Heatless Curling Methods May Have Some Big Potential Downsides For Your Hair

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Using a curling iron or wand has been a popular method to get touchable, shiny, flawless curls for decades, but the issue of hair damage has left many women opting for heatless hair-curling alternatives and seeking new ones. In addition to classic rollers, you can find many product options for heatless curls, including curling rod headbands, flexible curling rods, and spiral curlers with styling hooks, among others. There are also less bulky, cheaper options like braids and hairpins. 


While it's true that curling hair without heat obviously eliminates the risk of heat damage, it doesn't necessarily mean your hair can't be damaged by heatless curling methods. After all, many things can damage hair. Heat isn't the only culprit.

Another downside is that the curls may not look as good as they would with a titanium, ceramic, or tourmaline curling iron. To avoid these potential downsides (as in, they're avoidable), you just have to make sure you're using your method of choice correctly, along with the appropriate styling products.

They can cause hair breakage

Not all heatless curling methods are created equal. Some are fairly easy and don't require the assistance of a YouTube tutorial to know how to use them. Others are a bit more cumbersome and can even be downright frustrating or too time-consuming. It's not uncommon to lose a few strands of hair in the process of applying certain heatless curlers simply because you're not applying them correctly or slowly enough. To avoid this, first ensure you know how to use the curlers before you begin, use a mirror or two, and take your time.


A second factor to consider is how tightly you're wrapping your hair around the curlers, how tightly you're braiding it, etc. Avoid pulling the hair too tightly, as this can increase the chances of breakage if done regularly. After all, hair loss from pulling is a condition known as traction alopecia, as per University Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

You may still end up having to use heat, causing even more damage

If you damage your hair during your heatless curling method and end up with a 'do that you're not satisfied with in the morning, you'll be left with a few choices. You can use styling products in an attempt to improve the look, pull it back in a ponytail, or use a curling iron to create the defined curls you were seeking. Some people end up trying all three, but this could be a bad decision, depending on the order of your steps.


It's one thing to use a styling product like hairspray before pulling your hair back or after curling it with a curling iron, but it's another to use hairspray before heat styling it. According to Gisou, applying a hot curling iron on hair coated with hairspray can damage your hair and leave it with a stiff, crunchy texture. So if your curls don't look the way you wanted them to, don't heat style them after applying a styling product unless the product is intended as a heat protectant.

Curls can be frizzy

One of the nice things about using a curling iron to style your hair in the morning is that it can give you shiny, smooth, fresh curls. If you use a heatless curling method as an alternative before going to bed with hopes that you'll wake up to bouncy, defined curls that look freshly heat-styled, you could be disappointed with the results. 


Among the heatless curling trends is the use of compression leggingsInsider contributor Lauren Finney tried the method and said it left her hair with more frizz than she expected. Women who tried the flexible hair roller option and shared their reviews on Amazon claimed this method also left them with frizzy hair. 

The good news is you can tame the frizz in a few different ways. You can use a silk pillow or bonnet overnight, along with some frizz serum. It also helps to apply the rollers to damp hair. Another flexible hair roller reviewer said on Amazon, "On my first attempt, I made the mistake of making my hair too wet. It wasn't dry by the morning and resulted in my hair looking very frizzy."


They can create an awkward curl pattern

Some heatless curlers can be a little tricky to use on the first try or even after multiple tries. Some of them involve wrapping your hair around them or through them, and some include rods or rollers of varying sizes. If you don't use the correct sizes or if you don't wrap the rollers properly, you could end up with an awkward curl pattern or no pattern at all. You might have tight curls in one section and loose curls in another. While this might look nice if there's some symmetry, if there isn't, it could look a little ... off.


To avoid this, make sure to curl all your hair sections in the same direction. If your curler kit includes rollers of varying sizes, try to create balance as you choose small rollers for small hair sections and large rollers for large sections.