A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Your Hair With Flexi Rods

Transitioning from relaxer to natural hair? You may want to give this a try.

flexi rods
@TIERECHRISTYAN | Design by Julie Bang .

When I went natural for the first time nearly seven years ago (it took two tries!), flexi rod sets were my go-to. Mainly because I was too afraid to do the big chop, so I let my relaxer grow out over time. Flexi rod sets were ideal for a few reasons: They hid any new growth, kept my hair healthy, and lasted up to a week depending on what I had scheduled.

I eventually gave up the flexi rod set because of my love of my 4c texture, so the wash-and-go is my go-to these days. 

At first glance, a flexi rod set might seem a little daunting if you've never done one before, but I promise with the right products and a little practice, you'll be a pro. Since flexi rod sets require a few more steps than a traditional wash-and-go and twists-outs, I want to share my tips, tricks, and favorite products with you to make your first set a breeze.

Which hair types are best for flexi rod sets?

Flexi rod sets work on a variety of hair types from relaxed to natural textured hair, and can even be done on cropped hair with small rods. 

How do I know what size rollers to use?

Finding the right sized roller depends on the finished look you're hoping for and how long you want your style to last. Jumbo flexi rods are usually purple or blue and give a wavy look to the hair. While orange (and sometimes grey) rods help achieve a medium sized curl. Working with the latter two are my personal preference because they mold a beautiful spiral and my curls tend to last longer. If you want a tight curl, red (long, thin) flexi rods are your best bet. 

How many rods will I need?

Depending on your hair's length, texture, and density, I recommend having at least thirty rollers ready to go. It is not a great feeling when you get to the front of your head and can't finish because you ran out of rollers. I've been there and done that, and while it's not the end of the world, it is a little inconvenient. 

What you'll need:

  • Foam flexi-rollers
  • Foaming mousse
  • Hooded hairdryer
  • Clips
  • Comb
  • Water-filled spray bottle

Step One: Start With Freshly Washed, Well-Conditioned Hair

Like any hair styling technique, starting with clean, conditioned hair is key. I generally prefer a cream leave-in, but for this look I would use a spray leave-in like Jane Carter's Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner, or a light hydrating solution.

Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner
Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner $7.00

If you're looking to stretch your style until your next wash day, you can try setting your hair without washing it as Blake did here. Since she prefers a "wand curl" look, she used a little mousse to help set the curl without losing the stretched look of her blow out, creating a fluffy, yet bouncy curl.

Step Two: Roll The Hair From Back to Front

Next, use your fingers or a comb to part sections starting from the back of your head and work your way toward the front. Don't be afraid to use different sized rollers throughout since some areas of your hair might be longer or shorter.

Tifara Beauty 42-pack 7" Flexible Curling Rods
Tifara Beauty Flexible Curling Rods $12.99

Step Three: Distribute Mousse From Root to Tip

Mousse is my product of choice when doing any roller set because it helps the hair mold to perfection without making it crunchy. Cantu Natural Hair Wave Whip Curling Mousse is a budget-friendly option that works well, but if you like to use prestige products, Moroccanoil Curl Control Mousse is a must.

Cantu Natural Hair Wave Whip Curling Mousse $3.99
Curl Control Mousse
Moroccanoil Curl Control Mousse $23.00

Now, take half a pump of mousse and evenly distribute the foam from root to tip in each section of hair before rolling. Then, take your roller, and place it at the ends of the hair while holding the hair taut to stretch the roots before rolling the rod up to the roots and secure it by bending each end. Be sure not to pull too tight because it can damage the hair (and cause a headache). 

Step Four: Time to Dry

Air drying is an option, but if you have long, thick hair, drying could take at least a full day. Sitting under a hooded dryer is not always the most fun considering it gets warm under there, but your curls will thank you. If you don't own a hood dryer, adding a hooded attachment to your hairdryer is an effective way to set your curls. 

Bonnet Attachment
Granteva Bonnet Hood Hair Dryer Attachment $11.95

Drying time will vary depending on your hair's length and thickness. To ensure the hair is completely dry, unroll a rod situated in the middle of the head to see if the curl is dry from root to tip.

Step Five: Separate Your Curls

Once the hair is dry, gently remove the rollers, add a little oil to the tips of your fingers (which helps prevent frizz), and separate each curl to your liking. 

Pattern Beauty Argan Oil
Pattern Beauty Argan Oil Hair Serum $25.00

If you want a little extra volume, use a pick and a little hairspray like Ouidad Curl Last Flexible-Hold Hairspray to lift the roots.

Curl Last™ Flexible-Hold Hairspray
Ouidad Curl Last Flexible-Hold Hairspray $20.00

For an easy look, secure your curls in a loose fringe pony, and add embossed bobby pins.

Or, you can wear them in cute afro puffs.

How do I keep my roller set looking good throughout the week?

To maintain your roller set, loosely pineapple your curls with a silk Scrunchie and secure them with a silk scarf to keep the hair hydrated and the curls in place. If you find some curls looking like they need a little help, don't be afraid to reshape them. All you need to do is add a little more of whichever finishing product you used to set your curls the first time around, and curl the sections just as you did the rest of the hair. The curls should set by the time you wake up the next morning.

Slip Silk Scrunchies
Slip Silk Scrunchies $39.00

With any new haircare addition, practice makes perfect, and you'll also find new ways to set your hair that works for you. 

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