13 Types of Hair Rollers for Natural Hair

There are different types of hair rollers you can use to create natural hairstyles, lengthen your curls and stretch your hair without risking damage.

I discussed how to roller set natural hair in the previous article. I used magnetic rollers for that hairstyle.

In this article, I will share the different types of hair rollers and the techniques for using each one to achieve different natural hairstyles.

I’ve used most of these hair rollers at one point or the other on my hair care journey and eventually stuck to the 3 main ones that my hair liked.

Benefits of Hair Rollers for Natural Hair

  • With the right kind of hair rollers, you can completely avoid blow dryers, curling wands and irons, or at least use them infrequently meaning less chance of damage.
  • You can successfully stretch natural hair for up to 10 days at a time without the use of heat. And after 10 days, you can turn the style into a braid-out or twist-out.
  • You can use hair rollers to loosen up tightly coiled hair, which reduces the incidence of tangling and SSKs.
  • For thinner hair types or hair with medium density, hair rollers are an excellent way to give your hair more volume and the appearance of thickness.
  • If you prefer air-drying, you can install your hair rollers in the morning and go about your business for the rest of the day. Depending on the size, you can even throw on a head wrap and run errands outside the house during the day.

13 Types of Hair Rollers for Natural Hair

Styling Natural Hair With Hair Rollers

The type of hair rollers you choose to use depends on what kind of style and curls you’re going for as well as your hair length and health.

1. Magnetic Rollers

Magnetic Hair Rollers Variety Pack

Magnetic rollers are plastic rollers available in several colors depending on the size. They usually start from 1 inch and go all the way to 3 inches in size.

The smaller the magnetic rollers are, the tighter your curls will be while big rollers will create big, barrel curls and provide volume.

Some magnetic rollers require pins while some come with snap-on clips instead of pins.

I prefer the snap-on rollers but you have to make sure to pull the roller taut so the style turns out like you want and your roots aren’t puffy.

For best practices when using magnetic rollers, check out the earlier article on How to Roller Set Natural Hair.

I also use the big magnetic rollers because I’m usually just trying to stretch my hair for a bit or to put in a protective style.

I also use a mix of rollers – the smaller size for the back of my head and the bigger ones for the front and the perimeter.

With longer hair, you want to use the bigger rollers otherwise you will spend all day putting the rollers in your hair.

I recommend Dianne Magnetic Rollers or Annie Professional Magnetic Rollers. This variety pack contains 65 pieces in different sizes plus clips.

I use a mix of rollers depending on the hairstyle I’m trying to achieve. If I’m just going to throw in a bun, I use any magnetic rollers on hand. 

How to Roller Set Ntural Hair

Magnetic Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $6/pack
  • Leave in overnight – not advised. Very uncomfortable to sleep on
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Grip isn’t very firm
  • Best used on wet hair

2. Foam Rollers 

Conair Soft, Bouncy Curls Foam Rollers

Foam rollers are soft and spongy rollers with plastic clips to keep them in place.

The best thing about these rollers – they are so soft, you can keep them in overnight.

They are the most comfortable suggestion for sleeping with on this list. Foam rollers are used to create loose, not-so-defined curls and are best used on damp to dry hair.

I used them on wet hair and they dried my hair out. They just soaked up all the moisture.

For creating curls on your ends mid-week, just roll up your ends before going to bed and wake up to a great style.

This foam rollers set from Conair contains 48 rollers in different sizes. 

Foam Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $10/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Yes. Soft and spongy so should feel like a pillow
  • Hair dries quickly but might be a disadvantage for type 4 hair
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Grip isn’t very firm
  • Best used on damp to dry textured hair

3. Perm Rods

Cotu Variety Pack Perm Rods

Perm rods come in different sizes and can be used to create different hairstyles plus some great curly updos.

Perm rods are wrapped around hair and then secured with the rubber band tip.

Thin perm rods are perfect for very short natural hair aka TWA (teeny weeny afro) while thicker perm rods are great for creating loose curls on longer hair.

You can use thin perm rods on longer hair but it will take forever and ever for your hair to dry. For real.

Perm rods are very easy to install and you can actually wear a head wrap around them and go out for the day while waiting for them to air dry.

These perm rods available from Diane are similar to the cute perm rods set I have in my stash.

BTW, perm rods are aka cold wave rods so they don’t get confused by the name.

This variety pack contains 65 pieces of perm rods in different sizes from small to jumbo.

Perm Rods Highlights

  • Price point – Under $15/variety pack
  • Leave in overnight – Not recommended
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Perfect for short natural hair

4. Curlformers

natural hair gifts, Curlformers Hair Curlers Deluxe Range Spiral Curls Styling Kit

This is my second favorite way to stretch my natural hair. When Curlformers first came out in 2008, it was a crazy dash to get them.

Curlformers are aerated tubes in different sizes and colors with a hook for installing them in hair.

They are used to stretch hair and create curls in various sizes including ringlets. The end result is smooth, sleek, and shiny curls that last for days.

I also use Curlformers to change the look of a straight wig. They are that versatile.

After installation, you can air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. There is a learning curve for Curlformers.

I almost burst into tears the first time I tried them but once  I got the hang of it, it became way easier and faster to install.

I will write a more comprehensive post about Curlformers later with visuals using them on my hair.

While the ends of your hair may come out a bit frayed with magnetic rollers, you don’t experience that with Curlformers.

The Curlformers are available in different sizes for different hair lengths so be sure to make sure you get the right size of your ends will stick out of the roller.

There are 3 different types of Curlformers for different hair lengths:-

Here’s a picture of my hair with Curlformers in and what I did with my hair afterward, which is throw it in a bun.

My hair was shorter in this picture so I used the Corkscrew Curls Kit.

curlformers set on natural hair

Curlformers Highlights

  • Price point – Starts from around $25/pack but could be less depending on what you’re looking for
  • Leave in overnight – Not recommended. Extremely uncomfortable to sleep on
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Learning curve involved for first-time users

5. Waveformers 

Waveformers Hair curlers Styling kit

Waveformers were created by the company behind Curlformers. However, instead of curls, Waveformers create bouncy, beach waves.

Waveformers are available in two sizes – Ocean Flair for more body and movement and Beach Flair for soft and bouncy waves.

Waveformers are installed in the same way as Curlformers but lay flat on the head. They might be easier to sleep on than Curlformers though.

You can view Waveformers before and after pictures HERE

Waveformers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $35/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Possible since the design is flat but might still be a bit uncomfortable
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Hairstyles aren’t very versatile

6. Steam Rollers

caruso steam rollers

Steam rollers work by using steam. The rollers are gently heated up via the steam method before they are then installed in the hair.

The rollers gently condition your hair while also creating a hairstyle. If you’re struggling with dry hair and want to avoid heat, then steam rollers are a good choice.

Steam rollers are great for all hair types. The most popular steam rollers are Caruso Steam Rollers and CONAIR Gentle Curls Steam Rollers.

You can find out more about both and the benefits of steam rollers at 10 Simple Natural Hairstyles with Caruso Steam Rollers.

Steam Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $45
  • Leave in overnight – No. They’re only supposed to be in the hair for less than a minute.
  • Conditions as it styles and adds shine with moist heat
  • Ideal for low porosity hair
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Have to be gently removed otherwise frizz ensures

7. Hot Rollers

Conair Compact Multi-Size Hot Rollers
Hot rollers are similar to steam rollers in design but unlike steam rollers, they use dry heat without any steam or water.

Hot rollers also have a higher temperature than hot rollers. If you have dry, dull, or damaged hair, then steam rollers are better for your hair.

Popular hot roller brands include Conair Compact Multi-Size Hot Roller, BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Roller Hairsetter, and Remington Compact Hot Rollers.

Hot Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $30
  • Leave in overnight – Not recommended
  • Uses dry heat
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Not suitable for dry, dull, and/or damaged hair

8. Flexi Rods

Tifara Beauty 42-pack 7 Flexible Curling Rods

Flexi rods are long, cushioned rods that are extremely flexible and pliable.

They are used to create curls without the need for pins or clips. They are so soft, you can also sleep on them.

Flexi rods are so pliable, you can create any hairstyle from spiral curls to bouncy waves to barrel curls.

You can also use flexi rods on wet, dry, and damp hair but you get the best results on wet hair.

Flexi rods come in different widths for different hair lengths. They are available in different colors so you’ll have to check for the size to get the best length for your hair.

This huge pack contains many different sizes so you can experiment with different sized curls.

It contains 6 of each rod size – 7/8”, 11/16”, 5/8”, 9/16”, 1/2”, 7/16″, and 3/8”.

A flexi rod set is the one thing I still haven’t mastered but at least they help create awesome waves and curls on my wigs. lol.

Peep the few medium-sized perm rods at the back. I wanted tighter curls in that area.

Flexi Rod Set on Human Hair Wig

Flexi Rods Highlights

  • Price point – Under $15/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Yes. Soft and spongy
  • You can cover with a head wrap and go out on a few errands
  • Easy to use and install
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Gives thin hair volume

9. Velcro Rollers 

Velcro Hair Rollers Set

Not a lot of people pay attention to velcro rollers but they can be used to create different curl sizes.

They are basically shaped like magnetic rollers but they have velcro on the body. Velcro rollers are self-gripping then held in place with clips.

I did not care for velcro rollers when I tried them and ended up giving them away.

This velcro set includes 48 rollers in different sizes with clips.

Velcro Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $20/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Not recommended
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Might rip out dry hair

10. Octocurl No Heat Curlers 

Octocurl No Heat Curlers

The Octocurl No Heat Curlers sort of look like rags and you almost wonder if they can do anything but they are gentle and work for all hair types.

They are made out of a smooth fabric that smooths and protects hair as it creates curls or waves.

It comes in different lengths for short hair, long hair, and medium-length hair.

You wrap the curlers around your hair the same way you would foam rollers or magnetic rollers.

You can also use them to extend the life of curls created with Curlformers or steam and hot rollers.

Check out before and after pics of the Octocurl No Heat Curlers on different hair types HERE.

Octocurl No Heat Curlers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $30/pack
  • No pins or clips required
  • Leave in overnight – Yes. Soft and weightless
  • You can cover with a head wrap and go out on a few errands
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Very versatile for creating hairstyles

11. Hourglass Rollers 

Capelli care Hourglass Rollers

Hourglass rollers are designed and shaped in a way that allows them to gently grip the hair and provide the perfect tension required for a smoother set and bouncy curls.

The rollers are held in place with picks or hair clips. Think of the same picks used with traditional rollers in the hair salon. 

The shape of these rollers also helps keep the hair centered in the middle so it doesn’t slip off the sides.

The plastic snags on the rollers make it easy to use on natural hair without tugging on your ends or pulling out hair.

Hourglass rollers were a big thing a few years but they seem to have fizzled out. However, you can still find them on Etsy in various sizes HERE.

Hourglass Highlights

  • Price point – Under $35/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Not recommended
  • Air circulates better and cuts drying time by half
  • You can cover with a head wrap and go out on a few errands
  • Suitable for all hair types

12. Spoolies Original Hair Curlers

Spoolies Original Hair Curlers

Spoolies Original Hair Curlers are super cute and are an easier way to create pin curls without messing about with bobby pins and trying to get the curl shape just right.

And they’re so easy to use too. Just grab a small section of hair, wrap around a spoolie and fold over. This has got the be the easiest rollers to use on this list.

They are made out of heat-resistant silicone so can be used with a hooded dryer. This brand donates a portion of the proceeds from every sale to charity. 

You can get the Spoolies Curlers and check out some dupes as well HERE.

Spoolies Highlights

  • Price point – Under $35/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Yes
  • You can cover with a head wrap and go out on a few errands
  • Creates lots of hairstyles that last longer
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Great for short natural hair

13. Pillow Soft Rollers 

Conair Styling Essentials 18 Pillow Soft Rollers

Pillow Soft Rollers are made from soft cloth material and can be used to create long-lasting loose curls and waves.

They look flimsy but are easy to install on all hair types. No booby pins or clips required. Just tuck each roller into the ends and you’re good to go.

Conair Soft Curlers and Annie Satin Pillow Rollers are the most recommended brands of pillow rollers.

Pillow Soft Rollers Highlights

  • Price point – Under $10/pack
  • Leave in overnight – Yes
  • You can cover with a head wrap and go out on a few errands
  • Very easy to use
  • Suitable for all hair types but might not work properly if you have very thick hair

Hair Rollers Tips

Irrespective of which hair roller method you use, below are some universal best practices for using hair rollers on natural hair:-

  • Use appropriate leave-in products.
  • Even if styling on dry hair, still mist with a little bit of water or diluted product.
  • Style in sections. The smaller the sections are, the easier it will be to create long-lasting hairstyles.
  • Oil your hands lightly before taking out the hair rollers to prevent frizz.
  • If you decide to use heat, be sure to keep the hairdryer temp at low heat, low air, and don’t forget a heat protectant.
  • If you leave the rollers in overnight, don’t forget to wear a satin or silk sleep cap.

Styling Natural Hair With Hair Rollers. Tips, tricks and best practices

Got any questions about heat rollers for natural hair? Drop them in the comments section.

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