Like so many things, the proverbial mother knows best. In my case, my mother really did know best. She spent most mornings in the '80s eschewing the blow dryer in favor of a snappy hot roller set. When her makeup was done, she'd carefully pluck out her rollers, run her hands through her hair, and walk out the door. Looking back, roller sets sound fussy but were actually about as low-effort as it gets.
What kind of hot roller should you use?
As Pureology Artistic Director Jamie Wiley see it, this low-effort, high-reward method is perfect for 2021, in a large part because of the tool's versatility. "Hot rollers create different results depending on the length, texture and density of your hair," she says. If it's short, you can expect volume and lift in lieu of tight coils. For naturally curly strands, you'll appreciate the quick way hot rollers can redefine your curl pattern. And for those of us with lank, middle-of-the-road hair, Wiley says hot rollers are a great blowout alternative: "Just use six to eight jumbo hot rollers in large sections to style and dry."
How do you use hot rollers, anyway?
A few notes on the basics: Smaller rollers yield smaller curls, and the longer you leave them in, the tighter the hold you'll get. Aim to roll away from your face, and if the set you choose doesn't come with wide butterfly clips, treat yourself. It makes the installation process a whole lot easier. Hot rollers can also be drying, so do consider a thermal spray like Pureology’s Style + Protect Levitation Mist before you get started. Ahead, the eight best hot roller sets on the market today.
No, this set was not an extra in the film adaptation of Hairspray. What looks rather old-school actually represents effective, modern technology, here in the form of gentle infrared heat emanating from 20 velvety flocked rollers. No hot spots, all the volume and curl.
Why drive a Civic when you could roll up in a Benz? (See what I did there?) These velvety wonders have it all: A wide circumference for maximum body, cool edges for easy handling, snag-free velvet flocking, and a steady and strong heating element.
In two to three minutes flat, these velvet-trimmed rollers—which come in three handy sizes, and with magnetized, creaseless clips—heat up. You'll know they're ready when you hear a click and see a red indictor light. Once they're rolled to your liking, the curlers stay steadily warm for up to 15 minutes.
A whopping 12 heat settings—most have either "on" or "off"—means that you can dial in the temperature that works for your texture, length and desired end result. Extra points for ceramic construction and an ionic port system, both of which work to minimize both frizz and damage.
Most of us crave the drama of a roller set hairstyle not on an average Tuesday night—although that's great, too—but out for cocktails when on vacation, or for your best friend's rehearsal dinner. This soft, compact carrying case doubles as the device that heats the rollers, making them easy to stash and dash.
These five-inch long rollers are ideal for someone with a lot of hair, if you're going for a smooth and voluminous look, not tight ringlets. Long-tressed Amazon reviewers rave about the time saved, although consider investing in another set of clips to help keep strands from slipping.
If you're eager to dabble in hot rollers, but not ready to fully commit, this set is like training wheels. With three different temperature settings and a jumbo circumference, these five workhorses are all you need to roll out.
Fill the basin with water and insert one of 30 foam rollers into the carafe; within a seconds, you've got a piping hot curler ready to go. While you are heating each rod individually, there's something quick and satisfying about the process. Roll into your hair, snap on the included shields, and let bouncy strands be your destiny.