Rudey's Room

Hot Rollers are My Secret to Amazing Curls

Last Friday, while my hairdresser* blew my hair straight, I confessed, “I use hot rollers.”

Childishly, I tilted my chin up at him, expecting to be schooled on the benefit of this or that trend. When he raised one shoulder and casually responded, “Oh sure. Lots of my clients use hot rollers,” I almost spit out my Peroni.

“Really?” I burst out. “Get out.”

I am not in the game of keeping up with Joneses, but couldn’t hold back my smile. I had company.

I like to be unique, but company is a good time.

My paternal aunt owned a beauty parlor. My siblings (younger brother and sister), spent many a Saturday morning, roaming the beauty parlor on a long leash. After I tired of chatting with the ladies, pawing through the styling products, and spinning in the chairs, I often sat under dryer hood in the front room. I mimicked the patrons as they combed through the women’s mags. But mostly,  I admired their hair.

Grâce à my auntie, I started using hot rollers at age fourteen. I’ve held onto this magical beauty tool since. In the back of my mind, I’ve thought, I am a total granny. Yet I didn’t care. Hot rollers are easy, a sure thing. They’re my secret weapon to bouncy, too-good-to-be-true curls.

Event after event, I dragged them out.

They were my mainstay for parties and weddings and fancy dinners. That is, until two years ago. Two years ago, I decided to simply keep them out on the bathroom counter. Now, I use them bi to tri-weekly.

I tired of throwing my unruly tresses in a frumpy half bun as I dashed out the door. I am a card-carrying member of the “look good, feel good” club. As a mother of young children, I yearned for a dash of beauty in my life.

Forget about finger curling, hair drying or busting out a curling iron on a regular basis. I want beauty, but I allocate minimal time for primping. I cannot prioritize on my hair (or face) in the a.m. as Stella is pillaging my makeup and the ETA for Veronica’s bus is pressing.

I knew the hot rollers sculpted voluminous waves. Fast.

Plus, talk about trendy – modern leading starlets are on board, sporting the look with their floor-length gowns and too-die-for gems:

Here’s how to roll up your locks …

Step 1: Plug in your hot rollers and heat those bad boys up for about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Start with day-old (dirty) hair. Moderately dirty hair holds the curls better than freshly-shampooed locks. I wash mine twice a week, so I am ça vawith this.

This is my before – brushed out and day old.


Step 3: The pin up:

  • Separate the center section of your mane, as if you were creating a 2-inch wide mohawk.
  • Pull a section from the crown of the mohawk. I pull the chunk taut, place a hot roller on top of the ends, and roll it away from my face, all the way to my scalp. Insert pin facing forward to secure. Note: The more hair you pull into each roller, the bigger and looser the curls will be.
  • Repeat going back down to the nape of your neck, until the center section is in rollers.
  • Tackle the sides in the same way – curl by rolling underneath and securing. The pieces closest to my face, I roll only halfway up so the face-framing pieces will be sleek with a slight bend.
  • Then, I hairspray the hell out of my mine. But word on the street is curl enhancing spray might be a better bet. Madly spray all over, and let sit (approximately 10 minutes). Just enough time to apply makeup, or turn on a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for Stella and assemble my lunch.

In lieu of her favorite cartoon, Stella usually prefers to stand by my side. Her photographic evidence: No you don’t need to floss your teeth or hold a baby doll while fixing your hair. Unless you’re a mom. Then, you probably do!



Step 4: Remove the rollers. Spritz with hairspray and let the curls air dry for about five minutes. Do not brush, but run fingers through your hair. This keeps your hair bouncy and moveable.

Et voilàStella, wanted to blow bubbles before school. I joined in, and gave her my iPhone to capture my hair. She’s not a bad shot:


Do you want beautiful curls? In the ’40s, pipe cleaners and old pantyhose did the trick. Today, hot rollers make it a snap. Give them a try. Maybe you’ll look like her. One can aspire, right?
Gloria De Haven a03


Don’t have a set? They’re surprisingly affordable (~$40) and available at any drugstore or beauty-supply store or on Amazon.

P.S. I am mooning over Shop Ruche for vintage-inspired clothing.



(*I get my cut and color done at Milano in Wicker Park. Michael, the owner, is a pro.)

8 Responses to “Hot Rollers are My Secret to Amazing Curls”

  1. Megan

    Another great blog…I am a big fan of hot rollers and still use mine! We can be grannies together:)

  2. Shannon

    I’ve never used hot rollers. I have no idea why. I think about it all the time and have plenty of hair for ’em! Now I have a great Hot Rollers 101 tutorial so I have no excuses. 🙂

  3. thecormiersquad

    You know, I have never read a tutorial on rollers, but I am so glad I did! Thank you!! Great post, and funny. I was given a set in high school by my dads girlfriend and tbh, anything she did I tried to go the opposite way. So I thought they were weird, tried in the last few years but I didnt know the tricks…thank you…I look forward to getting ready tomorrow!!! 🙂


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