How to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron – Tips & Tricks


Ever wonder how to curl your hair without a curling iron?

For plenty of people, curling irons are the go-to styling tool for curly hair and waves. But what if you don’t have a curling iron or don’t want to use heat to style your hair?

Luckily for you, there plenty of ways to curl hair without a curling iron. Here’s how to curl your hair without a curling iron.

How to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron – Overnight Braid for Waves

The great thing about figuring out how to curl your hair without a curling iron is that you often don’t even need to use any special tools to do it. Depending on the length of your hair, you can try braiding it before bed to get beachy waves the next day.

Choosing the Braid

There’s more than one way to braid your hair, and the style of braid you select will influence the type of results you get. A writer from Bustle tried out a few different kinds of braids and gave her opinion on each.

  • French braid. A classic style and great for getting loose waves along the full length of your hair.
  • Rope braid. Probably the easiest style of braid. It produces uneven, relaxed waves.
  • Fishtail braid. One of the more complicated braid styles. It produces piecey waves.
  • Four-strand braid. Not recommended, since the braid produces waves in about half of the hair, not the full length.

How to Braid Your Hair for Waves


  • Wash your hair. Wash your hair before braiding it to get rid of any built-up oil and debris.
  • Braid damp or dry. There’s some debate over whether hair should be completely dry or somewhat wet when your braid it. If you go with damp hair, it might still be damp in the morning, depending on the tightness of the braid.


  1. Add styling products (optional). Like the damp/dry debate, this is a matter of preference. Mousse or a similar product might provide some hold and can be worth using if you have thin or fine hair.
  2. Braid your hair. Try to use a French braid or one that will go along the full length of your hair. Otherwise, you’ll end up with half waves, half straight hair.
  3. Go to bed. Leave the braid in overnight to give the waves time to set.
  4. Take out the braid. Avoid brushing your hair, but use your fingers to style it and neaten it. Brushing might make the waves vanish.

How to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron – Pin Curls

Pin curls might be super retro, but there’s a reason why they’re still a go-to pick for people looking to learn how to curl hair without a curling iron.

The results they produce are nothing short of amazing. If you have an inner starlet that you know is just waiting to break out, this is the curling method you need to try.

The only thing you’ll need is a sizable collection of bobby pins.

  1. Wash your hair. Hair needs to be clean and damp for this technique to work.
  2. Find the happy medium between too wet and too dry. If your hair is dry, it won’t hold the curls, according to PopSugar. On the other side of the coin, if your hair is soggy wet, it’ll never dry once it’s wrapped up.
  3. Part and divide your hair. Group your hair into 1-inch square sections. Don’t make the sections too big or it will be difficult for the pin to hold them in place.
  4. Roll up the hair one section of the time. Start from the ends and roll up to the roots. It should look like the spiral of a snail’s shell when you’re finished.
  5. Pin the spiral of hair to your scalp. Use a bobby pin to hold the hair in place. For extra hold, use two pins overlapping each other like an “X” or “+.”
  6. Repeat with the remaining hair. You might find it easier to start with the hair in the front of your scalp, the twist and pin the hair in the back.
  7. Dry the hair. Use a blow dryer to dry the hair while it’s pinned. Drying the hair helps to set the curls.
  8. Let the pinned hair set. You can sleep with your hair pinned or go about your day for a few hours before taking the pins out.
  9. Remove the pins. Brush through the hair gently so that the curls aren’t so springy. Spray with hairspray to hold the style.

How to Curl Hair Without a Curling Iron – The Headband Wrap

If you have a stretchy headband, you can curl your hair. Here’s how to curl hair without a curling iron, using a headband.

    1. Put the headband on your head. This video from Luxy Hair shows you how to position the headband — it should rest on top of your hair, not under it.
    2. Divide hair into two sections. One section should be on the right side of your head and the other on the left.


  • Twist one of the sections backward, away from your face. Thread the bottom of the section through the headband, wrapping the hair around the band at the back of the head.


  1. Repeat with the second section. Twist and wrap it around the other half of the headband.
  2. Go to bed. Leave your hair wrapped around the headband overnight.
  3. Unwind the hair in the morning. Remove the headband and gently untwist your hair the next day. Finger brush it out, and you’ll end up with loose waves.

How to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron – Foam Rollers

Your mom or grandmother might have used foam rollers to set her hair back in the day. And for a good reason — these low-tech babies work.

Here’s how to curl your hair with foam rollers.


  • Wash your hair. Dry your hair until it’s slightly damp.


    1. Divide hair into 1-inch sections. Don’t make the sections too big or the foam rollers might pop open while you sleep.
    2. Wrap each section around a roller. Start at the bottom of your hair. Hold the roller horizontally and wrap hair around it up to the root.
    3. Secure the roller in place with the clip. Push the plastic clip around the roller closed so that it holds the foam and the hair in place.


  • Go to bed. Sleep with the rollers in.


  1. Unwind the rollers in the morning. Finger brush your hair for gentle curls. You can use a regular brush if you’d like to soften the curls even more.

How to Curl Hair Without a Curling Iron – The Sock Bun

Here’s a way to curl your hair without a curling iron that also looks pretty cool on its own. You’ll need one sock that you don’t plan on wearing ever again.


  • Cut the toe off of the end of a calf-height sock. Roll up the sock so that it makes a donut shape.


    1. Put your hair into a ponytail. The higher it is on your head, the better.
    2. Pull the length of your hair straight up into the air. Slip the rolled up donut-sock over the ponytail.
    3. Roll the hair around the sock. Your goal is to bring the sock down towards your scalp with the hair wrapped around it. This video from Birchbox gives you a demonstration.


  • Rock the sock bun overnight. Sleep in the sock bun or wear it out for a night on the town.
  • Take the bun out. The next day, take the sock out of your hair and gently finger brush it go make waves.


How to Use Salt Water to Curl Your Hair

Ever wonder why a trip to the beach makes your hair so wavy? Where did “beachy waves” come from, anyway?

Here’s a hint: sea water. Saltwater can help curl your hair, loosely, no curling iron required.

Keep in mind that you’re going to get very relaxed, loose waves when you use a salt water spray. We recommend buying a spray, not trying to DIY one.


  • Wash your hair. Let it start to air-dry.


  1. Gather up your hair and scrunch it. Bring your hair up towards the scalp, scrunching it up into waves.
  2. Spray the gathered-up hair with sea water. Spritz all over with the salt water spray.
  3. Let hair air dry. Once it’s dry, you’ll have very loose, gentle waves.

Final Thoughts on How to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron

While you probably won’t want to toss your curling iron if you have one, knowing how to curl your hair without a curling iron can help when you’re in a pinch or are simply looking for a new way to style your hair.