on you, so flattering.

  16. Nina says:

    because my hair is at a weird length – i invested in a small set of hot rollers to make some lopsided curls to make the weirdness of my hair less apparent.

    this post just reminds me to embrace the wave in my hair! πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Your hair will get their soon! πŸ™‚

      How are you liking your hot rollers? I have a set and find them quite challenging to use. I’m much more comfortable with a curling iron.

      • Nina says:

        it took a bit of getting used to – i always worry ill burn my fingers!

        but it really works. i plug it in when i get up. take a shower, and start w/ my eyemakeup.

        i blowdry and put on the hot rollers and then do the rest of my face.

        by the time im done w/ my makeup, i just need to get the hot rollers off, brush my hair bent from the waist and im good to go.

        i use a paul mitchell serum before i blow dry and the tresemme heat protectant spray before i put on the hot rollers and after i take them off. πŸ™‚

  17. steph b says:

    I have wavy hair that I scrunch into curly for parties. I get thinner curls and would love this biggier, bouncier look. But an hour???? I dunno that I could handle that.

    • Karen says:

      I have a LOT of hair, which is probably why it takes so long. It goes by fast if you put a movie on and kind of half listen to it while you’re doing your hair or listen to a pod cast.

  18. agnes says:

    I love your lipstick! What brand is it and what’s the name of the colour? πŸ™‚

  19. Meghan says:

    I LOVE IT!!! You look gorgeous with the “supermodel” curls!
    Meghan recently posted … Haul Time- Target

  20. Ariel Marie says:

    Lovin the curls! And please share the details on that AMAZING lip color!!

  21. Tiffany H. says:

    Your hair looks great Karen!
    Tiffany H. recently posted … Look For Less-Christian Louboutin Mad Marta

  22. Kim says:

    Love it! I’m a fan of the curls myself, though I usually sport the smaller variety that I get from scrunching with my hand while blowing dry. My every day hair and party hair look pretty much interchangeable. πŸ™‚

  23. Cassie says:

    The little anecdote at the beginning was hilarious.

    I normally like to rotate the curl directions at the back of my head to make it look messy and more voluminous, but rotate the curls away from my face towards the front, as it keeps strands from falling to my face and sticking to any lipgloss I’m wearing at the time.

    Love the coral shade so much! What brand and colour is it?

    Also, did you just clip the golden locks seem in the curls on at the end, or did you decide to rebel just a little?

    Cassie x

  24. Lucie says:

    Curling irons just do not work for my hair. It’s so thin and straight, any attempt at curling will just put awful kinks in to it. πŸ™ Those curls are FIERCE! Love ’em!

  25. Alka says:

    I love how your big bouncy curls really showcase your new haircolor! I am in the process of growing out my chin length bob and my big curling iron has become my new best friend! Since my hair is shorter I hold my curling iron tip down and just wrap what I can around the whole barrel for a few seconds then let the curl fall into my palm to cool. My favorite party look is to pull my hair back into a low ponytail on the side opposite my natural part, add a few sparkly clips to tame the strays and I am good to go.

  26. Trisha says:

    I’m really loving the streaks in your hair right now. So coppery, but in a good way. Beautiful.

    And thanks for the tips!
    Trisha recently posted … Vote for Makeup Files for 2011 Top Beauty Blog!

  27. LuvJaime says:

    Dang you sexxxxay girl! I’d love for my puny fine hair to look that hot!

  28. Erica says:

    I wear curls almost every day, my hair is long (almost to my waist) & thick, so I use this trick:
    Immediately after releasing the curl, I gently coil it up to my scalp & clip it in place with a duckbill clip (usually made out of aluminum, they are around 3-4″ long, & look like a narrow, well, duck’s bill). I let them “cool” for anywhere from 10-45 minutes, mist them with hairspray (Aquage Finishing Spray or L’Oreal’s Elnette, they’re nearly identical), release the clips & run my fingers gently through.
    This works for all hair types, & will last on my hair until I wash it again. I would say it also helps that I’m a hair stylist, but I’ve been doing my hair like this before I ever went to cosmetology school πŸ˜€

  29. Christy says:

    wow very nice! May I ask what specific heat protectant and hair spray you use? I use a Chi for my curls and it has worked the best than any other curlers I’ve had in the past (although those admittedly were Revlon ones from Walmart – so probably not the best for amazing, big bouncy curls).
    Christy recently posted … NEW BLOG SALE

  30. Joyce B says:

    Those curls look gorgeous. I love the bronze streaks in your hair too. I don’t know if I’d have the patience to curl my hair for an hour though. πŸ™

  31. Linnea says:

    Hey Karen,

    I love doing my hair like this.. You totally got it with the Victoria Secret description! I’m the same though.. I have LOADS of hair, and so this takes me quite a long time to achieve.

    What hairspray do you use? My current one gets all crunchy πŸ™

    Also, whenever I use heat protectant spray(I bought that Tresemme one that everyone recommends and really like it) my hair gets .. well.. wet. I don’t think I’m using too much, and especially since you recommend individually spraying the section.. do you just curl the “wet” hair? I don’t know if I’m freaking out about nothing!

  32. Marian says:

    Your hair looks gorgeous and that lipstick was made for you! Love it!

  33. Elle says:

    You look stunning! Wish I could do my hair like this every day.

  34. Kelly says:

    I have two tips for getting bouncy curls – use two different sized curling irons and wrap hair around the outside for about 15-30 seconds, and get an In-Styler…it’s amazing! Plus it makes curling or straightening your hair very easy. (I’m not being paid to shill for them; I have one and honestly love it.)

    On another note, I love your hair! What picture did you take to your stylist because I would love to get the same haircut. Thanks!

  35. RubyMines says:

    wow! I not only love your hair but your tangerine lipstick! What a perfect color for you! it adds great dimension to your face. πŸ™‚
    RubyMines recently posted … Look of the Day- Leifsdottir Brights and Neutrals

  36. Coral says:

    I’m always a fan of any advice on how to get those big, Victoria Secret style curls. When I want to look especially made up I’ll do the curls but they end up going flat some time before the night’s done and I’ve mostly learned to just go with it. But this I will definitely have to try.
    On a small tangent, I told my boyfriend I wanted Victoria Secret hair and he just looked at me with this puzzled look on his face. I think it’s a legitimate request.

  37. Lee says:

    They look awesome, i havent done curls 4 a looonnnggg time lol i might try again this wkend

    i usually use velcro rollers instead, i dont seem 2 be that good with the iron myself unless im doing someone else hair lol
    what size tong did u use?


  38. elwoods17 says:

    Wow! Va-va-voom Karen! This look with the lipstick looks a bit vintage like 1940s but more modern of course. I want to try but no parties lately to go to….oh wait…there is my finished the bar exam “party.” Dinner with 3 of my girlfriends. Starts with a “b” too! Sucks when all your girlfriends get engaged or serious relationships…you never party with them anymore!

  39. jess says:

    hey what size curling iron did you use for this look?

  40. Sarah says:

    I just have to say your hair is awesome. Don’t think my fine barely wavy hair would hold it but it’s worth a try. Thats gorgeous.

  41. Priscilla says:

    What size curling iron barrel did you use? It looks great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge