The Best Methods for Curling Your Hair Without Using Heat
While creating beach waves and curls with a hot tool is quick and simple with the correct method, you might want to avoid the heat and go for a less damaging option. It's certainly possible: You can curl your hair without using heat in a variety of ways. Your best bet is to use overnight methods, which will provide you with longer-lasting hold and definition—all while you sleep! Discover some of our go-to heat-free methods outlined below, which come highly recommended by several celebrity hair experts.
Sarah Lund, a style master with Kevin Murphy, notes that these knots are best for those with already-curly and coily hair textures; using them will help you define the curls you already have. To create the look, she recommends fully moisturizing wet strands using a product like Smooth.Again by Kevin.Murphy ($36, kevinmurphystore.com). Then, apply a mousse for definition (she likes Body.Builder ($34, kevinmurphystore.com) before using edge control or a gel around the section you want to knot; apply the leftovers onto your hands and create tight twists until the section rolls down on itself. In the morning take the twists down and finish with an oil, like Curl Queen Royal Nectar Hair Oil ($52, curlqueenofficial.com).
Finger coiling is another great way to give your existing curls more definition—and it can also help you retrain your curl pattern after pressing or straightening your strands. Nai'vasha, the founder of Curl Queen and a celebrity curl expert, recommends pairing this method—which simply involves coiling your curl around your finger and setting it in place—with her innovative hair tool, The Glove ($48, curlqueenofficial.com); it is designed to detangle hair, stimulate the scalp, improve blood circulation, and massage in hair and scalp products.
Pin curls can also deliver curls and volume sans hot tools, explains Dr. Gaby Longsworth, a certified hair practitioner, Ph.D. scientist, and the owner of Absolutely Everything Curly. Simply roll strands around a finger and pin coiled sections with bobby pins or clips up to your scalp. Nai'vasha recommends attempting this style before bed, since results are best after a night of wear; cover your curls with a satin cap to protect the look.
Dr. Longsworth and Lund both agree that this method is best for creating big, soft waves. Lund recommends starting with damp or dry hair and applying a holding product like Kevin.Murphy Hair.Resort($34, kevinmurphystore.com) before grabbing your scarf. Next, clip the garment to the top of your head and lightly twist your hair around the fabric, away from your face. When finished, tie the two ends together and shake everything out in the morning.
If you don't have much time on your hands, all three stylists agree that braids are an easy in-a-pinch option. Lund suggests French braids if you are hoping to achieve beachy waves; sectioning the hair vertically into three sections—one on each side, as well as one in the back that runs down the middle—is best, she notes (doing so will result in consistent curls). Braid the ends loosely to avoid tangles and plait hair on damps strands for extra hold, says Dr. Longsworth. The hydrogen bonds in the hair break in the presence of water and reform after drying in the desired style, she notes.
Curl Ribbons or Flexi Rods
Lund recommends now-viral satin curl ribbons, such as The Curling Ribbon by Heatless Hair ($44, heatlesshair.com), for optimal overnight results. Culrformers and Flexi Rods—like these from Minerva ($10, amazon.com)—are other favorites of Dr. Longsworth and Nai'vasha; they work with any hair type and texture, they say. So long as they're paired with the proper products for each style, these techniques could delver results that last for several days, notes Dr. Longsworth.