Crimped hair is hair that’s been styled into tight, zig-zag shaped waves which result in a crinkly, wavy look. Crimped hairstyles became popular in the ’90s with stars like Britney Spears, Hilary Duff and Christina Aguilera championing the look.
You can achieve crimped hair in a variety of ways, the most obvious being specialistic hair crimpers (like hair straighteners but with crimping plates), but regular straighteners and wearing braids overnight can also help you get the look.
From all-out ’90s inspired styles to more understated options, there are a million ways you can wear crimped hair. A kinky voluminous pony, Instagrammable zig-zag curls and a twist on classic Hollywood waves, here are some of our favourite hairstyles to rock with crimped hair.
Natural-looking crimped hair
We are obsessed with the more modern, and let’s be honest more wearable, crimped hairstyles we’ve seen all over the catwalk in 2019. Hair was styled in a centre parting and the crimps were given a more natural and non-uniformed finish. Credit: @laurentphilippon
Runway Crimped Hair
The runway is a great source of hair inspiration and the 2019 shows were awash with crimped hairstyles from 3.1 Philip Lim to Mansur Gavriel. Credit: @zibastylebar
Vintage Wavy Crimped Hair
Hair crimpers often give hair a distinct zig-zag finish, but if you like the idea of bigger ‘kinks’ like above, try using a crimper with a wider wave plate or alternatively, a slim straightening iron can be used.
Pro tip: To achieve larger crimps, use a straightener and rotate your wrist in alternating directions as you move down the length of your hair.
2-in-1 crimped style
Business at the front and party at the back! Keeping her hair straight and smoothed back into a medium ponytail, this Instagrammer adds a retro twist by crimping the lengths of her ponytail for a fuller and more unique finish to this everyday style. Credit: @formal_hairdos
Editor’s tip: Add even more dramatic volume through the lengths of your ponytail with VO5 Ultimate Hold Hairspray. Try lifting your ponytail while spritzing the hairspray and directing it towards the roots, as not only will this seal your style but it creates extra bounce too!
The single crimp
What we love about the crimped hair trend is the versatility of the style. From all over crinkles to this minimal but impactful single crimped section, everyone can give it a whirl in their own unique way.
We love the contrast between this Instagrammer’s poker straight tangerine ombre bob and her single crimped section, it’s a great way to dip your toes in before crimping your whole head! Credit: @dylanbradshaw
Crimped party braids
When the occasion calls for it, it’s all about going bold or going home, and we think this Instagrammer has nailed that vibe perfectly.
Whether it’s a winter festival or upcoming Christmas party, merge some of the key party hair trends (braids, glitter and crimped hair) for a dazzling hairstyle that’ll set you apart from your friends. Credit: @limeshairdesign
Crimped and classic
It’s out with the wild, Tyra Banks bigger the better, crimped styles and in with more polished and refined looks like this classic updo.
Wearing her blonde balayage tresses in a low ponytail, this model has gone for a subtle crimped finish on small sections of her hair to make these kinky sections really stand out. Credit: @patrickwilson
Editor’s tip: Thinking of giving the crimped hair trend a go? Be sure to use a heat protect spray before you apply any heat to your strands. We love Toni&Guy Heat Protection Mist as it helps to defend our locks against heat damage and provide a soft and smooth finish.
’70s Disco Waves
A-list approved crimped hair
Being the host for the night meant that all eyes were on Rita and her many hairstyle changes but it was this Ariana Grande-inspired crimped high ponytail that really caught our attention. Credit: @ritaora
The glam crimped hair look
Take a leaf out of Scarlett Johansson’s book and work this trend with a healthy dose of Hollywood glam. Her Great Gatsby-inspired ‘do has been given a modern twist, thanks to her short crimped hair and bold red-lip (plus the diamond necklace doesn’t hurt, either!).
The voluminous look
If you’re looking for a crimped hairstyle that packs a punch, take your cue from supermodel Tyra Banks. Once you’ve crimped your tresses all over, grab your hairspray and go to town with the backcombing.
The classic crimp
We could hardly put a list of our favourite crimped hair looks together without including Britney Spears, could we?! Hail to the icon who showed us all how it’s done. With her lengthy blonde tresses loosely curled then crimped in sections, it was the look to be seen with back in the day. Loved it then? Love it now!
We know we’d normally tell you how to fight frizz, but with this catwalk look, it’s all about embracing and even faking frizz. The trick to getting this frizzy style is too brush or comb hair while it’s still warm from crimping and if needed backcomb the hair underneath for added volume.
The new crimp on the block
Okay, let’s get real. Once Ariana Grande dons a trend, you know it’s one to jump on board with. We love the super-smooth, pulled-back look and brow-grazing fringe, with her voluminous, lightly crimped ponytail giving a retro twist to her signature ‘do! This is how to work it, ladies.
The zig-zag curls
While the traditional hair crimping style creates super small, tight zig-zag waves, the new take on the trend creates much larger, unusual looking waves, that are reminiscent of an Aztec-inspired pattern.
But that’s not all, the traditional crimp has evolved so that it gives the appearance of fuller-looking locks, all thanks to the larger waves. So great news for any fine-haired ladies out there! Credit: @leerittiner
The Halloween-inspired crimp
We’re not saying that you can only rock this look for Halloween, but if you were to, we think you would look spook-tacular! Sorry, we had to.
Curl then tease your tresses until it’s big and voluminous. Pair with huge lashes and doll-like makeup and you’ve got yourself a wearable trend for the scariest night of the year – or just a casual Tuesday. Whatever you fancy. Credit: @lush_wigs
The cool girl crimp
Think festival-meets-city-chic. This look combines braids with a half-up, half-down style and crimping all over, making for a look that’s full of texture and interest.
If a head full of crimps is a bit much for your taste, smooth down the top section of your hair and only crimp the lower half. You’ll still get the style points from your half-up ‘do, just less dramatic! Credit: @ghdhair_anz
The flowing locks crimp
Want to look like an urban fairy? We think we’ve got it spot on.
To recreate this crimped hair look, forget uniformity and think random placement. In other words, pick up odd sections of your hair and crimp away! To finish, brush out each section to make the look a little more wild, yet still effortlessly pretty. Credit: @frankapostolopoulos
Editor’s tip: To ensure that your crimped locks are kept under wraps, give them a spritz of the VO5 Tame & Shine Spray. This finishing spray will keep flyaways at bay, provide you with heat protection and leave your locks looking super glossy. What’s not to love?
The dramatic crimped ponytail
Do you dare to go where no one else does with your hair? Then for a unique take on the crimping trend, take things to a whole new level with some extreme crimping. Like Ariana, you’ll want to keep the rest of your hair ultra-sleek and smooth to provide extra contrast. Credit: @patriciamoraleshair
The blogger-approved crimp
Now, you’re probably wondering how you can actually achieve the crimped-hair-meets-waves look, right? Well, luckily for you, this Instagrammer is showing you how…
Creating a zig-zag in the top section of her hair, she has transitioned her technique down the lengths of her mane to finish with loose curls at the ends. Lush, right? Credit: @ariba_pervaiz
Editor’s tip: Since you’ll be needing the assistance of heated styling tools to achieve your zig-zag curls, you’ll want to safeguard your strands from becoming dry and damaged. We suggest using the VO5 Heat Protect Serum, which will also leave your locks with a lovely, glossy sheen!
What you need to know
When was hair crimping popular?
Crimped hair was most popular during the 1980s and ’90s and celebrity fans Barbra Streisand, Cyndi Lauper and Demi Moore helped make it one of (if not the) most coveted hairstyle of the era.
Is crimping your hair in style?
Yes! With the return of many of our favourite ’90s hair trends (#butterflyclipsforever), crimped hair lends itself perfectly to the current retro hair revival.
Does crimping damage your hair?
Like any hairstyle that uses heat, crimping isn’t completely damage-free, so you should always make sure to protect your hair by using a heat protection spray on your hair before going near it with any heat. You can read more on finding the best heat protectant for your hair needs.
How can I keep my hair crimped all day?
The key to making your crimped hair stay is hairspray, hairspray, hairspray. Remember, the approach in the ’80s was bigger is better! Using hairspray at every stage of the crimping process, before and after crimping each individual section and at the end to set the whole look, will ensure your kinky waves stay defined and frizz-free.
How to get crimped hair without a hair crimper
So, you want to try crimped hair but don’t have a hair crimper. You might be wondering can you crimp your hair with a straightener and yes, you can! All you’ll need is some straighteners and some basic braiding skills to recreate the effect.
After washing your hair, apply some mousse for extra volume and dry your hair. Once it’s dry, divide your hair into small sections, prepping each section with some hairspray before tightly braiding using the regular 3-strand braid method. Once all of your hair is in braids, take your straighteners and clamp each braid from the roots to the ends of your hair. Then, when you take the braids out you’ll be left with kinky, zig-zag waves that look just like if you’d used a crimper!
Want to give crimped hair a try? For more help, watch our video tutorial below and check out our guide to how to crimp your hair without a crimper.