This is a complete guide for how to roller set natural hair, the products I used, and my best tips for making sure your roller set turns out perfectly every time.
I’ve been meaning to upload how to roller set natural hair for a while but I got too comfortable with just washing and throwing in individual braids every week.
I guess quarantine made me super lazy but last weekend, I wanted a new look plus a different style so I jumped on the opportunity to put together this roller set article.
I also wanted to test Arewa Hair Styling Oil out on roller set hair since I’ve used it for only braid-outs, twist-outs, and sealing.
I’m also way overdue for a henna and indigo session and hope to get that done this weekend.
You’ll remember roller setting every week from back in the relaxed days but you don’t have to give it up just because you’re no longer relaxed.
Can You Roller Set Natural Hair?
You can still roller set natural hair. A roller set is actually one of the ways to straighten natural hair without direct heat.
You can also leave the rollers in overnight if you want to avoid heat completely but there’s no way I’m sleeping in rollers.
They’re a pain to sleep in. Even more than Curlformers. I’ve added some tips for roller setting without heat at the end of this article.
Roller setting will enable you to effortlessly create different natural hairstyles and looks and make it easier to manipulate your hair to do so.
Why Roller Set Natural Hair?
A roller set is a great way to stretch natural hair without using damaging methods or chemicals.
If used strategically, roller setting is also a great way to help natural hair grow to its maximum potential.
What You Need for a Roller Set on Natural Hair
- Gentle clarifying shampoo – you should start on clean hair. Roller setting on dirty hair will lead to bad results plus build-up.
- Bone comb – some people use a rat tail comb but I haven’t let that near my hair in over 10 years. I discuss how I use it below.
- Detangling brush – A good detangling brush with wide teeth that provides lots of give. I use the Tangle Wrangler Detangling Brush.
- Spray bottle – No matter how fast you are, your hair will start to dry up in places before you get to that part. Keep the spray bottle on hand to wet that part when you get to it. I use rose water but you can use any type of water.
- Moisturizing leave-in conditioner – a good leave-in conditioner is crucial for locking in moisture and preventing your hair from drying out.
- Hair oil – the hair oil will be layered over the leave-in conditioner. I tried Arewa Hair Styling Oil for this roller set.
- Hair Styling Mousse – this helps the hair turn out smooth and frizz-free. However, I did not use it because I planned to throw my hair in a bun afterward. If you want to wear curls, then I recommend a good moisturizing mousse like Design Essentials Natural Curl Enhancing Mousse.
- Rollers – I used snap on magnetic rollers but there are several other types of rollers you can use. I will cover this in the next article plus how the process changes for each type of roller.
How Do You Roller Set Natural Hair
1. Start With Clean Hair
I started with shampooing my hair. I’ve been in individual braids for 2 weeks with only rinsing and sealing in-between.
It was definitely time for squeaky clean so I used a clarifying shampoo. The shampoo was strong enough that I only had to use it once.
I shampooed in 3 sections and used my scalp massage brush as well.
2. Deep Condition With Heat
After shampooing, I mixed my deep conditioner. For this session, I used the following products:-
- Mielle Babassu and Mint Deep Conditioner
- Bioterra Long & Healthy Deep Conditioner
- Grapeseed Oil
- Vitamin E Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Peppermint Essential Oil
The deep conditioners were the main elements of the mix, 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil, 5 drops each of lavender, and peppermint essential oil.
I set the deep conditioner mix in a hot water bath so by the time I finished shampooing, it was nice and warm and ready to glide on.
3. Detangle Thoroughly With Conditioner
While I was applying the deep conditioner, I also detangled thoroughly. First with my fingers, followed by my trusty Tangle Wrangler Detangling Brush.
I love this brush. It slides through anything. Just make sure your hair is saturated in conditioner before you slide it through and watch the magic happen.
I recommend finger detangling first before using the Tangle Wrangler Detangling Brush to reduce hair shedding.
After application, I pinned up my hair and applied heat for 45 minutes. By the time I was done, my hair was like butter and ready for my leave-ins and rollers.
4. Apply Leave-in Products Generously
Don’t be stingy. You need a lot of product for a roller set on natural hair to turn out perfectly.
I don’t mean you should drown your hair in it but be generous with the application. For my roller set on natural hair, I used the following leave-ins:-
- Mielle Ultra Moisturizing White Peony Leave-in Conditioner
- Arewa Hair Styling Oil
- Spray bottle with some rose water
5. Detangle Some More
Thoroughly detangled hair means an awesome roller set. And I don’t mean with the brush. It’s already done its job.
At this stage, I go back to my fingers and my bone comb.
I’ve had this bone comb for almost 10 years and it still works perfectly. I use it for everything that requires a fine-tooth comb.
You can see the spacing is adequate for natural hair but it still works like a tooth comb without pulling out natural hair.
6. Put Rollers in Small Sections
This is the most important tip for a roller set on natural hair. You must roller set in small sections for the perfect results.
You can also use smaller rollers for more awesome curls but I’m roller setting to throw it in a bun so I use bigger rollers and sections.
Smaller sections also mean your hair will dry faster and more evenly.
If you divide your hair into sections and insert the rollers per section, it will be a less daunting task.
Use the bone comb to detangle again and smooth the hair down if necessary.
7. Rollers Should Be Inserted Tautly
Pull your hair tautly into the rollers as you apply each one. I don’t mean snatch yourself bald or give yourself a headache.
But the rollers should have a firm grip on your scalp. They shouldn’t be rolling around if you want fabulous curls as well as stretched roots.
The set will also last longer if the roots are taut and straight.
8. Wait Until Your Hair is Dry Before Removing Rollers
This is crucial. You have to let it go after you insert the hair rollers. If you take out the rollers before your hair is dry, expect a puffy and frizzy mess of a style.
I don’t have a tabletop hairdryer so I use the soft hood attachment method to dry.
This is also indirect heat but it took much longer. Read a book or get some work done while waiting for the rollers to dry.
9. Roller Set Natural Hair Without Heat
Like I said above, you can choose to leave the rollers in overnight to avoid it. They will be dry by morning but prepare to sleep in an upright position.
How do I know? I’ve done it before and it was a nightmare.
Alternatively, you can wake up early in the morning to put in the rollers and go about your business for the day.
Depending on hair length, thickness, and products used, your hair should be dry by afternoon or evening at the very latest.
Tip – put the rollers in when you’re hair isn’t soaking wet. This will get the process done faster.
10. Remove the Rollers Gently
Once my hair was dry, I lightly oiled my hands then gently removed the rollers one by one.
I then applied my scalp massage oil to my scalp. I separated the curls with my fingers and detangled, applied a little bit more of the hair styling oil, brushed, and threw in a bun.
That’s it until next weekend when I henna and indigo for a little bit of protein and those pesky greys. I will also do a scalp massage 3 times during the week.
If you are planning to wear a style then the process is a little bit different. Be gentler when separating the curls.
Do not apply a lot of oil. Use the bone comb tail to pick the curls to your liking. Enjoy your new style.
How to Maintain a Roller Set on Natural Hair
After doing all that work, I know you don’t want your style to fall apart after a day. You want to try and wear it for a few days at the very least.
Throw your curls in a loose pineapple and put on a satin or silk bonnet when you go to bed.
In the morning, undo the pineapple gently and shake the curls loose. If you’re going to agitate with your hands, oil your hands lightly to prevent frizz.
Letting water touch the curls is the end of the style so protect properly when taking a shower.
Tip – if you accidentally get the style wet, you can turn it into a braid-out or twist-out for another few days.
Can You Roller Set Short Natural Hair?
Yes, you can. You just have to use smaller rollers. There are roller sizes available in XS all the way to jumbo.
I have very small rollers for when I’m trying to create a particular style. As long as you have some hair to roll, you can find small rollers for short natural hair.
For short natural hair, I recommend Concave Tiny Perm Rods.
Roller Set Type 4 Natural Hair
Yes, ma’am. You can roller set type 4 natural hair. The trick is in the technique and products and make sure you pull the rollers taut and use smaller sections.
It will take a while to get all the rollers in but you can get a style that will last for 7 – 10 days.
The roller type also matters. In the next article, I will share the different types of rollers for natural hair.
How Long Does It Take to Roller Set Natural Hair?
You know I’m a lazy natural so I gallivanted here and there in-between. It took me much longer than necessary.
If I were to guess on APL hair, without taking any breaks, it will take about 4 – 5 hours.
The bulk of that time is sitting under the bonnet dryer waiting for the curls to dry so don’t get nervous.
Does Roller Setting Damage Natural Hair?
Roller setting doesn’t damage natural hair as long as you engage the best practices for roller setting.
Air dry or use indirect heat with a soft bonnet hood attachment. You can also use a tabletop hair dryer like this one but don’t do this often.
Is Roller Setting Healthy for Natural Hair?
Roller setting is healthy for natural hair. You get to wear straight natural hairstyles without engaging in heat damage methods.
You can also stretch your hair to create other hairstyles for a few weeks when you roller set.
Roller setting also reduces the incidence of SSKs and unnecessary tangling.
For even more natural hairstyles with roller setting methods, head over to this luscious Pinterest page.
If you have any questions about roller setting natural hair, drop them in the comments section.
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Happy Hair Growing!
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Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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