How to get wavy hair using curlers

Written by mackenzie wright
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How to get wavy hair using curlers
(scyza at

Are you looking to get rich, luxurious waves in your hair, without causing damage from chemical treatments, or the heat of hot rollers or curling irons? Go back to the old-fashioned way: curlers. If you have any of your grandmother's photo albums, just look at the beautiful waves and curls she and her friends achieved with the simplest of tools. With just a little practice, you'll be able to recreate those glamorous, vintage Hollywood-diva locks.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Curlers
  • Hair clips
  • Curler tissue
  • Comb
  • Styling gel (optional)
  • Spray bottle (optional)

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    Preparing Your Hair

  1. 1

    Wash your hair before curling for best results. Do not use conditioner when washing, as it will soften the hair excessively and result in the waves falling out more quickly. If you like, you can work a volumizer or frizz tamer into your wet hair.

  2. 2

    Blow-dry your hair thoroughly. If you tend to have a lot of problems with frizz, set the drier on "low" and run it down the hair as you brush downward. This will take longer, but you'll have far fewer fly-away hairs.

  3. 3

    Brush or comb the hair thoroughly to remove all knots. Part your hair into three main sections: one on each side of your head and one in the back. Clip the sections or hold them with ponytail bands.

  4. 4

    Prepare your rollers. If they are tied, untie them. If they have built-on clips, unclip them. If your hair is of short to medium length, choose a larger roller for waves. If your hair is very long, however, choose medium-to-small rollers. The extra length of your hair will weigh down your waves. The tips of your hair may end up curlier, but you can always relax it after you unroll.

    Curling Your Hair

  1. 1

    Make a quick setting lotion by mixing about 1 tbsp of hair gel to 1 cup of warm water. Put it in a spray bottle and shake until mixed thoroughly. Use this as a setting lotion by lightly spraying it and combing through each lock of hair before putting in a roller. Do not saturate your hair with it; a gentle mist will do.

  2. 2

    Start with the back section. Begin at the top and work your way down. Take a smaller lock of hair, about 1/2 inch shorter than the roller itself and no more than 1 inch thick. Spray some setting lotion on it and comb it out smooth. Hold it straight out from your scalp, in the direction in which it grows out of your head.

  3. 3

    Wrap a roller tissue around the ends of the hair by folding it over like a book cover and bringing it down to the tips. If your hair is very smooth and evenly cut, you can skip this part. If your hair is frizzy, broken or uneven, the tissue will help keep it smoothed down while it is in the roller.

  4. 4

    Roll your hair over for a flippy look, or under for a softer wave. Secure the curler with hair clips if it does not have a built-in clip attached. Work your way down the section, staggering the curlers back and forth like bricks in a brick wall, so you do not have a noticeable part when you remove the curlers. Repeat on the other two sections.

    Removing Curlers

  1. 1

    Leave your curlers in for 6 to 10 hours for your hair to take hold of the shape. You can sleep with them in if you like, though if you plan to do this, you might opt for soft foam curlers. Tie a kerchief or bandanna (or even wrap a towel) around your head so the curlers stay in place overnight.

  2. 2

    Remove your curlers carefully, one at a time, trying not to pull your hair too much as you do so. Remove and discard the roller tissue paper.

  3. 3

    Avoid brushing your waves. Just finger your hair into place. If you need to brush, use a wide-toothed plastic brush and go through only once or twice. Spray with hairspray to hold.

  4. 4

    Relax your curls if your find when you first remove the curlers that your curls are a bit tighter than you would have liked. Do this by blow-drying them on low speed and high heat for a couple of minutes, while running your fingers through them. This will loosen the curls-- but don't relax them too much, as they will continue to loosen throughout the day.

Tips and warnings

  • No curlers? Use rag strips, just like your great-grandma did.
  • For quicker results, use hot rollers. Your hair will be done in about 30 minutes.

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