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How to Use Roller Sets to Stretch 4B/4C Natural Hair

Avatar • Dec 6, 2013

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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:

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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?

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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pw
pw
6 years ago

Great post! Thanks- I will try this next wash day.

Nappy4C Rocks
Nappy4C Rocks
6 years ago

this will apply to medium/long hair

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Nappy4C Rocks

It can apply to short hair too– it’s just a bit more work. When my hair was short, I just stretched it beforehand in twists and used smaller sections/rollers. Takes a bit of time, but the stretch is indeed quite nice 🙂

JENNID
JENNID
6 years ago

This makes me have flash backs to my relaxed and press n curl days. Oh how I loathe rollers of all kinds. Especially sleeping in them lol. But like you said its just once a month so I guess it wont kill me. Ill save this for when I need a good stretch. Thanks for all the little tips and details.

LBell
LBell
6 years ago

I haven’t done one of these in years but I was doing this exact technique wayyyy back in the day…same rollers and everything. 🙂 I remember being absolutely stunned at how straight (yes, STRAIGHT) it got my hair.

Only challenge was my ends…those damned coily ends…I could never get them to lay down smooth on the roller.

Nece B.
Nece B.
6 years ago
Reply to  LBell

End paper might help with that!

B
B
6 years ago

I’ll have to try this, maybe during the day when I’m just around the house because when I use to use the snap rollers on my relaxed hair they would always fall out during the night! Since the rollers are so smooth it doesn’t seem like there would be much difference with natural hair and them slipping out.

Coconut + Cream
6 years ago

Hmm I might have to try this. I haven’t used rollers since my relaxed days.
I wonder if this will be okay for weekly use though? I wash my hair weekly and I’m not sure if the addition of foreign objects will do any good on my hair.
I did read somewhere that the over stretching of hair can cause breakage sometimes(?)

Charity
Charity
6 years ago

I like this idea and I have been wanting to try rollers. I’ve just been a little afraid that it would be a disaster on my hair type. Twists and braids haven’t been giving me the stretch I want. My hair takes too long to dry when banded. I really look forward to trying this!

alice
alice
6 years ago

thanks for this post. i always wondered how to do a roller set on natural hair.

Mary in Md
Mary in Md
6 years ago

When I feel up to it, I have done rollersets on mesh rollers. I have type 4a/b/c hair. The resulting curls from mesh rollers aren’t as sleek as hard rollers. But, they dry faster that the hard plastic rollers and I have style that is ready to go when I take them. I may start using them more regularly as a part of my hair care routine. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for the reminder of this hair stretching option.

dagnatz
dagnatz
6 years ago

koool! I did this yesterday when i washed my hair only I used curl formers. I put them in around 9pm, finished at 10pm and woke up at 230 and they were dry so took them down and twisted my hair immediately. I applied shea butter to damp hair before using the curlformers I literally slathered it on. My hair loves shea butter!

linda
linda
6 years ago

Awesome! That’s what I do when I’m in a hurry and don’t want to air dry my hair but there is one big difference though, I gather my hair in four ponytails and put the rollers only on the ponytails. My hair is too thick to roller set from the roots and have the roller stay in place and stretch it enough. Then I sit under my dryer and voila. To save on time even more, I use curlformers I don’t need to part my hair further when it’s time to twist. I just take down and twist; no need… Read more »

shay
shay
6 years ago

I luv rollers!! I do this when I also want stretched hair. I also do this right before I go to the salon to have my hair blown out (twice a year). I find that once my hair is stretched it doesn’t take much heat to blow it straight.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

What products would you use if you wanted maintain the curls in your roller set?

Cheyenne Simmons
6 years ago

The best rollers for natural hair are Hourglass Rollers. I purchased my set of rollers from http://www.naturalhairwow.com. The rollers are great! they aid in dry time and promote healthy hair. These rollers stretch your hair out from ends to roots and straightens your hair while rolling. These rollers are the best in the market.

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