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Heatless Hair: 8 Best Gentle Techniques for Curling and Straightening Your Strands

Tame your tresses with these heat-free styling methods.

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When it comes to getting gorgeous curls or sleek strands, heating tools deliver results. However, hairstylists say that regularly reaching for your blow dryer, straightener, or curling iron can have harmful long-term effects. First, those soaring temperatures can change the keratin structure of your hair, weakening it from the inside out. High heat can also open up a protective layer of your hair shaft known as the cuticle. This makes it less able to retain its natural moisture, leaving your tresses more brittle and vulnerable to damage. Luckily, heating tools aren't the only way to get stunning straight hair or voluminous curls. Read on for the eight best heatless hair techniques for sumptuous styling.

RELATED: 7 Ponytail Styles That Instantly Upgrade Your Look, Hairstylists Say.

Use heatless curlers.


If you've tried overnight curls and didn't like the results OR couldn't sleep due to discomfort, try this!! Im using the @Heatless Hair curling ribbon

♬ original sound – Ang


If your goal is to get red carpet-ready waves, there's a simple, heat-free way to do it. Beauty influencer Angela Wells recently took to TikTok to share her favorite method for getting a flawless blown-out look sans damaging styling tools.

Wells uses a heatless curling "ribbon" from the brand Heatless Hair to give her tresses their signature shape. She likes this curling rod because it's soft, rather than foam ones, which she says make it hard to sleep. The ribbon is also made of 100 percent silk to reduce frizz.

To get the look, the beauty influencer first applies a dry shampoo, then adds a leave-in conditioner and wets her hair until the ends of her strands are damp. She then brushes through her hair and rolls her bangs away from her face into a single jumbo-sized roller at the center of her forehead.

"This is so important because it's going to give me those blowout bangs," she says.

Next, she feeds the heatless curler through the center of the roller and starts wrapping her hair around it.

"Starting with a super small section of your hair, you're going to curl away from your face, pulling up. This is going to help give you volume at the roots. I wrap each [section of] hair around twice, and then I pick up more hair. This helps so much with it staying in place."

As Wells works her way farther down, she pulls the hair toward the back of her head. "I want the end of the rod to fall behind my shoulder," she says.

She ties each side off with a soft scrunchie and then ties the two sides of the rod together with a third scrunchie.

After sleeping on it through the night, she then carefully removes the rod in the morning. "Take that bad boy out and prepare to get compliments all day long!" she shares.

RELATED: 7 Best Women's Hairstyles That Will Never Go Out of Style.

Try the "unicorn method."


Everyone asks how I have time to do my hair every morning.. and I tell them it took less than 3 minutes ✨🦄 #overnightcurls #overnightcurls #heatlesscurlstutorial @Kitsch LLC

♬ original sound – Ang


Wells says that there's another overnight curling approach that's even quicker and easier to do. She calls it the "unicorn method." To try it, all you need is a curling rod, a claw hair clip, and a scrunchie.

"This has become my favorite way to do my overnight curls because it is so comfortable to sleep in, and the results are amazing," she said in a recent video tutorial.

Wells begins her demonstration by clipping the rod into place down the center of her head, with about two inches of it sticking out at her forehead like a unicorn's horn.

Starting with a small section of hair toward the front of her face, she then begins wrapping it around the centered rod. She alternates sides, adding more hair as she goes. Once the rod is held in place by enough hair, she removes the clip and continues to wrap her hair in an alternating pattern. When all of her hair is wrapped around the rod, she ties it off at the end with a soft scrunchie and puts on a silk bonnet to protect it.

In this video, she's using the popular satin curling rod from the brand Kitsch.

Use a heatless curling headband.


Heatless curling headbands employ a similar method, but instead of wrapping all of your hair around a single rod, these octopus-like contraptions have eight hanging rods to utilize.

Beauty influencer Sam Souder recently demonstrated on TikTok how she uses her Octocurl Headband.

To try it, simply dampen your hair, put the headband on, and divide your hair into eight sections. Wrap each section around one of the hanging rods, then tie it off at the end with the elastic loop provided. When you wake up in the morning, you should have cascading, mermaid-like curls.

RELATED: What Is the Cowboy Copper Hair Trend? And 6 Styles to Try.

Twist buns for voluminous curls

portrait of a young woman wearing an orange t-shirt with her hair in many small buns on a gray background
Graphicscoco / iStock

Another way to create heatless curls is to sleep with miniature buns in your hair.

"Take sections of damp hair, twist them, and coil them into small buns. Pin them in place and sleep on it," suggests Krysta Biancone, co-owner of Amari Salon & Spa and lead educator for Hair by Krysta. "This method gives you big, bouncy curls. It's perfect for overnight styling, and you'll wake up looking fabulous."

Use the flat-wrapping method for straightening.


Blow dryers and straighteners can damage your hair over time, so if you plan to straighten your hair daily, it's worth experimenting with heatless methods.

Beauty influencer Amy Serrano recently shared her "family secret" for heatless hair straightening—a two-part strategy that combines rollers and hair wrapping.

"Just make sure that [your hair] is super smooth and taut—that's the most critical part of this entire hair method," she says before starting her tutorial.

Serrano begins by sectioning off the front of her hair and setting it to the side. She then takes a section of hair from the back center of her head and wraps it around a large roller, securing it with a bobby pin. Next, she sections off the hair directly under the first, brushing the hair upward from underneath and smoothing it into a second roller. She adds a bobby pin to secure the hair and a second bobby pin to secure the rollers to one another.

Here's where it takes an unexpected turn. Serrano then begins brushing the remaining hair across her forehead into an extreme comb-over, securing each section with bobby pins around her head. By the time she finishes, her hair is flat-wrapped in a full circle around the two jumbo rollers at the crown of her head.

After sleeping on it for a night, she shares the results: Blowout perfection without the heat.

RELATED: 10 Ways to Embrace Keeping Your Hair Long After 50.

Use large rollers.

woman in a robe with large rollers in her hair holding a body sponge against a blue background
CoffeeAndMilk / iStock

Biancone says you can also smooth your hair by using oversized rollers all over.

"Roll large sections of damp hair onto big rollers and let them dry naturally. Take them out once your hair is dry," she advises. "Large rollers help straighten your hair while adding some nice volume. It's a great way to get smooth, straight hair with a bit of bounce."

"Heatless styling is so important because, at times, your hair needs some rest and moisture while it recovers," adds hairstylist Jenny Strebe of the popular hair care blog Confessions of a Hairstylist. "I recommend using a conditioner, like the AIIR Sapphire Leave-In, for every day for moisture."

Try heatless tools.

Dyson Airwrap and parts on white background
Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock

Some companies have released heatless alternatives to their traditional styling tools. For instance, the Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler uses air to deliver bouncy barrel curls, while the Dyson Ceramic Airstrait Straightener lets you straighten from wet to dry hair without the use of heat.

The brand explains how heating tools can cause lasting damage: "Once the protein bonds are broken and the hair cuticles are cracked, the inner cortex is exposed to all types of damage. With the cortex exposed, your hair becomes weaker and less pliable. Hair strands start to split at the ends where the hair is oldest and has experienced the most damage, but those splits can move up the hair shaft splitting multiple times, making the damage worse," they write.

This can lead to breakage, reduced elasticity, and flyaways. The best way to deal with heat-damaged hair is prevention," they note.

Straighten your hair with ribbons.


Replying to @ruhiiii straightening my hair using the Algeriain method 🫶🏻 (typically they use Kordoune) *to be fair my hair is naturally straight but always crimpy after sleeping in a braid overnight! 😊 #hairtok #hairtiktok #hairstyle #heatlesshair #heatlesscurls #straighthair #straighteninghair #tessapeay #protectivehairstyle #haircare

♬ оригінальний звук – musicdem🎱


Finally, you can straighten your hair using a simple method that requires only ribbons and scrunchies, demonstrates Tessa Peay, an influencer who shares tips on haircare and fashion on TikTok.

To try it, start by parting your hair down the middle and smoothing your hair into two low pigtails. Cut a long piece of ribbon and tie it to where the pigtail begins. Then, taking care to keep the ribbon flat against your hair, wrap the ribbon tightly around each section and tie it off at the bottom. After sleeping on it, remove the ribbons and you should have much smoother, straighter hair.

"Using these heatless methods, you can achieve beautiful, healthy hair without the risk of heat damage. Give them a try and enjoy stunning curls or sleek, straight locks that look amazing and feel great!" says Biancone.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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