How To Curl Your Hair Without Heat (9 Simple Ways)

Do you have poker straight hair but have always wanted big, luscious, curly locks? You may have turned to the ever-popular curling iron because your hair does not have any natural curl. Although curling irons are a common tool for adding curls to hair, they can also damage your hair over time due to the excessive heat used on your strands.

Using a curling iron every so often will probably not leave permanent damage, but you should intermittently try some heatless options to keep your hair healthy and strong. You may be on vacation and forgot your curling iron or simply want to take a break because your hair is looking brittle. Whatever the case, here are some options for curls.

Wake Up with Curls with Overnight Braids

The easiest way to wake up with non-heated, loose, and bouncy curls is by braiding your hair before you go to bed. This is done by taking a shower and washing or wetting your hair, letting it air dry (60 to 70 percent dry), and then loosely braiding your hair before going to bed. You could also make the braid tighter if you would like a more crimped look.

When you wake up and take the braid out, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Take your hair out of the braid and brush it with your fingers or carefully with a wide-toothed comb or brush, so you do not lose the curl. Depending on your hair’s overall thickness, you may want to apply a smoothing oil if you need to tame any frizz.

One tip is to make sure to braid your hair all the way down to the bottom or as close as possible. That way, your entire head of hair will be curly, and you will not have straight strands at the bottom. In addition, if you can do a French braid, this is a great way to attain curls all the way up to the top of your head and closer to the scalp.

Braiding hair before bed is the easiest non-heated way to get curls the next day. You just need the following items:

  • A hair tie or two, depending on how many braids you are making
  • Hair curling product, if necessary
  • Hair spray

You can place your curls by braiding your hair in different spots, just make sure the braids are tight, so they do not fall out or frizz.

Old-School Hair Rollers Can Give a Modern Look

Wearing hair rollers to the store is definitely an outdated look your grandma used from the 1950s. Before women had access to a hair dryer, these were the main tools to styling hair. Today, using hair rollers to build volume and curls in your hair is another easy, non-heat method of getting gorgeous, stunning curls without heat damage.

Here are some easy steps to using hair rollers to give you a new, beautiful curly look:

  • Take a shower, wash or wet your hair, and air dry your hair until it is about 80% dry. Do not use a hair dryer to dry your hair, as that defeats the purpose!
  • Roll up your strands of hair in the hair rollers in sections, starting at the bottom and working your way up to your scalp, and then use bobby pins to keep them in place. You may also want to use clips to keep the other sections out of the way.
  • If necessary, apply some mousse to your hair, comb it through, and then place the rollers at the end of the section and roll up towards your roots.
  • Make sure the rollers are all snug against your scalp.
  • After your entire head of hair is completely in the hair rollers, wrap your head in a scarf or sheet to make sure all of the hair rollers stay in place.
  • Let them dry for two to three hours or, even better, go to sleep.
  • After you wake up, undo the hair rollers and comb through your new curls with your fingers to separate them.

NOTE: You will notice each method has you use your fingers to separate your curls. This is because using a brush could make your hair frizzier afterwards.

If you do not have bobby pins handy, you could also purchase Velcro rollers as another curling alternative that automatically sticks. In addition, you can choose the size of the rollers depending on your desired look. Smaller rollers will give tighter curls, and larger rollers make big, voluminous curls throughout your hair.

Use What You Have Around the House for Twists

If you have shorter, thinner hair, you can use anything to twist your hair for non-heated curls, from toilet paper and makeup or baby wipes to pipe cleaners or bendable straws. This is better for shorter or thinner hair because you are twisting your hair with smaller devices, which would take much longer with a lot of hair strands and sections.

  • After washing or wetting your hair, simply take a small section of your hair and then roll it up with whatever material you are using.
  • Starting from the bottom, begin working your way to the scalp and tie the twist-off, so it stays in place.
  • Repeat this with all of the sections of your hair (which is why this method works better with short or thinner hair).

Have your hair air dry and then start undoing all of the twists and gently run your fingers through your curls to separate them but do not undo them. If you want to get creative, you can also twist your hair into little buns, let them sit for six or more hours, and then gently pull them out and use your fingers to detangle your hair for gorgeous curls.

If using twisting buns, you may want to part your hair down the middle to create two sections. Then, you can put both sections in high pigtails and twist each like a rope. Use a hair tie to secure the twisted buns and then keep them in until dry or overnight. This twisted method will also result in beautiful curls that did not need heat to achieve.

Heatless Waves with a Paper Towel

If you have paper towels, hair ties, a hair brush (or fingers!), and hairspray, you can try this heatless paper towel method for gorgeous waves.

First, simply rip off four paper towels that are around twice the length of your hair, and then fold them horizontally so that the pieces are one inch in thickness and four to five inches long.

  • After you either wash your hair or dampen it with a spray bottle, divide your hair into four sections and braid each one with a paper towel.
  • Once you have braided each section, secure it with your hair tie at the bottom.
  • Similar to braiding, make sure you braid all the way to the bottom.
  • All four sections should be braided around the paper towels.

Alternatively, you could also take the folded paper towel, wrap the ends of your hair around the middle of it, and then roll it upwards until you reach the top of your scalp. Then, simply secure the paper towel by either tying it around the rolled-up hair or using bobby pins.

Whichever paper towel option you choose, it is best to keep it in place overnight so that the curls are growing as you sleep. In the morning, undo the paper towels, use your fingers to gently comb your hair, and use hairspray to keep your beautiful, curly look in place. This method is a great alternative to purchasing rollers for gorgeous curls.

Headbands Double as Styling and Curling Tools

Continuing with some easy, overnight options for non-heated curls is using a normal headband. Using a headband will give you more of a wavy look rather than tight curls, which can also be a stunning look to wake up to and not damaging to your locks. For this option, you just need two things:

  • A headband and
  • some hair spray or styling product

After a shower or dampening your hair, take a stretchy headband and place it on your head like you normally would if wearing it to go out. Then, start dividing your hair into two sections and twist the sections away from your face by wrapping each section over and under the headband until all of your hair is looped around the headband.

You can either sleep with the headband in and then comb your fingers through your hair in the morning or spray the headband with hairspray and wait a few hours for your hair to try. Make sure your hair is completely dry before taking it out of the headband and will have pretty curls flowing from this easy, non-heated option.

After using your fingers to comb through your new curls, you can use some hairspray again or texturizing pomade to make sure your curls hold and stay in place throughout the day. This is another easy way to safely make curls in your hair overnight or within a few hours simply with a tool or two that you already have around the house.

The T-Shirt Hair “Halo” Look

If you want more ring-like, bouncy curls (think Shirley Temple), then the T-Shirt Hair Halo method may work better than the standard headband approach. You just need an old t-shirt and some time to get bouncy, beautiful curls in your once straight-haired look. Heatless halo curls have become a popular and easy method for changing looks.

  • Wash or wet hair and let it air dry until it is about 80% dry.
  • Grab an old t-shirt and twist it so that it makes a rope.
  • Tie the ends of your t-shirt rope together so that it resembles a hair tie and place it on your head (like a halo).
  • Start pulling up sections of your hair and winding it around the halo, and then pin everything in place.
  • Sleep or wait until your hair is completely dry.
  • Remove the halo, use your fingers to separate the curls, and enjoy the heatless halo curls.

Create a Sock Bun for a Curly Look

We all have had the annoying experience of taking clothes out of the dryer only to find you have socks without a match. Instead of throwing those mismatched socks away, cut off the tip and create a sock bun for another effective method of creating non-heated curls. Sock bun curls are easy and successful to add curls and body to your hair.

Making a sock bun is easy and creative and only take a few simple steps:

  • Cut the toes off of your old sock and roll it up to get a doughnut shape.
  • After washing or wetting your hair, make a ponytail with your hair and pull it through the hold of the doughnut-shaped sock bun.
  • Bring the sock bun up to the end of the ponytail and then start tucking in the ends of your hair around it.
  • Flip the sock inside out and then roll the bun down the ponytail so that your hair is wrapping around and hiding the sock.
  • Once you have all of your hair strands wrapped inside of the sock bun, knot the ends or secure it with bobby pins so that the hair strands are secure and sleep with the bun overnight.
  • Wake up, take out your sock bun, and run your fingers through your luscious sock-bun, curly locks.
  • Finish with hairspray to keep the curls intact throughout the day.

Sock buns have become extremely popular for longer hair in that it is easy to wrap long strands around the bun, roll it up to the scalp, and then wait overnight. It also takes less work than twisting a bunch of different strands around something small like toilet paper or make-up wipes. One sock will give you gorgeous, wavy curls from top to bottom.

For an Old-Hollywood Look, Try Pin Curls

Bobby pins have been noted to hold other accessories in place, but did you know you can use them to make pin curls? This method creates a classic old-Hollywood, glamorous look that, with a bit of time and patience, will make you never want to be without curls again. Similar to the other methods, you just go to sleep and wake up.

  • First, wash or dampen your hair, apply some product, and create sections about an inch in width.
  • Take the end of the first section, tuck your hair tightly around your fingers, and start rolling it up until it reaches the top of your roots.
  • Secure the rolled-up hair with a bobby pin and continue with each section until your entire head is complete.

Once all of your hair is rolled and pinned up securely, wrap your hair with a scarf or sheet so that everything stays in place. Your heatless curls will grow overnight as you sleep so that you wake up with a glamorous look the next day. After you wake up, make sure your hair is dry, take out the pins, run your fingers gently through, and spray.

Pin curls take a bit more time in that you are rolling and pinning one-inch strands from bottom to top and pinning in place. However, this method results in a classic style that can work for lunch, brunch, or a night out. Whatever the event may be, pin curls will leave you with gorgeous curls that will last throughout the day.

Bantu Knots Protect Your Hair and Curl It

Bantu knots are popular because they not only give you non-heated curls but are also known as a protective style. This means it protects your hair from environmental elements that can damage your hair over time. Not only that, but they can develop heatless, tight, springy curls for a brand new look in just a few easy steps:

  • Wash your hair and let it sit until it is about 80% air dry.
  • Separate your hair into one-to-two inch sections. If you want tighter curls, make the sections around one inch, and make them closer to the two-inch measurement for looser curls.
  • Start twisting each section so that it resembles a rope.
  • Twist the rope-like sections into a bun and secure each bun with a bobby pin.
  • Repeat the twisting and securing into your hair is filled with the Bantu knots.
  • Wrap your hair in a scarf or sheet so that everything stays in place.
  • Sleep…
  • In the morning, remove your scarf or sheet and make sure your hair is dry.
  • Until each Bantu knot, one by one, and use your fingers to gently comb through the curls.
  • Finish with some hairspray and enjoy your new look.

Bantu knots can protect your hair during the day and create gorgeous curls overnight. You will end up with bouncy, tight curls all over your head. This method is appropriate for all hair types and can help hair that may be normally frizzy when using other non-heat methods for curling hair. It is a win-win for style and health.