How to Use Hair Rollers for Perfect Curls

Hot rollers are making a comeback, and it’s not hard to see why. If you know how to use hair rollers well, it only takes a few minutes to give your hair some volume, bouncy curls, or a HOCO style. In some cases, a good set of hair rollers can even beat the trusty old hot iron for putting lift and body into your hair.

As handy as hot rollers are, you have to use them right. Here are a few tips.

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    Hot rollers vs. velcro rollers

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    How to use hair rollers

    Before starting with hot rollers, make sure your hair is clean and totally dry. Oil and water in your hair react to hot rollers the same way oil and water react to hot frying pans. You could get sizzling and eventually burn the hair shafts, which dulls and flattens your hair.

    Start by giving your hair a good shampoo and rinse. Scrub down to the scalp using an oil-removing shampoo that washes away clean. Dry afterward with a terrycloth towel and maybe even a blow-dryer on low heat.

    Also, try a heat protectant spray for extra shielding. Don’t worry if your hair becomes a bit flat, the hot rollers will perk everything back up. 

    Correct hot roller technique

    There’s definitely a right way to install hot rollers. Starting at the crown and using your fingers, section hair in a rectangle about the width of the roller.

    On each section, put the roller under the section of hair you’re working with and a few inches from the ends. Gently roll it in and lock it down. Don’t try to curl too much hair on a single roller; this spreads the heat too much and leaves you with flat, half-curled hair.

    Choose your rollers wisely

    Hair rollers come in different sizes, and it’s not as simple as big rollers equal big curls. In general, the longer your hair, the bigger your rollers must be for your desired curl.

    Using bigger rollers on shorter hair is still okay, but past a certain point, you’re mostly adding volume rather than styling. Experiment with different size rollers to get familiar with how each affects your hair, especially the balance between volume and curl definition.

    Go with the grain of your hair (or don’t)

    When you’re putting hot rollers in, be mindful of the grain of your hair. Everybody’s hair is different, and it tends to fall one way or the other when it’s allowed to. This falling-forward effect tells you the grain your hair has and the direction it naturally wants to grow in.

    Depending on your hair type, you could have locks that all want to fall straight down. They can also be all over the place and even have different grains in different parts of your scalp. Experiment a little with how your hair falls to get a feel for this grain.

    Rolling the curlers in along the grain of your hair takes less time and heat, and you can get nice, full curls out of it. If perfect curls are your end goal, go with the grain.

    However, if you’re using the hot rollers to add lift and plan to brush out the curls for a more subtle effect, try curling against the grain. This takes more time and heat, but it gives hair a bounce that goes great with warm-weather styles.

    Leave the rollers in for a while

    One of people’s biggest mistakes when learning how to use hair rollers is not leaving them in long enough. You can leave the rollers in as long as you want, but you won’t get the full effect if you take them out while they’re still warm. The longer you leave the rollers in, the longer your curls will last, up to a few days if you use full heat.

    When you finish with the rollers, gently pick apart your new curls with your fingers, then fix your hair with a strong spray. Consider adding some texture with sulfate-free curl cream.

    Your curls should be perfect for a day or two. If you like the style, you can refresh it in a few days with the same procedure of rinse, hot roller, hair oil, and spray. 


    Hot rollers are just a part of your total approach to naturally beautiful hair. Prose can help you develop a healthy hair routine and get your customized formula with a personalized consultation. Visit to get started today. 

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