Everything You Need To Know About The Heatless Curls All Over TikTok

Illustrated by Olivia Santner
Dear Daniela,

How do I do heatless curls? I've been seeing so many girls on TikTok achieve heatless curls with socks or rollers of some sort, and I love the idea of getting a bouncy blow-dry look without the heat. Even better if it can just be done passively while I sleep. What's the best way to do it yourself?

Victoria, 28
I am by all accounts something of a pessimist. I assume the worst, take every piece of good news with a pinch of salt and remain enduringly sceptical about every product claim. So it will not surprise you to learn that when I also saw these TikToks, my initial response was a huge eye roll.

I'm 27 – or 189 in digital years – and I've seen a lot of these hacks come and go. I saw spoon contouring, Scotch tape for creating smoky eyes, oil pulling for whiter teeth... The formula for these kinds of hacks or tips is usually: difficult thing/thing that requires professional equipment/thing considered to cause damage + at-home/'natural' remedy = happiness. With heatless curls, the idea is that by removing the heat, you remove the damage, as well as the labour-intensive process of styling. Most of the videos suggest you braid or weave a flexible roller or socks or even the belt from a dressing gown through wet hair, leave until dry, then remove. Easy, right?
"This is not as easy as people make it out to be," said celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine. Ah. "The successful viral videos are typically of girls with long, malleable hair that holds and styles very easily," added Joseph. He said the first issue is that your hair may not dry thoroughly enough if it's wrapped around something, noting that the most successful videos feature women with dry hair, which they have ever-so-slightly moistened beforehand, rather than attempted wet. "The amount of moisture required to hold the shape will differ based on hair texture the same way it does for round brushing or typical blow-drying," said Joseph. He explained that while any kind of terry cloth or towel material will help your hair dry, there's no guarantee that it'll be fully dry even if you leave it for eight hours. When I tried this kind of thing, that was entirely my experience: even after a day all tied up, come evening, my hair was just damp and messy.
Then there's your hair's natural texture to think about. "Another obstacle in obtaining those really silky, heatless curls is that it can be hard if you have inconsistent texture, or naturally curly hair that requires heat or tension to smooth it out," explained Joseph. If your hair, left to dry 100% naturally, is wavy or curly – even only slightly – this could be you. Any amount of bend in the hair can be an impediment to getting really even, heatless curls as those natural waves and kinks will sort of be doubled or maybe split by being wrapped around something. "This is especially true when adding the friction of your pillow and movement during the night if you're hoping to sleep on it," added Joseph. He also cautioned that if you have short or mid-length hair, these kinds of curls or waves may come out really large as you don't have the weight of long hair to pull them down. 
If you do have long, mostly straight, very malleable hair and want to try heatless curls, Joseph suggested that you twist the hair away from your face, as it gives you the most versatility once it's dry and tends to be more flattering. Try and get the twist or tuck all the way to the ends, as straight ends may look unnatural. "During styling, I'd recommend using Color Wow One Minute Transformation, which has natural conditioning agents like avocado oil but doesn't get greasy," said Joseph. "Use it while your hair is damp and it will add a degree of malleable hold that doesn't feel crunchy or heavy. If you have the type of hair that always does what you want, give this a go. It'll be fun!"
I do not have that kind of hair! So I'll be sticking to a good heat protectant (I love the Virtue 6-in-1 Styler and Living Proof No Frizz Vanishing Oil) and my Dyson Airwrap but to achieve bouncy hair, you can use any wave or curling tongs you like.
Good luck,
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