How to Curl Straight Hair Overnight, Without Using Any Damaging Heat, Because Yes, You Can Have Big Bouncy Waves

The '80s had their perms. The '90s had their butterfly clips. The '00s had their chunky highlights. Today, it's all about a head full of loose and easy curls. Every star from Gisele Bündchen to the Housewives of New Jersey has sported this decade's iconic look, but the seemingly-effortless waves tend to actually take a great deal of effort and even worse — a great deal of time. Plus, if your hair is as flat and straight as mine, the dreamy waves can seem 100 percent impossible, especially after hours of curling and re-curling, trying to make the ever-elusive curls stay put. However, what if I told you that you could get the look without having to wake up early, without having to sit in your bathroom for hours, and without having to redo twenty minutes after your hair falls limp? Ah, I have your attention now. Yes, there is a way to make straight hair curly overnight.

Working in broadcast news, I have to get up as early as 3:00 am to report to work. Since my eyes can barely open when my alarms ring in the morning, the last thing I can deal with is having to figure out what to do with my hair. Instead of having to set aside 20 to 30 minutes at the crack of dawn to manage my bedhead, I have developed some serious creativity when it comes to getting my locks in tip-top shape for the world of television. I discovered that I — and all those like me who wake up at ungodly hours to go to work, to feed a baby, to catch a plane, to sneak out of a lover's apartment — have more time than we think to get the hair of our dreams while we dream. 

The art of curling your hair in your sleep is both painless and simple and a science that if mastered, will change your life. There are ways of setting your hair before you go to bed every night to achieve curls you once thought were impossible without a solid two hours in front of a mirror. PLUS, all you need is one of three ingredients: bobby pins, sponge curlers, or aluminum clips. Now break out a pen — it's time to take notes.

1. If you want big hair, use Bobby Pins

My hair is as flat as a pancake on most days. However, when I use bobby pins on my hair before I hit the sack, I wake up feeling like Dolly Parton. The first step is deciding how tight you want your curls: the tighter the curls, the smaller the sections. The looser the curls, the bigger the sections. With me so far? See! Simple.

Next step, start sectioning off your hair. I like to start at the top of my head at the crown and work my way down. Taking whatever sized sections you prefer, you are going to wrap the strands of hair around your index and middle fingers until you have a small bun. Take the bun and pin it down with two or three bobby pins. Repeat until your whole head of hair is pinned.

Now comes the easiest part: Go to sleep, wake up, unpin, run your finger through your newly-minted curls, shake your head upside down, do a little morning dance, and be on your way.

2. If you want retro waves, use Sponge Curlers

Much like the bobby pin method, sponge curlers are soft enough to sleep on and will also create retro glamorous waves that will hold the whole day through. In the same style as the bobby pins, begin at the crown of your head, starting with the hair down the middle of your head.

Once you have a vertical line of rollers going down the top of your head, you can continue with the sides and then the bottom and back. In the morning, un-clip and shake your hair out. I advise you not to brush the curls as they will begin to frizz and lose shape. Instead, separate them with your fingers and use a brush to smooth over any areas where the curls may have gone a little awry. The final product? This:

This photo was taken at 6 am.

3. If you want to preserve your blow-out, use Clips

This third method is not as much of a curl-creator as it is a curl-maintainer. Since the curls from the sponges and the bobby clips will loosen up after a full day of showing them off, you can easily roll the strands back up with aluminum clips and sleep on them for renewed volume in the morning. I usually use the clips on the crown of my head only as that is usually where you will see the most difference. Plus, the clips will poke you in your sleep if you also roll up the sides and back and, let's face it, even the most perfect hair isn't worth losing any sleep over.

Spray some dry shampoo at the roots, let the spray dry and then begin rolling up in the same process as you would with the sponge rollers. Don't be afraid to use two clips facing opposite directions for each section of hair — it will hold better if you tend to toss and turn in the night. 

Don't be afraid to use a little spritz of hairspray here and there, but overall, try to avoid weighing your curls down with styling products — they will make your hair go flat. Also, day or two-old hair in my experience works much better than freshly-washed hair. 

I wish you all hours of extra sleep and endless good hair days.

Images: Samatha Schnurr

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