I’m not sure why or when we decided to cancel hot rollers, but I’m officially un-cancelling them (I have that power, right?), because they deserve way more respect than they get. Want extreme body and volume that’ll last literally all night? Hot rollers. Want to curl your hair with less heat damage than a curling iron? Hot rollers. Want to style your hair while you do your makeup or literally anything else? Hot. Roll. Ers.
So, dig in the cabinet under your sink, pull out that set you haven’t touched since high school, and dust them off, because it’s time you give them another chance. Need a refresher on exactly how to use them—or, more realistically, what the best heated rollers are to buy in 2019? Keep reading.
How to Use Hot Rollers
Step 1: Prep.
Hot rollers work on any hair type, but you’ll get the best results when you start with slightly straightened hair, since they won’t fully straighten out your kinks or curls (which will mean not-as-smooth results for you). Still, even though they’re not as hot as you’re curling iron, you’ll still need to prep your strands with a heat-protectant spray, first, to prevent damage and add shine.
Step 2: Section.
While the rollers heat up, clip your hair into four quadrants: the front, the left, the right, and the back, working with one section of hair at a time. To keep the shape of curls consistent, you’ll want to work in subsections that are roughly the same size, whether that’s a one-inch section of hair, or a three-inch section of hair. For super-defined curls, grab smaller sections of hair (which, in turn, will require more rollers), and for softer, loose curls, grab larger sections of hair with fewer rollers.
Step 3: Roll.
Before rolling, comb the section of hair to prevent ending up with wonky, bent waves instead of smooth curls. Then, place the roller underneath the middle of your hair (that’s right; we aren’t starting from the bottom, here) and, with your fingers, wrap the ends around the roller, keeping the ends as smooth and flat as possible to prevent crimps.
After the ends are wrapped, wind the roller all the way up to your roots, pinning or clipping in place. As for which direction to roll, that’s up to you: Roll them horizontally to get majorly voluminous curls, or roll them vertically to create long, soft waves. Play around and see what style you like best—there’s no real right or wrong, here.
Step 4: Release.
Allow the rollers enough time to cool completely—about 15 minutes—before touching them. The hair should feel completely neutral to the touch before you take them down, K? While you’re waiting, mist them with a light-hold hairspray to amp up your volume and keep your curls from falling. Then, remove the clip or pin, and gently unwind the curl. Once all the rollers are removed, use your fingers to gently rake and shake out the sections.
All of that a blur? Try following this tutorial, below.
If your rollers have seen better days (or better decades), upgrade them with one of the below best-selling heated-roller sets.
The Best Hot Roller Sets
1. The Travel Hot Rollers
T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers LUXE for Volume, Body, and Shine
TBH, I think the reason hot rollers aren’t more popular is because of how annoying they are to travel with. But this set has a lightweight heating base and a soft shell travel bag to make things a little easier. And just because they’re good for travel doesn’t mean the brand skimped on quality: These tourmaline rollers have two temperature settings, which makes them ideal for any hair type, whether that’s fine, damaged, or thick.
2. The Jumbo Hot Rollers
Remington Ionic Conditioning Hair Setter
If you’re one of the lucky ones who has a whole-lotta hair, you’ll need a jumbo set like this one, which has 20 rollers that range from 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inches. Wrapped in cushy velvet to protect the hair from the heat of the barrel, these rollers contain a wax core (weird, but cool) that stays hotter longer for an even better curl and hold.
3. The Heat-Protecting Hot Rollers
Conair Jumbo And Super Jumbo Hot Rollers
These rollers are like a one-two punch of heat protection, starting with the ceramic base that gives an even heat distribution, and finishing with a double coating of fuzzy flocking for even more protection. The set of 12 comes with four rollers that are 1 3/4 inches and eight rollers that are 1 1/2 inches, along with crease-free claw clips to hold them all in place.
4. The Steam Rollers
Caruso Professional Steam Hair Setter
Normally, I’d hear the word “steam” and instantly think, Get that away from my hair, but when it comes to these rollers, steam is your BFF. Here’s why: If you’re familiar with wetting your hair and sleeping in foam rollers, this set is based around that same concept—but way faster and easier to use. Instead of starting with damp hair, you just warm the foam rollers with the steam base and use them on dry strands. Because the hair isn’t soaking wet, the rollers require less time to work and create a much softer version of a curl than you would get from a regs foam roller.