Blame it on Cassie from Euphoria‘s heatless curling routine, TikTok’s obsession with old-school hair rollers, or simply nostalgia, but big bouncy ’90s-era curls are back. The resurgence of rollers of all kinds — from heated rollers to heatless ribbon wands — could also stem from a desire for a more sophisticated departure from our usual pandemic looks. “Women are looking for voluminous and glamorous hair,” says Nunzio Saviano, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon. Nothing wrong with a wash-and-go style, but it turns out that after two years of top knots, we’re ready to switch things up.
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Though hair rollers aren’t as compact as your flat irons or curling irons, they have their benefits: “Curlers are versatile — you don’t have to be super specific to get the look you are going for,” says Kelly Harrison, a hairstylist and U.S. Brand Manager for Biotop Professional. She says the of-the-moment look is about volume and a soft wave, making the hot roller the perfect tool. “Unlike a curling iron, you can place rollers closer to the scalp to create volume, and they’re easier to handle than an iron because the temperature isn’t as high.” Rollers also give a softer, more voluminous look, whereas a curling iron creates a tighter curl.
Hair rollers also use less heat than curling irons, which helps avoid damage to your hair. The caveat is that they take a longer time to set, but you can view it as a multitasking opportunity. Unlike a flat iron or curling wand, which requires you to use your hands to achieve the desired style, you can set your hair and apply your skincare routine or makeup while cooling.
Popular Types of Hair Rollers
“The great thing about hot rollers is that any hair type can use them,” says celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor. You avoid the lines and demarcations that can sometimes happen when using a traditional curling iron, and you get maximum volume at the roots — all with less effort.
The many rollers types might look the same as your grandma’s tools; these days, they’re even better designed and offer more control and versatility with your styles. If you’re going for those big and bouncy curls, “look for jumbo-sized rollers, which add more of a bend to the hair than tighter ringlets or spirals,” says Taylor.
Almost all hair lengths and styles can pull off a bouncy curl, but Toves-Vincillone says it tends to look best on medium to long hair. “Big curls look and feel different for everyone. Whether your hair is curly, coily, pin-straight, or somewhere in between, there is a version of this style and method for you.” Also, coarser textures will always hold a curl better and longer than finer hair. It’s just a matter of finding the hair roller for you:
- Hot rollers: These rollers (usually made of ceramic) are housed and heated in a case, so they begin to cool once they’re on your head. Because they use heat power, these curls tend to last longer throughout the day. They usually come in various roller sizes and leave you with bouncy, voluminous curls.
- Sponge or foam rollers: These completely heat-free options are great tighter ringlets. The super-soft material makes them comfortable to leave in your hair for an extended period. You can even lay down and have them set overnight.
- Velcro rollers: These look similar to hot rollers, except they’re made of plastic with a velcro pad to keep your hair in place. Some people, particularly with fine and/or straight hair, might gravitate towards Velcro rollers since they have more grip. Just be careful not to tug too tightly: Velcro rollers might create too much tension on the hair and scalp, which can cause hair to shed, says Harrison. And, while “Velcro rollers add a ton of body, they don’t give as much of a curl — rather a loose wave,” says Saviano.
- Flexi-rods: Also known as bendy rollers, these create more of a spiral/coily curl without worrying about pinning or clipping your hair in place. The cushiony rods are designed to wrap your hair around them, and you can twist and twirl the rods to keep them secure.
- Magnetic hair rollers: For those who aren’t as skilled at rolling their hair up in a tool, the magnetic snaps do all the hard work for you. They only work when your hair is damp, so it takes longer for your hair to air-dry and set.
- Ribbon wand: This heating curling rod is similar to the one Cassie in Euphoria uses in season two. The inner rod is made of silk to prevent frizz, and the rod itself is designed to be worn like a headband. You wind your dry hair around each side and secure it with a hair tie (or a scrunchie if you want to keep up with the ’90s nostalgia). They have more of a learning curve, and ribbon wands aren’t as versatile with shorter hairstyles since you have to wrap your hair around the rod several times to prevent it from slipping out. “Plus, heatless wands allow your hair’s natural elasticity to create the curl for you, whereas Velcro rollers help reinforce the artificial curl put into the hair,” says Toves-Vincillone.
Ready to embrace the trend? Here’s how you can get started:
For Saving Space
Reminiscent of the hot rollers of yesteryear, this modern-day version sits on a platform for easy access. In addition, the two roller sizes feature a unique ceramic PTC heating technology that only heats the rollers, not the base, so there’s less chance of burning your hands and hair. We’re also fans of the velvet finish which leaves hair super smooth and free of knots and snarls.
For Heat-Free Styling
Heatless waves are the newest way to create effortless curls and waves, and they’re trending big time thanks to a cameo in Euphoria. Dozens of different brands exist, but most, like this set from Corated, come with a curling rod headband, hair clips, and scrunchie for easy placement.
For Variety of Curls
For Velcro rollers, opt for a set like this one from Luxy Hair that has at least four or more large-sized rollers, which are the most frequently used size. This affordable kit also comes with more than half-a-dozen creaseless hair clips, so there’s never a need to worry about indentations or dents.
For Super-Fast Curls
For shiny curls in just five minutes, Remington Shine Therapy Hot Rollers are made of ceramic and treated with argan oil and keratin to smooth out frizz as they style your hair. It comes with 20 rolls in two sizes (1.25″ and 1″) with a unique clip design that prevents creasing.
For Mega-Watt Volume
Heated rollers garner serious volume, and T3’s Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe Set doesn’t disappoint. The extra-large and large sizes create serious volume and beautiful curls that last all day no matter what you put your hair through.
For Fuss-Free Curls
One of the downsides to using Velcro rollers is that the pins and clips needed to secure them in place often get lost. Enter Drybar High Tops Self-Grip Rollers, which stay in place thanks to a unique gentle self-gripping material.
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