Think the Wet Set Is Old-Fashioned? Think Again

curlers in a drawer with hair pins
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When someone says "wet set", the first thing that might come to mind is spending an entire Saturday afternoon in the hair salon, watching your mom get her hair done. Or maybe it's a vivid memory of your granny sitting around chatting on the phone with her friends with her velcro curls in her hair. Even a quick Google search brings up words like "vintage" and "old-fashioned", so of course you might think that wet roller set curls aren't really your jam.

But the wet set is coming back in style in full force. Why? Well, first it gives you gorgeous, fluffy curls with minimal heat so you shouldn't have to worry about damage. Second, the curls last for a while, so it's one of those styles where you can literally set it and let it go for a few days.

Want to know how you can achieve gorgeous curls on your own? Check out everything you need to know about wet sets below, including super helpful tips from our experts.

What Are Wet Sets?

A wet set is a method of styling Black hair immediately following a shampoo and conditioning session, while the hair is still wet. Also known as a "roller set" or a "wash and set," a wet set can either create curls or straighten hair, depending on the tools you decide to use. Rollers of various sizes are often used to curl the hair slightly, or create a gentle curl or "bump" on the ends while providing volume. People also use straws for "straw sets" on wet hair. The same people might also use small rollers or perm rods to create small ringlets. Setting lotion or mousse is used to hold the style.

Once your hair is set, it won't take much to maintain, regardless of whether you opt for a curly or straight look. Simply wrapping your hair at night with a silk scarf and/or sleeping on a silk pillowcase is all you need to do. With the right setting lotion or mousse, a wet set will give you a lightweight, frizz-free, well-holding hairdo.

The Benefits of Wet Sets

It can take some practice to get the hang of a smooth set, but this setting technique, once mastered, has several advantages in that it:

  • Creates heat-less curls, which is a gentle way of styling the hair without worry of the damage caused by heat.
  • Results in full, bouncy hairstyles, often due to a lightweight product used to set the hair.
  • Creates a style likely to last until your next shampoo.
  • Is a heat-free way to straighten Black hair of all textures, including relaxed and natural types.
  • Creates a very smooth finished style, without heat.
  • May be less likely to result in frizz when done correctly.
  • Results in styles full of shine.

How to Use Wet Set Rollers

Your stylist probably makes it look easy to set your hair on rollers or wrap it around your head, but that's not always the case. You can master wet sets if you follow these practical steps:

  • Begin with thoroughly detangled, damp, or wet hair.
  • Use a mousse or liquid setting product.
  • Work product through thin sections of your hair to ensure smoothest results.
  • Pull and keep the hair taut as you roll or wrap it, then pin in place with roller clips.
  • Use jumbo rollers if you want a straighter finish or very little curl.
  • Air dry or sit under a hood or bonnet dryer for about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Do not take your hair down until it is completely dry to try to avoid frizz.
  • Avoid applying any oil-based products until your hair is dry. Then, style as desired.

Shop the Best Wet Set Products

Check out the products below, which are also likely to help with your wet set journey.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Malkani RH, Shirolikar SM, Karmakar S, Setia MS. Hair styling procedures and hair morphology: a clinico-microscopic comparison studyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2020;11(4):551-558. doi:10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_452_19

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