The Old-School Beauty Tool Your Hair Has Been Missing

Photo: MCV Photo.
Is it just us, or do hot rollers need a better publicist? For most of us, they conjure up visions of actresses from another era getting glam, rolling up sections of hair while sipping dirty martinis. In this Kardashian-aping age of curling irons and wands, they've fallen out of favor, along with combs, hair rats, and highlighting caps.
The fact is, hot rollers — like Polaroid pictures, grammar, and chivalry — are on-the-low awesome, if a bit out of circulation. We caught up with some of the best in the hair business to find out their thoughts on this “relic” — plus get tips on some new ones on the market to try and the products you need to protect your hair before using them.
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Hairstylist Peter Butler recommends using hot rollers when you have to get ready quickly. “Pop a few in, and it's instant volume and curl,” he says. Bonus if your strands are over-processed: “Hot rollers are gentler on hair than a curling iron.” To give your curl more durability, he likes to spritz hairspray onto a section before rolling it up.
Butler's go-to curlers are Infinity Pro Secret Curl by Conair. “They’re self-clipping, so there are no extra parts to misplace or lose. Plus, they work great on short, medium, and long hair,” he says. He likes to use a few on top for volume and a few around the face for texture. Made of silicone, “They absorb the heat well and actually help keep the hair shiny,” he notes. “They look a bit smaller than traditional rollers, but these are all you need! I also like the fact that they heat up and are ready in under 10 minutes.”
Sally Hershberger stylist Matthew Fugate loves hot rollers for their versatility. “The perfect Jessica Rabbit-type 'do is definitely a hot-roller moment. You can also create a Debbie Harry sort of rocker style with them if brushed out, [with] kick-ass volume and movement,” he says.
Fugate favors felt rollers for the smoothest finish. He also likes to use volumizer, like Sally Hershberger Shape Up, when hair is wet. “Once hair is dry, I would avoid any product that makes the hair sticky while wrapping it around rollers,” he says. Finish with a quick shine spray for thick hair or a light hairspray like BlowPro Blow Out Serious Non-Stick Hairspray.
If you're going for a messy bedhead look, Fugate recommends spraying dry strands with a volumizing dry shampoo, like Sally Hershberger 24K Think Big, and then quickly wrapping sections around the rollers in coils or twists, and securing. After the last roller cools, you can pull them out or just flip your head over and tousle the hair, and then spray more dry shampoo and “sculpt into non-perfection.”
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Once you get the hang of using them, rollers are actually easier than breaking out the curling wand — trust.


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