Get Fabulous Curls That Don’t Damage Your Hair: A Rag Roll Tutorial

For as long as I remember, I craved glamorous, enviable curls a la Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.

I love big hair, but my strands have always been straight. For as long as I remember, I craved glamorous, enviable curls a la Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. The grass is always greener and whatnot. Obviously my hair didn’t magically change overnight (or did it?!), but I found the perfect non-damaging solution: rag rolls.

Growing up, my mom had a variety of curling irons that I eventually pilfered after leaving the nest. I loved the way the small one created defined curls and how the large one made the perfect flip. After a while though, I started losing patience with how long it took to create individual curls on my thick head of hair. I ended up reading about bloggers who used pin curls or rag rolls to create perfect, vintage curls. I decided to try my luck.

Now, I’m a reformed morning shower-er, turned night shower-er and I’m totally obsessed! The rag rolls are easy to do and they last all day.

Initially, most of the how-tos I read just said, “Get out of the shower, put your hair in rolls and go to bed.” This is terrible advice though, especially for thick hair. If you rag roll your hair straight out of the shower, you’re liable to wake up looking like a wavy, wet-mop.

The best way to start out is to throw in some mousse while your hair is still damp and then blow dry until more or less dry. Air drying also works, but I personally think you get a better result after blow-drying.

Next, you should have some cloth strips on hand, each about four or five inches long. Depending how much curl you want, or if you’re into ringlets, you can use more or fewer of these strips. Today, I used 12, which equalled six for the top sections and six for the bottom. If I’m extra lazy, I’ll use as few as three strips on each side of my head. It pretty much still gives my hair the body and wave I’m into.

OK, let’s start! You grab your first section of hair, place the piece of cloth at the bottom of your strands and start rolling up as best you can. Initially, it’s a bit difficult to get the ends of your hair to curl into the roll, but just keep trying, tuck them in and roll to the top.

Next, you want to tie the strip rather tightly (no double knots or anything though). You want them to stay while you asleep, but you don’t want it to be super difficult to get them out either. After the first few tries, you’ll soon get the hang of it and can easily roll your hair in front of the TV.

All right! So you rag rolled your hair and slept on it. Hopefully none of the rolls fell out, but if they did, you can always use a curling iron to fix any first-time mistakes. This is my hair before I brushed it out with the curl’s natural forming wave.

After running my fingers through my hair, it becomes quite curly, which is exactly what I hoped for.

We’re not done though! Like I said, I love big hair, so what’s a girl to do? Tease it, silly! This part is not as good for your hair, but I love the oomph and refuse to give it up! My recommendation is to always use a bristle brush, which has always garnered the best results. Even if you over tease, it’ll fall a bit and you’re left with some nice volume.

Ta-da! Add a little hairspray and you’re totally done! I try not to add too much or my hair gets weird and tangly I have two kinds of hairsprays, one for don’t-move bouffants and one for more moveable hair. The hairspray I’m currently using is Sebastian Shaper Plus, which is a decent hairspray that my mom left when she came to visit. If anyone has any recommendations though, I’m definitely all ears!

Overall, rag rolls are the perfect time saver in the morning since you just unroll and comb through. I love that they don’t damage your hair with heat and unless it gets humid, they tend last all day. Another option when you take your rolls out is to use a bristle brush to brush through your hair, instead of using your fingers.

This gives you more of an old-Hollywood, Veronica Lake kind of wave rather than big, fluffy curls. It’s always fun to mix it up!