To heat or not to heat? That is the question. When you want to curl your hair, the first order of business is to choose a method. Hot rollers are an old standard when it comes to curling dry hair, while air-drying creates curls with no hair damage. If you don’t have time to hot-roll your hair in the morning, wash and roll it with no-heat curlers at night and allow it to air-dry while you sleep.


Hot Rollers

Hot rollers do the work of regular rollers in far less time. Typically, you use them when your hair is dry and leave them in until they cool — a total of about 15 to 30 minutes. Most hot rollers come in a tray with posts that go inside the rollers. When you plug in the tray, the posts heat the rollers. Hot rollers often come with a set of thin metal clips for securing them in your hair, but another — and often easier option — is to use wide, spring-loaded plastic clips. When buying hot rollers, look for a brand with soft fabric wrapped around the roller, which helps protect your hair from heat damage.

Air-Dried Curls

The main advantage air-dried curls have over hot rollers is that they cause no heat damage, making them the better choice for dry or damaged hair. You’ll find a wide range of no-heat curlers at your local beauty supply store, from the traditional plastic and sponge rollers to flexible curling rods. If you prefer not to use rollers, try rag curls or pincurls. Roll your hair around strips of cloth and tie the cloth in a loose knot, or roll up curls with your fingers and pin them in place with bobby pins or duckbill clips. If air-drying takes too long, use a blowdryer for just a few minutes with the rollers in your hair.

Other Curling Methods

If you prefer more control over individual curls than you get with hot rollers or air drying, use a curling iron or flat iron. The latter is marketed as a straightening tool, but if you wrap your hair around the iron and gently pull the iron down the strand, your curls will look like you made them with a curling iron. Because curling irons and flat irons take up less space in a bag than plastic or hot rollers, they’re a more practical choice for those who travel.

Helpful Products

If you style your hair with heat, a heat-protectant spray will help protect your hair from damage. Many heat-protectant products also include silicone, glycerin or oils to help impart shine. Because heat styling can fade hair color, a color-protectant spray is essential if you dye your hair. If your hair is straight, try a mousse or gel formulated to help add curl. A good hairspray helps hold your curls in place, and frizz-fighting serum helps keep your from becoming unruly in humid weather.