How To Curl Short Hair Without Heat

You decided to take the plunge and chop your long locks… way to go, brave girl! Short hair can be a fun, sassy change, especially if you have always worn it long. For many women, you’ve had it short for years, enjoying the lower maintenance and freedom short hair can bring. As cute and fun as it is, we all get bored with our hair at times. But when it is short and straight, is there anything you can do to shake it up once in a while? Yes – add a little curl.

If you have short hair, you might get tired of the constant struggle to curl those straight locks. There’s a good chance you have never even tried. It may seem impossible to get your short hair curled without much length to it. You might think it is especially hard to curl short hair without using heat. If you are blessed with short hair, and you want a curly change, we have some suggestions. We can give you some tips for curling short hair without using heat. Soon you’ll be on your way to a headful of fun curls.

Why Bother With Curling Your Hair in The First Place?

If heat can be damaging, and any method time consuming, then why even bother curling your hair anyway? Well, adding some curl to your hair, especially those shorter tresses, can add volume, texture, and simply a fun change. 

Having fine or thin hair can make for a great haircut. Short hair is often the best option for finer hair. The trouble, though can sometimes be trying to create volume with your hair. Volume is a word used to describe how full your hair looks. Adding even a few curls to your short hair can create a look of more volume. 

Texture pretty much works the same way. Texture determines what you will be able to do with your hair. If your hair is silky soft and smooth, it may actually be more difficult to style. With a little added texture you may be able to make to do more of what you want. Curled hair can create some missing texture for you. 

The best part of curling your short locks? It’s a fun change. Your short hair is very likely wash and go, and you very likely love that! But once in a while for a special occasion or a night out, for a quick change up – try a little curl.

Why Not Use Heat To Curl Hair?

Using heat to create curls hasn’t always been around, although there is no denying it has been around a very long time. The first curling iron is said to have been invented around 1890. That’s pretty long! Before then, women would sometimes sleep in metallic curlers to create curls or hold the curls they had. Ouch. Sleeping in metal rollers? And imagine how damaging the first irons might have been? They have come a long way, but still, the best heat on your hair is no heat at all. 

We know a lot of people use heat to curl short hair. It is the fastest way to curl your hair, but it may not be the best. That’s because over time, using heat to style your hair damages it. Heat can damage any hair type, long or short, leaving it dull, flat, lifeless and in some cases, singed or broken. No one wants that, especially if you have short hair. Also, dry, damaged and lifeless hair is much harder to curl, color or style than healthy hair is. So now what? For starters, before considering how to style your hair, consider getting it healthy first. Healthy hair is always the most beautiful, no matter the length.

Make Your Hair Healthy From The Inside Out

If you need to work to get your hair healthy, why not move to make it healthy from the inside out? It is easy to not consider our hair when we are thinking about our nutrition. After all, we cut it, mistreat it, and it always grows back. To keep it growing back quickly, and looking its best while you have it, your hair needs the proper vitamins, just like the rest of your body. 


There are great hair hair supplements such as KeraViatin which strengthen and nourish your hair from the inside out. Something to keep in mind, though, if your hair is thinning or you are losing your hair, it could be due to an underlying health issue. As always, you should see your doctor to get to the root cause of your health and hair problems.

Techniques for Curling Short Hair

Foam Rollers or Flex Rods

Both foam rollers and flex rods have been around for quite a while. In fact, your mother and grandmother probably used foam rollers to curl their hair. If the thought of walking around in your robe with a head full of curlers sounds too vintage to you, don’t fret. There are lots of advantages to using foam rollers or flex rods to get those curly locks. First, you can vary the size of the curls that you want. Big rollers make big curls, while small rollers create smaller, shorter curls. Flex rods create tight curls that look like little spirals. You can vary up your looks each time you use rollers, which is also great, because we all get bored with our hair from time to time. Plus… vintage is cool.

Most beauty shops carry rollers or flex rods, or you can buy them at large grocery or drug stores as well. To use foam rollers or flex rods:

  • Wash your hair the way you normally would. You want your hair to be slightly damp, so you may want to let your hair air dry for a few minutes, or simply blot your hair dry with a towel.
  • Comb your hair out thoroughly. Be sure to remove any tangles you have. 
  • Part your hair into sections. Use a setting spray or spritz to each section right before you begin to roll your hair. 
  • Roll the section up carefully in a roller or flex rod and attach it in place. 
  • Repeat for all the sections of your hair. 
  • You can remove the rollers or rods the next morning if you sleep on them, or three to four hours after you roll your hair. 
  • Finger comb your luscious curls. 

The Pin Curl Method For Short Hair

This method for curling short hair is over one hundred years old, and there’s a reason it has remained a solution for curling short hair. You can use pin curl clips or bobby pins to get your short hair curly. Yes – you now have a use for the one thousand bobby pins in your bathroom drawer. This method works really well for people with short hair who really want curls, but their hair is too short for rollers or rods. 

To Use Pin Curls:

  • Wash your hair as you normally would. Be sure your hair is slightly damp. Depending on the type of hair you have, you may want to use a curling gel, setting gel or cream on your hair before you put pin curls in. If your hair tends to frizz, you may want to apply an anti-frizz serum. 
  • Comb through your hair thoroughly to make sure the tangles are gone. 
  • Separate your hair into small sections to pin curl it. You need to try and make your sections as evenly as possible. Each section can be as narrow as ¼ inch or as wide as one inch. 
  • Start at the end of a hair section and wrap the hair around your finger. You want to roll the curl under and away from your scalp. 
  • Keep the curl loose enough that it will easily slide off your finger. Secure the hair to your scalp using bobby pins or salon clips. You’ll want to slide the clip or pin over the top of your curl. 
  • Once all your pin curls are done, spray the curls with curling or setting spray. You’ll want to mist your hair lightly, don’t overdo it, or your curls will be stiff. 
  • Pin curls take longer to dry than foam curlers or rods. You’ll need to leave them in for several hours or overnight. If you’re sleeping in them, use a shower cap or a turban to prevent frizzing. 
  • When your hair is totally dry, you can remove the pins and carefully unwind your curl. Finger comb your hair gently to help the curls stand out better. You may want to spritz your curls with a little hairspray to help them hold. 

Curling Hair with Fabric Strips

Rag wrapping as a curling method has also been around for centuries. A lot of people really love rag wrapping, because it is eco-friendly since you use recycled fabrics. It’s also popular because you decide how large or small you want the curls to be by cutting your own widths of fabric. 

Here’s how to curl your hair using rag curls: 

  • First, you’ll need to cut fabric, such as a T-shirt, into strips that are two inches longer than your natural hair length. If you want small curls, your strips need to be about an inch wide. If you want big, loose curls, make your strips about 3 inches wide. Your strips need to be made out of cotton. You can use rags, cotton towels, or even jeans. 
  • Wash your hair, and leave it damp. 
  • While your hair is drying to a level of dampness, use a curling product such as a setting gel or setting cream if you have straight hair. If your hair tends to frizz, you may want to apply an anti-frizz serum. 
  • Comb your hair and remove tangles. 
  • Divide all of your hair into sections. If you want a uniform look, the sections should all be the same. If you are going for a natural look, make sections of different sizes. 
  • Let down the top sections of your hair to curl. 
  • Wrap a section of hair around a fabric strip the way you wind your hair around a curling iron. You’ll want to roll your hair towards your scalp and away from your face. Use the middle of the strip to roll your hair and tie your strips in place by tying the ends together in a knot. 
  • If you want curls that are close to your neck, roll your hair under. You can also curl only the ends of your hair by tying the fabric strips in the middle of your hair, rather than at the scalp. 
  • Leave the strips in while you sleep, or for at least 5 hours. Then you can remove them. 
  • Finger comb your curls out. Add setting spray or hairspray to your finished curls. 
Curling Short Hair with a Headband

Curling Short Hair With A Headband

If the thought of sleeping in curlers doesn’t sound like something you would do, we’d like to suggest that you try a curling style that uses a headband. You can use the headband method for wavy hair when your hair is dry, or curly hair if you sleep in a headband with damp hair. 

  • To curl your hair with a headband, first, you’ll need to wash your hair.
  •  Leave your hair damp and apply a curling product, such as a curling cream or a curling gel. 
  • Comb your hair out. 
  • Use a thin headband with some stretch in it. You’ll want a headband that is either a ½ inch or an inch wide. 
  • Make sure your hair is parted the way you want it to be in the morning. 
  • Place the headband on your head. Be sure that the headband goes over your hair rather than underneath it. Put the headband just under your hairline in the front. Leave your bangs out if you don’t want them to come out curly. 
  • Wrap the pieces of your hair from the front of your head. Take a section of hair, twist it slightly, and tuck it under the headband. The more tightly you wrap your hair around the headband, the tighter your curls will be. 
  • Leave your headband in place overnight. You may want to sleep in a shower cap as well to prevent frizz. 
  • Remove your headband in the morning by gently pulling your hair away from your headband. Finger comb your hair and spritz it with hairspray. 

Scrunch It

Sounds easy enough, and it is. Scrunching your short hair may not work for everyone, especially if you have pin straight hair to begin with, but it is certainly worth a try. Lots of women enjoy this method because it can be done in the morning and requires no sleeping with anything on your head at night. 

  • Wash your hair as you normally would
  • Towel dry it just until damp
  • Comb through to remove tangles
  • Put a dab of hair gel or hair scrunching gel in the palm of your hand and rub your palms together a bit to spread out the gel
  • Now simply scrunch your hair with your hands, applying the gel as you go. Scrunch at the roots and at the ends
  • Let your hair air dry or use a diffuser on your hair to dry it quickly. 
  • Add a little hairspray, and voila! Simple, easy waves or curls!
Foam Rollers or Flex Rods

No matter what natural style of curling your hair you use, you are sure to come out in the morning with wonderful, curly hair!

Styling Your Short Curly Hair

Well, you chose your method of curling, your hair is curled… now what? Now the fun part! Let’s style it! Sometimes even when we create curls and comb through them, they can look a little crazy. No worries – you probably just need to play around with it. If this is a new look for you, you may enjoy a few pointers in styling your short, curly hair.

  • Change your part if it doesn’t seem to suit the curls. Maybe now that you’ve curled your hair, suddenly your hair looks odd parted in the middle. Give a side part a try and see if you like that better
  • Tuck one side behind your ear, or use a clip. Even if your hair is short you may have just enough to do this. Tucking one side away from your face is a very romantic look, while your curls show off on the other side. 
  • If your short cut is chin length or a little longer, grab that handful of curls and tie or pin it at the crown of your head or a little lower, allowing the loose curls to fall out as they wish. This loose, carefree look is playful and sexy. And the best part is, no matter how “messy” it gets, it just gets cuter and cuter.
  • After finger combing your new curls, if you find there isn’t enough volume, try hanging your head upside down while using a diffuser on cool for a quick shot at the roots, then spray your hair to help hold it, for added volume.

Have fun and play around with your shorter curls. You may never want long hair again! 

Making Your Fun New Curls Last

Nothing is worse than prepping your hair with rollers, or however you choose to curl it, only to head out for the night and notice later on in the mirror that your hair is now a half curled, half flat mess. The secret to making those curls last longer, has a lot to do with what you do before you even curl your hair.

  • For starters, when cleaning your hair before curling, no matter which method you choose, don’t weigh it down with a heavy conditioner. Conditioner can make your hair dull and flat when too much is used. It can also cause your hair to be slippery, which means those curls will slip out much quicker. Go for a light conditioner, possibly one you spray in, or a much smaller amount of what you normally use when you condition.
  • Keep it dry – as in your shampoo. Hopefully once in a while you are skipping a day of washing to give your hair a break. Dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend for this. Sprayed at the roots, it will liven your flat morning hair right back up. This is a great option when curling your hair. You can even use a spray bottle of water if necessary to dampen the hair afterward for curlers. With dry shampoo, there isn’t a need for conditioning afterward.
  • Product, product, product. Did we mention product? If you are curling your hair using a method which requires clean, damp hair, be sure you are adding some styling product before curling, to help hold the curl. Hair gel, mousse, or any product created to help with hold and volume, are great choices and add that needed texture to hold your curls longer.
  • Spray it. After all of your effort, do not leave the house without a little hairspray on your curls. Spray in sections, holding each curl up a bit, to spread it our a little. This will add more volume and sort of “seal” each curl and strand of hair. Then give your whole head a once over with your hairspray. 
  • Last but not least, as your mother always told you… ”Keep your hands to yourself!” Don’t touch your hair once it is finished. Tempting as it is to feel those fun, soft curls, you will make them weaker by the minute as you play with them. Just let them sit there and bask in their own glory

Getting Hair Healthy Again

Any way you style your hair is not going to be worth it if your hair is not healthy. Healthy hair is stronger, shinier, and able to handle more styles. Unhealthy hair will break easier, and have a dull look to it. Don’t fret if you are in the unhealthy stage. You can get your hair healthy again! It just takes a little patience. However, If your hair is thinning or you are losing your hair, it could be due to an underlying health issue. As always, you should see your doctor to get to the root cause of your health and hair problems.

Time to Lose Some Length

Cut it. I know, for some of us gals, we dread those words. It’s difficult if you’ve always been a long hair kind of person. But if your hair is finally quitting, telling you it can’t take anymore damage, then it may be time to chop off as much as you can stand, and get some new hair growth going. Thankfully, our hair grows. So if you cut off several inches, and treat it extra gently for a while, you will be happy you did as you begin to see longer, healthier strands coming in. Getting a good cut can mean an instant end to your dry, damaged hair. It is a quick fix. 

Stop The Daily Washing

Wash your hair less. Every time we wash our hair we are taking away its natural moisture. This doesn’t mean stop cleaning your hair. Just giving it a break now and then gives it some relief. Try a dry shampoo on the roots and where you get oily. You’ll be amazed at the volume and clean look you can get from a dry shampoo.

Use the air to your advantage

Nothing damages our hair like heat. Every time you blow dry your hair on the high heat setting, you are risking damage. Using a cooler, and lower setting will help. However, taking a break from your hair dryer as often as possible is your best bet. Even the tornado of wind coming at your hair on a cool setting, is a little rough, often causing tangles, which you then have to “rip” out of your hair. 

Look at your calendar… if you’ve got a few days at home where you don’t truly have to do your hair, give it a break those days with a simple wash and air dry. Or better yet, give it a rest from everything.

Masks and Oils

That’s right… take your hair to the spa. Masks and oil treatments aren’t just for our faces and bodies. Your hair loves the indulgence too. If you have unhealthy or damaged hair, all the more reason to have a special treatment day for your hair.

Masks and oils are deep conditioning, locking in moisture and soothing damaged hair. Masks come in many forms, including clay, coconut, honey, and even yogurt. Sometimes oils are heated up before using, which can feel soothing and indulgent. Who doesn’t need a little indulgence now and then? Both are great in helping out in the healing of your damaged hair. There are many to choose from, and your stylist can help you find the right one. 

Take a Supplement

And as mentioned earlier, don’t forget to heal from the inside out. Proper nutrition and supplements such as KeraViatin are essential. Speak with your doctor before starting any new nutritional or supplemental methods.

Remember to make taking care of your hair part of your self care routine. You deserve it. Sometimes we can think we are being selfish or shallow, when we care for ourselves, especially in the area of our beauty needs. It is truly quite the opposite. Our health and well being are important in every area, including our hair. When you feel good about yourself, that feeling can’t help but overflow into other areas of your life. And that is a beautiful thing. 

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