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Rollers have long been used to add volume and oomph to limp strands. You may even remember seeing soda cans (in pictures, of course) used to achieve that coveted volume. But hot rollers are making a comeback thanks to their ability to create effortless-looking texture and volume while actually being pretty effortless to use. Whether you’re looking for a hot tool alternative or trying to save a little time in the morning, hot rollers could be your solution.
You'll want to consider your hair type and desired finished result when selecting a set, since they come in all different shapes and sizes. An ideal set might include rollers all in the same size for precise styles or a variety of sizes to achieve different looks—thin rollers are best for springy coils, while big rollers create soft, fluffy styles. Alternating different-sized rollers can also create a more natural look, while using a consistent set can give you a neat curl pattern. Finally, to save precious time, you'll want a set that heats up fast.
Here are the best hot rollers for every type of curl.
Best Overall: Remington T Studio Thermaluxe Setter
Heat-Up Time: 90 seconds | Features: Dual heating technology, storage case | Number of Pieces: 20 rollers | Diameter: 1-1.25"
We couldn’t decide what was better about these rollers—the compact case that saves space on your bathroom counter or the curls that it creates. This set comes with 20 rollers and butterfly clips that you store on the rollers themselves so you’re less likely to misplace them. Another bonus: The rollers are stored vertically and have a place to wrap the cord when they’re not in use so they’re not as bulky. We also like that the variety of medium and large curlers lets you create several styles depending on the look you’re going for.
Best Budget: Conair Compact Multi-Size Rollers
Heat-Up Time: 45 seconds-2 minutes | Features: Includes clips, storage case | Number of Pieces: 20 rollers | Diameter: 0.5-1.5"
This set gets you 20 hot rollers, coordinating rods, and a little more counter space thanks to the compact case. The rollers come in small, medium, and large so you can create numerous styles from large and voluminous to tight and springy. If you have slippery strands, you’ll also love the grippers on the rollers that not only hold onto hair but also help to keep tangles at bay. Just wait for the red light to turn on and you’re ready to roll.
Best Drugstore: Remington Ionic Conditioning Hair Setter
Heat-Up Time: 3 minutes | Features: Includes metal clips, storage case | Number of Pieces: 20 rollers | Diameter: 0.75-1.25"
This set of 20 rollers comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large) and includes matching color-coded clips so you can set them and get on with the rest of your morning routine. The velvet-covered rollers (read: no hot fingers!) also have Ionic Conditioning to help smooth your hair and add shine. Use all of the sizes at once for a more lived-in texture or just stick with the 10 medium rollers for a more even wave. The rollers have a wax core that helps them hold onto heat for a more long-lasting curl.
Best for Volume: BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Jumbo Roller Hairsetter
Heat-Up Time: ≈ 5 minutes | Features: Includes metal and butterfly clips, storage case | Number of Pieces: 12 rollers | Diameter: 1.5"
Not too big, not too small, these rollers are just the right size for that dreamy bouncy texture. The set includes 12 rollers, all the same size, so you’ll get a consistent texture—ideal for creating old Hollywood-style waves. You’ll also get a set of 12 butterfly clips and metal pins so you can choose to use whichever holds your hair up best. Be sure to use the same amount of hair in each roller to get the most even, long-lasting curls.
Best for Thick Hair: Conair InfinitiPRO Ceramic Flocked Rollers
Heat-Up Time: 85 seconds | Features: Includes butterfly clips, storage case | Number of Pieces: 20 rollers | Diameter: 0.5-1.25"
When you’re trying to roll thick hair, you need as many rollers as you can get, which is why this set of 20 is ideal when you’re working with lots of locks. The set comes in four different sizes and only takes 85 seconds to heat up completely thanks to the ceramic technology inside. For a more consistent curl and texture, use the smaller rollers on larger sections of hair and the larger curlers on smaller sections of hair on the top of your head and around your face.
Best for Fine Hair: Remington Compact Hot Rollers
Heat-Up Time: 90 seconds | Features: Includes metal clips, storage case | Number of Pieces: 10 rollers | Diameter: 1-1.25"
Thin or fine hair should look out for smaller rollers with a lesser diameter, exactly like this set from Remington. They heat up in 90 seconds, come in a compact travel case, and use ionic and ceramic technology to create soft, smooth, and defined curls. The price point is pretty reasonable, too.
Best for Glamorous Waves: T3 Micro Volumizing Hot Rollers
Heat-Up Time: ≈ 90 seconds to 3 minutes | Features: 2 heat settings, cool grip, storage case, includes butterfly clips | Number of Pieces: 8 rollers | Diameter: 1.5-1.75"
If you want a Hollywood-esque, Blake Lively wave, look no further than this set from T3. They’re velveted rollers, so they won’t create kinks or creases in the hair, plus the HeatCore technology ensures even heat distribution for curls that are built to last. Comb through with a bristle brush and set with shine spray for best results.
Don’t forget to let the rollers completely cool off before you remove them. This is crucial, as your hair needs to cool down in the same curl pattern you heated it in to create the most long-lasting waves.
Best for Loose Curls: John Frieda Smooth Waves 2-Inch Rollers
Heat-Up Time: 2 minutes | Features: Includes butterfly clips | Number of Pieces: 5 rollers | Diameter: 2"
You’ve probably realized by now that the bigger the roller, the bigger the curl. That’s why these jumbo rollers are perfect for creating loose, undone waves for those times when you just want a little bounce. Since you’ll want to be using more hair in each of the rollers to create a looser curl, five curlers should be just right. For a little more volume, apply a texturizing spray onto each section of your hair before rolling it up.
While it’s important to take your hair type and texture into account, the best rollers overall are Remington's T Studio Thermaluxe Setter and T3's Volumizing Hot rollers set. The Remington especially is a great option because its set of rollers includes two sizes, meaning you can create varying looks. An added plus is that they store easily (because most rollers are notoriously bulky). T3 on the other hand is like a fast track to glamorous waves. Their velvet rollers so will leave the hair smooth, shiny, and impossibly full.
What to Look for in Hot Rollers
According to hairstylist and salon owner Anthony Nader, the best kinds of rollers have a velvety-smooth covering over their metal body. “These don’t leave indentation marks on hair strands like older style rollers,” he says. With that in mind, it’s best to avoid rollers made fully from metal.
Nader also says it’s best to opt for rollers that fasten to the hair with metal pins. “These secure to the hair beautifully compared to using a hair clip with claws,” he says.
Sets That Include a Range of Sizes
Nader recommends investing in a set that contains rollers of different sizes, which will allow you to create a multitude of looks. “You’ll also then have the choice to give your hair extra body by using the smaller rollers, if needed,” he says.
How do you use hot rollers?
According to Nader, hot rollers are perfect for creating smooth, voluminous curls. His advice is to wait until the rollers are properly heated and then wrap sections of hair around each one. For more volume, roll the hair up and away from the direction of growth, and downwards for a sleeker finish.
Nader points out that the golden rule is to leave them in until completely cooled down. If you take them out prior, you won’t have the same longevity.
Once unraveled, use a boar bristle brush to break up curls and give the hair a smooth, sleek, glamorous finish.
How long do you leave hot rollers in?
For the best result, be sure to leave the rollers in until they’re completely cooled down.
How do you use hot rollers on short hair?
According to Nader, the rule of thumb is “the smaller the roller, the tighter the result.” If you don’t want to lose too much length and want a smooth result, go for a larger roller. If you have shorter hair, you’ll want a smaller roller so you get definition and a little extra lift.
Meet the Expert
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any hot rollers from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.