Belle’s Guide to The Lazy Girl Blowout

Sep 15, 2016

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When I was 16, I discovered the secret to perfect hair.  Hot Rollers.  They’re a hairstyling miracle.  And the perfect “lazy girl” substitution for the perfect blowout.  I’ve written the hot roller how-to post twice before, but I still get requests for it.  And since I refuse to quit until every woman in America has discovered the glory that is hot rollers, let’s engage in a little Q&A.

Why do I love hot rollers?  First, they cut the time it takes to style my hair in half.  Second, I can apply makeup, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day, while my hair essentially styles itself.  Third, even my mediocre hair-days are pretty damn good.

Which rollers do I use?  Jumbo rollers are the only way to go.  Whether my hair is ear-length, lobbed, or below my shoulder, the jumbo rollers give the ends the perfect amount of curl and the roots the ideal amounts of lift.  Conair’s Extreme Big Curls Hairsetter is the only way to go.

How do I prep my hair?  Besides washing it with a moisturizing shampoo (you need the moisture when you use this much heat), I like to rough dry it for volume.  Just apply Drybar’s Mai Tai Spritzer to give the desired lift and texture.  If your hair dries out or splits easily, I would also add a heat protecting shine spray.

How do I roll my hair?  Correct technique is critical.  This tutorial from Martha Lynn Kale shows you how to roll like a pro.  This method gives you the volumized, lightly curled style that is perfect for every day wear.  For something with a bit more curl at the ends, Harper’s Bazaar modifies the method slightly.

How long do I leave them in?  Even on rush days, the curlers stay in for now less than 10-minutes.  If I’m having a slow morning, I’ve been known to leave them in for up to an hour.  However, I think the perfect length of time is somewhere around 20 to 25-minutes.

How do I make the curl last?  When you take the curlers out, fight the desire to brush out your hair or touch it for another few minutes.  Instead, toss your head upside down, spray it with hairspray, and just let it sit for a moment to cool and settle.  Then, using a paddle brush, lightly brush it out.  If you over brush the hair, your curl won’t last nearly as long.

There are only two hairsprays that I trust to combat humidity and make the curl stick: Big Sexy Hair’s Spray and Play Harder and L’Oreal’s Fine Control Hairspray.  Which one you choose depends on personal preference.  The L’Oreal works well, but the smell was off-putting to me, so I switched back.

How do you deal with the inevitable heat damage?  I use a intense, damage repairing hair mask once every 7-10 days and use an eyebrow scissor to trim dry ends every two weeks.

*original image found here.

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  1. Lacey says:

    Preach it, girl! WHY do more women not use hot rollers?! Once you get the hang of it, you can have them in in minutes and post-makeup = voila! Ready to go hair. I have long (mid-back) hair and even when I’m wearing my hair up I’ll put them in to get volume/have a better looking up-do.

  2. Linda L says:

    Thanks, Belle – I’ve recently grown out my pixie and need to try this. I’m confused about the rough dry that you mention, though – can you give more details on how you do that? Thanks!

    • Belle says:

      I tilt my head upside down to start, finger drying the underside. Flip. Then using my fingers, lift the hair straight away from the head to get the roots. Then I use a paddle brush to smooth and bend the ends.

  3. Jenn S. says:

    On your recommendation years ago, I bought a set of jumbo rollers but I haven’t practiced enough. I was considering getting back in the game, so this is timely.

    Few more questions for you –

    How many days do you tend to get out of a hot roller style?
    Additionally, how much Mai Tai do you spray for your hair length? I’m still using mousse for now, but I’m curious.

  4. J says:

    How do you style your hair when you travel? I love hot rollers, but they are a pain in the butt to pack!

  5. Cait says:

    I know you said you’ve done this with your hair at any length, but can hair be too long for the hot rollers to work? I have extremely thick, almost waist length hair (I know, we can argue later about professionalism) and I want to try hot rollers but I’m concerned they’ll get tangled. What do you think?

    • Valerie says:

      @Cait: I’ve never had hair that long (I wish I could grow it out past a certain length!), but I’ve helped a friend with similar hair prepare for an event. We ended up using an extra set of rollers, and sectioning hair into smaller pieces so that individual rollers didn’t get too heavy when clipped to her scalp. They don’t get tangled if you roll them in the direction of hair growth (i.e., vertically for hair on the bottom, horizontally for hair on the sides, etc.). You might need a hairnet or shower cap to hold all the rollers in place, which looks ridiculous initially but gets the job done.

      If the end result feels a bit too prom/wedding hair–heat styled curls sometimes do on very long hair–I’d recommend experimenting with half-up, half-down styles, pulling the pieces around your face back into clips or a twist while leaving the back loose. Hope this helps!

      • Anna says:

        If you have thick hair, you might not need the volume at the roots. I once saw a tutorial where the woman had fairly long hair and she just put the rollers about halfway up her hair. You have to be careful about getting a crimp, but done right, it just gave her that pretty wave on the ends.

  6. Pilates Princess says:

    I’ve never gone the curl route, because I’m pretty sure I’d have to spring for two sets, given the amount of hair I have. I love this curling iron + setting clips technique though: https://thebeautydepartment.com/2014/10/fake-a-pro-blowout-with-a-curling-iron/

  7. KCV says:

    Is your hair easy to curl? I’m wondering if it’s worth the effort – I have shoulder-length stick-straight hair. Even if I get a professional blow-out, it wouldn’t last long.

    • Belle says:

      My hair is stick straight also. It starts out very curly and voluminous. Within an hour, it relaxes to somewhat volumized with a bend at the ends.

    • Anna says:

      I have naturally wavy hair, but just doing a rough blow dry leaves it straight and smooth. My curls (whether from a curling iron or hot rollers) lasts much longer if I let my hair air dry rather than blow drying it. Basically, I get once chance to heat style and whatever that first style is, my hair will refuse to do anything else after.

  8. Susan says:

    I love my hot rollers! I use them several times a week: after a shampoo and blow dry, on a flat hair day, or if I feel like it. I plug them in, take a shower or get my coffee, throw them in my hair–takes 5 minutes, tops, and I use 8 rollers–and then go about my chores/calls/emails/breakfast/coffee for 5-15 minutes. I take them out, spray my hair a la Belle, and boom! all set!

    What I really appreciate about them is that (I think) they are far less damaging to the hair than flat irons and curling irons. The heat is lower and the rollers are never as hot to the touch as a flat or curling iron.

    Those with thick hair: You most likely don’t need two sets. Just wrap up the hair and leave them in a bit longer. The heat generated by the rollers will curl the hair.

  9. Caroline says:

    So the rollers dry your hair? Mine takes about six hours to air dry and at least an hour with a blowdryer; would this work for me?

    • Jenn S. says:

      Rollers do not dry your hair. You must roll dry hair; Belle mentions rough-drying (basically, not structured, sectioned blow-drying) before rolling.

      If your hair takes an hour with a blow dryer, consider upgrading. Even inexpensive modern dryers can make long hair (mine falls at the bottom of my bra band) go quickly.

    • Belle says:

      No, you have to dry the hair first. If it takes an hour to dry. You might consider a set of velcro rollers and a soft hood. https://www.amazon.com/Deluxe-Limited-Softhood-Hair-Attachment/dp/B00L42LD5E

    • Valerie says:

      Drying time (pre-rollers) might also vary depending on your natural hair texture. Mine is wavy/curly, so just aiming a blowdryer at my wet hair for a few minutes creates a terrible poodle effect. I usually follow three steps: 1) let it air dry for 15 minutes, 2) use a blowdryer for 10-15 minutes while pulling a paddle brush through it, and 3) put the rollers in.

      Even though it sounds like a tedious routine, for me it’s better than fighting with a round brush and blowdryer for 40 minutes, or hoping that my hair will air-dry into a decent shape before I get to work.

      • stephanie says:

        Valerie, I don’t know you, but I just ordered these dang rollers to use on my thick, wavy hair based on your post. I’ve been using a wand on it (after blow drying straight) for beach waves. I’m a little afraid the hot rollers will make me into a Miss America contestant, but ya never know until you try.

  10. Valerie says:

    Belle- quick question about the Conair set you use: does it come with the metal hook clips, or those plastic claw clips to secure the rollers? I’ve found the claw clips tend to leave weird dents or creases in my hair as it dries, so I’d probably buy a separate set of metal clips. Thanks!

  11. Shelley says:

    This is post is GOLD! I have curly hair but I straighten it, and I like to change it up so I have been using a curling iron on day two or three of my straight hair. This might actually cut my curling time down a little. This is a great article, I think I’m going to try it.

    • Belle says:

      once you get the hang of rolling it, it takes no time at all. I don’t even need a mirror anymore, and it takes under a minute.

  12. Sandra says:

    Does this styling method work for those of us with already naturally curly hair? I have very curly hair and I am constantly looking for ways to smooth them out so that they’re a bit less unruly. I’ve considered this before but I was wondering what you thought!

  13. Marissa says:

    Belle, does this method work if you wash & dry your hair the night before, or with day-old hair? Or do you really need to start with fresh hair for the full effect?

  14. Anna says:

    Belle, is there another set you recommend that’s not an Ulta exclusive? I’m on a strict budget right now, but I did just get an Amazon gift card… 🙂

  15. […] “I wish my hair was flatter and less voluminous,” said no one ever. This set from Big Sexy Hair ($25) is an incredible value for salon products – and at JcPenney, it’s even eligible for their 15% and 20% off promos PLUS eligible for reward redemption. (Basically, I got this set for $10 out-of-pocket, and you can, too). Root Pump is the holy grail volumizing mousse of women everywhere, and Spray and Play Harder is endorsed by the discerning Belle of The Work Edit. […]

  16. […] Perhaps, but just because it’s an old school approach doesn’t mean we should overlook it. I had never given hot rollers the time of day until Belle over at The Work Edit advocated for them at some point years ago (and regularly revisits the topic). […]

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