Hair Rollers 101: Mastering the Basics

Alyssa François | 23 April 2016

After this easy tutorial, you’ll be a pro!

We’re spoiled with so many choices and endless options of hair styling tools. This is a good thing of course, but many of these seemingly easy-to-use tools actually turn out to be quite tricky. Hair rollers, which appear to be a rather simple and straightforward tool, can actually be rather complicated. But once you have the basics down, they can soon become your new hair BFF, trust us! Whether you’re using rollers to add curls and volume to straight hair, or stretching out and maximizing curly hair even more, we’ve compiled an easy step-by-step tutorial on how to use hair rollers.

Step-By-Step Guide to Using Hair Rollers

hair rollers wavy brown hair
Use hair rollers to achieve sultry curls.

Step 1: Choose your rollers.

The first thing you want to do is select the roller type and size. This is all dependent on your hair type, length, and the circumference of the curl you want. For example, foam rollers are a better option for highly textured hair as opposed to plastic rollers, and large rollers aren’t particularly effective on shorter hair lengths. Magnetic and Velcro rollers work well if you have chemically treated, thick or fine hair, since they impart fuller body and long-lasting curls.

Step 2: Add product.

Prep your hair with a styling lotion and apply it section by section to your entire head, whether hair is wet or dry, before rolling. Styling lotions are essential to the hair rolling process; a setting lotion, styling foam or mousse like Nexxus Styling Mousse Pluwill work great here too, as the products provide a light hold and also add volume. You may not want to substitute them for a holding spray, unless you want to end up with crispy and crunchy curls. If you do, no judgment!


Step 3: Part and roll.

Vertically part and divide hair from the front of the hairline to the nape into three workable sections, clipping each section aside until you begin the rolling process. Starting at the middle, hold the section with your fingers as if you were to cut bangs. (During this step you may need to lightly detangle with a wide-toothed comb, then smooth the hair out with a fine-toothed comb. No bumps allowed!). Take your section of hair, bring it away from the head and place the rollers on the very ends. Roll hair firmly around and under the roller till landing at the root. When using a clipless or gripless roller, apply double-prong roller clips or a bobby pin to secure at the base. Continue this process until the entire head is coiled up.

Step 4: Heat or air dry.

Allow the rolled hair to dry completely by using a hand-held blow-dryer, sitting under an at-home bonnet dryer for about 30-45 minutes, even air-dry, if you choose. If you’re using heat use a heat guard like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray. We know, it’s hard to sit still for so long: Grab a book, listen to some tunes or use the time to zone out. Frizzy curls are not a part of the agenda!


Step 5: Set and cool.

Once your hair is completely dry, resist any touching just yet until it cools—about five to 10 minutes (a.k.a. the crucial “setting process”). While you’re waiting, spray locks with a hair oil before removing the rollers for some sheen.

Step 6: Remove and style.

Time for the big reveal! One by one, remove each roller by gently unfurling them down the hair. Run your fingers through each lock, shake the curls out and style hair as desired. If you skipped the sheen in the last step but still want some added gleam, simply work a tiny amount of serum or hair oil like Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil onto hair for a glossy finish.


There you have the basics, but why stop there? There are more techniques you can try with hair rollers for styles like waves or tight ringlets. Go ahead, experiment and have fun!

Have you ever tried using hair rollers?