How to curl your hair without heat

All Things Hair | 17 April 2016

No heated styling tools to hand? No problem!

Curls can instantly add a new and exciting dimension to your favourite on and off-duty looks. The good news is, with the right styling tools and the help of a few good products, everyone can have them (yes, even you ladies with pin-straight locks!). But what if you didn’t have access to heated appliances, or worse, a power supply (hello, Glasto!)? Well, then you’ll have to learn how to curl your hair without heat! Yes, it really can be done.

It’s a common misconception that you need to use heat to achieve picture-perfect curls. But in reality, there are a number of ways to style your hair without relying on curling irons, hair straighteners and blowdryers. So not only will you save a few extra pennies, but your tresses will thank you in the long run for not constantly frying them with extreme heat, too.

Whether you’re looking to create effortless, beachy kinks, tight ringlets, or glamorous vintage waves, we’ve created a handy guide outlining how to curl your hair without heat, below.

How to curl your hair without heat: 3 Ways

Do overnight braids for heatless curls.

1. Overnight braids

You’ll be pleased to hear that this traditional hair-curling technique is now all grown up and fully-equipped to create more gentle, understated kinks and tighter, more dramatic waves, depending on the type of braid you opt for. For example, one big braid will create a few subtle waves, whereas multiple plaits will result in more exciting, multi-faceted waves once released.

The biggest advantage is that it’s super quick and easy to do. Simply apply TRESemmé’s Runway Collection Make Waves Shape & Memorise Cream (£5.50*) to your hair and work it through before plaiting it. If you want more texture at the top, go for a French braid, but if you want the waves to start lower down, do a standard three-strand plait. Leave in overnight and you’ll wake up to effortless, loose waves. Editor’s tip: work some Toni&Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray (£7.49*) into your roots to help enhance the tousled, beachy texture for the final finishing touch.

How to curl your hair without heat: soft waves
Heatless curls mean less hair damage. Credit: Indigital

2. Rag curls

This old-school curling technique is another easy way to curl your hair without heat. Just dig out an old, clean t-shirt, bed sheet or any other unwanted material, and cut it up into thin strips. (NB: the size of the strips will determine the size of the curls you’ll create.)

Take one small section of hair at a time and, starting at the ends of your hair, roll each section around the rag until it reaches the top of your scalp. To secure the rag, tie the ends as tight as you can, ensuring that your hair is fixed in place. Repeat the same method to the rest of your hair and go to bed – then untie them the next morning to reveal beautiful, bouncy curls! If you’re looking to achieve softer, more gentle waves, simply brush your curls out for a more subtle effect.

Editor’s tip: For a longer-lasting style, use TRESemmé Runway Collection Make Waves Creation Hairspray (£5.99*), which will help boost definition and bounce, while helping to hold the waves in place for longer without going hard.

How to curl your hair without heat: bantu knots
Bantu knots can create curls without heat. Credit: Indigital

3. Bantu knots

Not as complex or as scary as it sounds, don’t worry. This protective method is a quick, simple, and effective way to achieve high definition curls overnight. In fact, all you’ll need is a trusty pack of hair grips.

Simply divide your damp hair up into small sections and use your fingers to roll each one up towards your scalp. Once you reach the top of your scalp, pin down the twisted knot to your scalp using a hair grip. Repeat the process until all of your hair is pinned up, and sleep with them in. When you rise the next morning, simply unpin and let each curl unravel. Finish with the VO5 Voluptuous Waves Creation Hairspray (£3.99*) – which will help seal the style in place (it boasts 24-hour humidity protection!) and add a healthy sheen to your perfectly-formed curls.

*RRPs are Unilever suggested retail prices only, it is at the discretion of the individual retailers to set the actual price.