It's official, embracing your natural hair texture is the trend in 2023. When it comes to hair, health should always be a top priority. Yes, heat can help coax your hair into your desired style, but using hot tools daily can result in drier, frizzier hair—which no one wants. Thankfully, the internet is full of creators sharing their tried and tested methods for styling without heat.
Are you looking to create enviable curls and waves without using hot tools and risking heat damage? Well, you’re in luck—there are heatless techniques for creating curls for every hair type. In fact, TikTok is particularly good for curly hair tips and tricks. We've rounded up the best methods and tutorials below, whether you're already blessed with coils and curls or want to add some oomph to straight strands. Keep scrolling to discover the 15 best techniques for creating heatless curls at home.
How can I curl my hair without heat?
Many hairstyling techniques allow you to curl your hair without heat. You can use hair styling tools like flexi rods, silk ribbons, or classic jumbo hair curlers. Plopping, finger coiling, and scrunching are just three of the ways you can enhance your locks.
Allowing your hair to dry in braids can also create an amazingly curly look. Some great braids to use are Dutch braids, cornrows, and French braids. When creating your braids keep in mind if you put your hair in a looser style using big sections, you’ll be left with waves rather than curls.
How do you get heatless curls overnight?
Sleeping in braids or utilizing one of the heatless curl techniques overnight gives the hair more time to form ringlets. If your hair is slightly damp at the start of the night (and you get your recommended eight hours of sleep), enough time will pass for your hair to dry into the desired shape by morning. However, if you start with your hair completely dry, there’s a greater chance of waking up with frizz.
How can I curl my shoulder-length hair without heat?
No matter how long your hair may be, there are still plenty of options to achieve a heatless curled look. You can create smaller overnight braids or use rollers that are smaller in size.
Keep scrolling for 15 of the best techniques to try, from overnight braids to using a robe belt or even leggings, plus find the right products and tools for your beauty arsenal.
The Best Techniques for Achieving Heatless Curls
When this technique of using the belt from your robe (or a pair of leggings, like above) to create curls blew up on TikTok, everyone saw incredible results. This heatless technique is easy to do and super comfortable to sleep in! All you need is a semi-long piece of fabric to put over your head that hangs loose on both sides. Ensure your hair is slightly damp so it dries into the desired shape.
Working with one side at a time, take a small section of hair and wrap it around the fabric, adding small pieces each time you wrap it. When you reach the ends, secure your strands tightly with a rubber band. After both sides are finished, you can either leave it and go to bed or pin the sides up to feel more comfortable while you sleep! Add some hairspray in the morning, so your gorgeous curls stay intact. To keep your look in place throughout the day, you should use Matrix Total Results High Amplify Proforma Frizz Control Hairspray. This flexible, strong-hold hairspray provides continuous lift and keeps frizz under control.
Flexi Rod Curls
If you want to achieve tighter ringlets, flexi rod curlers are a great heat-free alternative to thin barrel curling irons. With your hair slightly damp, take a section and wrap it over and around the rod. When you reach the end, bend the rod, so the hair doesn’t become loose.
Remember that prepping your hair with quality shampoo and conditioner can help you get better results. We recommend Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner for its ultra-hydrating formula that nourishes your strands.
Made from soft woven plastic, use the given applicator to pull your hair through and leave your hair in the waveformers for several hours. Waveformers are the perfect choice for those who don’t necessarily want a curly look but a fresh beach vibe look.
Now, let’s say you don’t have access to any of these items, even robes or leggings: Starting with damp hair, apply a dime-size amount of mouse to the roots of your hair and tightly braid your hair. This way, you can achieve heatless curls using overnight braids.
We recommend Redken Root Lifter Volumizing Spray Foam to increase your hair's volume. Apply it as a finishing spray to the roots to increase volume and keep your hair shiny.
That's right—hair rollers aren't just used hot for creating voluminous blowouts. You can put these on with slightly damp hair. After your strands dry, remove the rollers and use a wide-tooth comb to brush through your hair gently. Apply Matrix Styling Fixer Hairspray for a secure finish so your hair shape stays intact all day.
This flower curler technique is fantastic for three reasons: it's incredibly comfortable, requires no heat, and while your hair forms the desired shape, you can go out and still look cute. Using a flower curler may seem fiddly, but big, beautiful curls can be yours in no time at all. Typically, a flower curler is made up of four rings resembling flower petals. Wrap sections of your hair (freshly washed, dried hair is perfect) around the rings and secure them with a claw clip. This technique is a good one to try overnight – as a flower curler sits on top of your head, it shouldn't interfere with any precious beauty sleep! When you wake up, just remove the clips and gently pull the flower curl out of your hair. The result should be bouncy, 80's style curls—with no heat required!
Silk Ribbon Curler
A silk ribbon hair curler is a foam curling rod that’s wrapped in silk. Silk is ideal because it helps keep your hair hydrated and prevents breakage. This heatless hair curling technique is excellent because while you’re styling, your hair’s natural moisture is locked in. You use it by sectioning your hair, wrapping it over and around the silk, and securing the ends with silk scrunchies.
Another curling craze that’s taken TikTok by storm is plopping. Plopping helps to add major definition and volume to both wavy and curly hair and, best yet, doesn’t require any heat. You can use a cotton t-shirt, microfibre towel, or even a pillowcase to help your curls form into a beautifully defined pattern.
You can achieve perfect plopping in 5 easy steps:
- Starting with wet, freshly-washed hair, style your hair using hydrating products made for curls—we recommend trying Redken’s All Soft Mega Curl Hydramelt leave-in conditioner for defined, nourished curls.
- Flip your head upside down so your hair is on top of your head.
- Secure the shirt/towel/pillowcase around your head—the key here is to use something made from cotton or microfiber.
- Leave hair to plop for around 10 to 20 minutes.
- Air dry your hair, and viola, dream curls!
For more tips on how to perfect your plopping skills, click here.
Finger coiling is an excellent method for manipulating your hair into curls. It can take some time…but the results are worth it! Here are five simple steps to finger coiling your hair without using heat.
- When styling your hair (it should be freshly washed), divide it into sections, ensuring that you have applied enough styling product to each area.
- To create curls, twirl each section of hair around your fingers tightly and then release.
- If you want big, bouncy curls, twirl a large section of hair. Opt for a smaller section if you want to create a tighter ringlet style.
- Once you’ve finger coiled your whole head, you can let your hair air dry as usual. Your hair should dry, forming the shape that you created.
Use curly-hair products.
If you are hoping to achieve heatless curls, then you need to make sure you’re using hair products designed for and optimized for curly hair. Redken’s All Soft Mega Curl Shampoo and Conditioner has been designed with the curly and coily-haired community in mind. The vegan formula combines Redken’s nourish complexes and aloe vera to help to intensify and hydrate both coils and curls. Find more of our favorites in the video above, plus our complete guide to curly hair products here.
A great product for reinvigorating and defining curls is hair mousse. Using mousse in your hair styling routine can add shape and hold to your locks. The L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Curl Expression 10-In1 Cream-In-Mousse is a fantastic mousse to try out. It offers intense hydration for curls and coils, adds bounce, and provides hold—what more could you want?
Simply apply the mousse on wet or damp hair, do the heatless curling technique of choice—plopping, rollers, and finger coiling are all good options—and then air dry your hair. The result should be defined voluminous curls.
Scrunching your hair.
Another heatless method for creating curls is scrunching. Scrunching is a hairstyling technique where you squeeze your hair to help it form into the curls or coils of your dreams. It’s best to scrunch wet hair using plenty of product. Once you’ve scrunched your whole head, let your hair dry naturally and enjoy your newly formed ringlets.
A gel is our preferred product for scrunching as it can help define, enhance, and hold curly-haired styles. We love the Kérastase Curl Manifesto Gelee Curl Control Cream. This formula holds curls and provides frizz control (frizz is every curlies nightmare) for up to 24 hours. See more products we give a 10/10 for scrunching above.
You should try a texture spray if your hair struggles to form curls. Texture sprays work by adding a bit of grit to your hair; this makes it easier for you to manipulate your locks into your desired shape. Incorporating texture spray into your heatless curling techniques can help your hair to hold your styles. The Shu Uemura Art of Hair Wata Wave Texture Spray and Redken Dry Texture Spray are both fantastic options. They help to build movement and definition in hair, allowing you to create enviable curls.
Use the right hairbrush.
The (heatless) tools you choose to style your hair can play a big part in your routine—especially if you’re trying to coax curls. It starts with the right brush! Curlies often cite the Denman Brush as one of their preferred styling tools for defining their locks, and TikTok is filled with videos to prove it.
The nylon bristles of the Denman help create tension in the hair when styling, resulting in defined curls. Keep in mind that most curly-haired people only use a brush on their wet or damp hair. Using a brush on dry curly hair can lead to brushing your curls out!
Go for layers at the salon.
Sometimes it can be good to go back to basics. If you’re looking to enhance curls, getting a good haircut can make a world of difference. Ask for layers next time you visit your hairdresser. Layers can add more definition to curly hair and provide the perfect base for trying out our heatless curl techniques. Plus, adding layers can help prevent your hair from forming the dreaded ‘triangle head,’ which can be harder to style.
With all the tips above, it’s best to air-dry your hair to protect it from heat damage. If time is an issue, then a microfiber or cotton towel can help to speed up the drying process without drying out your curls. If you insist on using heat, make sure you use a heat protectant product beforehand—your hair will thank you for it later!
Interested in more expert styling tips for curly hair? Shop Hair.com for the products and professional advice you need.