Here's How to do Heatless Curls or Waves, According to the Experts

Nicola Dall'Asen

Be honest: When's the last time you made the effort to heat style your own hair? After spending months in self-isolation, chances are you've put down your blow-dryers, flatirons, and curling irons altogether — and maybe started embracing your natural hair texture in the process. Even when it's safe for everyone to fully resume life outside the home, hairstylists predict a shift in the way we'll continue to do our hair on a daily basis.

Though people will absolutely seek out the pampering experience of a fresh shampoo and blowout every now and then, New York City-based hairstylist Erickson Arruntegui thinks heat-styling will be far less common once it's safe to stop social distancing. "I think people are definitely getting to know themselves more now than ever before," he tells Allure. "And they will start to embrace their natural texture more."

And now that we're used to spending days on end without even glancing at our heat-styling tools, the idea of picking them back up every day seems exhausting. Keeping hair as healthy as possible is more appealing than ever, too. But there are still places to go and people to see (even virtually, depending on what reopening stage your state is in), so we've asked hairstylists to give us their best advice for creating waves, curls, and coils without any heat whatsoever.

Here's how to do heatless waves and curls at home, no matter your hair type.

How to do heatless curls if you have naturally straight hair

Sock curling

It might sound odd, but one of the cheapest and easiest ways to do heatless curls at home is to use a couple of pairs of socks. The sock-curling method, which went viral on TikTok earlier this year, is rather simple: When your hair is wet and brushed out, divide it into four sections and weave a long sock through each of them like a braid. Secure it with a hair tie at the bottom and wear overnight or until your hair is fully dried.

This is one of Los Angeles-based hairstylist Justine Marjan's favorite ways to do heatless curls at home, and she's discovered several other household items you can use to create waves and curls without heat in the same way. "I've used socks, a bathrobe tie, and stockings; You can use different techniques for each form you use for a different outcome," she says. "If the form you are using is thin and flimsy, your curls will have less volume; If it is thick, you’ll have bigger curls."

For example, Marjan uses regular, thin socks when she wants to create tight ringlet curls. If she wants bigger, voluminous curls, she'll use longer, bulkier socks. "Each of these techniques will give a different outcome, and how tight you wrap it and the size of your sections will make it look different," Marjan explains. "Just make sure whatever you do to one side is exactly the same on the other."

This technique, according to Marjan, will allow you to customize your waves and curls more than your standard set of rollers. It can also help you achieve a more modern hairstyle as opposed to an old-Hollywood vibe — unless, of course, that's what you're into. "The length of socks, bathrobe ties, and tights mean the hair doesn't have to wrap around itself," Marjan says. "This means you are more likely to create waves than old school curls."

Braids

On the other hand, wearing your hair in braids overnight can achieve laid-back, textured waves by morning. "On damp hair, I would split your hair in two and create two French braids going down each side," Arruntegui says. "Once the hair is braided, I would pull the braid apart so you get a looser wave and not a crimped look."

Just be sure to prime your hair with a lot of moisture before braiding. "Using a good leave-in conditioner is key," he says. "It helps to add moisture and encourage more bend in the hair."

Once you've woken up, Arruntegui recommends breaking it up and adding texture with a sea salt mist or texturizing hair spray once you've let your hair loose.

How to do heatless curls if you have natural waves or loose curls

Scrunching

You can also use the braiding or sock-curling methods if you have naturally wavy or curly hair, according to Marjan — but with the right products, you can opt to let your hair air-dry without a mold.

"For those with naturally wavy-curly hair, I would scrunch in a mouse or curl cream and let air dry," Arruntegui advises. This is a go-to technique for more than a few curly-haired Allure editors and hairstylists.

Deputy editor Kara McGrath, for instance, uses products like Fatboy Hair Tacky Oil and Bumble & bumble Surf Styling Leave-In on damp, towel-dried hair to help define her 2A waves. "I squirt the products into my palms, then use the praying-hands method to distribute it about an inch from my roots to the ends," she says. "I scrunch a little to form the waves, then try not to touch it again until it's totally dry.

New York City-based hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, who has a mixture of waves, curls, and coils, scrunches with conditioner alone. "After shampooing my hair, I towel-dry it and apply conditioner while it's damp," she previously told Allure. "Starting at the ends, I take medium sections of the hair and add the product little by little as I work my way up to the roots. While I'm combing through the product with my wide-tooth comb, I turn my head upside down and scrunch the product in to maintain the texture of my hair." Then, she simply lets it air dry while finger combing for added volume.

The best scrunching and air-drying process and products for you will depend heavily on your hair type and texture. You can learn what your specific wave or curl type is here, then research styling methods online for that specific type.

How to do heatless curls on kinky curly or coily hair

Twist outs

To achieve the best structure and shape without breaking out a blow-dryer, those with coily hair and kinky curls can do a twist-out, according to bi-coastal hairstylist Lacy Redway. The best part about is this is that you can do it immediately after washing the hair or any day in-between washes. "You can use a conditioning mist [and water] to help reactivate the oils in your hair because natural hair typically does not get too greasy," she previously told Allure. Coily-haired Allure editors will tell you that the Best of Beauty-winning Day 2 Revival Curl Reset Spray by John Frieda is a must.

When the hair is damp, divide the hair into sections. Then, split those sections in half and wrap them around each other like a rope braid. As Redway explains, the smaller the sections, the tighter your curls will be once they dry. 

Either way, you want to make sure they're wrapped nice and tight. "It should feel a little dense when you wrap the twist into itself so that the curl can form correctly," Redway previously told Allure. From there, all you need to do is let it air-dry all the way through.

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Originally Appeared on Allure

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