Sunday, October 9, 2011

Overnight Sets – Part 1 – Getting Started

Wearing curlers overnight was common in the sixties, partly because many women didn’t have access to dryers, but also because sets tend to hold better if the curlers are left in longer. Sleeping in curlers can be uncomfortable – just search twitter to see a new list of complaints. Its really unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable if you know a few tricks and practice. Vintage rollers also help because some of them were really made for sleeping in.

There are really three important things that go into sleeping well in curlers: you need to pick the right type of curlers, they must be set properly, and you need to get used to wearing curlers before attempting to sleep while wearing them.

Picking the right curlers depends on your hair, which you find easiest to use, and which you find most comfortable. The traditional curlers for sleeping in are brush rollers which I like best because they tend to stay securely set all night. I hate it when curlers loosen and even fall out. But if you have sensitive scalp, they can be uncomfortable. The next best are mesh rollers which are simply brush rollers without the brush and are almost as good. Magnetic rollers (aka smooth plastic rollers) are also common, but are much trickier to wind. Velcro roller are the modern replacements for all of these. I'm not a fan of these: they don’t secure well tend to work themselves out of the hair overnight.

Besides winding the rollers neatly, the most important thing when doing an overnight set is getting the tension right. If you read about sets in the 60s, curlers were often wound incredibly tight leading to breakage and well as being uncomfortable. Velcro rollers today are often wound without any tension at all, also not good. The best tension is somewhere in between. Exactly how tight is good for you is something that you will have to experiment with, and is best gauged if you are setting you own hair. I find the way to do it is to wind the rollers so that, once they are secured with piks, you can feel them, but just barely. Its actually easier with brush rollers because at this tension level you can just feel them, and you get to know how a well done set feels with practice. With mesh and mag rollers you have to sense the tension alone which is a bit harder. If you like the ease of winding of brush rollers, but cant stand the prickly feeling all night, there is a trick you can use: fold up a tissue into a rectangle about the size of roller, and wind the roller down on this. You can do a nice secure set with brush rollers this way and not feel the prickels.

One thing hair tends to do as it dries is shrink a little, so you curlers tend to tighten a little as they dry. If they are too tight in the first place, curlers can become really uncomfortable. There is nothing worse that waking up at 3am with curlers that are too tight, and then spending what seems like an eternity deciding whether to take out your curlers, or try and go back to sleep. The good news it that is doesn’t have be that way, but it does take some practice. The best way to do this is to do a number of daytime sets, or if that is impractical, evening (but not overnight sets. So set you hair, then dry it which should take no more than an hour unless you hair is longer. Hood dryers are easy to come by on eBay or places like Goodwill, sometimes being available for then that $5, so there is no reason not to have one. Now here the trick: stay set for at least an hour after drying, and if at any point you curlers become uncomfortable take them out and make your next set a little less tight. The reason it is important to leave the curlers in for a while is that while they tighten under the dryer, the warmth is so soothing your set may feel quite comfortable until it cools down, which is what it would be like overnight.

(Photo taken from the 1961 movie "The Parent Trap")

1 comment:

  1. Beauty is pain they say, I really like your blog, I have searched for years for a diagram on how to do farrah's hair, and could not find one. I finally figured it out myself some time ago, but it's awesome to see the styling tips and nostalgia. Thanks