If you've ever given yourself big, bouncy curls, you know the feeling of pure defeat when your curls deflate mere hours — or minutes — after styling. This is especially common when you have long hair, as the weight of your hair can put tension on the curl, causing it to quickly unravel. The secret for getting your long hair to hold a curl? Hot rollers.
"Hot rollers have been around for many decades, giving women a quick and safer alternative to adding body and curl to hair quickly," says hairstylist Tippi Shorter. "Hot rollers give curl and added body with minimal heat and stress on the hair compared to what you would typically get from traditional curling and flat irons."
To use hot rollers, you have to roll them from your ends all the way up until they're sitting on your scalp. So, to use hot rollers on long hair, "you may need larger rollers to achieve the desired effect," says celebrity hairstylist Sabrina Porsche. Plus, you'll need to work in smaller sections — this ensures that the layers of hair on each roller are thin enough for the heat to spread and do their job.
Get the most out of your hot rollers by following expert-approved tips and tricks, below.
Tippi Shorter is a hairstylist and the global artistic director at Mizani.
Sabrina Porsche is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
Todd Edwards is a hairstylist and Mizani artist based in Atlanta.
Hot Rollers vs. Curling Iron
What makes hot rollers so effective is how time-efficient they are and that they're completely cool before removal. "The curls from hot rollers last longer and create volume," says Porsche.
And unlike curling irons, which can heat up to 450°F, hot rollers usually max out around 300°F. "They usually [range in temperature] between 140°F and 230°F," says hairstylist Todd Edwards. All three stylists agree — hot rollers are less damaging than curling irons.
"The rollers will never exceed a very high temperature," says Shorter. "They are also covered in satin, providing an extra barrier to protect your hair from heat."
Using Hot Rollers on Curly Hair
Hot rollers work on all textures, but how you use them depends on the style you want. "Hot rollers can enhance and define natural waves, creating a more polished and uniform look," says Porsche. "They can also help to smooth and refine curls, giving them a softer, more controlled appearance."
If you're going for big curls that rival a blow out, you'll need to straighten your hair first. "You need to pre-stretch, blowout, or silk press your hair before using hot rollers," says Edwards.
How to Use Hot Rollers
1. Wash and Dry Hair
"Hot rollers work best on clean, dry hair, so wash and thoroughly dry your hair before starting," says Porsche.
2. Plug in the Rollers
Hot rollers come in a case that heats the rollers. Plug this in and let them heat to your desired temperature.
3. Prep Hair
While the rollers heat up, spritz on a heat protectant, and fully brush out and detangle your hair, and "then proceed to section your hair in three sections — two sides and a mohawk straight down the middle," says Edwards. Finish off with a little hairspray. "Use a very light hairspray on each section before rolling," says Shorter. "Hair should always be clean with a little to no additional product."
4. Add the rollers
"Take a small section of hair, wrap it around a hot roller, and secure it in place with a clip or pin," says Porsche. "Repeat this process for all sections of your hair."
5. Let the Rollers Cool
"Let the rollers cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes to set the curls," says Porsche. "The longer you leave them in, the better the results." Now is the perfect time to do your makeup or scroll on your phone for outfit inspo.
6. Remove and Style
"Gently remove the rollers from your hair, taking care not to pull or tug on your hair," says Porsche. "Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to style and shape your curls as desired. You can also apply a light-hold hairspray to help the curls hold their shape."
Hot Rollers the Pros Love
Both Shorter and Porsche love the T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe ($140). This set includes eight rollers — four medium and four large. Additional rollers of varying sized are available for purchase in sets of two for $20.
T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe ($140)
Edwards recommends the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Professional Hot Rollers ($65). It includes 12 jumbo rollers.
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Professional Hot Rollers ($65)
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