A Guide to Getting Great Results at Roller Setting Without the Hassle that Comes with It
Good roller setting is an art form that takes a while to learn. It’s not so much that it is difficult, but perfecting the technique to get that consistent result can definitely take some time. Once you have mastered the technique though, it is one of the healthiest ways of achieving a straight style without using too much heat, like you would get from directly applying a flat iron to your hair. Remember that regardless of whether your hair is relaxed or natural, you are just trying to improve or maintain the health of your hair and for this reason, limited heat is always a plus.
Now, if you are like me and patience is not your middle name, then the cheat’s way of roller setting is for you!
Here’s what you will need:
- 12-16 hair bands
- 12-16 magnetic rollers or regular rollers with duck bill clips to secure
- A rat tail comb
- A setting lotion
- A heat protection serum
- A spray bottle with water
- Hair clips
How to prep your hair for the roller set
Start by washing and deep conditioning* your hair making sure to detangle while the conditioner is still in your hair. By doing this you will reduce the amount of breakage that can result from combing while styling.
Towel-blot your hair gently to remove some water but remember that you need your hair to remain wet enough to achieve a good roller set. The malleability of hair in its wet state is optimal and will cause it to readily take the shape of the rollers. It is the fact that your hair is being simultaneously allowed to dry onto the roller as it is being stretched that delivers that smooth, tangle-free hair with body and bounce that we love so much.
So, it is very important that you do not rid your hair of all its moisture. Think of it like this, you need enough water in your hair to ensure it sets right but not too much as you will need to introduce additional products that also need to be absorbed by your hair.
With that said, to enhance body and bounce while still getting some movement, use a small amount of setting lotion. If you want a firmer set, then apply a generous amount of the setting lotion.
A heat protection serum also needs to be applied to protect your hair from heat damage as well as for additional smoothness and to eliminate frizz from the finished look. Now, everyone’s hair reacts differently to different styling products so if it’s your first time doing a roller set, don’t expect perfect results. But with time and practise, your technique will improve and you will get perfect results every time.
How to cheat at roller setting
Part your prepped hair into 4 sections and clip out of the away. Starting at the back, divide each section into 3 or 4 sections depending on the thickness of your hair. Now grab one section and comb it through carefully with the rat tail comb*.
Make sure that you are careful with the combing as hair tends to be very fragile when it’s wet. This is particularly true for relaxed hair. Hold the section of hair relatively taut to get the roots nice and straight then secure at the roots with one of the hair bands*.
Repeat this with each section until your hair is tied into 12-16 little ponytails. You may need to use the spray bottle from time to time to ensure that your hair remains wet.
Once you are done creating the ponytails, start from the back again combing out each ponytail and attaching it to a roller making sure that the ends of your hair lie smooth and flat on the roller. Roll until you get to the bottom of the ponytail and secure the roller firmly to the roots. Repeat this with each ponytail while still ensuring that your hair remains wet.
Once complete, cover your head with a hair net and sit under a warm hooded dryer* for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until your hair is completely dry. Now just a note on drying times here, the time may vary depending on the thickness and length of your hair, as well as the size of your sections.
As a general rule, if you have medium porosity shoulder length hair, anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half should work fine but increase the time by 15 to 30 minutes for longer or thicker hair. You want your hair to be thoroughly dry. So if after the suggested time you take down one roller and find it is not completely dry at the roots you should roll it back up and sit under the dryer for a bit longer.
Once dry remove the rollers and hair bands*. If you want to wear your hair curly then you don’t need to do anything about the indentation marks left by the hair bands at the roots as they blend in quite nicely with the curly style. Just massage your scalp and separate your curls to hide the partitions.
However, if you are planning to wear your hair straight, then comb the curls out gently and wrap your hair around your head using a boar bristle brush to help flatten your hair against your scalp. Apply bobby pins* or duck billed clips where necessary to secure the wrap.
Tie your hair down tightly by applying a layer of saran wrap and go back under the dryer for a further 15 to 20 minutes. The saran wrap technique is also really good for taking the bulk out of your hair leaving you with silky smooth and bouncy hair which is full of body.
It’s worth noting of course that this technique of straightening hair works best for relaxed hair, or natural hair with a looser curl pattern. Those with kinkier curls will find that roller setting will give them more of a blow out than a silk press texture.
Still, if you enjoy wearing your hair straight often and you can achieve the style you want without the direct heat of a blow dryer* or flat iron, then that can only be a good thing as far as the health of your hair is concerned.