How To Get Big, Soft Curls For Every Hair Type

Photo: Etienne Tordoir/WireImage/ Getty Images.
If the parade of well-coiffed women sauntering down the spring runways or out of your local dry bar is any indication, big, bouncy hair is back. Like so many other '80s trends — Dr. Martens, denim on denim, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — voluminous Jessica Rabbit-inspired 'dos are finally, unquestionably, in vogue again. Along with them? Hot rollers, another vestige from that era.

Francis Catanese, lead stylist at John Barrett Bond Street, says, “I love that hot rollers are making a comeback — it’s a great way for clients to re-create what I do in the salon at home.” Even better, the tools are generally considered easier and more efficient than curling irons. We'll say that again: They're easier to use than curling irons! “They’re a time-saving trick to get you high glam with minimal effort,” explains Cutler Salon stylist Fatima Sheikh. In fact, Liana Le — a hairstylist at Marie Robinson Salon — says hot rollers are her “favorite DIY at-home volume tip.”

There's one caveat, of course. Figuring out how to use hot rollers properly does take a bit of practice. The hairstylists we enlisted for help agree on a few general rules of thumb: “Make sure your hair is 100% dry,” says Sheikh. “If there’s any moisture left, your style won’t last.” Christian Wood, a Highbrow stylist who’s worked with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, says that sectioning off your hair is key. “When you’re putting in the hot rollers, start at the ends of your hair, making sure they’re wrapped around the roller. Otherwise, you won’t get that beautiful bounce,” he says. Catanese also advises making sure the width of each section is equal to that of the roller.

Ready to tackle these tools? Keep reading to find out which hot rollers work best for you.
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If You Have Fine Hair
A set of hot rollers is an ideal heat-styling tool for fine hair. “Too much heat damages hair, making it lifeless and limp,” says Le. “Hot rollers are a favorite of mine for sensitive hair textures to create body and bounce.” According to hairstylist Justine Marjan, who runs Mane Addicts, those with fine hair should rely on smaller rollers on smaller sections and use a lower heat setting. “Wrap the rollers horizontally to maximize volume and to slightly overcorrect on the top section of hair, so the root is pulled up and forward,” she says. “Use a texturizing hairspray at the roots after you’ve rolled all your strands for added hold and volume. Let the hair sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes, then remove rollers and brush through.”

Anessa Daviero, hairstylist and owner of Headdress Salon, adds, “The key for fine hair is setting the rollers on the base for volume and using medium heat so you don't damage the hair."

Conair Xtreme Instant Heat Multisized Hairsetter, $40, available at Amazon.
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If You Have Thick Hair
It's best to manage thicker hair with a set of jumbo-sized rollers. “I don’t like to have too much curl with thicker hair, so I use a roller with a larger diameter to keep hair softer,” says Catanese. “You won’t need as many rollers on the head.” Marjan recommends Caruso Steam Rollers: “The rollers are wider, so you can easily roll your hair around them. Thicker hair types also need to set for a longer period of time for the heat to penetrate, so let [them] sit at least 30 minutes before removing.”

Caruso Molecular Steam Hairsetter, $38, available at Dermstore.
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If You Have Short Hair
It can be challenging to apply hot rollers to short hair at the nape of the neck, which is why Catanese suggests using a maximum of five rollers at the top of your head if you have a bob or other short style. “With shorter hair, I just use rollers to create height at the top and blow out the rest with a brush,” he says. Marjan suggests BaByliss Nano Titanium Rollers: “These medium-sized rollers in various sizes help you avoid Shirley Temple curls.”

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Jumbo 8-Roller Hairsetter, $40, available at Amazon.
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If You Want Tons Of Volume
Most people use hot rollers for the purpose of creating voluminous hair, which works on all hair densities. Marjan’s go-to? “T3’s Voluminous Hot Roller Set uses infrared heat to lock in the curl pattern and seal the cuticle layer of the hair,” she says. “The roller’s velvety surface keeps your hair looking shiny and smooth. To set the hair, I suggest using them on the mohawk section of your hair, slightly overcorrecting the rollers forward to maximize volume. When you’ve removed the rollers, use a volume spray for additional body.”

T3 Voluminous Hot Rollers Set, $99, available at Sephora.
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If You Have Long Hair
Ladies with longer tresses, beware of small rollers. “Anything too small will look cheesy, but extra-large rollers will give you a voluminous-blowout finish,” explains Marjan. Sheikh likes Hot Tools’ rollers, especially for layered hair. “Make sure you roll at least the ends (at least two turns around the roller), bring your ends forward, and roll away from the face,” she says.

If you want to create a '70s-inspired look with less volume, Daviero says, “Section the hair from ear to ear starting on the bottom section, place rollers on top of your hair, and roll the hair up. Continue around the whole head.”

Hot Tools 20-Piece Hairsetter, $38, available at Dermstore.
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If You Want Curls
For a curly finish, use smaller rollers and wrap your hair around them vertically. “Remington’s TIStudio LUXE Setter rollers get hot enough to really heat through the strands and use hot-clip technology to make sure each strand is evenly heated,” says Marjan. “After taking out the rollers, scrunch a pomade mousse throughout for separation and a natural-looking curl pattern.” Catanese advises letting your hair cool for at least 25 minutes: “The longer you let it cool, the longer the curl will last.”

Remington TIStudio LUXE Setter, $40, available at Ulta.
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If You Want Sleek Waves
For a sleeker look, a set of extra-large jumbo rollers lends you the most volume with less curl. “Paul Mitchell makes great hot rollers that they sell individually, so usually a few work great,” says Marjan. “Wrap large sections of hair around the rollers vertically. After removing, a quick pass of the flat iron through the mid-lengths and ends can add shine and relax the curls. Then, run a hair oil throughout for a shinier finish.”

Says Wood: “People always assume heated rollers only give one type of look: big, blowdried, voluminous curls. But if you want to do a Brigitte Bardot or '70s feel, you can use rollers to get volume and then afterwards, tip your head upside down and apply a texturizing spray. Backcombing the roots a bit when you’re done will give you that sexy rock-‘n’-roll vibe.”

Paul Mitchell
Neuro Cell Premium Hot Rollers, $56, available at Loxa Beauty.
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