I first heard of Curlformers about four years ago when my daughter, who was then about 15, told me about them because she had heard about them from a friend.She also saw them on babesinhairland.com. She told me they were a new way to curl hair. She asked for some for her birthday when she turned 16, I think, and I obliged, although I have to admit, I had a hard time forking over $30 (maybe it was $40? $50?) for curlers at my local Sally Beauty Supply store. What happened to good old sponge curlers? Well the main problem with them is that it is hard to get the whole lock of hair to show a curl if the hair is very long, as my daughter explained to me. Just the last few inches or so end up being curled. Look at this tutorial by Erin Bates, who uses spongies, and you will see what I mean. They are still pretty, they just aren’t those gorgeous spiral corkscrew curls which are the stuff of glamour princess dreams. I think I knew that from my sponge curler days (through my teenage years, way before kids) but I had just decided to be satisfied with the volume of curls that happens when you pull the hair around the ears up in a barrette. (I call that style “high school hair” because that was the popular style in the late 80s “bangs to heaven” days.) I “graduated” from spongies to sophisticated hot rollers when I was in high school, and you basically have the same problem with those as well, if your hair is very long, which mine was in high school and college. I also have naturally wavy hair, which can be coaxed into natural curls. Translation: I’ve had to deal with dry, frizzy hair that has a mind of its own, ever since puberty when the natural wavy/curliness set in. I eventually hope to do a review of the curly girl products over at My Devacurl, founded by the woman who wrote the book for curly girls.
For now, though, I am focusing on Curlformers. When you first buy these babies you have to also buy this thing that looks like a giant crochet hook, so you can pull the hair through the Curlformers. I had the hardest time using the whole system at first, on her head, because you have to thread the hook through the Curlformer and then attach the hair to the hook and then pull it through. I felt like I was either hurting her by pulling on her head or hurting me by contorting my hands. It seemed more awkward than learning how to play tennis or the violin! I was never impressed with how her hair turned out with them. I think I tried them on her head twice and then she did them on herself a few times. Then we both forgot about them and she stashed them in her closet. Then she grew a few more years, did her hair all the time, never asked me to help anymore. Then she cut her hair super short, after she left for college a year ago. Fast forward to now, and I finally took the time last month after Christmas to watch this tutorial above on how to properly use Curlformers. I’m sure this video was around on the Babes in Hairland blog back then but I just never watched it. Oh how I wish I had. It’s important to make sure the hair is wet before you put the Curlformers in, preferably from washing the hair. Then it’s equally important to let the hair completely air dry. When we used them on my daughter’s hair, she got impatient and took them out too soon. Then they would be limp and flat and unimpressible.
Fast forward to last fall. With my youngest child at age 5, I finally felt like I had time to do something with my hair every day besides pull it in a ponytail. (I admire women who can “do” hair every day on themselves and their daughters when they have babies and toddlers underfoot.) For about two years I had actually been doing something with it on Sunday with a curling wand and now it was time to graduate and do something with it every day. So then I remembered my daughter’s stash of Curlformers and asked, when she came home for Thanksgiving weekend, if I could use them. Imagine my surprise when she told me they were no longer buried in her bedroom somewhere but that they were back in her college apartment at BYU-I! “What?! But you have short hair now, so why did you take them?” She said it was because she thought she might use them on her friends. So I asked her to bring them home for Christmas break, so I could try them out in between her time playing beauty parlor with her college roommates.
The last day of Christmas break before we drove her and her older R.M. brother up to Idaho (because she talked him into giving up his acceptance at BYU-Provo and going up to Rexburg with her) I woke up saying to myself, “This is the day! I have to try those Curlformers out on my hair before she takes them back for her friends and they are out of my reach for another 4 months!” So I tried them out for the first time on my own hair and was pleasantly surprised. For the first time in my life my curls were even, all over my head, and the curls formed all the way up to my scalp. In my experience, that just isn’t possible with spongies or hot rollers if you have hair that goes past your shoulders. So I highly recommend these to anyone who wants perfect curls all the way to the scalp, including you, not just your daughters! I did eventually get the hang of using the hook with the Curlformers. So if I can do it, anyone can.
Here are some tips for DIY (do it on yourself) Curlformers curls.
1. Watch the top two videos above, the Curlformers Tutorial #1 and #2, and do what Becky shows, curling the hair when it’s completely wet, and applying mousse on each section.
2. Section the hair like she does, so you clip the top layer up and work on the bottom first. Then do the top layer. Don’t try to put too much hair in at a time.
3. When you thread each Curlformer, make sure that the bottom ring at the end of the Curlformer isn’t caught on the textured end of the hook. Then it’s a lot easier to pull the hook through with the hair attached.
4. Twist the hair right at the scalp, before you snag the hook around it, then have the gap in the hook facing upwards.
5. Pull sideways or upwards, rather than down, to get the leverage you need to pull the hook through to get the Curlformer all the way to the scalp. This is a good time to practice your natural childbirth breathing techniques and your faith that things like babies, hair, and hooks, can get through tight spaces. (Just remember Ina May Gaskin’s theory about the cervix’s marvelous capacity to expand.)
6. Sleep on the curlers, so that they have time to completely air dry. I found I was able to sleep on them. They are not as soft as spongies but at least they are not those bristle curls I remember my mom having. Resist the temptation to peek too early!
Because the Curlformers are meant to be used on wet hair with the curls air drying, you don’t have to worry about damaging your hair from applying heat. They are rather expensive, so you might have to wait and save or get them for a birthday or Christmas, but they are totally worth it. You can find cheap imitation knock-offs on ebay or all over the Internet, but I can’t vouch for them. I don’t know if the material is as high quality, which could mean they won’t last as long. It could be easier to poke holes in them with the hook. They are probably copyright infringers as well so I say buy from the original inventors. You can get the real thing over here on amazon.com, at curlformers.com, or at your local Sally Beauty Supply. Right now at the link I just referenced you can get a whole kit, the Glam Up Kit, for $35 which includes 20 curlers and the hook in a pretty organza bag. I wish that had been around for my daughter’s birthday gift, we paid quite a bit more to buy a bunch of packs and the hook separately and didn’t even get the fancy bag which serves for practical storage! Oh well. We had to store them in a plain old Ziploc bag. By the way, the happiest ending to all of this is that my daughter gave me the best gift by leaving the Curlformers on my dresser the morning we left for Idaho. I almost started crying. This was better than any Christmas surprise I’ve had! She saw how much I loved them and decided to let me borrow them for however long until she wants them back if she ever grows her hair out. How sweet. I did have to go buy some more to augment what she had since she had lost some. Here’s a tip: if you have hair shoulder length or longer, you will probably want the “extra long” size. If your hair is past your shoulder blades you might have to double up and also use two Glam Up kits.
The day after your Curlformer curls, you will have “leftover curls,” definitely not as bouncy and close to the scalp but you will probably still have some “texture,” and maybe even some waves and a few curls in your hair. The video above shows a pretty style you can do for the day after. I love this gorgeous updo from Becky over at babesinhairland.com.
If you go to Becky’s blog post here she shows how you can use Curlformers if you have super long hair, and still get a complete curl from root to tip. Thanks Becky for teaching us all about Curlformers and their possibilities! You really can get perfect curls every time, without heat. If you are into curly hair, I highly suggest you put these on your wishlist or go buy some today.
(P.S. I used my own money to buy these Curlformers, so this is not a sponsored post. But if you buy your Curlformers through this link at Amazon, it will cost the same to you, and I will get a small percentage to help with the costs of running this blog.)