By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Prior to this summer, I usually followed up a fresh wash with 6–8 big twists to air-dry and stretch my hair. I did not have the time to wait for big braids to dry. I did not have the patience to band or thread my hair for stretching. Big twists were it. They were quick and easy to do. Plus, they air-dried in the span of a day. Twists were my go-to for air-drying and stretching until I discovered roller sets as an alternative.
For me, roller sets have some advantages over twisting when it comes to stretching and air-drying my hair. Roller sets take less time to air dry, are easy to do, and stretch my hair far better than twists or braids. Since trying this method during the summer, I have officially made it part of my hair care routine.
A few readers have showed interest in roller sets, so I thought I would quickly share my technique:
1. Start with wet detangled hair
Just like I would with big twists, I start my roller set on wet hair. I may plop (wrap a towel around) my hair for fifteen minutes to soak up some of the water, but I do not let my hair start the drying process prior to applying the rollers.
2. Use 12 EXTRA large, snap-on magnetic rollers
Since my aim is to air-dry and stretch my hair (and not to have beautiful curls or waves), I use the largest rollers I can find, which have a diameter of 1 ¾ inches (or 45 millimeters). I also do as few sections as possible to get the stretch that I want, which are usually about twelve sections. The size of a section is about 3 ½ in x 2 ¼ in, give or take. (Sometimes I will put a couple more rollers in the front if I want more stretch in the front.) Magnetic rollers are the most gentle and effective on my hair; the snap-on ones, in particular, give me smoother results and are easiest to use. Obviously, you can use however many sections as well as whatever size and type of rollers that work for you.
3. Apply moisturizer/sealant to a section
I take a section of wet (but not soaking wet) hair and apply my homemade shea butter mixture, which is a mix of shea butter, oils, and aloe vera gel. There is nothing special about what I apply to the section prior to the roller set; it is the same product I use if I am doing big twists. No setting lotion needed. No holding gel. No serums. Just something to moisturize and seal my hair since all I want to do is air-dry and stretch.
4. Then stretch the section and apply the roller
Then I stretch the section (about 70% percent), apply the roller from the ends of my hair to the roots, and apply the snap-on piece. That is it! I do #3 and #4 section by section until I am finished. No combs needed (beyond a quick finger comb, if necessary). It takes no time at all.
5. Style as desired once air-dried
I try to roller set at least a few hours prior to going to bed so that my hair is dry by the morning. After taking out the rollers (which is super quick and easy), I then eventually style my hair into my usual medium or small twists. The roller set helps to gives me the most stretch for these twists and also makes parting easier. It also leaves me with a nice sheen and softness that I do not quite get with my previous air-drying method.
So that is what I do. The one downside is that it can be a bit uncomfortable to sleep with magnetic rollers, but since I only do it once a month, it is worth it!
Ladies, have you tried air-drying and/or stretching with rollers?