It famously happens to all of us eventually—we turn first into our parents, and then into our grandparents. While I'm not quite at the point where I'm calling Euphoria episodes my "stories," my grandmother's growing influence is undeniable as I get older—especially as different beauty trends from her own youth come in and out of vogue. One white-hot trend that unites every generation of women in my family? The remarkable power of hair rollers.
Thanks to TikTok, an entire new generation has gotten wise to their volumizing, curl-defining power. But if the only curlers you've ever known have been of the hot tool variety, velcro and hot rollers can admittedly be pretty tricky to navigate—and it doesn't help how easy everyone on TikTok makes it look. When it comes to volume, all-day stay, and that coveted '90s supermodel bouncy blowout, however, rollers are unmatched, and definitely worth the learning curve. To make things easier, we tapped a celebrity hairstylist to explain the top techniques to nail the hot roller trend.
Where You've Seen the Trend
If you spend any time on TikTok, you've certainly seen the videos of people gingerly pulling velcro rollers from their hair ends, leaving behind a very satisfying shape. Right now, it seems like the entire internet is obsessed with what's been dubbed "fluffy hair," which usually means a '90s-esque combination of volume, layers, and bouncy blowout curls. Users are gravitating towards curlers to make it happen because of how much extra volume those round tubes can give.
"Rollers stand the test of time as one of the most efficient, easy, and foolproof ways to create gorgeous volume and bounce in your hair," explains Rena Calhoun, a celebrity stylist and ambassador for Virtue Labs who works with clients like Hunter Schafer, Demi Lovato, and Jasmine Tookes. Personally, Calhoun says she's loving the rollers revival happening right now online and beyond.
Products and Prep Are Key
Before diving head-first into the roller trend, it's important to first gather everything you'll need for your specific hair type and length. While Calhoun says any hair type can absolutely use rollers for a bouncy blowout, you might need the assistance of a few extra products to make it happen. For natural curly hair like type 4s, you'll want a high-powered straightener and some olive oil mousse to prep hair for the supermodel blowout. Of course, there are plenty of ways to enhance natural curl patterns with rollers of assorted sizes, but for the "fluffy hair" look, maximum smoothness is important.
Conversely, if you have very fine and straight hair, you'll need to load up on some extra prep products too in order to make sure those curls actually set and stay put for as long as possible. Calhoun recommends those with stick-straight hair start from scratch by rough-drying hair with a style-holding primer, like the Virtue Volumizing Primer ($38). Tighter curls will also need to be blown out using tension to smooth the texture, and Calhoun suggests a frizz-fighting product like the Virtue Unfrizz Cream ($21) for an even silkier finish.
But even if your hair is somewhere in the middle, it's always a good idea to start with some sort of styling spray or cream for added volume and bounce. If you're working with wigs or extensions, you can employ the usual methods of heat so long as the hair used is 100 percent human. For synthetic hair, an entirely different method is used to heat it without damage, meaning hot rollers and curling iron-manipulated velcro curls likely won't work here.
Roller Size Makes All the Difference
It's also important to consider what types of rollers you want to use, though there's less difference among them than many would think. The cheapest and perhaps easier option are classic velcro rollers, which can be picked up at any beauty supply store. They can be held in place with claw clips, pins, or plastic hinged clips, though that's pure preference. Another option is foam rollers, which are usually used more for spiral curls than large blowouts. And then there's hot rollers, which are heated up in a plug-in case before being rolled into the hair.
The type of roller you choose, however, is less important than the size of the roller. If you have longer hair, you'll want to opt for larger rollers, while shorter hair will benefit from a more medium-sized barrel. When in doubt, look to your favorite curling iron or wand and buy rollers sized accordingly.
Heat 'Em Up...But Let Them Fully Cool Off
Calhoun says that heat is the most crucial part of the entire styling process—it's what helps actually mold the hair. To see real results, hair will need to be completely dry before removing the rollers, but most people going for the airy, fluffy look usually start with dry hair anyway.
On TikTok, you'll see a popular method for maximum hold is to curl or straighten the hair first to heat it up, section by section, before wrapping the rollers and securing them in place. Once the rollers are in, Calhoun says she liked to equip her blowdryer with the diffuser attachment and blast hair again with some warm air. While heat is key, letting your hair fully cool for a while is equally important. "Allowing hair to actually cool down will help set and hold it in the shape that you desire," Calhoun explains. "After a quick shot of warm air, I recommend not taking the rollers out until your hair feels completely cold to the touch all the way through."
On that subject, the length of time the rollers need to sit in the hair varies by length and type, too. Generally, ten minutes is the bare minimum, but they can be left in for well over an hour on dry hair. If you're just using velcro rollers with no extra heat, there's no damage in leaving them on for a while, so it's perfectly fine to let them sit while you do your makeup, for example.
Direction Changes Everything
From what I've seen, there are two types of popular hair roller looks on TikTok—the curled-under look and the bombshell look. The latter sort requires hair to be completely wrapped away from the face, while the curled-under method utilizes a mix of both.
For that bombshell effect, "over direction is very important for creating high-volume looks," Calhoun tells Byrdie. To start, she says, you want a section of hair that’s about the same size or slightly smaller than the size of your roller. Then, when wrapping each section into the roller, pull it forward exaggerating the direction, starting with your ends and rolling your way backwards toward the root. "The over-direction in the root will create tons of volume when set," Calhoun explains.
For the other look, do exactly that but wrap the lowermost layers of your hair under, which will yield those curled-in pieces that are so popular right now.
Finishing Touches Are Always a Good Idea
Once you're ready to unleash the curls, begin removing the pins and rollers section by section, starting low and going high. You might have seen people on TikTok effectively yanking the rollers out of their hair (ostensibly to protect the curl shape), but that can do more harm than good. Instead, try slowly unwrapping the hair from the roller, or pulling the roller out very gently.
Since many prefer the most volume concentrated around the face towards the top of the hair, you'll likely want to remove those rollers last. When hair is all free, give it a quick spritz with some light-hold hairspray and adjust the finished product how you like. For a smoother, looser curl, gently comb it all out. For a more tousled, supermodel vibe, try flipping your head upside down a few times, and let it all fall into artfully-mussed place. Million-dollar ad campaign contracts are all but guaranteed.