Straightening wavy hair without a heat tool is the stuff of witchcraft—or, at the very least, a Disney princess–esque band of singing animal sidekicks. However, it's not quite too good to be true. "It's totally possible to get straight(er) hair without heat," Brooke Jordan, owner and master stylist at Brooklyn, NY salon, The Bird House, says.
A caveat: While the techniques below work on wavy hair, it's probably not super realistic to be able to go from curly hair to super-straight without the use of hot tools. But for those who want to test it out, we touched base with Jordan; Ian Mayer-Marszalek, the national corporate trainer at Schwarzkopf Professional; and Richard Mannah, Joico's international guest artistic director, who gave us their best tips on how to straighten hair without heat.
Check them out below.
Use a Smoothing Product
If you don't mind a little bit of natural bend, Jordan recommends applying a smoothing product, like R+Co Waterfall ($29), all over your hair. Then comb it out straight and let it air-dry. "It will give you a lived-in, relaxed look," she explains. The finishing touch: A smidge of hair oil and some hair spray to help tame flyaways.
"Your best bet for non-heat hair straightening is with Velcro or silicon rollers using a process called wet-setting," Jordan says. After you wash your hair, towel it as dry as possible, and then apply a medium-hold mousse. She also recommends applying Davines Melu Hair Shield ($37) because it has water-wicking abilities that make it great for air-drying hair.
"Next, you'll want to section your hair into four equal parts so you have an easier time applying the rollers," she explains. "Using a fine-tooth comb to smooth the hair, begin wrapping a one-to-two-inch section of hair as tightly as you can around the roller. Depending on the kind of roller you're using, you may need to secure the roll with bobby pins or roller clips. Just be sure to apply the pin or clip on the underside of the hair so you don't end up with any visible creases," she says. Once you've wrapped up all your hair, mist on a setting lotion, spray gel, or lightweight hair spray. Then, the waiting begins. No one said straight hair sans heat was quick.
"Since it can take several hours to dry, I love wet-setting before bed and wrapping a silk scarf around my curlers so they don't move around too much or get frizzy. Bonus: You'll feel like a 1950s movie star," Jordan says. Wait for your hair to dry completely. Then you can remove the rollers and brush out your (straightened) hair.
Mannah recommends cocktailing a leave-in treatment with a mousse, like Joico Power Whip ($18). This combo helps keep hair soft and shiny, while also providing hold and helping hair to dry straight(er). Once you've applied the product, Mannah says to use a fine-tooth comb to distribute the product, and then brush your hair straight. From there, let it air-dry. For added straightening, sporadically comb through your hair as it dries.
Wrap It Up
This is another technique that takes a while but is effective if you don't want to damage your hair with heat. "Wrap-drying is a process where you use a paddle brush to wrap your hair tightly in one direction and hold it in place with bobby pins," says Mayer-Marszalek. "As your hair slowly dries, it will keep a straight and smooth look."