You know that amazingly bouncy look we always see in too-good-to-believe hair commercials? Well, I never thought it’d actually be possible to achieve that on my own, but ever since Martha Lynn showed us how to properly use hot rollers I’ve been singing a slightly different tune. Some of you may already have this styling skill down to an art, but for those of you who don’t, using hot rollers is one trick you’ll want to keep in your arsenal for years to come. Here’s how it’s done…

  1. Create a section at the very front, top of your head and pull hair forward. Use a 1.5-inch roller to roll hair onto itself as pictured.
  2. Insert pin facing forward to secure.
  3. Repeat going back down, creating a mohawk down your head.
  4. Secure with clamp-style clips. Note: the more hair you put in each roller, the bigger, looser and more subtle the curls will be.
  5. Section hair on sides in half, then curl by rolling underneath and securing.
  6. Spray all over and let sit.
  7. Remove curlers, run fingers through your hair, and spray for hair that stays bouncy and moveable.

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Comments (56)
  1. 1
    Stephanie December 19, 2012 at 6:09 am

    What kind of hot rollers did you use?

  2. 2
    Danielle December 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Can you suggest a brand of hot rollers? I’ve been wanting to purchase but unsure which set to go with! Thanks!!!!

  3. 3
    Martha Lynn December 19, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I like Conair Jumbo and Super Jumbo hot roller!

  4. 4
    Mary Hayes December 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I am actually gonna give this a try! I have pretty easy hair but I love the idea of my hair fixing itself while I put my makup on!

  5. 5
    Grace - Stripes & Sequins December 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Ahh great tips! Thanks for this. I have hot rollers but don’t think I’ve been using them properly! 🙂

  6. 6
    The New Diplomats Wife December 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve seriously always been wondering how to do this- with one best friend who was a texas beauty queen you would think i would have figured it out by now but those pins aren’t so easy when you have fine hair – still, i’ll give it a go!

    • Camille Styles December 20, 2012 at 7:50 am

      Agreed – I have super fine hair and the pins do take a bit of practice… I usually give my hair a good dose of hair spray before putting them in to give it a bit of “grip.” Then just push those pins in as tight as they’ll go, and spray again! (I’m sure your texas beauty queen best friend would agree that hairspray is your best friends when it comes to hot rollers, ha!)

    • julia December 25, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      You can always get the clamps instead of pins.

    • Leslie Matechuk November 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      I have fine hair as well. I went to the dollar store and purchased hair clips that fit nice and tight around the roller. This works much better than the pins and the rollers stay in place while you put on your makeup

  7. 7
    Monica Bennett December 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I just cleaned out my closet the other day and found my old hot rollers. Think I’ll give them a try again, thank you!!!

  8. 8
    Cory Ryan December 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I think I know what I am buying myself for Christmas now! 🙂

  9. 9
    Meghan December 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    It’s time to get my hot rollers back out and give them another try! Loved this post!

  10. 10
    Catherine (@bcrueltyfree) December 20, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I have really long wavy hair and hot rollers are my secret weapon. While I love the effect of a curling iron, I rarely have the time (or patience) to really style my hair – plus, I try to keep heat to a minimum. My hot rollers aren’t nearly as hot as my curling iron and I don’t even feel they damage my hair. They take literally less than 5 minutes and create effortless soft waves. They’re hands down the best styling tool I’ve ever used!

  11. 11
    hibnerfamily December 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Just in time for Christmas! I need to pull those hot rollers out. I have the same Conair hot rollers but the pins don’t work as well as the clips for my thick, fine hair combo. I think the clips are the trick.

    • Martha Lynn Kale December 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

      Yes! I use the pins around the front so they don’t “dent” my curls and then the clips everywhere else.

  12. 12
    Lynn December 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Just wondering if this would work on really thick hair!? I would love to try this! So much easier than a curling iron!

    • Camille Styles December 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Absolutely! Just make sure you get a set that has enough rollers to cover your entire head. Sometimes the “travel” sets only have 5 rollers, and you’ll definitely need more!

    • Martha Lynn Kale December 27, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Perfect for thick hair…make sure they are fully heated and for the most curl let them cool all the way down before you take them out! Good luck 😉

  13. 13
    Amy Lynn December 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I have naturally curly hair but still use hot rollers when I need that something extra. I have two sets that I use since 1 roller isn’t enough for one strand of hair, a smaller size for the top and larger for the bottom since the top will be weighted down. Just a trick I found a few years back.

    • Martha Lynn Kale December 30, 2012 at 8:35 am

      That’s a great tip! Thanks 😉

      • Mom of two babies January 22, 2013 at 7:25 am

        I have naturally curly / frizzy hair that I have to straighten daily with a blow drier and straightener. If I let it dry naturally it’s kinky and frizzy and just a mess. Would I need to straight it before I use curlers? Advice please

        • Martha Lynn January 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

          The rollers are more for volume and a slight curl, they wont really straighten it out. So YES I’d say at least blow it out as smooth as you can and then use the hot rollers to finish it off! Hope that helps 🙂

        • Ali February 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

          I also have thick, naturally curly hair that is frizzy if I don’t do something to style it – hot curler’s are my secret weapon! No need to straighten it first – the hot curler’s smooth the frizz and then give you big bouncy curls.

  14. 14
    L. Balduzzi February 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I have pretty long hair and can put my hair in a ponytail on the top of my head and roll my hair that way too! I use half the rollers and they stay in place a lot better 😉

    • Kaye May 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      When I had really long hair, that’s EXACTLY what I did! It worked great…kind of smooth on the top flowing down to big curls/waves.

  15. 15
    Dina Jensen February 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I love my hot curlers. My old Ms. Clariol just died. Using travel ones now. I have thick hair and need ones that get hot.

  16. 16
    Jessica February 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

    What type of spray did u use? I’ve never rolled my hair but when my hair is straight, it’s really fine and flat and I want volume and body.

  17. 17
    robin shutze February 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    I could not live without my hot rollers! They curl so much better and faster than a curling iron. I have super thick, frizzy hair and they give me beautiful, soft curls, that last for days! Here are the secrets- you need setting spray, I use Hot Sets 22 by Redken. You spray it on dry hair, spray each section and immediately roll it up. This works much better than hair spray. Your set will last two days with setting spray. It also protects your hair from the heat. Another tip, leave rollers in for at least thirty minutes for lasting curls or waves. Rollers need to be cool before youremove them. This sets the curl. The absolute best rollers(and I have tried them all)are Conair Extreme Instant Heat. They say 75 second heat up on the box. They have gray clips and rollers are trimmed in hot pink. These are gentle on hair, but get very hot which is the key to lasting sets. I never quit using rollers when everyone else threw their’s away. I am glad to see this post. Rollers do so much better than curling irons and in half the time. I have two sets, so I have enough big rollers to make big waves, and enough small rollers for tighter curls. Try the setting spray on DRY hair. I promise you will love your hair! Even frizzy hair like mine stays smooth and glossy for days. Love this post!

    • kate laskoswki March 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      wow thanks for all the tips Robin. im printing your post and taking it to the store tonight to buy the products you suggest!

    • Lydia June 5, 2013 at 5:08 am

      Robin, thank you for all the tips! Your hair sounds a lot like mine. Question… when you get out of the shower, do you blow your hair out at all or can they be put in while it’s damp (I know not to do it wet!) If you blow it out, can you just blow it out to where it’s dry but messy? With my hair I can dry it out “messy” I call it, but that leaves it pretty puffy & frizzy so I usually straighten with a round brush and THEN have to use a flat iron which takes a long time. I’d love to be able to blow it out messy then put the rollers in, do my makeup & go. I really hope you have a chance to reply cuz I’m spending a lot of money & time at blow dry bars! 🙂

      • robin shutze April 9, 2014 at 2:01 am

        Lydia, I never blow dry my hair, too lazy. I let it air dry and then roll it. You can blow dry and then roll. No need to flatiron or blowdry with a roundbrush before. Thats the great thing about hott rollers. I have hair thats on the frizzy side. Hot rollers are my miracle worker. They smooth my hair and make it shiny and bouncy. Its so easy to roll your hair and then do your makeup while the rollers work their magic. The key to a lasting set is your hair must be cometely dry. If mine is even slightly damp, the curl falls right out. The setting spray I use by Redken, is the other key. I lightly spray and then roll each section. This stuff makes your set last for days, even on my super thick hard to curl hair. You need rollers that get very hot, especially if you have frizzy or hard to curl hair. The Redken heat spray protects my hair from any damage. I roll my hair every couple of days. I have done this for thirty years, and my hair is very long, and healthy, shiny with no split ends. The Redken Hot Sets is the reason why. I got new rollers off Amazon and they are awesome! They get super hot which is what I have to have to curl my hair. They are called Hot Tools Ionic Hairsetter. Definitely the best and hottest rollers Ive ever used. So ,Lydia, don’t worry about all that extra work. Blow dry messy or air dry messy like me, then let the rollers and hwat spray work their magic. Let me know how it works for you! :-):-)

  18. 18
    Nena April 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Where can i buy those rollers?

  19. 19
    Kate Laskowski April 28, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Actually I bought them and used them 5+ times. Not great. The curls fall out within an hour. I’ll go back to my curling iron. I love the idea of curlers and they are so convenient but it just doesn’t last. Worth the try tho!

  20. 20
    Jai April 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I absolutely LOVE my hair rollers!! I use them daily and wish my curls would stay in for multiple days however they do not. I may have to try to setting spray and I also need to purchase an additional set so that I have enough rollers for smaller sections of hair. Thank you for reminding everyone about the fantabulous world of rollers!
    Also, I know when my last set passed I had to hunt down the old school rollers; the spiky ones and ended up buying them at Ulta. Seriously the cute sales associate asked me if I was buying them for my grandmother. When I told her they were for myself she asked me if I had heard of a flat iron. Hehehehe…… I imagine she has never used rollers in her life so I may have to print out this section and casually leave it at the counter.

  21. 21
    Patti May 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    When I had long straight hair I pulled my hair into a high pony tail and the used 3 or 4 hot rollers. Created soft loose curls.

  22. 22
    Preppymeetsredneck June 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Help a girl out! I know where to put the rollers, however, my issue has always been the last inch to inch and half of my hair. I get a “kinked” look because if I got all the way to the end of my hair, most of it falls away and then I have to start all over. So I get the roller as far as I can to the end of most of the hair I am rolling and don’t know what to do with that little tail piece! I have very, very thick hair and a lot of it. So the chunks have to be larger in size or else I would have to buy two sets of rollers. any hints or advice?

    • Martha Lynn June 12, 2013 at 9:25 am

      I take the roller to about 3/4 of the way and then wrap the “tail” around it then roll it down!

  23. 23
    Tee June 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I have straight soft hair. Hot rollers tend to slide out when I use them. I use the hot rollers with clips. HELP what am I doing wrong 🙁

  24. 24
    kelly June 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Tee, use hair spray first to act like a gripper and make your hair less slippery.

  25. 25
    Colleen June 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    get a box of the little thin papers used on the ends of hair when doing perms.

  26. 26
    Donna H July 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    A lot of good tips I think im going to try this again my hair is frizzy and I have what I call corky grays they have a mind of there own but with tips I hope I can have some nice big curls I have problems with the pins and clips though they just wont stay in so im really going to try spraying it first to get that grip (wish me luck ladys) =)?ill let ya know results

  27. 27
    tiffany July 13, 2013 at 11:56 am

    My hair is super long and think its about a little lower than the middle of my back. I probably can’t do this or I’d need like 3 sets of rollers.

  28. 28
    Kathleen October 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Can you tell me which photo editor you use to make your collage with text??

  29. 29
    Beth April 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try hot rollers, but I have very thick and coarse hair and am concerned about having to get multiple sets of rollers and it taking too long to get them all in. Has anyone had experience with this?
    My hair is just below shoulders and usually when I flat iron curl it, I have to divide it into about 4 “layers” in order to get through it… and even then my layers are sometimes to heavy to curl well.

  30. 30
    Karen June 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I have medium length hair, but just want some slight wave and volume. How is the best way to achieve this look? Karen.

  31. 31
    Robin Shutze June 6, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Karen, use big rollers and bigger sections of hair on each roller. The smaller the amount of hair on each roller and the size of the roller control the amount of curl you get. So using a bigger roller and rolling a bigger section of hair on it produce a soft wave. When I want just volume and big waves, I only use around six large rollers for my whole head.When I want a curlier look, I use around twenty rollers with small sections of hair on each roller. For lots of volume and big waves, I don’t even brush my hair after I remove the rollers. Just flip your head over and use your fingers to rake thru your hair. This gives a very natural unstructured wave as opposed to curls. I would love to know where to buy the old spiky style rollers. I cant find them anywhere anymore. I used to love that kind. Someone mentioned in this thread they have them at Ulta. We dont have an Ulta. I checked their website. I couldnt find any. If anyone knows where I could get some, I would appreciate the info. I miss those old school hot rollers. They were the best.

  32. 32
    Laura Hebdon July 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I medium thick wavy hair and would love to learn to control it. Love the curl wavy look. How do I use rollers for my thick hair?

  33. 33
    betty August 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I have used hot rollers for a long time. Here are some helps. Don’t wash your hair every morning bathe at night and blow dry your hair before going to bed. I only need to wash my hair twice a week. On the morning after washing my hair I plug in rollers and let them heat up for 10 to 15 minutes.The best rollers Ive found are the old clairol vintage ones. How do I know this.. my old set died and I tried others presently on the market and was not satisfied. I went on ebay and bought a few sets of the old ones. I found out that beauty pageant girls still use these. I have a little jar that I make my own solution of 2 thirds water and 1 third Suave maxhold hairspray. Before rolling my hair up I dip my fingers into the jar and wet the ends of each clump of hair before rolling. Then I finish up when whole head is done with a spray of Suave hairspray on each roller. Then I let the rollers cool for 45 to 60 minutes. On days I didn’t wash my hair the night before I just brushed through my hair and used a little water on the ends before rolling the clumps of hair up. I have hair on the top of my head that I want to have height in and I use Herbal Essence 4 mousse in it instead of the hairspray mixture. I also use hairspray when I comb it out. Hope these ideas are helpful.

  34. 34
    Alexis December 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I have been trying to do this hair style for a while now but my curls never seem to hold!! Any tips on what could be causing this?

  35. 35
    MishMish March 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    How do you keep that front roller from falling forward? Every time I hot roll that first one wants to roll down my forehead!



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