Heat styling tools seem like a gift from the beauty gods – they can create unbelievably fabulous curls and waves within seconds, not to mention tame stubborn frizz and flyaways. However, while the instantaneous results can make you look drop-dead gorgeous, the long-term effects… not so much.
All that consistent high heat directly applied to your strands can cause so much damage over time that even though it can seem you’re making your hair look fabulous, you’re actually doing the opposite, since the heat sucks out the moisture from your hair – all the more so if your hair has been treated or bleached. In fact, not even a heat protectant spray can protect you.
Don’t worry, here’s a solution – heatless curlers! We’re going old school and getting those amazing curls while keeping our hair healthy.
What are heatless curlers and how do they work?
Essentially, heatless curlers are hair styling tools that can help you create anything from loose waves to tight curls depending on the type of curler you use.
One thing to keep in mind is that each tool follows a slightly different curling process, and since they don’t use any heat, it can take some time to get the desired results. But, for healthy hair, it’s all very much worth it, no?
That said, you are still free to make use of your blow dryer to speed up the process, but since the heat isn’t directly applied to your hair as with a curling iron, you’re still somewhat reducing your hair’s exposure to heat damage.
- Zero or minimal heat damage
- Less risk of dry, brittle, and rough hair
- Less amount of breakage, hair fall, and split ends
- Reduced styling and restyling
- Longer lasting curls/ waves
- Enhanced hair volume
- Takes a longer time to achieve results
- Each type of curler can only produce one type of curl
How to use heatless curlers
Again, there are many different types of heatless curlers, and the process for using each one can vary. Here are some of the most common – and most effective – heatless curlers that we found, along with step-by-step instructions on how to use them.
Fancy curls using sponge curlers
Do you feel like waking up to fancy curls that are ready to party? You can totally turn this into reality by using traditional rollers (like the clip-on plastic ones), or better yet, softer and more sleep-appropriate sponge curlers, like these bubblegum pink hairdressing curls.
- Before going to bed, wash your hair as usual then dry with a towel.
- Take a decent sized section of your hair, roll it on the sponge curler, and once you get it to your desired height, secure as instructed in the package.
- Repeat the second step until you get all your hair rolled with curlers.
- Let the sponge curlers do their magic for at least 4 to 5 hours (or overnight).
- Remove each curler gently and have fun with your bouncy curls!
Alternatively, you can try this with self-gripping velcro curlers – especially if you have thin hair, since it’s sure to give your locks more body and volume. It also works a bit quicker – about 15 to 30 minutes – especially if you work some hairspray around afterwards.
Besides, they’re also arguably easier to use since you don’t have to lock them in to secure them, although the velcro can lead to some frizz if you don’t use them correctly or your hair lacks moisture.
The best part? You have a lot of options as to how tight you want your curls to be depending on the size of curlers you use.
Fun ringlets with flexible curling rods
Now, this tool works for a wide variety of hair textures, but especially for short hairstyles. It’s amazing at adding definition to kinky curls, as well as stretching out tight curls when your natural curl pattern is smaller than the size of the flexi twist rods.
- Again, wash your hair and pat dry with a towel until it’s about 90% dry.
- Evenly apply a mousse, gel, or curl cream throughout your strands.
- Part your hair into 1 or 2-inch thick sections. Take one section and roll it on a flexi rod starting from the end until the root, then bend or twist to secure.
- Repeat the process until all of your hair is rolled off. Wait for your hair to dry completely.
- Slowly untwist and take the rods out and rake your fingers through the curls to make them look more natural.
Beautiful waves using a donut bun
If you have medium to long hair and would like to see fabulously bouncy curls, use this donut bun from Amazon or make yourself a DIY sock bun by cutting the top part of an old (but clean) sock and rolling it into a donut shape.
- You know the routine – shampoo, condition, rinse, and towel dry.
- Wrap your hair in a high ponytail with a piece of elastic hair tie.
- Insert your ponytail through the donut bun just until the tips. Wrap and tuck it in securely.
- Roll the donut bun so your hair wraps around it. Continue doing this until the bun is at the top of your head.
- Grab some hair clips or bobby pins to secure the donut bun on your head.
- Take your beauty sleep and wake up with luxurious waves!
50’s pin curls with spoolies
Recreate your favorite classic era look of pin curls without using a thousand bobby pins by snagging yourself some of these professional spoolies that don’t require any professional skill to use. (Really, they’re super easy.) As a bonus, it works on fine to textured, straight to wavy hair!
- Apply some mousse or setting lotion to your freshly washed and dried hair. This will prevent frizz later on, even if you use a blow dryer to speed up the process.
- Take a spool curler and a small section of your hair, then wrap the hair around the stem of the spool cap. Fold the top over.
- Repeat until you’re finished curling all of your hair.
- Wait for your hair to completely dry and set into the curl.
- Remove each spool one at a time, and enjoy the throwback of the 50’s!
Corkscrew curls using ribbon curlers
This one can get particularly fun if you’re a crafty person, since it looks and feels quite like a crochet kit and a hair curler combined. Of course, it creates gorgeous corkscrew curls on short to medium length hair, too! That’s the magic of ribbon curlers.
- Wash your hair and pat dry until it’s slightly damp.
- Feed the hook included in the curler pack through the center of the ribbon, then take a small section of your hair and pull it through the ribbon using the hook.
- Make sure to only grab small sections of hair at a time so you don’t have to force them through the curler, which can cause breakage.
- Repeat the process until all of your hair is, well, tied up in ribbons. Wait for your hair to dry completely.
- Pull out the ribbon curlers gently, and be amazed with your corkscrew curls!
Defined spirals with cold-wave perm rods
For short haired gals, especially those with kinkier hair textures, who want to rock highly defined spirals, the pinstripe thickness of these cold wave perming rods makes them the perfect heatless curler. Of course, they’re also super easy to use!
- Start by prepping your clean hair with a few drops of jojoba oil followed by a mousse in order to lock in moisture and help with the setting process.
- Grab a small section of your hair and roll it on a perm rod starting from the tips up to the roots, trying to keep the tips as smooth and even as possible.
- Once you reach the roots (or your desired height), secure the perm rod by snapping the included elastic into the end of the perm rod.
- Repeat the process until you’re done winding all your hair up. Let your hair dry completely within a few hours.
- Remove the rods one by one, then rake your fingers through the curls in order to set them apart.
Constant exposure to high levels of heat from hair styling tools is extremely damaging to our hair, making them prone to all sorts of things like damage, breakage, and frizz. But, with tools like heatless curlers, you have a safer and just as effective way of styling your hair and rocking those voluminous waves and bouncy curls.
Not to mention, heatless curlers are not only safer for your hair and scalp, but they’re also better for the environment too, since you don’t have to use any electricity – and a much less amount of hair sprays and other products – just to get your desired hairstyle.
And finally, if you really want to go back to basics and not use any product, you can also curl your hair with a couple of expert braids and buns!