The best hot roller sets for bouncy curls, beachy waves, and va-va-volume


Hot rollers are, apparently, back — although they never left that weird corner of CVS with the emergency underwear, did they? While stylists and regular folks have been using hot rollers for decades to boost volume and create glamorous curls and waves, they’re back in the conversation thanks to beauty YouTube and TikTok

Aside from social media trends, there are several reasons why hot rollers seem to be making a resurgence in popularity. The biggest benefit of hot rollers is their versatility. They can be used on virtually all hair colors, types, textures, and patterns — you just have to find the right roller for your specific locks. They can even be used on hair extensions.

In addition, once you wrap your rollers up, you’ve got your hands free to multitask. Brush your teeth, apply your makeup, or just Netflix and chill while your barrels work their magic. Hot rollers are also more efficient than their non-heated roller counterparts — just keep in mind that heated hair care tools can cause damage to your tresses, so you’ll want to care for them accordingly. Finally, hot rollers aren’t likely to make your arms as tired as a curling iron, either. 

“Hot rollers are legendary!” says Kiyah Wright, two-time Emmy Award-winning celebrity hairstylist and author of From Beauty to Business. “They’ve been around for so many years, but I think they kind of just sort of went out of style for a bit. Now they’ve kind of evolved. They’ve gotten better and hotter, and all types of great things over the years.” 

What are hot rollers?

Hot rollers are a hair tool used to create waves, curls, and volume. They are just like regular hair rollers, except they are heated in order to help speed up the process and provide longer-lasting results. Hot roller technology has been around for nearly 100 years and is one of the best and easiest ways to achieve voluminous curls, coils, and waves. Hot roller kits might look intimidating, but if you’ve used a hair straightener or curling iron, you should have no problem using hot rollers. In fact, the majority of sets are user-friendly, efficient, and intuitive. 

How do you use hot rollers or hot curlers? 

Using hot rollers is pretty easy. They work the same way as regular hair rollers, except they are heated in order to help speed up the process and provide longer-lasting results. 

To use hot rollers, you’ll first need to plug the base or holder into an outlet. Turn the unit on at your desired temperature (if available) and wait the required time for them to heat up. Once they’re ready to use, you’re going to take sections of your hair, and wrap it around the roller, curling away from the face. Use a pin or clip to secure the roller in place. Continue in this manner until you’ve either used all the rollers or rolled all your hair. Leave the rollers in place until they’ve cooled completely, which should take about 15-20 minutes. If you have thick hair or want a really tight curl, you may even want to leave your hot rollers in for up to 30 minutes. Once this time has passed, you simply remove the pins and unwrap your hair from the rollers. Run your fingers through curls to achieve a natural looking result. Set with a flexible hold hairspray for all-day bouncy curls. 

This video offers a pretty quick and easy-to-follow tutorial if you’re more of a visual person. 

Wright adds that at-home hot rollers are actually great for bringing back good curl retention. 

“It’s a great way to just kind of rejuvenate those curls or bring those curls back on the second or third day.”

She also advises people to pop a little hairspray down the length of the hair shaft before rolling up their hair for longer-lasting results.

“A really light aerosol hairspray brings back that curl retention really nicely.”

Are hot rollers good for thick hair?

Yes! Hot rollers are good for those with thicker hair, but there are some tricks to using them. First, opt for jumbo rollers. Second, apply a setting spray before rolling your hair. This will help give you longer-lasting results. 

Are hot rollers good for curly hair?

You might be wondering what the point of hot rollers is if you already have natural curls, but peep this — big rollers can actually straighten curly hair! Make sure you’re using a heat protectant to help prevent any damage to your tresses. Hot rollers can also help to smooth any frizz from your natural curls. 

Can you use hot rollers on short hair? 

Hot rollers can be used on hair lengths of all kinds. Just keep in mind that if your locks are on the shorter side, you’ll want to stick with smaller rollers so that you’re able to wrap the hair around them. 

Do hot rollers damage hair?

Wright says hot rollers are great because they actually offer a protective style for all hair types and hair textures.

“I would say that a hot roller is a great substitute for setting your hair and getting lasting curls because you can leave the rollers in until the irons cool off.”

However, like all heated hair tools such as curling irons, hair dryers, and flat irons, heated hair rollers can damage your hair if you aren’t careful. One of the most important things you can do to protect your hair from heat damage caused by hot rollers and other styling tools is to apply a hair product that protects against heat damage before styling your hair. Also don’t use hot rollers on wet or damp hair, as it’s more fragile and prone to damage.

Can you use hot rollers on wet hair?

No, you absolutely should not use hot rollers on wet hair. Wet hair is more fragile and prone to damage. Dry hair thoroughly, or leave it ever so slightly damp for the best hot roller results. 

Are hot rollers better than curling irons?

We’re firmly on team “yes” when it comes to the question of hot rollers vs curling irons. This is because hot rollers are passive and leave your hands free to do other stuff while they work their magic, whereas a curling iron requires more hands-on styling. You can also curl larger sections of hair at a time with hot rollers compared to a curling iron. And finally, your arms aren’t going to get as tired setting yourself up with hot rollers as they would with a curling iron or curling wand. Curling irons are also more likely to damage your hair (and your fingers!) than hot rollers as they run at higher temperatures.

What’s the difference between ceramic and metal rollers?

Aside from the materials they use, ceramic rollers contain a wax core as its heating element, which takes longer to heat up than metal rollers. They also do not get as hot as metal rollers, so you’ll need to leave them in your hair for longer. Titanium hot rollers are lighter than ceramic models. Since it has a metal core, it heats rapidly and achieves a higher heat for producing curls. 

Can you use hot rollers on Black hair?

Yes! You can use hot rollers on natural Black hair. In fact, Wright says Black hair is more likely to take better curls from hot rollers because it’s so porous, plus the curl retention on Black hair is really good if you leave it textured. 

“You just have to make sure the irons are really, really hot,” she says. She also suggests applying a lightweight shine serum along with a bit of hairspray(opens in a new tab) down the whole hair shaft. Start at the ends, and roll the roller tight to the base of the hair.

Here’s an at-home tutorial along with some info you can follow along with.

To help you narrow down your options when it comes to the best heated rollers for your tresses, we’ve found these eight models offer the best in terms of efficiency, body, and bounce. Read on for the best hot rollers for every hair type and budget, whether you want tighter curls or loose waves.


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