How To Do Heatless Curls, AKA The Ultimate Mom Hack

As a parent, finding shortcuts to save time and effort in your day is key. One of the prime places I’ve personally needed to cut down is how long it takes me to get ready in the morning. Gone are the days of having the time to curl my hair and put on a full face of makeup — I’ve got 10 minutes, and I need to use them wisely.

Because I have exactly zero privacy settings on my phone (I can hear my husband grumbling in my head at the mere mention), my Instagram and TikTok algorithms immediately sent me the cure for my problem: heatless curls. And I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that this method of doing my hair while I sleep has completely changed my life.

So, if your algorithms have not led you down this path already, let me introduce you to the wonder of heatless curls.

What are heatless curls?

As you likely surmised, heatless curls are a method of curling hair that does not involve heated styling tools such as curling irons or flat irons. Instead, it relies on wrapping damp or dry hair around various objects such as rods, scrunchies, or even socks and letting the hair set over time, usually during sleep.

The result? Curls formed without the application of direct heat, minimizing damage and preserving the health of the hair. Most importantly, it’s literally done as you’re sleeping (aka the only time of day parents are *mostly* free of plans).

Tutorials for heatless curls

Now, if you’ve found yourself down the wormhole of heatless curl tutorials on social media, you know there are many ways to do them. You can use curling rods, curlers, a tie from your bathrobe… just about anything. Honestly, I once got served a video of someone curling their hair with a banana, and I knew it was time to get offline.

Anyway, when it comes to the best methods, these are a few of my favorites I’ve found over the past year of experimenting.

The Unicorn Curl

This method involves tying your hair around a curling rod placed straight down your head and in a U-shape around your face. As someone with medium-length hair, I’ve found this is the perfect method for getting defined curls that truly last all day. Plus, as a side sleeper, it makes it a lot more comfortable to sleep in. Lindsay Stackhouse (@lindseystackhouse_) on Instagram does a great job showing the step-by-step instructions and the results.

Scrunchie Curls

This technique uses multiple scrunchies to section and wrap the hair. It’s excellent for creating natural-looking waves and works well on different hair lengths. The scrunchies provide a gentle way to curl the hair without pulling or snagging, making it comfortable to sleep in. On TikTok, Audrey Victoria (@audreyvictoria_) has a great tutorial showing it on longer hair.

Satin Curl Rod

This tutorial from Sophie Barkley (@sophiebarkleyy) on TikTok showcases a satin-covered rod method that minimizes friction and prevents moisture loss from the hair. The curls are soft and bouncy, ideal for a glamorous look without much effort. This is the classic method for heatless curls and, in my experience, always produces great results.

French Braid Curls

On Instagram, Amanda Carter (@amandajonescarter) is my go-to for all methods of heatless curls. Her French braid method is similar to the unicorn curl and is super comfy to sleep in.

Best Products for Heatless Curls

Because of the rise in popularity of heatless curls, tons of companies have jumped on the bandwagon with their own “best version” of how to do them. But you don’t need a ton of products to make them work for you. If you want a more structured curler, a curling rod will help create more shape than a less firm tool like a scrunchie or robe tie.

To prep your hair, it’s never a bad idea to start with an anti-frizz cream or spray to help minimize any frizz created overnight. Speaking of, if you’re feeling real fancy, sleeping with a satin or silk pillowcase and a headband can help to keep your curls in place, even if you move around a lot in your sleep. Here are a few products to get you started.

A Trendy Satin Set

A Scrunchie Version

A Reliable Curl Cream

A Mixed-Bristle Brush

A Satin Pillowcase

Happy heatless curling!

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