Does Rolling Your Hair in Sponge Rollers Last Longer Than Hot Rollers?

Hot rollers give volume to straight locks.

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Rolling your tresses on traditional sponge rollers, sometimes called a wet set, will give you tight curls, big bouncy ones or loose waves. You can get the same look with faster and easier hot rollers, but there's a significant difference between the two. For many women, regardless of hair type, a wet set will last for days, while hot roller curls may flop in just hours.


You'll find many different styles of curlers and rollers in the hair aisle at your drugstore. Hot rollers may have a ceramic or metal core. The outside of the roller is plastic, often with a velvety or nubbed coating to help the roller grip the hair. You secure hot rollers with clips that look like over-sized bobby pins or large jaw clips. Sponge rollers have a foam sponge on a simple plastic framework. You roll the hair around the sponge and clip the plastic frame into place to hold the curler in place. Other curler options include Velcro rollers, stick-shaped hot rollers, plastic curlers or rag rollers.

Heat Setting

Hot rollers use heat to reshape the hair into curls or waves. If you have natural curl, hot rollers may smooth and shape your curls. Hair with some natural wave or curl may hold heat setting better than stick-straight locks. Smaller hot rollers produce tighter curls, while larger ones add volume or waves. Allow the rollers to heat completely, then roll your hair. Work from the ends to the roots, unless your tresses are Rapunzel-long. Longer locks may curl best if you place the roller at the center of a section of hair. Wind the hair around the roller, from the center of the strand to the ends. Once you've rolled from the middle to the end, roll up from the middle to the roots, just like you would for shorter locks. Do your makeup or finish dressing while the rollers cool. Remove them carefully from your hair and finish styling. Spray your hair well with a strong hold hairspray to help your curls last all day.

Wet Setting

If you opt for sponge rollers to wet set your hair, air dry your locks until they are damp, but not wet. You can also mist your hair lightly with water to dampen it. Apply a setting lotion or light gel to your hair from roots to ends. Roll the hair on sponge rollers in neat rows. A traditional vintage style roller set is done in three sections. The hair from temple to temple is rolled back. Hair on each side is rolled under to form neat curls. Sit under a bonnet-style dryer for 45 minutes to one hour or simply sleep in your curlers. Remove the curlers and style as desired. Wet setting can give the straightest hair curls but is also effective and practical as a hair-friendly way to control natural curl.

How They Last

Curls are all about science. Curly hair has tighter hydrogen bonds than straight tresses. Water strengthens these bonds, encouraging curl and allowing you to reshape your hair for long-lasting ringlets or waves. Heat also changes these hydrogen bonds, but the effect is temporary and your hair will return to its natural state fairly quickly. Both methods of curling your hair can give you perky and pretty curls. Hot roller curls will last through the day or an evening out but may leave your hair flat by the end of the day if it's set in the morning, even with heavy-duty hairspray. Wet setting your hair, on the other hand, will give you curls and waves until you shampoo again or for at least two to three days.

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