It’s not bad enough that getting perfectly pretty curls with a curling iron is harder than you’d think (and despite the help we offered beginner curlers in another of our popular articles.).
There’s also the second much bigger problem.
Hot styling tool damage.
Anyone who’s ever been holed up in the bathroom styling with hot tools knows what I’m talking about.
Too much heat applied too often and before you know it you’ve got a serious case of stressed out strands on your hands. And there’s nothing pretty about that.
Which is why some will go to great lengths to find heatless styling techniques that will let them avoid the never ending nightmare of frazzled hair. Knowing as they do that using heat each and every time you curl isn’t smart. It’s just too hard on your strands.
One damage avoiding alternate is using bendy foam rollers or flexi rods. Heard of them?
What Are They?
They kind of remind me of Gumby in that you can twist and bend them any which way.
They also may be what styling tools look like that are in the witness protection program.
That’s because flexi rods are little more than long, pliable, somewhat squishy foam tubes with a wire inside. That wire is what holds them in place while you sleep or wait for your hair to dry.
They don’t cause breakage yet can produce curls that rival those created with a steaming curling iron.
Much like plastic curlers you can pick up a pack of like thirty of varying sizes. Or you can get a pack where they’re all the same thickness. Your choice.
Since I like having options varying works for me. Using bigger ones for underneath hair and smaller ones for around my face can produce look-at-me curls for sure.
They’re cheap, readily available and super easy to use.
What’s not to like?
So How Do You Use Them?
Here’s what the video reveals.
If you haven’t just showered you will want to dampen your hair ever so slightly.
This dampness bit can be kinda tricky though. That’s because you want your locks to the point they’re not exactly dry yet not exactly damp either.
Remember these rods aren’t like foam curlers or plastic rollers. That’s to say too much moisture means your locks won’t dry completely. Basically if they don’t dry you’ll lose that fantastic looking curl no matter what you do.
Setting the Scene Step By Step
Step 1) Divide your hair in half.
Step 2) On one side section that half in half again. One of these smaller sections is where you’ll want to start.
How many sections you go with depends on how tight a curl you want. More hair wrapped about the flexi rod produces looser curls.
Also if you have thicker tresses you may want to divide them into more sections.
Step 3) In preparation brush the hair up, spritz ever so lightly with water and work in some setting lotion – this leaves you with a slightly damp mane that will have some natural hold.
Step 4) Wrap your locks on the rod going away from your face just like you would with a curling wand.
You usually want to distribute the hair along the entire length of the curler. Taking care to wrap it carefully so as not to stir up any frizz.
If it helps to know, the technique used is not all that different from what you’d do with a curling iron. So any favorite curling iron techniques you have can prove useful with a flexirod too.
For instance, just like on a curling iron, the more closely you wrap the strands on the rod the tighter the curl. While more space between them on the rods will give you a looser, more wavy result.
Step 5) When wrapped, twist the flexi rod and then crimp the end. You can bobby pin any bits of hair that try to escape time on the rod. Obviously the more you bend the roller the tighter the hold.
You’ll notice it hardly takes any time to put the flexi rods in. Total styling time – typically five minutes. Even with your first few times, or a bunch more rods, this shouldn’t take anywhere near ten minutes.
Step 6) Okay so now you have to wait for your hair to dry. That can either be overnight or over the course of the day. Your call.
Step 7) Then all you do is untwist the roller and let the spirals fall off. If need be jiggling the roller can encourage the coils to release.
When done you get four ginormous rather tightly coiled, cascading ringlets. The next part of the process is to break them up.
Step 8) You’ll first want to separate the curly coils into smaller pieces with your fingers.
If those big loose curls are still too Shirley Temple curly for your taste rake the spirals with your fingers to fluff and loosen them further. This works to smooth and soften the curls some.
If that’s still not the look you’re going for you can always run a brush through them. Just be careful so you don’t take your style back to square one complete with unwanted frizz.
Step 9) Finally you can apply a serum or oil if you want to keep the frizz in check and get a totally smooth finish.
If any sections stand out as too curly you can always spritz them with a bit of water to help calm them down. Just be aware this is probably a move best left to those with straight hair. Spritzing naturally wavy curls may not be in your style’s best interest.
An Additional Trick or Two
For more defined curls you can also twist or twirl the strand as you’re wrapping it around the flexi rod. When taking this approach you ideally want to see some gaps in the hair on the flexi rod. Meaning the flexi rod isn’t like completely covered with hair.
As with any heatless approach the bigger the rollers the bigger, more voluptuous the resulting curls. Bigger still and you’ll end up with waves more so than curls.
They can also work wonders with hard to curl hair.
These are a great tool to redefine natural curls.
The longer your hair stays on the rods the better. Four hours might work for you but eight is probably better for most. This is why it’s best if you can sleep with them in place overnight.
If you’re not wedded to the heatless aspect a blow dryer can always be used to speed up the process.
How you position the rods on your head somewhat determines the curls you end up with. While you likely want a hard and fast rule, honestly you may need to experiment with placement some to see what works for you. Who knows? Twisted in totally random directions may prove to be the winner.
A Few Words About the Setting Lotion
If you’re unfamiliar with hair setting lotion it’s kinda old school. Think of it something like a gel that once dry sets the style and insures the heatless curls last.
It also works to smooth your strands and can help to leave them less frizzy.
This is another one of those products where a little goes a long way. So much so some find diluting it into leave in conditioner works best. Others may use it in a dab of styling mousse to do much the same thing.
The result of using this product is nicely defined girl-next-door curls that last all day.
If you want to know more about it and how to you it the site AllThingsHair explains that and more.
What Can Possibly Go Wrong?
Turns out a lot.
Yeah hate to be a party pooper but let’s quickly touch on four reasons why this may not work for you.
First, some find flexi rods to be a bear to sleep on. As in super uncomfortable no matter how hard to try to ignore them.
One trick to try is to get the flexi rods close to your scalp high on your head to make them more comfortable to sleep in. Admittedly this may be more realistic with smaller ones but still wanted to put this out there.
Otherwise the only way around that would be to use this technique for a night out after having your hair all twisted up for the entire day as it dries and the curl sets.
Second, some complain bitterly that they can’t find a way to get the flexirods to stay in place all night. Which can be frustrating when you wake up expecting glorious swirling strands and are greeted by something less than glorious instead.
One possible solution to try, if that’s you, would be to wrap your strands with scarf to encourage the rods to stay in place
Another would be sleeping with a hair bonnet that covers and contains the rollers. If need be you can wrap another tie around the base of the bonnet, across your forehead and then back around your head tied in the back, to really make sure everything stays nice and snug.
Third, if you have lots of layers the hair probably won’t get anywhere near the curl you seek. But this is a problem with most any curling technique – curling irons included.
And finally your curls may not make it through the day. Every hair type (I’m looking at you there with the fine and stick straight hair) may not hold the curl like you’d like.
In that case it may take a generous amount of hairspray to maintain the look. Or not. Everyone’s hair is different.
So while the video makes this look as easy as falling off a log, there are some things that can get in way of the voluminous, bouncy curls as done on YouTube.
Still that’s how to use bendy hair rollers. Once you get the hang of these weird looking styling products you’ll absolutely love the results. Promise.
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