Titanium core promotes long-lasting curls. Velvet flocking protects hair.
No heat indicator light. Metal butterfly clips are not suited to all hair types.
Heats quickly (3-5 minutes). Detachable cord. Protective velvet flocking. Includes indicator light.
Occasional issues with the base cracking.
Fast heat time (15 seconds). Steam-powered rollers. Includes carrying case and style guide.
Potential exists for water corrosion and mineral build-up. (Regular cleaning will address this.)
Rapid heating time (five minutes or less).
Clips tend to mark hair, slip out of place, and break.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Bouncy, va-va-voom curls are perfect for a night out. Even if you haven’t been blessed with naturally curly hair, anyone can get the look with the help of hot rollers. Hot rollers require less effort than curling irons, and they do less damage to your hair. But if it’s your first time buying a set, you might not know where to start. Ribbed or flocked, wax core or ceramic, which hot rollers are right for you?
Start here. At BestReviews, we do the research, consult the experts, analyze the opinions of real-life owners, and cut through the jargon.
If you’re ready to click buy, check out our top five hot roller sets. If you want to know more about what to look for in hot rollers, and how to get Hollywood curls, read on.
First, the science: The keratin in your hair is held together by hydrogen molecular bonds, which can temporarily be modified by the application of heat and moisture.
Hot rollers come on a special base that is plugged into a power outlet to heat them up.
Once they are heated, you roll small sections of hair around the hot rollers and fix them in place using the clips or pins provided. Wait for the hot rollers to cool — about 15 minutes — then remove them from your hair.
Due to the heat and moisture from the hot rollers, your hair will now be curled.
A New Way to Steam
The Caruso 30 Molecular takes a novel approach to the hot roller set. Unlike older steam-based sets, the Caruso features one small reservoir base. Each roller is covered with foam to protect fragile hair, and gentle plastic covers serve as clips. These clips are less likely to mark hair the way metal butterfly clips can. Owners love the convenience of the small steam base and the fact that the rollers reach maximum heat in about 15 seconds.
Hot rollers come in two finishes: ribbed or flocked.
Ribbed hot rollers have small ridges, while flocked hot rollers have a velvety surface. Some users prefer ribbed rollers because they are easier to remove from hair.
Flocked rollers help hold hair in place and are especially good for creating large curls.
Be careful when handling freshly heated hot rollers. Hold them at the sides, not in the middle, as the main body of the roller will be hot and could burn or scald your fingers.
Hot rollers come in different sizes for different types of curls. Some sets contain a variety of different sizes, and some just have one size. Smaller rollers make tighter, ringlet-style curls. Larger rollers make big curls or waves, plus they create more volume at the root.
Remember that your hair length also plays a part in how the curls will turn out. If you put a large roller in short hair, you might end up with an inward or outward flick, rather than full-on curls, because your hair is too short to wrap around the hot roller enough times.
Owners with fine hair love the Babyliss Nano Titanium 20-Roller. Unlike some hot rollers that fall out of thin hair, the Babyliss rollers stay in place long enough to do their job. The curls last without the collapsing and frizzing that people with fine hair often experience, too. The set features 20 rollers: six small, six medium, and eight large. This assortment serves a variety of styling needs.
Some hot rollers have variable heat settings, whereas others only heat to one preset temperature.
For many people, hot rollers without variable heat settings work perfectly well.
However, if you have particularly fine hair, you might need a lower heat setting to prevent damage and for the best results.
Flocked hot rollers can protect your hair from heat damage better than ribbed varieties.
The body of the roller can be made from one of several materials, all of which have different properties.
Heated with steam, foam rollers tend to be moister and can give you longer-lasting curls. They also heat up especially quickly, so they’re the best choice if you like to style in a hurry.
Wax core rollers
These rollers have a layer of wax in the center, which retains heat well and can help hold a curl longer in hair that’s usually resistant to curling.
Ceramic infused rollers
Ceramic rollers emit ions of infrared heat, which helps to reduce frizz and give you smooth, shiny curls.
Every Type of Curl
The Caruso 30 Molecular comes with 30 rollers and clips, which should be sufficient for most users. However, additional rollers are available for purchase, and they come with clips. The set features six petite, six small, six medium, six large, and six jumbo rollers. The unit also comes with a carrying case and styling guide.
If you find that brushing out your curls removes the definition too much, try separating them with your fingers instead.
Some users find a light hairspray helps their curls hold for longer without weighing them down.
To avoid heat damage and split ends, put a heat-protecting serum on the ends of your hair before using your hot rollers.
Place your hot rollers vertically in your hair, rather than horizontally, for a looser tousled effect and less volume.
Choose a hot roller set with a variety of roller sizes if you want to be able to create different types of curls.
It’s best to give your hair a break from heat styling, so ideally use hot rollers no more than three times a week.
You get a more natural look if you alternate the number of hot rollers in each layer of your hair. For instance, use two on each side in the top layer of your hair, three in the mid-layer, and two in the under layer.
To create the best curls, you need a low heat setting if you have fine hair, and a high heat setting if you have thick hair.
Most people curl their hair starting at the bottom. But placing the roller near your head, then wrapping your hair around it from top to bottom gives a more even curl, rather than having most of the curl focused near the ends of your hair.
Ceramic rollers are the best type for damaged hair. The ceramic layer smooths hair and reduces frizz, while helping to prevent further heat damage.
Stylists recommend using large hair clips around the outside of the hot rollers to keep them in place, rather than using the pins that come with some roller sets, as these can leave creases in your curls.
The Babyliss Nano Titanium 20-Roller features flocked velvet rollers that help protect hair from heat damage. These titanium core rollers heat quickly (optimum temperature is reached in about 15 minutes) and retain heat for long-lasting curls. The one downside to this salon-worthy set? There is no indicator light to show when the rollers are ready.
You can find hot rollers to suit a range of budgets, but you do tend to get what you pay for in terms of quality.
Basic hot rollers start at $15 to $20. They usually come in smaller sets, and the sets may only have one size of roller.
In the mid-range, hot rollers cost between $20 and $30. You can find better quality rollers at this price point — like ceramic infused hot rollers — but the best rollers may still come in fairly small sets with limited sizes.
High-end hot rollers cost roughly $30 to $60. In this price range, you get hot rollers of excellent quality that produce long-lasting curls. You also get large sets with several different sizes of rollers.
Q. What hairstyles can I create using hot rollers?
A. Of course, you can opt for classic curls with hot rollers, but you can create other hairstyles, too. For instance, textured waves, sleek waves, loose tousled curls, tight ringlets, big updos, and vintage hair flicks.
Q. Can hot rollers damage my hair?
A. Like any tool that styles your hair using heat, hot rollers can damage your hair. However, if you take good care of your hair generally and take precautions when using your hot rollers, this damage should be minimal. Put a heat protectant in your hair before you use your hot rollers, and use lower heat settings when possible, especially if you have fine hair.
Q. Are some hot rollers heavier than others?
A. Yes, some hot rollers are particularly light and others particularly heavy. The heaviest hot rollers can fall out of fine hair, and the lightest rollers might not curl thick hair effectively.
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