My heatless curler gives me the same result as a salon-worthy blow-dry

best heatless curl
Can a heatless curler make me ditch hot tools?Clare Stephenson

My heatless curler is possibly the most important styling tool in my kit. Of course, the main draw is that it gives me the kind of blowout curls that only seem possible in a salon chair. But, what's kept me obsessed is how it requires absolutely no time in the morning to achieve.

Before I head to bed, I wrap my lengths around the rod and, come morning, I'm left with a beautiful bounce. There are plenty of hacks for creating the heatless curl look for free – like binding your hair in a sock or dressing-gown tie – but I’ve discovered a simpler alternative that doesn’t cost the earth, and I promise, works brilliantly: The SILKE London Heatless Curler set.

Are heatless curlers better for your hair?

This is the big question – and it’s a resounding yes. Heatless curlers are specifically designed to create a tong-esque result without exposing your hair to any heat.

If you’re exiting a long-term relationship with your curling iron and have many split ends to show for it, investing in a heatless curler could be the solution your hair needs; you can still create the same result, without compromising on the health of your strands.

A heat detox will also give your hair time to rebuild and strengthen the broken bonds caused by your hot tools – so get your hands on a great treatment (like this) to boost this process. What’s more, the SILKE rod is made with 22 momme grade silk which prevents friction that often leads to frizz and breakage.

And even if you’re not using heat, make sure you’re still using heat protection spray as the friction caused between your hair and pillow while you sleep can still cause damage to your ends.

How do you use heatless curlers?

You might think a heatless curler is reserved for those who mastered a French plait in primary school, but actually, it’s a simple tool that requires little skill. From start to finish, a full wrap took me 15 minutes, which is already much faster than my tonging routine.

After washing my hair with a volumising shampoo and conditioner, I misted the Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Oil through my lengths to help the curls hold – plus a few pumps of the Sam McKnight Volumising Spray to add some extra lift to my roots.

I then waited until my hair was around 80% dry before I started to wrap it. Semi-damp hair is much easier to style, plus it still has enough elasticity that it will form the shape of a curl as it dries. I’d avoid styling on wet hair as it’s more difficult to set in place, plus the drying time is silly long.

I also tested the curler on two-day-old, dry hair. My master tip here is to use a spray bottle to lightly mist your lengths with water before wrapping (after experimenting with both ways, this was my preferred method).

Now, onto the main event. It took me a few attempts to figure it out, but eventually, I got a hang of the technique...

To start, use the claw clip to secure the rod to the centre of your head. Begin at the front of your face, section off a piece of hair and (with tension) wrap it around the band so that you’re winding the hair away from your face. If you’d like XXL curls, use bigger chunks of hair (however, you’ll need longer dry time) or for tighter ringlets, wrap with smaller sections.

When you wrap around the second time, take another section of hair from the front of your face, join it to the existing strand and wrap them around together. To create texture, also pull in sections from the back of your head and alternate with the front sections. Keep working down your hair, and once it has all been wrapped use the silk scrunchies to secure everything in place.

How long do you keep heatless curlers in?

To set the curls, there are two ways to go about this; either sleep with the rod in or you can leave it for two hours which will give your hair enough time to dry.

I tried both methods and discovered a clear winner. I may just be an active sleeper, but I found that my hair lost tension overnight which meant the curls weren’t as defined as I would have liked. If you’re a wriggler in your sleep, you can also use a silk cap to keep the rod in place; however, this is an additional expense.

Rather surprisingly, I was impressed by how comfortable it was to sleep in. The rod is crafted with a spongy filling, so it won't dig into your head when you hit the pillow. Come morning, my lengths fell with a beach-bound wave which had a natural, ‘I woke up like this’ look about it.

When I left the curler in during the day, my hair set into a more defined and frizz-free ringlet; however, you will need circa two hours of spare time to use this method (and ideally, no expected deliveries from the postman).

Will heatless curlers work on all hair types?

While all hair types can benefit from a heatless curler, the overall finish may vary depending on its texture. If you have fine, straight hair, prepping it with a texturizing spray or volumising mousse will help the curls stay in place with a lovely bounce.

Those with thick hair should avoid styling with too-damp lengths to ensure they fully dry while wrapped up. And if you have textured or curly hair, a heatless curler may not produce a defined ringlet; however, the silk band will help to reduce frizz and flyaways.

So, what’s the overall verdict?

Frankly, I don’t see a reason to go back to my classic curling tong. The silk rod created bouncy curls that anyone else would think came from 200-degree plates. Wrapping my hair took minutes, but I was so impressed by how the curls would last hours throughout the day.

Plus, I feel much less guilty knowing that I have caused zero damage to my hair in the process. I always receive compliments too, which is a big bonus.

best heatless curl
Clare Jackson / EyeEm

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