I used to think hot rollers were a vintage (read: outdated) styling tool. Something my grandmother used. With a seemingly infinite array of wands, irons, and other high-tech hair innovations, what could rollers give me that my existing arsenal didn’t? The answer, it turns out, is instant volume—a lot of it—and ultimate convenience.
After experimenting with hot rollers myself, I gawked at how much height and body my naturally pin-straight hair, which usually barely holds a curl, possessed. On dry hair, it took all of 10 minutes to pin them up and let them cool as I did my daily makeup routine. I was hands-free, not having to worry about counting seconds as I used one hand to hold a wand and the other to hold a strand of hair in place. It was the easiest hack for my morning beauty routine.
Celebrity hair stylist David Lopez, who works with Ashley Graham and Hailey Baldwin, is a big fan of using hot rollers—T3’s Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe in particular. “With hot rollers, I have greater control of style longevity and bounce of the hair. It’s also extremely gentle on the hair, so it’s great if you’re worried about hair damage (color treated hair, over processed hair, etc.),” he says. “Although they are extremely gentle, you still get a big result!” Ahead, read more from Lopez about hot roller technique then shop top-rated roller sets.
How long should you keep on hot rollers in order to not damage hair?
“You can’t leave in hot rollers long enough to damage your hair. In terms of heat damage, it’s fool proof,” Lopez says. “It takes an average of 12 minutes to cool down, although I have seen results after 5 minutes. For style longevity, leave in the hair for about 15 minutes to get that style retention you’re looking for.”
How do you prep your hair for hot rollers?
Rough drying your hair to start is key, Lopez suggests. “I like to use the T3 Cura Luxe on low speed and high heat while rough drying in order to keep the elasticity of the hair,” he says. “Once dry, prep the hair with a medium styling mousse. The heat from the rollers will activate this mousse and give the look a stronger memory. Finally, before I wrap each section around the hot rollers, I spray with hairspray and brush through.” His go-to duo includes Kenra’s Medium Hold Mousse and IGK’s Intern Flexible hairspray.
Can all hair types use hot rollers?
“Yes! Although for curly and natural hair types, you would want to smooth hair first and then use the hot rollers,” Lopez insists. “The hot rollers won’t straighten or completely smooth out naturally curly hair.”
Any other tips you have for using hot rollers?
“Sometimes I wrap the hair around the rollers like I would an iron because it can give you more of a loose wave look,” Lopez shares. “If you have long hair, pick up a 1” roller and wrap a section around the roller like a curling iron and clip it vertically. Once cool, release the roller and you will achieve a long, loose curl.”
T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe
Lopez adds that he’s a fan of these rollers because “the velvet flocking doesn’t tug or pull on the hair and also seals in incredible shine.”
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium 20 Roller Hairsetter
With 20 rollers in a set, even folks with thick hair will be able to cover a full head in these easy-to-use rollers. They come in small, medium, and large-sized barrels so you can vary the sizes of your curls and look more natural.
Remington Ionic Conditioning Hair Setter
Over 1,300 reviews on Amazon indicate this set has to be one of the most popular on the market. The core has wax, which can hold heat longer, and there is a light that indicates when the temperature is ready for use so you don’t have to guess (or burn your fingers).
Caruso Professional Molecular 30-Piece Multiple Size Steam Hair Setter
This unique system uses steam to heat up rollers individually. Wait for a roller to steam up, take it to a section of hair, clip it, and repeat all over our head. It’s quick and, most importantly, damage-free.
Revlon Curls-to-Go 10 Piece Travel Hot Rollers
These travel-friendly rollers diminish frizz instantly. Pack them with you on your next trip for easy, quick styling.
Remington Pro Thermaluxe Ceramic Hair Setter
$33.48 (20% off)
All it takes is five minutes to see results from this hot roller set. Because lower heat is being distributed evenly over a longer period of time, you’re really locking in a style so it will last for days.
Conair Instant Heat Travel Hot Rollers; White
If you’re not looking for curls, but rather more of a voluminous, slightly wavy look, go for jumbo rollers. The barrel is 1.5″ thick, so it’ll yield a ton of body in a flash.
Calista Tools Hot Wavers Heated Hair Rollers
These no-fuss rollers get you bouncy, shiny classic curls. It also comes with a travel case so you never have to worry about a bad hair day on the road.