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How to Use Hair Rollers in 2024 | Step-by-Step Guide

Rollers offer a simple way to create gorgeous curls without heat damage or the damage caused by chemical treatments. The best part? They allow you to add insane volume and body to your hair. Learning how to use hair rollers is easy, and you can do it at home.

How to Use Hair Rollers: A Summary

Woman in red lip wearing a red dress in front of a pink wall wondering how to use hair rollers


Hair rollers come in different types and sizes, so you have flexibility when styling your hair. Follow these steps to add body and curls to your hair:

  1. Choose Your Hair Rollers
  2. Get Your Hair Damp
  3. Add Styling Products as Needed
  4. Divide Your Hair into Sections
  5. Start Rolling Your Hair
  6. Use Two Rollers for Each Section of Longer Hair
  7. Detangle Sections Before You Roll
  8. Roll from the End to the Root
  9. Let Your Hair Set (Dry)
  10. Remove the Rollers and Brush Your Hair

How to Use Hair Rollers in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1. Choose Your Hair Rollers

The first thing you need to do is choose a set of hair rollers. Here, you have many options. Velcro rollers are often the easiest to manage for those who have little experience with rollers. They grip the hair and magically stay in place once rolled. There are also magnetic rollers, plastic rollers that your hair clings too. These allow for a smooth wrap and flawless finish but must be held in place by clips. There are also brush roller, tube rollers, curling rags …etc. There are even hot rollers that allow you to create curls in minutes, but they do cause some heat damage. The bottom line, there are a ton of rollers to choose from. The ones you choose is up to you.

When selecting rollers, keep in mind that smaller sizes give you tighter curls, while the larger sizes are great for gentle curls. If you have short hair, you will want to use smaller rollers.

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With long hair, you have a lot of choices, from waves to tight curls. However, with short hair, you’re limited to smaller curls. If you want to create volume, you will need large rollers. Also consider using two rollers for strands that are particularly thick, especially if you have long hair.

You will find all different assortments of rollers, so be sure to select a pack with a variety of sizes if you have long hair. We suggest sticking with a set of smaller rollers if your hair is short.

Step 2. Get Your Hair Damp

When you’re ready to use your hair rollers, you want to have damp hair. Some people start by taking a shower and shampooing their hair (this is the best method), while others simply use a spray bottle to mist their hair. Make sure that you remove any excess water so that the hair is damp rather than soaking wet.

Leaving hair damp hair will help you achieve more curl, while using rollers with drier hair (not totally dry) will give you more of a wavy style. Some people also use a volumizing spray before they roll their hair. This helps to make the curls more pronounced.

Step 3. Add Styling Products as Needed

Depending on your hair type, you may want to use styling products as you put your hair in rollers. For example, people with fine hair may want to use a volumizing hair spray to add extra volume and help the curls hold. Those with particularly stubborn hair may want to use a setting lotion instead. You can also use gel, mousse, curling creams — anything you’re comfortable with.

Although it’s best to work your chosen product through all of your hair before you begin for even coverage, some people like to blast each roller with a little extra holding power. To do this, place the end of the hair on the roller, spin it around once, pull it tight, and coat the section in the volumizing spray. If you have frizz control issues, use an anti-frizz serum on each section as you roll it.

This will help control any pieces of hair that don’t make it into the rollers and your hair will be sleeker when you finish. Use any styling products that you want to use when you roll your hair.

Step 4. Divide Your Hair into Sections

This step is particularly important for people who have thick hair. If you try to roll a thick section of hair into your hair roller, you will have trouble. Split your hair into sections that are manageable.

Clip the extra hair back and make as many sections as you need to keep each one small enough to have an impact. Each section should have a thin layer of hair across the roller.

Step 5. Start Rolling Your Hair

If you’re using velcro hair rollers, you won’t need to use clips or pins to hold them in place. If you find that the roller is coming loose, you’re using too much hair on it. Make sure that the amount of hair on your roller holds once you roll it up.

You’re able to create many different styles, depending on the size of the rollers. Some people use large rollers on the tops and small rollers on the bottom to create body with tight curls at the bottom, while others are looking for a more uniform look. Start at the bottom of the section of hair and roll it up towards your scalp.

Where you place your roller on the base of your sections can also affect your end result. If you over direct the rollers and place them ahead of your section parting, you create more volume. Placing them behind your section results in less volume. You can also place them directly on base, which means the roller will rest exactly on your section and create an average amount of volume.

Step 6. Use Two Rollers for Each Section of Longer Hair

People with long or thick hair may want to use two rollers in each section. Take the first roller and start halfway up the section. Then, roll it up. Take the lower half of the section and put it in a separate roller until it meets the first one. This is called piggybacking. It is a popular rolling method for rollers and perm rods when working with long hair.

If you have too much hair rolled on one roller, it often reduces the amount of curl you end up with. It also ends up tangling your hair, and sometimes the roller has difficulty staying in place. The best way to avoid these problems is to use two rollers on sections of long or thick hair.

Step 7. Detangle Sections Before You Roll

Before you roll a section, brush it out to make sure that it is free of tangles. Take the section of hair out of the clip and pull it straight. Make sure that you pull it out straight so that you have no trouble running your brush through it until it is perfectly straight when you pull it. It shouldn’t have any tangles or knots when you finish.

Step 8. Roll from the End to the Root

It is important to remember to roll your hair from the end directly up towards your roots. Gently place the end of your hair on the roller and pull it tight as you roll it up. The curls should come out down and in from your scalp. Your rollers will grab the ends of the hair and hold it in place, so you shouldn’t need to use any rolling papers (these are designed to sandwich the ends of the hair for easy wrapping). Depending on the type of roller you choose, you may need to use a pin to hold it in place once wrapped.

Read Next: Best Setting Sprays

Step 9. Let Your Rollers Set

Once you finish rolling all of your hair, it is time to let your rollers set (your hair dry). You need to leave it in a minimum of ten minutes (for hot rollers) and up to an hour or more if you’re not using a hooded dryer. The key is to have completely dry hair before you remove the rollers.  Also, keep in mind that the strength and durability of your curls will increase with more time.

If you have thick hair, you will want to leave them in longer, and if you have fine hair that doesn’t hold a curl easily, try to keep them in for at least thirty minutes. If your hair is still damp, be sure to blow it dry before removing the rollers.

Keep the hair dryer on a low setting so that you gently dry your hair with the rollers on. Also add any finishing cream or anti-frizz spray while you let the rollers set.

Step 10. Remove the Rollers and Brush Your Hair

Once you’re ready to remove your rollers, make sure that you’re careful, as they can tangle easily. Slowly unroll them one at a time. Use one hand to hold your hair up near the roots, and slowly unwind the roller. Make sure that your hair doesn’t get stuck or tangled as you unroll it.

After you have removed all of the rollers, brush your hair out. Some people use a comb to bring the different sections together again, while other people use their fingers. When you have the look that you want, use hairspray to hold it in place.

Things to Consider

Image of a woman learning how to use hair rollers while pulling a strand of hair down to put into a roller


It is always a good idea to understand what works and what doesn’t when rolling your hair. 

Things to Do

  • Start with damp hair
  • Divide your hair into small sections
  • Use different sized rollers
  • Use two rollers on long or thick sections of hair
  • Try your favorite styling products
  • Set your rollers as long as you want

Things Not to Do

  • Avoid putting too much hair on one roller
  • Don’t unroll your hair too quickly
  • Don’t roll from the top down
  • Avoid rolling your hair before you detangle it with a brush

So, How Do You Use Hair Rollers?

It isn’t difficult to use hair rollers, but it will take some time to achieve the best results. Make sure that you have an assortment of sizes unless you have short hair. Start with clean, damp hair and divide it into sections.

Then, carefully roll each section from the end of the hair to the roots. Try using two rollers on sections that are thick or long.

After you let it set, be careful and move slowly as you unroll your hair. Combine the different sections with a comb or your fingers and use hairspray to hold your style.

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