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How to Curl Your Hair Without Heat

Curls look flawless on all hair types, colors, and lengths, but the heat from curling irons and blow dryers could eventually cause damage to your hair making them look dull, frizzy and rough. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods to achieve curls without the use of expensive and harmful equipment. Learn how to make tight curls, vintage curls, natural waves and voluminous waves using easy, inexpensive techniques.

Method One of Eight:
Braiding for Natural Waves

  1. 1
    Wash and condition your hair as usual. Gently comb out any tangles. Pat your hair dry with a towel. Allow your hair to dry until it is just damp.[1]
  2. 2
    Braid damp hair into two pigtails. Part your hair down the middle and braid the two sections tightly, then fasten the ends with a hair tie or rubber band.
    • For a more natural look, use your fingers to gently pull the braids apart, loosening them slightly.
    • For looser-looking waves, try using one single braid down the back rather than braiding two parts. You can also make a fishtail braid for loose, natural waves. This method makes curls that are closer to the ends of your hair instead of on your head.
    • For tighter curls, separate your hair into three or four sections and braid each one. For thick hair, you may need to separate your hair into more than four sections.
  3. 3
    Let your hair dry. Wait several hours or go to bed with your hair in braids to allow the waves to set in.[2]
  4. 4
    Loosen the braids. When your hair is dry or in the morning, remove the rubber bands and unbraid your hair. Gently run your fingers through your hair to create natural-looking waves.[3]

Method Two of Eight:
Creating Roller Curls

  1. 1
    Get rollers. You can buy them at any beauty shop or from any dollar store. Depending on the length of your hair, big rollers will create big and lengthy curls while small ones will create small and short curls.
  2. 2
    Dry your hair. After shampooing and conditioning of the hair, dry with a towel. Blot your hair, don’t rub it. Wait until your hair is damp to start curling.
  3. 3
    Comb your hair. Make sure to comb your hair thoroughly. Check to be sure there aren't any tangles before you begin.[4]
  4. 4
    Section off a small a small section of your hair. Roll the section up in one of the rollers. Pin or attach the roller in place according the manufacturer's instructions.[5]
  5. 5
    Continue rolling your hair. Keep sectioning and rolling your hair until your head is covered with rollers.[6]
  6. 6
    Wait for the curls to set. Leave the rollers as they are for at least four hours. Leaving them in overnight is even better.[7]
  7. 7
    Remove the rollers. Carefully take out the rollers when your hair is completely dry. You should have amazing, good quality curls.[8]

Method Three of Eight:
Using a T-Shirt for Tight Curls

  1. 1
    Wash and condition your hair as usual. Gently comb out any tangles, then blot your hair dry with a soft towel. Let your hair dry until it is damp. Do not apply serum or leave-in conditioner.
  2. 2
    Cut a t-shirt into long strips. Start at the neck and use a scissors to cut all the way down to the hem. Continue until you've made as many strips as possible from the body of the t-shirt.[9] Discard the sleeves, since they're too short to make long hair strips.
    • Make the strips as wide as you want your curls to be. For tiny curls, make them 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) wide; for bigger, looser curls, make them up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) wide.
    • If you don't have an old t-shirt, you can use long socks, dish towels, other items of clothing, and even paper bags. Just make sure the length of the strips is a couple of inches longer than your hair.
  3. 3
    Roll your hair. Use a comb to separate a small section of your hair from the rest. Line up the bottom of a t-shirt strip with the end of your hair. Roll your hair up toward your roots, keeping the t-shirt strip in place the whole time. When you've rolled your hair and the strip up to your scalp, tie the ends of the strip to hold the rolled hair in place.[10]
    • If you only want to curl the ends of your hair, stop rolling halfway up your head and tie the strips at the place where you want the curls to stop.
    • Roll your hair under, rather than up, for curls that curve toward your neck rather than curls that bounce outward.
    • Secure your hair with a hair clip or bobby pin.
  4. 4
    Let your hair dry. Wait several hours or go to bed with your hair rolled into strips. When your hair is completely dry, untie the strips and loosen your hair.[11] Do this gently if you want tight curls. For looser curls, run a wide-toothed comb through your hair to separate the curls into waves.

Method Four of Eight:
Using a Sock Bun for Voluminous Waves

  1. 1
    Prepare the sock. Grab any (make sure it's pretty long). Cut the toe part off of a clean tube sock (about 1 1/2 inches or 4 cm). Roll the sock into a donut shape.[12]
  2. 2
    Pull back your hair. Start with dry hair for this method. Pull it back in a ponytail at the top of your head, then fasten it with a hair tie. Spray your ponytail lightly with water to help set the waves.
  3. 3
    Position the sock. Hold the end of your ponytail and place it through the hole in the sock. Wrap sections of hair over the outer surface of the sock donut and tuck the ends securely underneath it. Continue rolling the sock down your ponytail toward your head, keeping hair tucked underneath it. The bun should stay securely in place once it reaches your head.[13]
  4. 4
    Leave the bun in overnight. Remove the sock and hair tie after 6 to 8 hours. Gently run your hands through your hair to release the waves.[14]
  5. 5
    Check your results. Your hair should now be in big waves. Use a little hairspray to set the waves if desired.

Method Five of Eight:
Using a Headband for Vintage Curls

  1. 1
    Wash and condition your hair as usual. If you've already washed it recently, you can simply get it wet. Blot it dry with a towel and let it air dry the rest of the way. Make sure that your hair is completely dry before you begin.
  2. 2
    Brush out your hair. Brush or comb through your hair well. Make sure that there are no tangles in your hair at all.
  3. 3
    Wrap your hair around a headband. Choose a soft elastic headband, the type that wraps all the way around your head to keep your hair out of your face. Working in sections, wrap your hair around the headband and use hairpins to pin the ends in place as you go. Continue until all of your hair has been wrapped around the headband.[15]
    • You can also wrap you hair around the bottom part of the headband only.
  4. 4
    Remove the headband and shake out your curls. Unpin each section of your hair and let the curls down. Continue until your hair is completely loose.[16] Keep your sweet, vintage curls in place by scrunching them with a dollop of mousse and spraying your hair lightly with hairspray.

Method Six of Eight:
Creating Waves With Side Buns

  1. 1
    Wet your hair with water. You don't need to wash your hair unless it is dirty.
  2. 2
    Brush your hair thoroughly.
  3. 3
    Separate your hair in two sections. Twist each section tightly.
  4. 4
    Wrap one twist over the base of the same twist. Secure it with a hair tie. Repeat on the other side.
  5. 5
    Sleep in the buns. Let your hair dry overnight.
  6. 6
    Take the buns out in the morning. You'll have light waves!

Method Seven of Eight:
Creating Twist Curls

  1. 1
    Start with dry hair. If you have just washed you hair, then towel dry your hair and let it air dry.[17]
  2. 2
    Comb and part your hair. Separate your hair into two sections.
  3. 3
    Twist one half of your hair until it is tightly twisted. Use a small clip to pin the twist on top of your head. If you don't have pins, hair ties may work. Repeat on the other side.
    • You can also tuck the twist into a wraparound cloth headband to secure it.[18]
  4. 4
    Wait for your hair to dry. This will take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours, or even overnight.
  5. 5
    Let your hair down. Remove the clips and/or headband and shake out your curls.[19] Enjoy your messy, spiral curls.

Method Eight of Eight:
Getting Bobby-Pinned Curls

  1. 1
    Wash your hair or take a shower. Then you want to let the hair dry most of the way. However, it has to be damp for the curls to set.[20]
  2. 2
    Brush your hair. Once your hair is mostly dry, brush or comb it through. You will need perfectly brushed or combed hair for the curls to be smooth.
  3. 3
    Separate your hair into two sections. There should be a huge section at the top, and a teeny one at the bottom. You can do this with your fingers or with a comb.
  4. 4
    Use your finger to create curls. Make your first curl by taking a section of your hair and wrapping it around your finger. Then, secure the curl against your scalp with a clip or bobby pin.[21]
    • Continue to make curls until all of your hair is pinned in curls against your scalp.
  5. 5
    Leave the pins in until your hair is dry. You can apply heat to speed up this process or just wait for your hair to air dry. When your hair is dry, remove the clips or pins and allow your curls to unfurl.[22]
    • You can also run your fingers through them to fan them out, but do not brush them.
    • Set the look with a little hairspray if desired.

Community Q&A

  • Can I blow dry my hair with the braids in my hair, or do I have to let it air dry?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • Blow drying the braids may produce frizz upon unraveling the braids.
    Thanks! 71 9
  • If you wash your hair while it's curly or wavy, will the curls or waves go away?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • Yes, unless you have a naturally curly or wavy hair texture.
    Thanks! 59 24
  • Can I curl my hair without getting it wet or damp?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • Yes, that is possible.
    Thanks! 61 30
  • My hair is super silky and when I try to do curls, it doesn't hold. What can I do?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Use a thickening spray before you curl your hair and don't touch the curls until they have cooled. Apply a generous amount of hair spray to keep the curl longer.
    Thanks! 206 57
  • Which method produces the tightest curls?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The braids do. If you want tight curls, then don't do just two braids, try five or even six!
    Thanks! 241 72
  • How can I have my hair curly and flat (my hair is crazy).
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Put leave-in conditioner in when it is wet. Then use hairspray after you get the curls; you don't want it to frizz up during the day.
    Thanks! 228 75
  • What works well if my hair doesn't hold the curl very long?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Method number 5 would be best for you as it is a lot easier. It might be that your hair cannot hold any material, in this way fifth method is perfect.
    Thanks! 86 25
  • I have really short hair about halfway down my neck. Is there another way to curl it?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try the rag curl trick. Take an old rag and wrap your hair up in it. Then wrap a scarf around your head and go to sleep. Wake up in the morning with gorgeous curly hair!
    Thanks! 142 49
  • Why isn't mine like the pictures why aren't they good?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Everybody has different textured hair. The model in the photos may have a hair texture that is more easy to style wavy compared to yours. Don't give up however! Keep practicing.
    Thanks! 93 30
  • How much time will it take to curl my hair without heat?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If you do it while you're sleeping (like if you use cocoon curls), just overnight if you do it with damp-but-not-wet hair.
    Thanks! 130 53
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Quick Summary

To curl your hair without heat, first spritz it with water. For loose, natural-looking curls, braid your hair into 2 pigtails and pull the braids apart just slightly. For tighter curls, make 3-4 tight braids. Unravel your braids when your hair is dry and run your fingers through your hair to encourage the curl. To curl your hair with buns, separate your wet hair into 2 sections and twist them tightly. Coil them into low, twin buns and secure each with a hair tie until your hair is dry.



  • Avoid brushing your hair after styling. This will separate the curls and leave hair looking messy and frizzy. Instead, gently loosen the curls with your hands for a tousled look.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • For frizzy hair, apply an anti-frizz serum to hair prior to styling.
    1 Helpful?  0

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Bobby pins
  • Wide toothed comb
  • Mousse, hairspray, anti-frizz serum and/or other holding product (optional)
  • A clean tube sock
  • Scissors
  • Extra rubber band (if needed)

Expert Review By:

Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Curl Your Hair Without Heat was reviewed by Ashley Adams on June 30, 2017.

40 votes - 77%
Co-authors: 139
Views: 3,403,832
Categories: Curling Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • MH

    Maddy Hall

    Apr 29

    "They make my hair took naturally curly."
  • CM

    Carol M.

    Apr 15

    "Don't get your hair too wet if starting with dry hair (for the double buns), because then your hair may be too curly for your liking. Also, brush your hair out completely before doing any of these."..." more
  • R


    Apr 10

    "Your instructions and pictures just made things easy for me."
  • A


    Mar 3

    "I liked how you guys made the instructions clear and added pictures."
  • A


    Feb 12

    "How to make hair silky smooth naturally."
  • A


    Jan 16

    "All these worked equaly well for my hair. Thank you!!!!"
  • A


    Jan 4

    "In the comments, someone wrote that you should make 5 or 6 braids for tighter waves. I thought that was really helpful."..." more
  • A


    Dec 31, 2017

    "Helped me get wavy hair."
  • JL

    Javvaji Lina

    Dec 3, 2017

    "It's great, it really works!"
  • CC

    C.J. Cole

    Jan 25, 2017

    "Thanks for your help. I'm Native American and my hair tends to be straight as a board. The curlers worked best for my stubborn, super straight hair. The t-shirt would've been better but it was hard tucking the ends to even start rolling."..." more
  • LM

    Laura Manning

    Jul 10, 2017

    "I absolutely loved the hair braids! They worked fantasticly on my daughters hair! They were wonderful, and the parents at her school commented, so I told them to take a look at your article! Thanks for the help!"..." more
  • KA

    Kelly Ann

    Jun 6, 2016

    "This helped so much! Highly recommend tight buns (two) over night! My hair is long and thick and this works! Love it because I curled my hair three times a week and it is a lot of heat."..." more
  • ZS

    Zoe Sugg

    May 18, 2016

    "I braided my hair while wet into four, three strand braids, and then braided those three into one down my back. I left it overnight for about 13 hours. It was perfect!"..." more
  • A


    Aug 25, 2017

    "I've braided my hair before, but if you want the waves or curls to be all over your head, then I suggest French braiding it or Dutch braids. Maybe about two or three."..." more
  • VS

    Vaseva Suqayawa

    Oct 19, 2016

    "I'd really like this type of fixing hair without using heat. I've already tested it and I find it very true. And I'm really proud of my beautiful hair this morning."..." more
  • NW

    Naomi Waters

    May 15, 2017

    "What helped me most was the "after" pictures. A lot of times, people post methods and then don't include a picture, so I have no idea what it will look like."..." more
  • SM

    Supriya Manuja

    Oct 18, 2016

    "The roller method really works, as my hair is super silky. I could not believe that anything can work on my hair without heating or using chemicals on it."..." more
  • DW

    Danielle Wolfrom

    Oct 17, 2016

    "I did the sock bun, but in double, and I pinned them before I wrapped the sock around them, hopefully it works, I'm going to sleep on them."..." more
  • A


    Jul 13, 2016

    "I liked how it told that if the braids were loose, the waves wound be looser, and if they were tighter, there would be a tight wave."..." more
  • JB

    Julia Bell

    Sep 17, 2016

    "The thing that helped me the most was the curling your hair into two little buns. It made my hair curly and I loved it. :)"..." more
  • SK

    Shaira K.

    May 18, 2017

    "Explained in a very detailed way and with step by steps. Best of all are the pictures used to explain. Really helpful!"..." more
  • RN

    Raven Newberry

    Jun 30, 2016

    "These ideas really helped when I was going somewhere and didn't have enough time plug in curlers and curl my hair."
  • A


    Feb 2, 2017

    "I have very long hair and our school also allows two braids, so "braids for natural waves" is good for me."..." more
  • A


    Jun 12, 2017

    "It really helped that this article mentioned that you should wash your hair for most methods."
  • AC

    Abby Campbellon

    Sep 8, 2016

    "When I took my hair out, it went so wavy it looked amazing! This article is so detailed too."
  • SJ

    Samantha Johnston

    Jul 17, 2016

    "It helped most with whether I want tighter curls or looser waves. Works perfectly! 😉"
  • DS

    De-an Scarlet

    Feb 20, 2017

    "Easy, you just have to wait and get great curls, as I have completely straight hair."
  • A


    Jul 29, 2017

    "The braid really helped and the curl was really defined when I slept in it, thanks."
  • SO

    Sadie Overcove

    Apr 26, 2016

    "I love this website and use it all the time! Thanks for the great advice!"
  • A


    Mar 2, 2017

    "I really like method 6, as I have short hair and this works best for me."
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