The Healthiest Way to Style Hair: Roller Setting

Hair Styling is the finishing touch to your crown and glory; there are many ways to style your hair, but not all of these are healthy ways. A lot of people use heat on their hair every single day, by using curling or flat irons. Heat everyday equals hair breakage, hair breakage equals no growth retention. You should be able to style your hair using a heat source (not direct heat, except for special occasions) once a week and maintain your style until your next wash day.

One of the healthiest ways to style your hair is through roller setting. There is a roller size for every length of hair and every style. As a general guideline the smaller the roller the curlier the outcome.  For a style with “bumped” curls, your hair should be able to go around the roller between one or two times. If you desire a curlier style you would use a smaller roller, so that your hair forms a spiral curl. The maintenance for roller set hair is very easy. For a bumped style after roller setting, you can dry wrap your hair at night or for a curlier style you can pin curl your hair at night.


The Equipment:

  • Magnetic Rollers (either ones with the plastic covers or buy roller clips to secure the rollers)
  • Small Tooth Comb
  • Hooded Dryer
  • Spray bottle (with setting lotion or a combination of setting lotion and water)
  • Any leave-ins you might want to use


Wash, condition, and apply whatever leave-in you use. If you apply anything to the ends, do so now while your hair is wet, this will help to trap in moisture. Begin at the front of your head and with a rat tail comb part your hair in two sections that will fit on the length of the roller. Measure against the roller to make sure that you will not have hair sticking out the sides. If you do have hair that cannot fit on the roller make the section a little smaller. If you leave those hairs out they will be the ones to ruin your set since they will not dry taught and instead either frizz or do some other crazy thing.

Comb the section of hair forward and hold it tight with your fingers. You should be stretching the hair but not pulling it. Press the ends against the roller. Your ends should be wet but not soaked. At first your hair may begin to dry out because you are moving slowly, simply moisten the ends with your spray bottle and continue. It is imperative that the ends are slicked against the roller. This is what avoids frizzy uncontrollable ends. The heat alone will not straighten them if you don’t. Practice makes perfect and you may even want to try doing this with dry hair until you can master it. A visit to the stylist will not hurt since then you can see what he or she does to your ends.

Roll the hair onto the roller keeping it taught and tightly wound. Don’t slack because it will show when it’s dry. Make sure it is neat and tidy until you get to your scalp. If you are using the silver clips, take one of the clips and carefully slide it at one end of the roller. This will partially secure the roller. Take another clip and do the same to the other side. If you are using magnetic rollers with roller covers, securely snap the cover on to the roller. Continue this process on your entire head, always rolling back (however you can do a front “bang” portion rolling down and not back).  After you have inserted all the rollers you can place a hair net on your rollers to secure the set if you feel it’s a little loose and sit under the dryer under medium heat.

The amount of time you spend under the dryer will depend on your hair’s length and thickness.  Most people will spend at least a half an hour under the dryer, so get comfortable.   If your hair is not dry after 30 minutes you can then let it air-dry while you do things around the house for about an hour. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you do not take out your rollers until your hair is COMPLETELY dry! If you take out your hair while it is damp, your hair will turn into one big poof ball! After your hair is dry and you take out your rollers you can do a variety of things, depending on what style you are trying to achieve.


Curly: You can separate the curls with your fingers for a curly look or you can use a wide tooth comb to lightly separate the curls.

Straight: You can brush your hair into a dry wrap and sit back under the dryer or just keep it wrapped and pin it up for a while, then un-comb the wrap. Or a more advanced step you can do is a blow-out with a round or paddle brush and a blow dryer with a nozzle attachment.

And there you have it a salon worthy style without using direct heat and remember practice makes perfect and pretty soon you’ll be as good as your favorite hairstylist!

Author: Kenesha Williams

K.Nicole Williams is a writer, speaker, and hair care enthusiast. In addition to creating the popular (now defunct) Diaspora Hair Care message board and the Glint of Light Blog, K.Nicole writes hair articles for Black Hair Media and other media outlets. She is currently writing her first novel and you can follow her on twitter at and connect with her on her blog at

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  1. Sure wish I had seen this article years ago! Thanks so much for sharing it. I have a specific question and I will direct it to your blog. I see that this one doesn’t seem to have any current inquiries. Really helpful, though. Thanks again.

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  2. I love to curl my hair with hard rollers but after my hair is air dried I notice my curls are bumpy. Any advice on how to roll smoother curls?

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    • Roller papers should help. You can find them on line or at your local beauty supply store.

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  3. Thank you for your suggestions! However, I need some help on deciding what type of rollers to use for dry setting my hair. The satin covered sponge rollers give a great curl but dry out the ends of my hair. Help!

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    • Use flexi rods. You can set the horizontally so that you get less of a spiral effect. I used to use this method throughout high school.

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  5. Thanks for the tips I think roller curls are the healthies curls without direct heat

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    • I roller set my hair after every wash or co-wash. Every night, as a night regiment, I spritz the ends of my curled hair with a mixture of aloe vera juice, a quarter teaspoon of honey, and a teaspoon of coconut oil stored in a spray bottle I keep in the fridge, and reset on large flexi rods. In the morning, I remove the curlers and use my fingers to style. My hair feels amazingly smooth and moisturized. Doing this daily keeps my hair smooth, healthy and moisturized with hardly any breakage. I wear my curls in various styles usually up but the curls act as a protective style when I don’t pull them down to touch my shoulders so I can wear my hair loose and still it’s protected. After a few weeks if you blow your hair out you’ll notice you’ve gained length!

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      • Great article. Thank you for sharing Ajoy. What measurment of aloe vera juice do you use?
        Best Regards,

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  6. I have very thin hair and the SHIELO VOLUME HAIRSPRAY seems to give my hair body when I spray it on my wet hair after I have shampooed. I set my hair with rollers and the set stays for a day so that tells me my hair has more body than without the spray. I am very impressed with the Shielo Hairspray!

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  7. I did a rollerset for the first time Friday. I was nervous that it wouldn’t come out right because I didn’t use
    A dryer. I let it airdry over night and I tied my hair up with a scarf. I was so pleased with the results. My hair came out shiny and bouncy. I am a faithful user of Doo Gro Mega Thick shampoo, Mega Thick Intensive Rebuild Treatment, ApHogee ProVitamin leave in treatment and ApHogee Green Tea Restructorizer. Great products!

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  8. Thank you so much for the tips Kenesha.

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  9. Great Tips Kenesha thank you!

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  10. I love rollersets!. Great tips!

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    • What kind of spritz to use for roller sets

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  11. Oh my gosh Kenesha thank you so much for writing this article. My mother always used a curling iron and a lot of hair spray on my hair for dances and my hair gets so damaged.

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  12. This article is very helpful. I always thought the best way to curl your hair was with a curling iron.
    Thank you

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