Heat is not always your friend when it comes to hairstyling, and using an excessive amount of it can leave your hair dry, damaged, and looking totally fried. Achieving curls without heat may seem hard, but these TikTok tutorials show that you don’t need to sacrifice your hair’s health for perfect spirals. The app has resurfaced a ton of easy methods for heatless curls that are worth incorporating into your routine.
Most of these techniques are nothing new: “Think sock curls, bendy rods, rope twists, braids, bantu knots, and foam rollers,” Paul Mitchell Educator Brooklyn Cardenas, explains to Bustle via email. “[These type of curls] allow your hair to go from wet to dry in a new shape, reforming your texture with longer-lasting results.” Depending on your hair texture, letting your heatless curls set overnight means that your style could last for multiple days.
There are lots of different routes you can take, and some of them might take a little bit of practice before you get perfectly formed curls. Hopefully, these TikTok how-tos will save you a whole lot of time (and perhaps some botched styles) by demonstrating the best methods for each hair type. Read on for all the info you need to get the heatless curls of your dreams.
Ideal For: Straight Hair
If you have straight hair, Diane Stevens, Nioxin Global Ambassador and owner of Cole Stevens Salon, recommends the headband method. First, apply your favorite moisturizing product on damp hair and brush it through. Once you’ve brushed and parted it to your liking, put a silk or satin headband over your head like a crown.
Next, take a small section of your hair closest to your face and loop it through the headband. Combine the first loop with the next loop and continue that process till you get to the back of your head. Repeat on the other side, and then loop the remaining hair on the back of your head into the headband. Then, just go to bed and and you’ll wake up with bouncy, beautiful curls.
Ideal For: Curly to Coily Hair
This method may take some practice, but once you master it, you’ll be hooked. “My favorite heatless curl method is a two-strand twist,” says Sebastian Professional Top Artist Angel Cardona. This is great for those with 3A-4C hair, as it helps lock in moisture and define those luscious, natural curls.
After you’ve applied your go-to leave-in conditioner, “take a one-inch section, split it into two strands, and twist both strands to the right. Wrap the hair onto each other to the left, and repeat that process all the way down the hair strand, twisting right and wrapping left. Then — after all the hair has been wrapped — spray it with Sebastian Professional Shaper Hairspray and allow the hair to fully dry before you open up the curls.”
Ideal For: Long Hair
Long socks are surprisingly the MVP for heatless curls. For voluminous waves, drape the sock over the top of your head and keep it in place with a large clip. Grab a small section of hair near the your face and wrap it around the sock. Do the same thing with a section behind the sock, while making sure the sock is in the middle of both sections.
Repeat the process going down your head, adding more hair each time you do it. When you’re finished, secure the wrapped hair with a satin or silk hair tie and repeat this process on the other side of your head. Then, let your curls set overnight.
Ideal For: Relaxed or Coily Hair
Bantu knots are my personal favorite. They’ll give you the most hydrated, defined curls, especially if you have a tighter pattern. On damp, detangled hair, apply leave-in conditioner from root to end, then separate it into several sections (the bigger the section, the bigger the curl).
Take one section and twist your hair into a coil. Hold onto the base, then tightly wrap the coil around it, creating the “knot.” Use a small hair tie or pin to secure it. Repeat the process, then wrap your hair in a silk scarf or bonnet. In the morning, apply a tiny bit of oil on your fingertips (this will help reduce frizz and add shine) before gently unfurling your coils.
Foam Roller Sets
Ideal For: Straight or Wavy Hair
Foam rollers are OG, but still super effective (even without sitting under a dryer). “I love a good foam roller set,” Cardenas says. This heatless curl method will give you the most volume, so if you’re looking for an option that gives your hair some height, this is the technique for you.
Cardenas says “start with damp hair and brush through tangles and set your desired part. Then, work through a conditioning foam like Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam from scalp to ends.” Next, separate each side into five or six sections and give each one a good brush again. Cardenas notes that you’ll get the best results if you hold the rollers vertically.
Use a silk or satin scarf or cap to cover hair and the rollers, if possible. In the morning, “carefully take out rollers and run a light oil through the ends, using your hands to separate and style the waves to create a lived-in, natural texture.”
Idea For: Curly to Coily Hair
If you have type 4 hair and want to those curls to lay down, try flat twists. They’re Stevens’ favorite for coily hair types, as the method gently controls your curls while keeping them hydrated and happy.
First, use your favorite leave-in conditioner to help detangle, and section your hair off. Start with two stands (like you’re doing a two-strand twist), then twist the hair back while adding more to it from below. When you wake up in the morning, you should have hydrated, uniform curls.
No matter which method you try, remember to be patient and try, try again. “The first time you try it, you might suck at it, but don’t give up,” Cardenas says. She suggests working in larger sections until you get more comfortable. After some practice, you’ll be able to achieve heatless curls without reaching for hot tools.