If you’ve spent your evenings during quarantine scrolling through TikTok like we have, then you’ve no doubt spotted the heatless curl methods that have gone viral on the platform. Gen Z content creators have been experimenting with different ways to achieve curly or wavy hair, sans the use of heat tools like flat irons and curling irons. And frankly, we love that for them.
Some of the TikTok methods are new and innovative, and some have been around and used by hairstylists for ages (fashion and beauty trends are cyclical, after all). But what these viral heatless curl methods all have in common is that they turn out amazing. However, because we know that what’s posted on social media isn’t always the whole story, we reached out to Jason Lee, award-winning stylist and owner of Toronto’s Jason Lee Salon, to get the scoop on which methods are legit and worth trying, and which ones you’re better off skipping, depending on your hair type.
Keep reading for a breakdown of the most viral heatless curl methods on TikTok.
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“This technique works because of the size and diameter of the bathrobe belt and the fact that it’s a softer material; this will create a softer wave pattern,” says Lee. One thing that Lee notes is that this method will work best for those with fine to medium hair. “For those with naturally curly hair, this may actually stretch out your curl.” Lastly, Lee says that “if you try this technique, don’t be afraid to run a finishing product through it with your fingers to soften the sections afterwards, and a little texture spray to create an [effortless] look.”
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This heatless curl technique is similar to the one above, but rather than leaving hair in pigtails, you tie it up in a bun. “By anchoring it in a bun, you’re changing the root area of the finished style,” explains Lee. “Basically you’ll stretch out the root, so you won’t get an overly voluminous finished look, especially at the front. I would suggest, as you get closer to the ends, using less tension and stretching the hair out as you wrap it.” This method is a good option for those with super-straight hair who just want to add a bit of texture to the ends, or for those with wavy hair who want to create a more even wave pattern. Worried about flat roots? “Add a little dry shampoo to the roots to get a little bit of volume,” suggests Lee.
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“I like this technique because it’s quite organized and divided into sections which makes it much easier to work with,” says Lee. “But again, we have a situation where the root area can wind up too flat if you don’t have much natural volume in your hair. You also want to make sure your ends are evenly secured, otherwise you will get what we call ‘fish hook ends’, which is when the ends bend out in a way that isn’t intentional. Be sure to tuck your ends in before securing so you don’t get ends that appear bent out of shape.”
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“This is great for those with longer hair,” explains Lee. It’s also easy to manipulate the size of the curl with this method. “If you want a bigger wave, try a thicker sock.” Lee suggests sleeping with a silk scarf over this technique so you don’t disturb the hair as you let it set. “The less movement the better.”
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“I love this one,” says Lee. “It works well because she’s wrapping the hair downwards, which actually goes with the way that hair naturally falls. Using a satin pipe like that results in an even curl pattern because it has enough rigidity to prevent the curls from getting tighter near the ends. You need that support to create an even curl pattern from root to ends.”
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“This used to be called the ‘telephone cord technique’,” says Lee. While definitely effective, its biggest downside is that “it’s extremely time-consuming, both to do and to remove.” (And also uses a ton of straws.) It may not be the way to go for those with straight or wavy hair, but it would work on anyone “with natural curls to help set the hair. Perhaps try a larger size straw or pipe when experimenting with this so that it matches your natural curl pattern,” says Lee.