Heatless Hair Curler Review – We Tried TikTok’s Heatless Curling Trick

Heatless curlers are nothing new (remember curlers?), but the latest curling technique circulating on the TikTok For You pages looks easier than ever. It starts with wrapping the hair around a silk headband, then pulling it back to reveal mermaid waves. We totally get the call: if you’re looking for a way to curl your hair quickly, gently, and achieve smooth, bouncy curls overnight, it’s easy.

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The Good Housekeeping Institute’s team of beauty chemists and product testing experts tried this viral Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set and LILYSILK Silk Headband and Scrunchie on different hair types, from fine to thick hair and short, medium to long lengths. Here is what we found:

How do heatless curlers work?

The protein structure of hair is held together by chemical bonds (disulfide bonds, salt bridges, and hydrogen bonds), and “manipulating these bonds can reshape hair from its natural state,” says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist at GH Beauty. Lab. Water breaks the hydrogen bonds that cause wet hair to lose its original shape; when the hair is dried (air-dried or blow-dried), these bonds are reformed and the new hair shape is locked in place. Simply put, you can change the shape of your hair while it dries.

To do this, however, hthe air must be completely driedy; otherwise, even slightly wet hair will try to return to its natural shapesays Wizemann, so when it comes to styling without heat, you’ll want to avoid removing rollers until hair is completely dry.

This technique works on both wet and dry hair, but the advantage of using it for overnight air drying is that you take any heat damage out of the equation. Our pros recommend locking in the style achieved with the product after everything is dry, because prematurely using products on wet or damp hair can weigh down the strands and cause you to lose the hairstyle.

How to use a hair curler without heat

A heatless curler kit usually comes with a satin-wrapped foam curling rod and two satin scrunchies. (We also recommend purchasing a claw clip to lock it in place.) On wet or dry hair, place the tape over your head like a headband, using the clip to hold it in place. To start up from the top and twist strands of hair around the ribbon, adding more bit by bit, then tie scrunchies at the end to keep everything in place. Then snuggle up to your pillow!

Before and after

Here’s how Viral Heatless Curlers performed for our in-house testing pros:

LILYSILK on thick, long and wavy hair

Jamie Ueda models heatless hair curler in before and after pics

Jamie Ueda / Good Housekeeping

  • Ease of use: “There’s a learning curve, so it might take a few tries to figure out how to use it and which method works best for your hair. If you’re like me and have wavy hair, this can be a bit more difficult. Prove best using a bit of heat like a quick dry. (I did this on my partially dry hair to get rid of some of my waves and frizz.)”
  • The results: “After a few hours of wearing the headband, I removed it…revealing beachy waves. The results of the heatless curler don’t seem as good as using a blow dryer or curling iron, but I’m happy with it and would use it on days when I want an easy alternative to curl all my hair. hair with a curling iron. The curls fell out, but I think if I had applied hairspray it would have held the waves better.”
  • The bottom line: “It’s great for a casual but styled hair day, but I wouldn’t use it for a big event or a night out.” –Jamie Ueda, freelance writer

    Kitsch on fine, mid-length, wavy hair

    Good Housekeeping's Associate Product and Review Editor shows the before and after of wearing the kitschy heatless headband hair curler

    Jacqueline Saguin

    • Ease of use: “My hair is naturally wavy and short, so I found it difficult to fully wrap my shoulder-length hair around the foam headband, but after doing it a few times, it stayed in place with the scrunchie and clip. hair straighteners included. Compared to straight hair rollers I’ve tried in the past, I found them to be considerably more comfortable and less troublesome to sleep on.”
    • The results: “After eight hours of wearing this silk hair band on dry hair, the results were bouncy curls that mimicked the results of my thick 32mm curling iron.”
    • The bottom line: “Trying this heatless headband at night means waking up like a Disney Princess. I’m always looking for new ways to improve the health of my hair, so I’ll definitely be using this no-heat method again, especially on uncomfortable and stiff curlers.” –Jacqueline Saguin, Associate Product and Reviews Editor

      Kitsch on fine, short and wavy hair

      Sabina shows the before and after of heatless hair curlers

      Sabina Wizemann / Good Housekeeping

      • Ease of use: “The shaft is squishy but not flexible and keeping it steady to wrap short to medium length hair is awkward. I wish it was heavier and denser so it doesn’t bounce around as much. Sleeping with it doesn’t wasn’t a good idea it eventually slipped off but maybe that’s not a problem with long hair. which was fine, but not as comfortable as expected.
      • The results: As for the curls, they were wide, bouncy spirals that had volume but unfortunately didn’t last long on my hair without the application of hairspray.
      • The bottom line: “I’m surprised how much effort it turned out to be.” –Sabina Wizemann, Senior Chemist

        Is there a difference between silk and satin headbands?

        a close up shot of the kitschy silk heatless headband hair curler

        Jacqueline Saguin

        By testing silk products including silk pillowcases, silk sheets and silk eye masks, our pros know that material matters. It’s true that the benefits of silk include a smoother, less frizzy headboard, which is why these headbands are so awesome. But the is a difference between silk and satin: silk is the fiber, while satin is the weave, while something can be silk and satin, “if you see it marketed as ‘satin’ instead of silk, and it’s cheaper, chances are it’s made with polyester,” according to Lexie Sachs, executive director textiles.

        Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set is made with synthetic satin, which Sachs “would definitely recommend…if you’re on a budget,” she says, because the polyester satin is still smooth enough to reduce frizz. But synthetic satin is not as luxuriously smooth as the real silk used in LILYSILK’s Silk Curling Headband.

        According to Kitsch, you can actually machine wash the curling kit to clean it if needed. The LILYSILK set is made from mulberry silk, so it requires a little extra care: you should spot clean with warm water and hang to dry after spot cleaning, according to the site.

        So, do heatless curlers really work?

        They do, but they require a bit more technique than it looks. Its dominant features are that it’s kinder to the hair as it doesn’t pull or require heat and is more comfortable than traditional curlers. Don’t throw away your curling irons or curling irons just yet: we found it difficult to use on shorter hair lengths and the resulting styles didn’t last as long as we could have wish it. Our Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab Executive Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D., couldn’t fully wrap her short hair around the shaft. She suspects that fine, straight, and longer hair types will benefit more from these headband-style curlers, a hypothesis we confirmed in our testing.

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