Thursday, August 20, 2009

Curling Straight Hair with Sponge Rollers: Retro Fabulous Way to Style Your Hair

Hi there, my lovelies,

"Curling straight hair with sponge rollers? Really?" you may ask.

Yes, baby! I know it's retro. I know your grandma used it, I know Scarlett O'Hara would have used it if it was available during her time. These sponge rollers, retro or no, are great! I have stick straight hair that does not just curl without using some kind of heat styling device (for example, a flat iron.) On top of that, when it comes to styling my own hair, I have two left hands. So, the less I expose myself to heat styling devices, the less harm I inflict on myself (and my hair.)

In the past, I used the velcro rollers when my hair was shorter and while they provide bounciness and volume, they do not give luscious, drool worthy magazine cover curls. At that time, I tried the sponge rollers but I did not know how to roll my hair. Shocking, isn't it? Well, that does not happen anymore and today I am going to tell you how to get luscious curls like this. It's really easy and the result lasts for some days if you take care of it properly.

My hair after being sponge curled, with flash
Look how shiny it is!

First of all, you need some sponge rollers (or foam rollers, depending on where you live.) These are easy to find and affordable as well. Goody makes some really good ones for 3 dollars a set, or around 10 dollars for a big kahuna with a lot of different sizes. Yours truly got hers at Dollar Store.

My foam rollers

I got two sets: the black rollers are the smallest available at the store while the pink ones are the standard rollers you can find everywhere. The smaller the diameter of your rollers is, the tighter the curls will be.

You'll also need some mousse and hairspray. I used Aveda Phomollient styling foam and Herbal Essences hairspray. They work fine and do not make my hair stiff and sticky. Then, I section my hair into 4 parts: the bang, the sides, and the back. I use the smaller rollers at the top layer of my hair and the bigger ones at the bottom layer because I need more defined curls on top.

Secondly, instead of rolling my hair from tip to roots, which is really difficult to do with my straight hair, I hold the roller at the middle and wind the bottom half of my hair around the roller. Then, I roll the remaining hair toward my scalp. Usually, I start rolling from the left section, then the right section, and the back. Since my bang is getting really long, I roll it with the pink sponge roller. Otherwise, I just leave my bang as is.

After my hair is all rolled up, I usually either (a) watch some couple episodes of CSI or (b) clean my bathroom and the rest of my pad. The longer I leave the hair in the rollers, the tighter the curls will get. However, if you don't have time, 15 minutes with the rollers can give you loose and wavy curls. (Back in the days, people actually slept with their sponge rollers on. It's not really comfortable but hey, people still live for their vanity, don't they?)

When it's time to take my rollers off, I carefully unwind them without ripping them off. That way, I still have decent curls (and decent hair that's still attached to my scalp!) Then, I flip my hair over, spray copious amount of hairspray without inhaling it, count to 10, and flip my hair back. For the sake of vanity and gravity, I manage to spray some more hairspray on top.

And the hair ends up looking like this:

Can you say "curls and volume"?

And that's me (with a cold and without makeup)
This is the only decent head shot I got during that week

Now, to care for the curls:

The sad part is regardless how much hairspray you smother yourself, eventually gravity will take over and pull your curls down. I actually like my curls to drop down a bit but love them to stay that way as long as I can. So, I became really discipline when it comes to curl maintenance:

1. Don't touch your hair: not only you'll mess up the curls, the oil in your hands interacts with the hairspray and may dissolve it as well.

2. Don't brush your hair with a hair brush or a comb: just finger comb your hair slightly and that's it! Brushing your hair detangles the curls and brings frizzes to them as well.

3. Sleep with a bun on top of your head: yeah, you heard me, sisters! At night, I tie my hair into a loose bun and just sleep like that. In the morning, I take it down and not only the curls retain, I get more volume as well.

And that's all it takes to get curly hair, from a stick straight haired girl's perspective. The morale of this story is: the grass is always greener on the other side but have fun while you can.

Alright, we're having a double posting day. Please stay tune for the second post where I show you the result of my effort to make an updo.


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  1. This looks awesome! I never thought to roll the curlers like you explained! I have stick-straight hair too I will give this a shot. Was your hair wet when you put the rollers in? When mine is wet and I set it with anything it seems to never dry.

  2. Thanks Dao! straight hair girls always like the curls ;)

    Ngoc Ha

  3. Hi Nessa,

    I blow dry my hair first before rolling, that way I don't have to worry if my hair is going to be dry or not. Some people roll their hair wet before going to bed but that's not my thing, sleeping with wet hair and all.

  4. Hi Ngoc Ha,

    You're right, it's nice to have curly or wavy hair once in a while. The time spent to upkeep is a lot and I don't know how my curly hair friends can handle it.

  5. You look great! I love curly hair but mine is stick straight too and never seems to curl. I might give this a try, thanks!

  6. Hi Gio,

    Mine did not seem to curl until I gave it a bit of mousse before blow drying. Also, using smaller foam rollers help to create the curls. The more you leave them on your hair, the tighter the curls will be. I can't wait to hear your result!

  7. Wow!! Sponge rollers? curling?? didn't think it was possible! The result speaks for itself, it looks pretty amazing to say the least. I tend to use the ghd iv styler for curling but I just can't get the hand of it and your curls look so much better than mine lol!

  8. Hi Jane,

    I give most of the credit to the small black sponge rollers. It gives much tighter curls than the pink ones. Also, I use a bit of mousse on my hair to prep it before curling. The GHD curling iron is one of the best out there. I only have a Babyliss one but it also creates some amazing curls. Hopefully one day I'll get around to do a tutorial on curling hair with a curling iron.

  9. Oh that would be great, i'll keep an eye out for that tutorial...definitely need a few tips.

  10. Hi Jane,

    Then I'll have to figure out a way to take pictures while curling my hair :)


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