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I remember being a little girl and saying “I want naturally curly hair”. But I never realized that my hair was that already. Natural curls come in different sizes and thickness. That is where the number classification system came into play. People wanted to describe their hair type, and placing curls in different categories allowed that to be. To learn about hair typing, click here.

There are many ways to curl natural hair. Depending on what kind of curls you would like to have, that determines the type of curling tool you would use.


  • Curls using heat sources.  Curling the hair with heat sources like curling irons and flat irons requires the hair to be completely dry. If the hair is wet, the hair will steam, it can stick the iron and burn off. The hair can be blow dried or roller set and dried under a hood dryer. You can achieve curls from a simple bump to spiral curls using different sized irons or a flat iron for larger or less defined curls.
  • Roller sets. Roller sets are not only great for natural hair, but they are a perfect style for transitioners, blending the two hair textures as you grow out relaxers. Roller sets can be done on wet or dry hair. When one or wet hair, the curls are crispier, and last a longer time. Dry curl sets are often voluminous, but are soft and won’t last a long time.

There are several types of rollers on the market such as:

    • Magnetic rollers (rollers that are made of plastic and have a cover to hold the hair and the roller in place. Great for stretching natural hair and full body waves and sets)
    • Jheri curl/cold wave rods (rollers that vary in size and color and have a rubber connector and a plug at its end. Great for tight curls and can be used on short to medium hair)
    • Flexi rods (bendable rollers made of plastic and foam that are great for longer lengths and locs. Great for spiral curls)
    • Pipe cleaners (an alternative to flexi rods and cold wave rods which can be costly if you have to purchase several packages in order to give your hair a full and very curly look.) Pipe cleaners are inexpensive and can be fashioned and shaped. You can wear pipe cleaner curls out and about if you use those that are close to your own hair color. They are also good for shorter hair. For tips on how to do a pipe cleaner set, click here.
    • Loc loops/soft spikes (the modern sponge roller, made of foam with a hole on one end and a pointed opposite end. Hair is rolled onto the tool then secured by placing the pointed end through the loop. These are easy to sleep in and are perfect for locs) These can be purchased online by visiting the websites.
    • Curlformers (soft, flexible formers that hair is wrapped onto. They are easy to sleep in and come in a few different sizes. Great for medium to long hair)
    • Sponge Rollers (the very retro/old school foam rollers with plastic clips that were used for at home roller sets. Some people still have these and they can still be used. Often, the softness of them is easier for people to sleep in than the plastic rollers.)

Bantu knots. Bantu knots are a great way to curl hair without using tools. Perfect for any type of hair, including locs, Bantus are formed by sectioning the hair and twisting it to the ends. Once the hair is twisted down to the ends allow the hair to twist down toward the scalp, tucking the ends in the knot. It often will not need an elastic band or pin to hold it in place. If left in over night or for a few days, you have springy curls!

Loc knots. Another tool free styling method in curling hair, mainly locs. Thinner locs are gathered in 2-4 locs and twisted, then those twists are folded in half and wrapped around itself being tucked into the loop at the end. If this is hard to figure out in text, it was hard to write 😉 So Check out Chescalocs tutorial for the best demonstration.  For thicker locs, one loc can be used and it creates defined curls much like the pipe cleaner set made popular only a couple of years ago.

Barrel Curls. These are curls that are created on the hair by using the fingers. A section of loose hair or locs is held at its end, and above the head. The hair is carefully rolled down over the fingers to the scalp and secured with a hair clip or a bobby pin. These curls are great for creating body, volume and a wavy, wind blown look. They can be done on wet or dry hair.

 Other items you can use to curl hair:

All of these items can be recycled to curl your hair, you don’t have to sit under a dryer, and they are soft enough to sleep on and it’s FREE! What other ways do you curl your hair?