Heatless curls: how to get curls without heat (hair plopping, braids,…)

(Last Updated On: January 10, 2020)

Curls without heat, how do you get them? Making curls with a straightener, making curls with a curling iron or curling your hair with a hairdryer, you already knew you could do that. But did you know that there are also many ways to get curls in your hair without having to use heat? We’re happy to list the most popular techniques for you so that you too can get curls done without heat (and get your healthy hair back).

(source photo: Unsplash)

What kind of curls are there? Which ones can you make with these methods?

Why curls without heat?

But why would you make curls without heat? I’m sure you already know that curling your hair with all kinds of heat tools is very bad for your hair. And yes, even if you use all kinds of heat protectors… they can never protect your hair 100%. That’s why it’s a good idea to find out how to make curls in other ways. How did women invent curling irons, hair dryers, straighteners…? They also had very clever tips & tricks to get a beautiful curl hairstyle. So, it’s definitely worth trying some of these techniques and see if these kind of heatless curls might be something for you.

More hairstyling inspiration?

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Curl without heat with rollers

Rollers are perhaps the best-known way to get curls in your hair without having to use heat. There are different types and sizes of rollers, it just depends on what type of curl you want to make. Do you want a lot of volume and a little bit of slack in your hair? Then you should choose the larger rollers, do you want small curls that are very clearly defined? Then the small rollers are best. The best results are achieved with rollers if your hair is still a bit damp (not soaking wet) and if you apply a little hairspray or mousse in your hair before you roll your hair into the rollers.

You can buy foam rollers here

Curls through braids

As a child we did this a lot as well: we went to sleep with braids and had a beating in our hair the next morning! Or as we called it, ‘beaks’. You won’t get real curls by sleeping with (damp) braids, but there will surely be some more schwung in your hair! Again: big braids will cause big bumps in your hair, small braids for small and defined ‘curls’.

Curls with a hairband

Did you know that with a hairband you can curl your hair very easily? You have to practice how to put your hair in the hairband, but this is a really nice method! Also very nice about this method to get curls without heat, is that you sleep much more comfortably with this method. And since I’ve tested this myself a couple of times, I have to tell you that it is really nice. Nothing as annoying as getting up in the morning with still half damp hair and half of your rollers etc that have fallen out during the night. I am not a quiet sleeper, no :p
Buy nice hair bands here

Curls with a t-shirt (hair plopping)

Besides making curls with a hairband, rollers or braids, you can also get a curl by curling your hair with a t-shirt! Preferably a t-shirt made of soft cotton. How does this curl method work? This is hair plopping, maybe this term is familiar to you? Okay, first of all: this is a perfect method when you get out of the shower. Untangle your hair, dry it a little bit with a towel. But dab-dry it, never rub it!

Curls with papillots

Another way to curl your hair without heat: papillots! Around 2010 or 2011 it was so popular to curl your hair this way. It’s still a very good way to do it. Again, it’s handy to know that the thinner papillots provide very tight curls, while the larger papillots are more likely to cause waves.

Curls with a tail

This is another method I use myself, because it’s so easy! I make multiple tails (usually high ponytails) when my hair is towel dry. Then I wrap them around my fingers and secure the made ‘loop’ with bobby pins. I sleep with these and the next day you get up with curls. This method is also pleasant to sleep in.

Making curls with straws

I haven’t tried this method to get curls myself as there are no plastic straws in the house 😉 But if you still have straws lying around or you want to give straws a second life, you can certainly try this method. Don’t buy plastic straws for this, there are a lot of other methods explained in this article where you don’t have to buy plastic straws for.

How to make curls with straws? Keep in mind that this method takes a very long time: you can easily curl your hair for a few hours. Plus: this is best done by someone else, because with yourself this is really not a simple method! On the other hand, you will get beautiful curls with this method!

buns: easy to make curls without heat

Also with buns you can easily make curls. Nowadays it’s trendy to wear buns again (check out these space buns hair trends here) and if you leave them on at night, you’ll get up in the morning with coarse curls.


Making curls with twisted buns /bantu

In this video you will discover another way of making curls without heat: bantu knots.

Curl your hair with socks (sock buns curls)

This is also a very popular method to curl your hair: with an old sock! To do this, you first have to cut the toes of the socks and roll the sock up into a donut. Jups, really! Ideal for recycling an old sock.

First make a ponytail (preferably a high ponytail). Then you slide the homemade donut over your tail and bring it to the tip of your tail. You wrap the dots in the donut and slowly start rolling up your hair until you reach your elastic band. Spray your hair a little wet, and fix it with some bobby pins.

Curl your hair with pens or pencils.

With pens or pencils you can also curl your hair without using heat. Handy, huh? These are also items that you have in the house anyway, so be sure to try this out! First moisten your hair a bit and twist it around a pen or pencil. I’m sure you understand that it’s also best to fix your hair with a clip or some pins.

Of course it goes without saying that with this method it’s best not to sleep… this really doesn’t seem like a good way to sleep!


Curlformers… I hadn’t really heard of them until I looked them up. But even with curlformers you can easily make curls! With this method you get spiral curls. And once you have spiral curls, you can keep your curls for at least a few days.

Baby wipes

I came across this tip on the Internet and I couldn’t believe it… you curl your hair with baby wipes, really? But guess what… it really does work! I tested it myself. Okay, maybe not with baby wipes, because we don’t have those in the house, but I still had a pack of makeup wipes that I didn’t like for my skin. So yeah… then everything for the blog and go test it!

How does it work? You wrap your hair around a rolled up wet baby wipe and then tie the ends. I thought it was pretty awkward to sleep with, so eventually I put a swim cap over my wrapped and knotted up hair. It really worked, but I wasn’t a fan of the smell my hair had after it, haha! By the way, this also works fine if you moisturize old pieces of t-shirt a bit, or if you just moisten your hair first and then roll pieces of old shirt in.

Toilet paper

Did you know that you can also easily make curls in your hairdo with toilet paper? Okay, you do need paper that consists of a few layers, but again you twist a strand of hair (not too big) around your sheet of toilet paper.

Wet wipes

Just like with the baby wipes you can also curl your hair with moist wipes (actually like I did because I didn’t have any baby wipes myself). Strangely enough it works, but you really have to leave it in your hair long enough.

What kind of curls are there? Which ones can you make with these methods?

There are different kinds of curls that you can make with all of the above methods. Depending on how tight you roll the curls, you get these different types of curls:

  • Spiral curls
  • coarse curls
  • crucible curls
  • slightly wavy hair
  • wavy hair
  • dense, coarse curls



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