If you’ve stumbled your way onto Hair TikTok, odds are you’ve seen a heatless curling rod headband. Since the pandemic began, people have been itching to throw away their damaging hot tools and find alternative ways to curl their hair. And this headband, a long foam rod covered in silk, is one of the more famous options. You fasten the top of the headband to your head with the provided clip, then wrap your hair around each side of the headband, securing it with scrunchies so that when it dries, you’ve got springy, uniform curls.
Between TikTok and Instagram ads, it’s hard to escape these foam rods that have taken the internet by storm. A heatless curling rod headband was even featured in Season 2, Episode 3 of Euphoria, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” as part of Cassie’s 4 a.m. beauty routine. I’m not sure what else she uses to keep her hair so perfect (I’m one of those people who keeps up with the show without actually watching it), but I’ve seen enough proof on TikTok to know that this headband is more than just TV magic. I eventually gave into all of the advertising and I decided to order one for myself.
Credit: SCREENSHOT: GRAFKEN / AMAZON
Now let me preface this by telling you all that I have weird hair. The top layers are kind of curly, and the bottom layers are straight. I’ve tried a ton of different products in hopes of getting the layers to match, and the only solution I’ve found is to let my hair dry in braids. It works well enough and at this point, I’m too lazy to find a new routine. If I want actual curls I usually break out my old college curling iron, but every time I see a beauty TikTokker shake out their perfect head of heatless curls, it makes me think I might be able to do it too.
After a quick $9.99 Amazon purchase and a trip to the drugstore for some mousse, I was ready. Armed with hair products, partially dried hair, and a foolproof TikTok-approved plan from creator Gabrielle Chase (@gabschase), I set out to achieve the heatless curls of my dream.
The heatless curling process
Once I acquired my heatless curling rod headband, the process was pretty simple. I washed and dried my hair as normal, then used some mousse and hair oil like Chase does in her TikTok. After letting my hair air dry for a while it was time to wrap. Other than a few of my layered pieces poking out, wrapping my hair was quick and painless. It took about 5 minutes from start to finish. There were no instructions on how long to leave my hair wrapped, but I assumed it was to be left in until your hair was completely dry. Chase slept in hers, so I decided I would do the same.
Credit: LILY KARTIGANER
Wearing this contraption while going through the rest of my nightly routine was pretty hilarious. Every time I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror I had a little giggle. I looked like a medieval maiden. I posted a video of myself wearing it to my Instagram Story, and a few friends even responded with the laughing emoji. Others wanted updates with the results because they, too, had seen the headbands all over social media and were curious how well they worked.
While the headband might not have been the most comfortable thing to lay around in before bed, ultimately it was fine. Since I was still new to the world of heatless hair curling, I was also being extra cautious so as not to jeopardize the final result, so I may have also just been overly aware of my head.
The heatless curling results
I was pleasantly surprised by how well my hair stayed in the curler while I slept. I’m not the most active sleeper, but I definitely move around a bit during the night, so seeing my hair mostly intact the next morning was exciting.
After I washed my face and brushed my teeth, it was time for the big reveal. In a video worthy of any influencer, I pulled out the curling rod. Y’all, my hair was so nice! It was curly, it was bouncy, and not to brag, but it really did look TikTok perfect.
One issue I noticed was that my hair was still damp, which meant the perfect curls wouldn’t be there for long. My hair isn’t that thick, so I didn’t think anything of wrapping it in the headband while it was still partially wet, but I guess it wasn’t as dry as it should’ve been, which may have been my downfall. I tried adding a little hairspray to see if it could save all my hard work, but I could already see my curls starting to fall. I fixed my bangs with a blow dryer and prepared myself for the sadness of another viral product that didn’t follow through.
The experience wasn’t ALL bad. My hair still turned out pretty nice; it just wasn’t the curling iron hair-level that I expected. There were some nice waves on the top layers, but the bottom layers were still mostly straight. All in all it didn’t look much different from my normal hair routine.
Credit: LILY KARTIGANER
The heatless curling verdict
The TikTok heatless hair curler is…fine. Did my hair turn out nice in the end? Sure. Is it fun to use for some laughs? Definitely! Is it the tool I’m going to reach for when I want beautiful hair for an event? Never. While the idea of saving my hair from some heat damage by using a heatless tool is nice, it definitely isn’t worth the whole routine of wrapping and sleeping in the curler. With a curling iron, my hair is done in less than an hour. But, hey, for $10 it was probably worth a try.
Looks like it’s back to the curl drawing board. At least I know where to find some good options.