The Best Type of Steam Hair Rollers

Steam rollers add moisture and heat.

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Hot rollers are one of the best ways to get cool curls, but heat is not always hair-friendly. Dry heat can leach precious moisture from your crowning glory, making it dull and prone to breakage. Steam hair rollers add heat back, but the wrong kind can be just as damaging. Choosing the right type of steam hair rollers ensures you get hot curls with no damage.

Hair Facts

Your hair isn’t made up of a bunch of solid pieces like spaghetti noodles; each individual hair is made up of more than one layer. The outer layer -- which is made of teeny, overlapping scales – is called the cuticle. Inside fine and medium hair is another layer called the cortex, and inside of very thick hair is a third layer called the medulla. The chemical bonds inside of your hair dictate whether it is curly or straight. Using the steam heat and shape of rollers breaks and stretches the bonds to shape your hair into curls.

Steam Roller Round-up

All steam rollers are not created equal. Look for ones that have a soft, smooth coating over the plastic. Avoid steam rollers with teeth because they can tangle and break your hair. Make sure that older models have no cracks in the rollers that can snag hair and that the cords are intact and un-frayed. Look for rollers with edges that stay cool so that you don’t burn your fingers when rolling your hair. Short hair works well with small rollers, while longer hair takes a curl better on bigger rollers.

Clamps, Not Clips

The clip has not been invented that can securely hold a steam roller in place while you get dressed, unless you practically stab it right through your scalp. Butterfly clamps hold the steam rollers in place without loosening, slipping or poking you. They also will not crease your hair the way a crookedly-placed clip can. Most newer steam-roller kits come with clamps, but if you’ve got a beloved vintage set, check beauty-supply stores for clamps to replace your clips.

Tips and Hints

Stagger the rows of steam rollers so that your curls don’t look too regular. Use filtered water in the steamer if you live in an area with hard water. Smooth on a bit of setting gel or lotion to help protect your hair from the heat and create longer-lasting curls. Let the curlers -- and your curls -- cool completely before removing the rollers, and your curls will keep longer.

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