5 Ways to Curl Your Hair Without a Curling Iron — That Actually Work

As a woman with naturally straight hair, it’s always fun to shake things up and do something fun to it. But as most Collegiettes know, it’s a laborious task to get dolled up for class when you’d rather spend your precious time in the morning getting that extra half hour or so of sleep. And if you have thick hair like mine, using a curling iron is somewhat like a form of torture: tediously separating sections of hair, the scent of your precious locks burning to a crisp, and the occasional burn on your scalp, hand, face or neck. “Nope, that’s not a hickey. I tried curling my hair half-asleep this morning and failed.”

Don’t lose hope. Here are five time-savvy ways to achieve comely curls and bold beach waves without using a curling iron, tested and approved by yours truly!

1. Twist your hair and use a straightening iron.

Amazingly, you can use a straightening iron to create the complete opposite of straight hair. Separate your hair into two or more sections depending on how thick your hair is and how tight you want the curls (I did five). Take one of those sections and twist it nice and tight, then run the straightening iron down the twist as many times as you desire. The longer your hair is exposed to the heat, the tighter the curls will come out. When you let go of the twist it should stay in its form, just a tad looser. Add a quick spritz of hair spray to it and move on to the next section. Don’t shake it out until the rest of the sections are finished to ensure the curls will stay put.

When you complete all sections of hair, run your fingers through the twists to separate the curls and make them look more natural. Add another layer of hairspray if you feel necessary

Total time: 15-20 minutes.

2. Braid your hair and use a straightening iron.

If you want to achieve a look that slightly resembles crimped hair, you can do the same steps as above but with braids. This method took me a little longer because I sectioned my hair into eight sections instead of five and ran the straightening iron down the braids longer.

Total time: 20-30 Minutes

3. Braid your hair the night before.

You’ll want to make sure your hair is damp before you do this. Either take a shower and allow your hair to air dry for a bit, or spritz your hair with a spray bottle full of water. Comb your hair to get rid of any tangles and braid it into two sections. If you want tighter waves, do more braids. Here’s the best step: go to bed! When you wake up in the morning, take out the braids and run your fingers through your hair and you’ll have beautiful beach waves!

Total time: 5 minutes to braid, 7+ hours overnight.

4. Use hair rods the night before.

I got a pack of 12 hair rods at TJ Maxx for $5, and you can find a pack of 42 on Amazon for $13. You’re going to start with damp hair again, but this time throw it up in a high ponytail. Take one hair rod and a small section of the ponytail and roll it towards the base, then bend the rod to secure it. If you want looser curls, combine 2 rods together with a hair tie and roll. I used single rods and separated my hair into 10 sections.

Make sure the rods are secure so that they don’t come out when you’re sleeping. Take them out in the morning (don’t panic if some hair comes out with the rods, it’s normal) and shake out your hair. The curls are going to be very tight so the more you shake them out, the looser they’ll become.

Total time: 15 minutes to roll hair up, 7+ hours overnight.

5. Sleep with space buns.

Once again, make sure your hair is damp. Section your hair into two or more sections and twist and roll each one up into a bun and secure with a hair tie and lots of bobby pins.

Quick tip: I don’t recommend doing low space buns like I did because the position of it on my neck made it difficult for me to sleep comfortably. Placing them on top of your head would be better. Take them out and shake out your hair in the morning for gorgeous results.

Total time: 10 minutes to make the space buns, 7+ hours overnight.

All Images courtesy of the author.