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You love curly hair, but you don’t love the toll heat styling can take on your hair. Just like there are several different options for curling irons and hair dryers, you also have choices for hot rollers. If you’ve narrowed it down to steam vs. regular hot rollers, the decision often comes down to how it makes your hair look, while minimizing damage to your locks. Steam rollers may have the edge over hot rollers in these areas, but both can help you achieve the curly styles you love.
Hot vs. Steam
Traditional rollers use heat to break the bonds that keep your hair straight or wavy, bending your hair to take the shape of your rollers. After heating your hair, the rollers cool and set your curls in place. Steam rollers curl your hair in a different way. Instead of heat, they use moisture. Think about steam rollers in the same way you dry your hair. When it’s wet and dries, you can curl your ends under or set your hair in pin curls. Steam rollers work similarly, but a lot faster than letting your hair air dry. The typical setting time for steam rollers is about 10 minutes.
Just like every medication has side effects, hot rollers can have a few downsides for your hair. When you apply heat to your hair, your hair shaft can open up and let out moisture. You need that moisture to help keep your hair shiny and healthy. Without it, your hair can look sort of dull and damaged. Steam rollers don’t open the hair shaft as significantly as hot rollers. Plus, the steam puts moisture in your hair, instead of the other way around. The moisture also is associated with reducing frizz that can keep your curls from looking defined.
Curls That Last
When you put the time in to dry, curl and style your hair, the last thing you want is for your curls to fall after an hour or so. When compared with hot rollers, hair curled with steam rollers tends hold curl longer, according to Charles Worthington, celebrity hairstylist and author of "The Complete Book of Hairstyling." However, if your hair is hard to curl -- typically because it's coarse or thick -- you’ll need to use a setting lotion or other styling product to make it hold, regardless of the roller type used.
Although steam rollers have advantages, there is always an exception, such as using hard water or well water. You add tap water to your steam setter, and these water types contain extra minerals. When the minerals deposit on your hair, they can affect your hair color and add buildup -- not a good look. If you have hard water, use distilled water instead or switch to hot rollers and use a heat protectant to keep damage to a minimum.