Do you crave bouncy curls, but feel loathe to subject your hair to repeated damage with irons, curling wands and other heated styling gadgets? Well, help may be closer to hand than you think, because a whole host of ordinary household items can put a wave in your locks without drying them out.
We asked Annabel Cole to try out some of the – often unusual – options to find out which works best…
Annabel found the bubble wrap rollers easy to use and comfy to sleep in – but they made her hair too curly
Method: Dampen your hair, comb well and apply mousse to help the curls take hold – this is a basic first step you should take for all of the methods.
Then, cut off strips of around 2.5 in wide by 6 in long from a roll of bubble wrap. Roll each of these lengthways, like a long, thin sausage, and secure with tape. Next, divide hair into small sections and, moving from the ends to the scalp, wind each around the improvised ‘rollers’.
Bend up both ends of the bubble wrap until they meet and secure with a rubber band. Repeat for the whole head. Finally, as with all the methods, leave overnight – or until hair is dry – then remove.
Annabel’s verdict: This reminds me of the bendy rollers that were all the rage in the Eighties. The bubble wrap rollers were surprisingly easy to use and, once in, they felt secure and comfortable – even in my thick, mid-length hair.
I was even able to sleep in them and, in the morning, there were no stray hairs. The method is versatile, too, as you can tailor the size of the rollers to your desired size of curl.
For bigger curls, just cut wider strips. You can even reuse the rollers – at least, until the bubbles pop.
Time taken: 45 minutes.
Number used: 25 ‘rollers’.
Wow factor: This certainly worked: when I unwound the rollers, I looked as if I had an Eighties perm! A bit of gentle loosening with my fingers and the curls relaxed into a sophisticated style.
This way of curling hair was popularised by Lady Gaga in her Telephone music video – but it’s not effective
Method: Separate dampened hair into wide sections. Starting at the crown, working towards the nape of the neck, take a section of hair and roll an empty can from the ends up towards the scalp. Secure with an elastic or ponytail band looped lengthways around the can.
Annabel’s verdict: This wacky method found fame when pop star Lady Gaga wore Coke cans in her hair for her Telephone music video.
Beauty bloggers have been singing the praises of ‘drink can rollers’ ever since = but I can’t see what the fuss is about. For starters, the cans are just too smooth. As I repeatedly attempted to roll my hair around one, it kept sliding off.
Another issue is the size. Standard drinks cans are too large to roll close enough to the scalp to give a tight grip. Then, even if you manage to get a length of hair around the can, securing it is a nightmare.
It was easy to pull a traditional ponytail band over one end of the can, but looping it over the other was another story. In the end, it took me and two friends more than an hour to secure six cans. We used mousse for texture and two flat silicone bands over each can to hold them in.
We then pinned them with bobby pins and sprayed hairspray to ‘glue’ it all in place.
Time taken: More than one hour.
Number used: Six cans, 12 silicone bands, 12 bobby pins.
Wow factor: Given the mammoth effort, the result was a letdown. I was hoping for big, bouncy curls – but was left with a lifeless flick.
While the straws were easy to use, they created a dreadlock effect on Annabel’s hair – which she didn’t love
Method: Hold a plastic straw vertically. Starting with the end of hair and working up to the scalp, wrap a thin section of wet hair around it in a spiral. As with the bubble wrap, bring the ends together and, this time, secure with a kirby grip. Work from the front of the head to the back.
Annabel’s verdict: As straws are so thin, you can only wind a small section of hair around each one. Happily, the winding was straightforward – but clamping the ends was another matter.
I tried to secure them with grips, but the hair immediately unwound. I discovered my daughter’s hair clips worked best, as they tightly clamped the straw. Eventually, I got into a rhythm, but needed help to get to the back of my head. By the end, I could barely see for straws!
Time taken: One hour and 15 minutes.
Number used: 55 straws.
Wow factor: When I removed the straws, I was left with dreadlocks! After teasing, the spirals fell into a Seventies style, but I’m not sure I’d dare wear this look other than as fancy dress.
Annabel found that the headband slipped quite easily off her head – but the results were very impressive
Method: Place a cotton headband horizontally around your head. Divide damp hair into sections, then wind each of these up and around the band.
Annabel’s verdict: This was perhaps the simplest of all the methods I tried.
The winding went quickly to start with – it took about three turns to completely wrap a strand of my mid-length hair around the band and I had finished the left-hand side of my head in a matter of a few minutes.
Difficulties arose when I moved around to the right-hand side, however.
My hair is very thick and, as the band became heavier with hair, it lost its tension and began to slip, with some strands coming loose. The whole thing felt so precarious that I ended up using a few strategically placed hairpins to help secure it.
Time taken: 20 minutes.
Number used: One headband.
Wow factor: While I loved the simplicity of this, the slipping headband made me fear the worst. But I couldn’t have been more surprised by the result. The headband produced soft, sophisticated waves, which lasted for hours.
This was the method that Annabel loved best – and she couldn’t believe how quick and easy the technique was
Method: Cut out some squares of aluminium foil, measuring approximately 4 in by 4 in. Take a strip of hair and, starting at the ends, wind it around two fingers until you have a coil.
Slide your fingers out and wrap the coil into a parcel of foil. Scrunch the foil to secure it and leave hair to dry.
Annabel’s verdict: Eventually, after a few failed attempts at neatly winding the coils, I got the hang of it. Once mastered, the technique was very quick and easy, though, as I have a lot of hair, using thin sections made the job labour intensive.
I needed help from a friend to reach the back sections, and we both had aching arms by the end. Taking out the foils once dry, however, was a piece of cake – just pull gently.
Time taken: 45 minutes.
Number used: 45 squares of foil.
Wow factor: This is the hair of my dreams. Soft, spiral curls that fall flatteringly around my face, with barely any styling needed – I was ready to go seconds after taking out the foils.