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Waves or curls are an easy way to pump up the volume of your hair, but if you aren't up for a perm and don't like heat-based styling tools, you'll probably end up looking to buy a set of hair rollers. Different kinds are available, including foam rollers, also known as sponge rollers. Ladies like these rollers because they tend to be softer and gentler on hair, but these rollers can wear out.
Whenever you use foam rollers on your hair, you put the rollers through a gauntlet of straight physical stress. For instance, you might have to pull on the clip to lock your hair in place, stretching it out or pulling at weak points. You might wear the curlers to bed, where they have to take the abuse of you tossing and turning and the pressure of the weight of your head. This can cause the foam in the roller, as well as stronger plastic connecting points, to crack and break eventually.
It's a rare lady who uses a foam roller without any kind of styling product. That means it's pretty common for your foam rollers to come into contact with all kinds of chemical agents. Some of these, such as the chemicals in perms, are strong enough to disintegrate a sponge roller, which is why the Hairfinder website recommends you test a foam roller before you try and use it for those kinds of hair treatments. Some chemical agents also can make the foam brittle, which also contributes to breakage. It all depends on the exact reaction that happens between the foam and the styling products.
Manufacturers are capable of using chemistry to make different kinds of foam with different properties. Subsequently, when you're scouring the store or the Internet for a good set, you'll see that some are super soft and spongy, while others are hard and are way more dense. Generally, the denser a roller is, the less quickly it will break down, because there is more foam in the roller. Additionally, certain types of foams are impervious to chemicals, while others are not. This means that not all rollers are going to wear out at the same rates. Some will show wear after just a few uses, while others might last you for years. Some foam rollers aren't much different than some mattresses or even disposable diapers in that they can take years to biodegrade in a landfill.
What to Use Instead
Probably the best alternative to foam rollers is mesh rollers. These rollers are basically just a metal or plastic frame that is hollow in the middle. They use pins to hold your hair in place. They won't pull or rip out your hair in most cases the way velcro or brush rollers do. Because they're open in the middle, they still let your hair dry quickly -- this can be a problem with foam rollers, which tend to hold onto the moisture they absorb and keep the inside of your curl from drying. Rag curling is another option that might be a little more comfy to sleep on than mesh rollers, however.