How to Curl Black Hair Without Heat

Woman with curls getting out of the shower

 GlobalStock/Getty Images

Modern technology has made it easier than ever before to get just about any hairdo you can think up, but you have to use your styling tools wisely to avoid damaging your hair. Curling irons make it easy to create curls, but heat damage is a huge concern. You can abuse thermal styling tools, and as a result, your locks will suffer. Instead of reaching for your curling iron the next time you want a curly hairstyle, try one of these gentler methods instead.

01 of 07


You have several options with rollers, but the kind you want to avoid is the old-fashioned sponge ones: not only do they suck moisture from Black hair, but your hair's natural oils eventually break them down into useless foam-shedding messes. You don't want foam in your hair.

Magnetic rollers come in a wide range of sizes, so even short hair can be curled with this gentle method. Use them after you shampoo and condition; the larger the roller, the straighter and more voluminous your hair will be. Just make sure your hair is completely dry before removing them, so that your curls are frizz-free.

If you prefer a softer roller, choose a satin-covered sponge or foam type. Some satin rollers feature a built-in twistie-style closure, but others are just a sponge curler with a satin covering in the middle.

02 of 07

Straw Set

Just as the name suggests, this curling method is actually created by curling your hair around drinking straws. It's perfect for the woman who wants a long-lasting, well-defined 'do. The curls you get will be very small and tight, but you can separate them once dry to get a fuller look. Maintenance is a breeze, since you cover your straw set curls at night with a big bonnet, and in the morning, shake them free.

03 of 07


One of the advantages of curling your hair with these modern rollers is that you can control the size, since Curlformers come in several lengths and widths to accommodate a range of hair. You'll get a headful of ringlets that last for what feels like forever with this method, especially if you prep your damp hair with a holding mousse or setting lotion. Cover them at night with a large bonnet, and your morning styling time will be minimal.

04 of 07


Create pretty spirals with flexi-rods, which are easy to use. They're similar to Curlformers, but you wrap your hair around the outside of flexi-rods instead of placing your hair inside the curler. Your hair could be damp or dry for this method.

Just make sure you wrap your ends all the way around the rod, and that they lie smoothly against it—otherwise, they may look ragged when you take the rods out.

05 of 07

Pin Curls

This is an old-fashioned curling method, but it still works great. Best for dry hair that's already straightened (either by relaxing, blow drying or wrapping), you don't have to worry about getting your parts all even and uniform. Just take small to medium sections of hair, wrap them in a circular pattern, press to your head and pin in place. Let them sit for several hours or overnight, and you'll end up with bouncy curls.

06 of 07

Rag Curls

Like pin curls, you don't hear much about rag curls anymore, and that's a shame because this is another inexpensive but effective curling method. All you need are old, clean rags that you have around the house. Have an old t-shirt that you were considering throwing out? Don't do it—it's a perfect curl-maker.

All you have to do is place a rag, about 12 inches long, at the end of a section of hair, roll it up, and tie the ends of the rag in place. If you only want curly ends, stop wrapping midway up the hair shaft; otherwise, rag roll to the scalp for allover curls.

07 of 07

Bantu Knots

Create bantu knots on wet or dry hair. If your hair is wet, your curls will be more defined and tighter, but on dry hair, bantu knots will result in fuller, looser locks. One of the benefits of this method is that the knots are a style in themselves, so you can wear them for one day or several, then release them for a completely different look for another few days.

Related Stories