How To Use Foam Hair Rollers: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Are you trying to find an alternative to using curling wands or flat irons to style your hair?

These styling tools may work — but at the cost of your hair’s health and a hefty price tag.

Curling your hair with foam rollers is a simple way to get gorgeous waves for any occasion. They are safe to use, and you may experiment with new hairstyles without fear of damaging your hair.

A woman wearing pink robe and has foam hair rollers on her hair, smiling while looking at the side. Isolated on a white background

However, if you’ve never used a foam roller, you may be unsure of how to use one properly.

To help you get salon-quality curls without the use of heat, here is a guide on how to use foam hair rollers. Let’s get started!

What Are Foam Hair Rollers?

Foam hair rollers are cylindrical tools made of foam or sponges with a plastic or metal clip to hold them in place. They are a gentler styling alternative because they can create waves or curls without the use of heat.

Benefits of Foam Hair Rollers

Using foam hair rollers has several advantages over traditional heat styling tools, such as the following:

  • No heat damage: Foam rollers don’t require heat, so they won’t damage your hair like curling irons or hot rollers.
  • Versatile: They can create different curl types, from loose waves to tight spirals, depending on the roller size and technique.
  • Easy to use: Once you’ve mastered the technique, foam rollers are simple to apply and remove.
  • Cost-effective: Foam rollers are generally affordable and reusable, making them a budget-friendly option. It doesn’t need power to work, so you won’t have to worry about your electricity bill when curling your hair.
  • Built-in locks: They have a plastic lock already built in, so you don’t have to use pins or clips.
  • Comfortable: They’re more comfortable to use than Velcro rollers because they don’t have a hard plastic casing. You can even sleep comfortably while wearing them.

Types of Foam Hair Rollers

There are many types of hair rollers, and each caters to specific hair types or styling needs. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Foam sponge rollers: These are soft, lightweight rollers made of spongy material and a clasp. They’re sleep-friendly and cause less hair damage than heat-based methods.
  • Velcro rollers: A Velcro strip outside of the foam roller provides additional security, so you won’t need to use any pins or clips.
  • Flexi rods: These are flexible foam rollers that you can bend into different shapes to create any curls you like.

How To Choose the Right Size of Foam Hair Rollers

Choosing the right size of foam hair rollers will help you achieve the curl size and shape you want. Generally, the larger the roller, the looser the curl.

Here are some guidelines on how to choose the right size of sponge rollers for your hair:

Curl TypeRoller SizeRoller Size
Tight curls or ringletsVery small-sized foam rollersUnder 1/4 inches
Small, tight waves or curlsSmall-sized foam rollers1/4 to 1/2 inches
Medium-sized curls or wavesMedium-sized foam rollers1 to 1 1/2 inches
Voluminous curls or wavesLarge-sized foam rollers1 ½ to 2 inches

Preparing Your Hair for Foam Hair Rollers

Before using hair rollers, prepare your hair so the curls come out defined. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Clean your hair but don’t let it dry completely. Towel-dry your hair and leave it damp. Why? Foam rollers work well with damp hair.
  1. Apply a styling product, such as a mousse or foam. This will help hold the curl and give you a frizz-free finish.

Also, only use a small amount of product. Too much can weigh down your hair and make it harder to roll!

Step-by-Step Guide on How To Use Foam Hair Rollers

Now that your hair’s prepped, it’s time to know how to roll hair with foam rollers. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow:

1. Section Your Hair

Take a small section of your hair (at least 1 inch wide or about the same width as your foam roller). Then comb it through to remove any tangles or knots. You can use hair clips to separate each section.

2. Apply the Hair Rollers

Next step is to apply the hair rollers. So how do you roll your hair with foam rollers? First, take the foam roller, and roll your hair tightly around it. Start at the ends and work your way up to the roots.

Then, secure the rollers in place with its built-in lock. And you’re done!

If you’re using flexible rollers or flexi rods, just bend the ends together to secure your hair.

3. Let Your Hair Set

Leave the rollers in your hair for at least an hour to set the curls properly.

You can let your hair air-dry, or you can also use a hair dryer at a low heat setting to speed up the process.

Setting the rollers longer on your hair will help you achieve tighter and longer-lasting curls.

4. Remove the Rollers

When your hair is completely dry, gently remove the rollers one by one. Start from the bottom and work your way up.

Then, slowly unclip the rollers and unwind them from your hair. Don’t pull or tug on the curls; this may make them frizzy and ruin their shape!

5. Style Your Hair

Finally, it’s time to style your hair. Use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to separate the curls and get the style you want. You can apply a lightweight setting hairsprays to hold your curls and make them last the entire day.

An infographic featuring how to use foam hair rollers to curl your hair a step by step guide such as type of foam hair rollers, how to choose the right size of foam hair rollers, and how to use foam hair rollers to curl your hair

How To Use Foam Rollers for Hair Overnight

Foam hair rollers are generally more comfortable than other rollers due to their soft, cushioned material. Sleeping with them is an effective way to get curls that will last all day.

A hair brush with pink and several foam hair rollers on a white surface

So if you prefer to wear them overnight, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Secure the foam hair rollers in place to prevent them from coming loose while you sleep.
  • Cover your hair with a silk scarf or bonnet to prevent the rollers from getting tangled.
  • Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase to prevent friction and frizz.

How To Use Foam Hair Rollers on Short Hair

Curling short hair with foam rollers may be challenging, but with patience and the right techniques, you can still get gorgeous results.

  • Choose small-sized foam rollers. These make tighter curls, stay better on short hair, and are easier to work with. You can try different roller sizes to find the one that gives you the type of curls you want.
  • Split your hair into small, manageable portions, so the rollers will have more hair to grab onto. This will give you more defined curls. Use hair clips to keep the sections separated and easy to work with.
  • Wrap the hair at an angle to cover as much of the roller as possible, resulting in a stronger grip and uniform curl development.
  • Place the roller at the end of each strand and wrap your hair around it, working your way up to the scalp. Curls will last longer if you maintain tension in the hair as you wrap it around the roller.
  • Experiment with different techniques. Each hair is unique, so don’t be afraid to try different roller sizes, sectioning methods, and rolling techniques to find the perfect curl style for your short hair.

How To Maintain Your Foam Hair Rollers

If you take good care of your foam hair rollers, they will last you a long time. Here’s how to maintain them.

  • Foam rollers may accumulate product buildup over time. To avoid this, you should clean them regularly, ideally after every use. 

    Just use warm water and mild soap or shampoo, and dry them completely before storage.
  • Store your foam rollers properly and avoid exposing them to direct heat or sunlight to avoid damage.
  • Dry your foam rollers after every use and avoid getting them wet to prevent mold or mildew.
  • If you see signs of damage or if your foam rollers begin losing their shape, it’s time to dispose of them and buy new ones.

FAQs About Foam Hair Rollers

How long should I leave foam hair rollers in my hair?

It depends on your hair type and desired curl tightness.

Curly or wavy hair is easier to style than straight hair. They also hold curls better because they already have some shape and structure in their natural texture. Also, damaged or frizzy hair may not hold curls effectively.

Remember, the longer you leave your rollers on, the longer the curls will hold.

Ideally, you should leave them in for at least eight hours to get best results. That’s why most people leave them overnight.

What size of hair rollers should I use?

The size of hair rollers to use depends on the type of curl or wave you want to achieve and the length and thickness of your hair.

Thick and coarse may require larger foam rollers to achieve curls, while fine or thin hair may do better with smaller foam rollers.

For short hair, use rollers with a smaller diameter, such as 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch, to create tighter, more defined curls.

For long hair, you can use rollers with a larger diameter, such as 1 inch or 1 1/4 inch, to create looser, more natural-looking curls or waves.

Can foam hair rollers damage my hair?

Foam rollers are generally considered a safe and gentle curling method because they’re made of soft materials, and you don’t need heat to use them.

However, you should use them gently and correctly to prevent hair breakage or damage. 

Just make sure to detangle before rolling, secure the rollers without pulling too tight, and remove them carefully to minimize the risk of damage.

Can I use hair rollers on dry hair?

Yes, you can use foam rollers on dry hair. However, using them on damp hair produces tighter curls.

Now You Know How to Use Foam Rollers for Your Hair

Foam hair rollers are a great styling tool for achieving beautiful curls without heat. They take more time to set. But they’re cheaper, easier to work with, and better for your hair in the long run!

Four pink foam hair rollers on a white surface.

Knowing how to use foam hair rollers helps you create various curl sizes and shapes, so they’re great tools to add to your beauty kit.

Just make sure you choose the right size rollers, prepare your hair well, and take good care of these tools so they last a long time. 

Now it’s time to get rolling! Experiment and curl your hair to your desired style now.

Want to learn more ways on how to style your hair?

These articles got you covered:


  • Shai Urbano

    Shai is a licensed pharmacist with a Bachelor of Arts in Pharmacy. She uniquely intertwines her medical expertise with a fervent passion for beauty. With an intrinsic understanding of ingredients and formulation, she's the proud creator of her own line of products designed exclusively for naturally curly hair. Over her four-year writing career, Shai consistently delivers content enriched by her distinct blend of knowledge and enthusiasm.

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  • Anna Mastenbrook

    Amanda Mastenbrook is an accomplished beauty professional and salon owner with a decade of experience in the industry. Educated at NDSU and licensed from Josef's School of Hair Design, she's a master of color and balayage. Amanda founded The Chair in 2015 after launching a successful mobile spray tanning service. Known for her award-winning avant-garde styling and expertise in toning, she continues to redefine beauty standards and client satisfaction through her work.

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