Tips for Decreasing Breakage When Roller Setting

Hi Jeni! I’ve been stalking your blog for a while now and you were the one how ultimately pushed me to start rollersetting. I didn’t want to spend the money required to purchase a (good quality) dryer. However, my desire to have healthy hair without using so much heat overruled my desire to be cheap so I caved lol. Anyway, I’ve been doing rollersets for about 4 months now and while I’m not perfect (yet), I’m almost there. My question is this: while I know you don’t do them as often as you used to, when you were rollersetting all the time, how did you set your hair without incurring any breakage? I try to be as gentile as possible but I still see breakage when I roller set. It’s seriously driving me nuts! Any advice you can give would be awesome.

Hi there! I got the most minimal breakage (some breakage is unavoidable) during sets from a few things:

  1. Deep conditioning with a great moisturizing conditioner. Moisture aids in restoring elasticity. Elasticity in turn prevents breakage. Think of an old, dry rubber band — it lacks elasticity so it breaks when stretched. A pliable “moisturized” rubber band stretches without issue. Hair is the same way. Adequately moisturized hair is able to withstand the manipulation and stretching it takes to comb and roll hair onto the roller and shrink as it dries.
  2. Decreasing as many tangles as possible before I get to the “setting stage.” There a handful of things I’ve found help reduce tangles: using a ceramide-packed oil (i.e. safflower oil, grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, wheat germ oil) for hot oil treatments before washing. Washing my hair in sections. Holding the ends of my hair when shampooing my scalp. Washing in braids. Using a “smoothing” conditioner after shampooing (i.e. Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Treatment) to loosen tangles.
  3. Using the “three-comb” method of detangling (and using seamless combs to do it). I start off using a wide-toothed comb (I use my Hercules Sagemann HS5580), next I move to a smaller wide-toothed combed (I use Hercules Sagemann HS1975), and lastly, I use a fine tooth comb (I use a regular seamless comb I purchased at Sally Beauty) to make sure all the tangles are worked out and my hair is as smooth as possible when I roller it onto the roller. I’ve learned from experience that when my hair dries bent or with tangles, it’s more prone to breakage at that point.
  4. Using a protein-based leave-in before setting. I have used CHI Keratin Mist and ApHogee Keratin and Green Tea Restructurizer before setting and experienced less breakage from manipulation. The key is not to overdo application because they will weigh hair down and too much will give hair a stiff, crunchy feel.
  5. Using a serum that provides slip. My favorite beloved serum for roller sets is Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. It’s a light serum that provides great slip when combing my hair, and also gives me great, smooth results when my hair is dry.
  6. Being patient and taking my time when setting my hair. I am a slow rollersetter; it takes me an hour to detangle and set my hair and I won’t try to move any faster. Going slow and taking my time means I’m being as gentle as I can, so days where my patience isn’t where it should be, I don’t even glance at my rollers.

Hope this helps!

P.S. I’ve ditched posting the questions as images so that it’s readable on mobile devices. Thanks for the feedback ladies!

6 Comments


  1. I'm an avid rollersetter, but now that my hair has gotten longer, (I do the Mohawk Method), and I'm having a hard time stretching my arms all the way up to get my hair on the roller, and it's really hard to reach the very bottom. Also, it takes longer than 2 hours to dry completely. I'd like to start getting in the habit of air drying, but how can I get it to be smooth n sleek like w/ the rollerset w/o using heat? (I do not put heat in my hair, even w/ my Hooded dryer, I use a blow drying serum first) Is it possible, or should I just suck it up and accept not being to have my cake and eat it too?
    Thank you,
    Edie ♡

  2. Thanks soooo much jen. This was my question. While I was doing a lot of those things (grapeseed HOT, moisturizing deep conditioners, patience since I'm a slow setter too, etc) I hadnt thought about the others. Ill try the 3 comb detangling method and maybe step up my protein leave ins too (my hair absolutely ADORES protein so reading about the aphogee and chi made me happy lol). Again thanks a bunch girl!!

    1. Author

      Hi there, I have the Bablyliss Ionic Pro dryer and it's a good dryer, there's a review on the blog here under the product review tab. My only complaint is that as hair gets longer, past BSL, it takes much too long to dry under it, but other than that, no complaints.

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