Mistakes To Avoid When Using Hair Rollers

Hair rollers. They're the secret to the numerous bouncy, curly hairstyles we've seen across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and beyond. They can give the hair volume and body like almost nothing else on the market. But, boy, do they have their downsides. As almost anyone who's ever used hair rollers before will probably know, they most certainly have their dangers once they're all wrapped up in our tresses. If you're not careful, rollers can result in everything from tangles and knots to frizz, and even more serious and long-lasting damage. That's because they're prone to getting caught in our hair once they've been placed in there (sometimes seemingly no matter how strategic we actually are with them), which means having to tug, rip, and potentially even cut them out of your hair in the most dramatic cases. Yikes.


But if you've ever found yourself struggling with your rollers, it may be because you've made a mistake or two without even knowing it. So we're breaking down the most common hair roller mistakes (we're focusing on Velcro rollers here, but there are plenty on the market) and how to avoid them so your locks will look their most luscious (without the tangled drama) every single time.

Forgetting to prep your hair properly

As with pretty much anything you do with your hair, one of the cardinal rules to using rollers is to make sure your hair is properly prepped. One of the biggest mistakes you can make with rollers, according to Jack Merrick-Thirlway, creative director at Neville Hair & Beauty, is not properly washing out all your hair washing products before you put them in. He explained to Who What Wear that if your locks still have product in that's not supposed to be there, like shampoo or conditioner, it can really weigh your hair down. And that's not going to give you those big and bouncy curls. Not to mention, too much shampooing can seriously dry out the hair — making it more susceptible to the roller getting stuck. That's why you'll want to wash it with volume-specific shampoos and conditioners and make sure all the product has left your hair before you start styling it.


Once your hair is properly rinsed and clean, adding styling products specifically designed to add volume and texture will then really help prep your hair so that your rollers can do their thing. "Add a blow-dry lotion to the roots and rough-dry the hair to 90% dry," Merrick-Thirlway recommended.

Not waiting for your hair to be fully dry

One big thing to remember when using Velcro rollers? Letting your hair dry properly when it's setting. We've all been there. We're running short on time, so we pull those rollers out before they're actually ready. But it's a really bad idea to not wait. Hairstylist and L'Oréal Professionnel UK editorial ambassador, Adam Reed, explained to Glamour UK that the best way to curl your locks is to section them off and use a styling spray, which will slightly wet it. "Wrap the hair around the roller while ever so slightly damp," he suggested. This is the point where you need to make sure your tresses are totally dry before you start taking the rollers out. "What is absolutely key, is you dry the hair 100% before removing the roller, otherwise it will simply flop — think about building a house on wet cement — it doesn't work."


But while you'll want your hair to be damp because of your styling products, that doesn't mean you should put in rollers while your hair is still wet or even damp from being washed. That's because putting wet tresses into rollers is one of the very best ways to damage your locks. And no one wants that. "Don't use Velcro rollers when the hair is wet or your hair will tangle and stick, making it almost impossible to get them out," hairstylist Rod Anker of Rod Anker Salons told Vogue India.

Refusing to adjust the amount of hair in your roller

Another common mistake we're making when using rollers is putting too much hair in the wrong size roller. Particularly if you're using a set made up of different sizes to get a range of curls, you need to make sure you're adapting how much hair you put in each one. Too much hair in your roller means not only will it not curl properly, but it will also be more prone to getting all tangled up and knotted. And that's never a good thing. But, according to hair expert @mattloveshair, there is a way to work out how much hair is right for your roller. "The section of hair should match the diameter size of the roller for a clean, easy roll," he shared in a TikTok video. You'll also want to ensure the strand can sit flat on the roller, as too much hair bundled up on top of each other won't result in your best curl either. 


Another tip? Ensure the ends of your locks can fit properly on the roller too and aren't sticking out the ends. "A super common mistake I see with rollers is people not tucking the ends of their hair into the end of the roller, if you don't do this you will be left with fish hook ends which don't look the best," Adam Reed told Glamour UK.

Rolling pre-existing tangles into your rollers

If you're not ensuring each section of your hair is properly brushed through and knot-free before putting in your rollers, you could be asking for trouble. That's because messy hair in means messy hair out. As hairstylist Michael Dueñas explained to Allure, "If you roll your hair into a roller with a tangle, it will exacerbate the problem and create much larger tangles. This makes them look even more distressed once dry."


That's why it's so important you detangle your hair before you put it up in your rollers rather than afterward. A good detangling spray can help if you're prone to getting knots and tangles, while combing (or using a specific detangling tool) your hair through while it's wet (rather than getting a brush on it) will also help eliminate some of that knotting. Once it's dry, a paddle brush or wide-toothed comb will also help work through any knots that may have developed while the rollers were in place.

Pulling or tugging at your rollers to get them out

Removing Velcro rollers is probably the part most of us have trouble with. It's tempting, especially when you're in a rush, to yank those bad boys out by any means necessary — particularly if they're feeling stuck. But stop right there, as this can be one of the worst mistakes you're making. Pulling your rollers out when there's resistance instead of rolling them down will not only end up damaging your hair (making it more prone to things like serious split ends), but it will also give you less-than-stellar results. That's because tugging your rollers can also make your hair go super frizzy. Not what you want when you've spent all that time trying to get perfect curls.


Instead, YouTuber Tina Engeo recommended very slowly and gently unrolling the roller, paying attention to the way in which you rolled it up (as you'll want to follow that same way). Hold the roller on both sides as you take it out. Engeo also suggested using the roller more like a round brush when it comes to taking the ends out, as this will give you a sleeker finish.

Another way you can stop all that tangled tugging? TikToker @anneli.bv recommended in a video twisting your roller right before it sits in place so that it faces the opposite way. She explained that makes them easier to take out because the roller isn't quite as stuck to your roots.

Not rolling your hair into your rollers from above your head

This is one that a lot of us are probably guilty of, as it's a pretty common mistake. So many of us are looking for volume from our rollers, but, a lot of the time, we're not getting it because we're committing a faux pas with how we actually put our hair into the rollers. This is another tip from TikToker @mattloveshair, as he revealed putting your hair into the rollers by starting closer to your body and rolling up toward your head isn't going to give the best results. Many of us do this, rolling the hair up from chin level (or lower) all the way up to the forehead. Instead, he suggested putting your rollers in from above your head by stretching your hair up high and then rolling it all the way down. "Look how tall your root is standing while it sets," he pointed out, noting that the traditional way actually squashes the root down, creating less volume.


For best results, once you've rolled your hair up in this way, it's a good idea to use a clip to hold each section in place. The best clips for this are flat hair clips, as they're designed to not leave a crease in your hair. Simply affix one in between your scalp and the inside of the roller and watch the gorgeous curls roll in. Pun intended.