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What Are Sock Curls? | A Detailed Guide

What are sock curls? This effective and heatless curling technique can give you gorgeous, bouncy waves overnight without any of the damage that curling irons cause. We’ll show you how to use each type below.

What Are Sock Curls?

For a piece titled What Are Sock Curls, a bunch of socks sitting on an orange background


Sock curls is an easy curling method that almost anyone can do. As long as you have hair and a few pairs of socks, you can get this look. There are two primary sock curling techniques. In the first, you utilize several old socks as rollers.

This method creates tight, ringlet curls. The more socks that you use, the tighter the curls. Also, it works on hair of all lengths.

The second technique requires only one sock that you use to make a donut bun. You will get loose, bouncy waves with this method. However, it only works on those with shoulder-length or longer hair.

1. Roller Method

This heatless curls technique resembles rag curls and paper bag curls. In those methods, you use scraps of fabric and paper to curl small strands of hair. Here, you use a handful of socks to roll pieces of your hair.

It produces tight curls as you typically work with small sections of hair and wrap to the scalp. If you have thick hair, you might need to use more socks than someone with thin hair.

You will have to divide your hair into more sections to hold a curl effectively. Also, try to use thin socks rather than thick, wooly ones. While those will keep your feet warm, they will add frizz to your hair and prove uncomfortable for sleeping.

Wash and Condition

Most heatless curling techniques hold better on damp hair, so you should start with a shower. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. Ideally, look for a brand that deters frizz.

Make sure to rinse it clean as buildup can weigh down the curls. If you can’t wash your hair that day, you can spritz your hair with water to make it damp.


Detangle your hair to create smooth, even curls. Use a wide-tooth comb to avoid damaging the damp strands while detangling. If you have unusually stubborn knots, you might benefit from a detangling spray.

For those who hopped in the shower and have sopping wet hair, you’re gonna need to wait a bit before tying it up with socks.

Overly wet hair will stay wet into the morning, so you won’t create those gorgeous curls you want. Once it dries to a damp texture, you can proceed to the next step. Make sure to air dry it to prevent tangles from forming.

Add the Socks

Start by grabbing segments of hair about two inches wide and ¼ inch thick. Place the ends of your hair in the middle of the sock. Next up, roll the sock towards your roots without letting go of the hair. Continue to roll until you get to your roots.

At the roots, tie the ends of the sock together to secure the curl in place. Repeat this process for the rest of your hair.

If you want looser curls, you can use larger sections of hair, while thinner sections will lead to tighter curls. You might feel tempted to roll it up halfway for bouncy waves. However, the curls are too tight; the result will look pretty awkward.

Wait Overnight

Depending on how fast your hair dries, you might not have to wait overnight. However, you should not undo the sock curls until your hair has dried completely. Many people choose to wait overnight to let their hair dry.

This option will also save time styling hair in the morning. You could blow dry your hair to expedite this process. Wrapping your hair in a microfiber towel or drying it in direct sunlight can also dry it faster.

Remove the Socks

After it dries completely, you can take out the socks individually. Try to go from top to bottom to avoid tangling your fingers in your hair. If they look a little too tight for your liking, feel free to finger-comb your hair to loosen the curls.

Use Hair Products

The above steps are all you need to create sock curls. Be that as it may, hair products can help the curls last longer and look better throughout the day.

Anti-Frizz Serum

Brushing your curls will likely create more frizz in your locks. Also, your hair rubbing against socks and your pillow all night might lead to some flyaways.

An anti-frizz serum can smooth down unruly strands. Pump some into your palm, rub your hands, and massage it throughout your mane to give a sleek finish to your curls.

Volume Spray

Your hair will probably have uneven amounts of volume from the sock curls. You can add more texture and lift to your roots by spraying in a volume spray. Flip your head upside down when doing so to add more volume and ensure you target the right strands.


After a few hours, most sock curls will start falling flat. By using hairspray, your curls will last all day. If you’re lucky, you might even keep the style for a few days. Lightly mist your hair with a high-quality hairspray.

Avoid using too much as that can create a crunchy appearance and weigh down your locks. If you can, go for a volumizing hairspray so that you can skip the volume spray.

2. Sock Bun Method

The sock bun method is another way to use socks to create bouncy waves. You will need longer hair for this method, but it produces loose, natural-looking curls without heat.

Prepare the Sock

You will need a sock with some elastic give for this technique. Cut off the toe portion of the sock so that it has two open ends. Turn the sock inside out and start rolling it over itself until you reach the opposite end. It should look like a donut.

If you use a long sock, such as a knee-high sock, you will have looser waves due to the larger circumference. Shorter socks will generate tighter curls. Keep in mind that this technique will always produce looser waves than the first method.

Tie Your Hair Into a Ponytail

You do not need to start with damp hair for this method. Brush your hair to remove any tangles. You might want to use detangling spray. Once it is smooth, tie it into a high ponytail. Brush through any knots and bumps until it is perfect.

Add Some Moisture

You have three options for dampening your hair:

  • Wave spray
  • Water
  • Leave-in conditioner

Any of these will work. You do not need your hair to be as damp as you do for the first sock curls method. If you have oily hair, try to go for wave spray or water. Dry hair will look best with the leave-in conditioner.

Make the Sock Bun

Grab the donut and pull your ponytail through the hole to the base. Lift the donut back up to the ends. When about one inch of hair is sticking out of the donut hole, start wrapping and tucking the hair into the donut. 

Keep your fingers inside the donut and flip it inside out. Then, roll the donut down the ponytail. Your hair should spread out over the sock as you roll to the scalp.

Take some bobby pins and secure all loose ends. You do not need it to look perfect, so just pin it until you are certain that nothing will fall off.

Prepare for Sleep

If you want to prevent any bobby pins from falling out as you toss and turn, you can wear a sleeping or shower cap. A microfiber towel will also work.

Undo the Curls

Take out the bobby pins, undo the ponytail, and look at your voluminous waves. As with the other technique, you can make the hairstyle look better with some hair products.

Try out an anti-frizz serum to smooth any unruly strands. If you tied your ponytail a little lower, you might not have as much volume as you would like on your scalp.

You can compensate for the loss of volume with a volumizing spray. Spritz it onto your roots as you hold your head upside down. Secure the hairstyle with a volumizing hairspray. Use a light amount to keep the waves bouncy and beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hair waves made as a result of sock curls

Ilkiv Anastasia/Shutterstock

Here are some popular questions about sock curls.

Do sock bun curls really work?

Sock bun curls work on longer hair. If your hair is too short, it will fall out of the donut and not create the desired look.

Remember that the humidity, your natural hair texture, and your physical activity will all change how well the curls hold.

If you live in a moist environment and sweat a lot, you will need a lot of hairspray to make the curls last. Also, natural pin-straight hair will fall out of the curls faster.

Are sock curls bad for your hair?

Sock curls do not damage your hair. Other hair rollers, such as Velcro ones, will pull at your strands and cause some to fall out.

On the other hand, sock curls are comfortable to sleep with and will not pull out your hair. Also, sock curls do not require the use of heat, which can damage your hair with time.

Does your hair have to be wet for sock curls?

If you try sock curls on dry hair, the curls are less likely to hold. However, keeping them in long enough might still result in some waves. They won’t be as tight and defined, but they should still exist.

Nevertheless, you will get the most out of this hair styling technique by using damp hair. Try not to use soaking wet hair as this will not dry easily in the sock curls.

Do sock curls work on curly hair?

If you have curly hair and use one of these techniques, you can change the shape of your mane. Depending on your natural texture, you might get smoother, tighter, or looser waves.

What do you need for sock curls?

All you need for sock curls are socks, water, and hair. Other products can improve the appearance of the curls. You might want these items at your disposal:

  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Detangling spray
  • Anti-frizz serum
  • Volumizing spray
  • Hairspray
  • Wave spray
  • Leave-in conditioner

So, What Are Sock Curls?

Sock curls are an effective heatless curling technique. By wrapping your hair in a few socks and keeping them in overnight, you can wake up with a new hair texture. If you use many socks at once, you can get tight ringlet curls.

Contrarily, you can try out one longer sock to create loose waves. You can readily create beautiful curls without damaging your hair using materials you already have at home. Try out sock curls tonight and wake up with a gorgeous new ‘do.

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