Hair-Setting Directions

Updated February 21, 2017

When a longer-lasting curl and more body are desired, use a wet set to style your hair. The term "wet set" means the hair is clean and damp and is set using rollers, hair clips or a rolling mechanism like a curling iron or a hot roller. Direct contact with hot rollers and curling irons can damage hair easily. The use of a simple sponge or plastic roller may not be the prettiest look but the results can be amazing.

Wash hair with shampoo and apply conditioner. Blot the hair dry with a thick towel. Hair should be damp and not dripping with water.

Apply a firm-hold styling lotion or foam to damp hair. Without the styling product, the set will fall out quickly with a simple brushing. Work the product into the hair from root to end. Distribute the styling product by using combing from the root downward.

Comb damp hair into the desired hair style. Part the hair where necessary and comb hair into place (down or back as needed.)

Set the hair at the front hairline (begin at the part if there is one) by using a comb to separate a section of hair for the first roller. For each roller, part a portion of hair with a comb using the roller width as a gauge for the width of the section of hair.

Direct the rollers toward the back of the head if the hairstyle is swept back and away from the face. Direct the rollers down from the top of the head starting at the part for a hairstyle with a part. Pin each roller into place using hair clips or hair clips --- sponge rollers typically have a built-in clipping system.

Set the back of the head by dividing the hair into sections. Place each section on a roller and work from the top of the scalp down. Hair should be placed on the roller under and at the end of the hair and rolled toward the scalp, then pinned into place.

Sit under a hooded dryer and choose a low heat setting. Drying time will vary from 20 to 45 minutes depending upon the thickness of the hair. The more hair on the roller, the longer it may take.

Remove the rollers when the hair is completely dry. Gently grasp a roller from the lower sections of the set hair and squeeze between fingertips to feel whether the hair is still damp.

Retain the curly look by fluffing the hair with the fingers. Shake the head and fluff the hair until the style looks right for the wearer.

Use a hairbrush to create a softer, wavy style. The styling product used before setting will hold the curl when the hair is brushed.


Add lift to limp hair by applying a root-lifting product to the roots after applying the styling lotion or foam. Hair can be air-dried. Drying times will vary depending upon the amount of hair on the roller, the humidity in the air and the thickness of the hair. Plan on at least two hours or more of drying time for average-weight hair, low humidity and minimal hair on the roller.


Placing too much hair on a roller will cause the style to lose its curl more quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge or plastic rollers
  • Styling product
  • Hair clips or clips
  • Comb
  • Hooded dryer
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About the Author

Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.