5 Easy Ways to Create Heatless Curls

Keep calm and step away from the hot tools for this one.

It is commonly known that subjecting the hair to tons of heat causes damage, whether in the form of split ends or brittle, lackluster tresses. Not to say that you should completely swear off curls and waves forever, either. Enter: heatless curls, which are curly styles that work with your hair type to encourage waviness, all without the help of hot tools.

1. Pin-Curl Method

heatless curls pin curls
Pin-curling hair is an age-old trick to creating curls without heat.

Popularized during World War II, pin-curls were a way for women to style their hair in the popular curly looks of the decade without the use of heat. In fact, they rarely used hair products at all, since these were heavily rationed during the war. Most vintage hairstyles from that era used pin-curls as a starting point.

Step 1: Divide your hair into 3-inch sections. Spritz your hair with some detangling spray, like TRESemmé Pro Pure Detangle and Smooth Leave-In Conditioner, then brush hair out to remove any knots. Follow with some wave-enhancing cream, such as Dove Amplified Textures Twist In Moisture Shaping Butter Cream, to help encourage ringlets to form.

Step 2: Follow by wrapping hair around one finger, curling it up towards your roots.

Step 3: Secure each curl snugly, affixing a bobby pin at the seam. Repeat on all curls. You can opt to gently tie on a scarf to protect hair while it sets, or while you sleep.

Step 4: Remove all pin-curls the next morning, carefully shaking out the curls and brushing lightly if desired. For a vintage effect, use a comb to align the bends.

Step 5: Finish with a hair spray that helps protect against frizz, like TRESemmé Compressed Micro Mist Level 2 Hold Curl Hair Spray.

2. Braid Waves

heatless curls pigtail braids
Heatless curls via braided pigtails give an edgy look for day, and sexy waves for night.

Super easy and very effective (haven’t we all done this in middle school?), braiding has always been a non-fuss way to create waves. All it takes is some basic braiding know-how, the proper products and you’re all set.

Step 1: Add a texturizing spray such as Nexxus Between Washes Beach Waves Sea Salt Spray to clean, freshly washed hair.

Step 2: Create a center part on your hair, then use a duckbill or darby clip to clamp the other half out of the way.

Step 3: Prep hair for a braid by taking a large portion from the top of the head and dividing this into three equal sections.

Step 4: Create a French braid by alternately criss-crossing the side sections over the middle section, incorporating strands from the head as you go downwards—doing this will secure your braid to your scalp. Secure the end with a hair elastic.

Step 5: For tighter waves, make your braid tighter and smaller; for looser, romantic waves, slightly pull out the weaves (a.ka. “pancaking”) to create more slack.

Step 6: Remove the clamp on the other side of your head. Repeat the French braid process to fully create heatless curls via braids.

Step 7: Leave overnight.

Step 8: Unfurl braids carefully by first removing the hair elastic and then gently tousling them out. Finish with a lightweight hairspray such as Dove Style+Care Flexible Hold Hairspray for touchable hold.

3. Donut Bun

heatless curls donut bun
A donut bun is a polished way to wear your hair while creating heatless curls in the process.

Foam donut buns are a trick to getting heatless curls that are looser and more voluminous. Coiling hair around a hair donut creates a bigger bend, and wearing multiple hair donuts can result in a head full of big, sexy waves.

Step 1: Gather hair up into a snug high ponytail.

Step 2: Apply some curl-enhancing mousse, such as Suave Captivating Curls Mousse Cream, onto your ponytail length.

Step 3: Loop hair into the donut until it reaches the base of the ponytail.

Step 4: Divide the ponytail into two ends and curl each around the donut until you run out of hair and the donut is completely covered.

Step 5: Leave for around 2 hours. Tie on a scarf for protection, or if you plan to go outdoors.

Step 6: Uncoil the hair around the donut and gently remove your hair elastic to uncover loose, sexy waves.

4. Twists

heatless curls halo twist natural hair
Wearing hair in a halo twist unfurls to luscious, gorgeous locks afterward. Photo credit: Dvora

Creating twists in hair can result in strands that have some built-in texture (at least until their next wash!). Rope twists or even twisted updos can unfurl into natural-looking waves that can easily transition from day to night.

Step 1: On clean, freshly washed hair, apply a curl-enhancing mousse or gel, such as Suave Define & Shine Serum Gel. Then, brush through evenly.

Step 2: Section hair into four parts: down the center both vertically and horizontally, parting behind the ear.

Step 3: Starting with the left and right bottom sections, twist hair in one direction from root to tip. Secure with an elastic.

Step 4: Repeat on the left and right upper sections, making a note to twist away from the hairline for a more flattering look.

Step 5: Leave for two hours, then unfurl gently. Shake your waves out and mist with a light hairspray for shine, such as Bed Head by TIGI Headrush.

5. Fabric Twist

heatless curls
Finished heatless curls.

Did you know you can achieve heatless curls just by wrapping your hair around fabric. We know, it sounds too good to be true, but it really works!

Step 1: Start with freshly washed hair. We love using Love Beauty and Planet Volume and Bounty Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo and Conditioner because it helps to add lightweight volume to your hair.

Step 2: Once hair is washed, apply a lightweight serum to help eliminate frizz. We love Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Hair Serum.

Step 3: Grab either an old pair of tights or tie from a robe. While your hair is wet, put the tights or robe tie over your head and split your hair in half to begin wrapping it around the ends.

Step 4: Take the front section from one half of your hair and wrap it around one side of the fabric. Make sure to wrap your hair around the fabric so the curl forms away from your face.

heatless curls technique
You can use tights to wrap your hair around to create the heatless curls.

Step 5: After you wrap the front section of hair around your fabric once, start wrapping the back section of hair around the fabric, starting the curl going towards your face.

Step 6: Keep wrapping the two sections of hair around the tights until you reach the end and secure with a hair tie.

Step 7: Repeat steps 4-6 on the opposite side of your head.

Step 8: Leave your hair like this overnight.

Step 9: In the morning, remove the tights, and you’ll be left with gorgeous heatless curls!

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