After spending a lifetime as the girl with the frizzy hair, bless the 21st century and its awesome hair products and techniques. Whether I’m looking for a chic holiday look with bouncy curls or waves, or a sleek blowout for everyday, I am grateful to the experts who work magic on the hair that I struggled with for years.

(My teen self is jealous of my today self!)

So recently, Kristen and I spent a really fun afternoon getting holiday hair at the JCPenney Salon, thanks to the wonderful folks at JCPenney who we are so happy to welcome back as a sponsor! (A day getting our hair done, together followed by a product hunt at Sephora inside JCPenney? Dream job, yo.)

While at the salon, we got some really terrific tips from the pros about the products that will help keep curls lasting longer — whether you’ve got really thick, naturally frizzy/wavy hair like mine, or super straight, thinner hair like Kristen does.

Tips and tricks for getting great curls and keeping them! | Cool Mom Picks

Hey, we’re all busy! If I’m going to be in a chair for an hour or two, I want to get as much time out of that expert curling as possible.

Like a week. For real.

And huge kudos to the entire team at the Queens Center JCPenney Salon, and our stylists Jenni and Allys who are utterly delightful to work with.

1. Start with good, clean hair.

What to use in your hair to help those curls last longer | Cool Mom Picks
The massage…the best part, always!

It may sound counterintuitive to talk about starting with clean hair, but curls don’t make miracles happen; they maximize what you’ve already got! So if your hair is damaged, too dry, too oily, or full of split ends, the curls just won’t hold. So, keep your hair trimmed, clean, and conditioned —¬† but not over-conditioned.

If it’s weighed-down, you may get curls in the chair, but they’ll start disappearing before you even make it out of the salon. So using the right conditioner is key.

Conditioner for thicker hair: Paul Mitchell Full Circle Leave-In Treatment is a great pick for a lightweight conditioner.

Conditioner for thinner hair: Matrix Biolage Hydra Source Daily Leave-In Conditioner is a light spray that gets your hair hydrated and shiny.


2. Use a volumizer — or defrizzer. Depending on your hair type.

Like I said, Kristen has that straight Asian hair while I’ve got the Magenta-from-Rocky-Horror thing going on. Two hair types, and we’re both going for sexy holiday curls. So, we require different products in our hair before any drying, curling, twisting, or pinning begins.

Defrizzer for thick hair: My stylist used Redken One United All-in-One Treatment which I absolutely love! It keeps it from frizzing and keeps it smooth so that those curls actually are curls.

Volumizer for thin hair: Kristen used Paul Mitchell Extra Body Sculpting Foam which is not your mama’s (or your) 80’s mousse! It helps amp up her locks and keep it full and gorgeous.

3. Pick the right curling iron size

Tips for keeping your curls: Use a 1.25" barrel iron or wider, whatever your hair type | cool mom picks

A pro is going to blow out your hair to get it smooth, before using a curling iron, then go back and forth between hairdryer and iron. No need for curlers here, which I find are better when you need a quickie style on dry hair. (That’s what they tend to do for us when we make TV appearances.)

If you want it to last longer, go the curling iron route. If you need to buy one, you definitely want a a 1.25″ -2″ barrel curling iron to create fabulous curls. Any tighter and you could look like Shirley Temple. Any wider, and you may not get the control you need.

Value Curling Iron: Hot Tools 1 1/4″ Gold Curling Iron¬†is what they used on us in the JCPenney Salon and…it’s great!

Splurge Curling Iron:¬†Paul Mitchell Express Gold Curl 1 1/4″ Curling Iron¬†has a few more features. Worth comparing and seeing if the higher price is worth it for you.


4. Spray the hair (lightly) before using the iron

Beauty tip: Spray a little Paul Mitchell Full Circle onto hair before curling to help protect from heat and impart more shine

I am not into using a ton of hairspray so admittedly I was a little nervous when Jenny started spraying my hair after having used the Redken One United. Turns out,¬†Paul Mitchell Super Clean Firm-Style Spray¬†isn’t really a spray spray for hold — it’s “frizz-free curl therapy” and I’m down with that!

She explained that she uses it on my hair just before curling, to help give it more shine and impart more protection from the heat of the iron. And — it worked!

My hair didn’t feel heavy with product at all. Color me impressed.


5. Finish with a light setting spray or a little oil.

I am not a hairspray person (unless I’m doing a TV segment) so I tend to get a little nervous when the hair spray comes out. But I tried the CHI Shine — a new brand to me —¬† and it definitely kept the flyaways and frizz away. Even four to five days later my hair still felt really good and not sticky. Highly recommend!

The best products to help keep your curls, whether you have thick or thinner hair | Cool Mom Picks

Finishing spray for lighter hold: CHI Shine Infusion Thermal Shine Spray gives hair shine and light hold.

Finishing spray for firmer hold: CHI Helmet Head Extra Firm Hair Spray¬†does the trick and it’s affordable!

If you prefer oil: CHI Deep Brilliance Shine Serum is less about traditional hold, and more about keeping dry hair moisturized, and staving off frizz. If it’s particularly dry where you are or you’re battling forced hot air from your heating systems (sigh) it’s a great alternative to those super spendy oils that a lot of salons use.

The results…

Kristen and Liz from Cool Mom Picks on how to make those sexy curls last longer for all your holiday parties | sponsored by JCPenney Salon

We’re ready to do this again next week! (Hint hint, JCPenney)

Thanks so much to our sponsor JCPenney and the amazing team at the¬†JCPenney Salon¬†at the Queens Center Mall! As avowed beauty product snobs, we’re thrilled to get such smart recommendations on products that work for us, without the sticker shock. Find your local JCPenney Salon to make a holiday appointment.