Air Drying vs. Roller Setting

Deena asks:

I was looking at a picture of your gorgeous roller set, and then I realised..I don’t know why you do them! What purpose does roller setting play in your hair routine?

Hi Deena, roller setting is a great way to achieve straight hair without using direct heat (via a flat iron). Minimizing direct heat is a great way to help nurse hair back to health and maintain hair’s health. I prefer wearing my hair straight so when I’m not feeling lazy lol, I roller set then wrap my hair to get the straight look.

A reader asks:

Now that you predominantly air dry, have you noticed a difference in the health of your ends between now and when you used to roller set more often?

In terms of the impact roller setting and air drying has on my ends, I haven’t noticed much of a difference. Generally keeping them moisturized and protected (mostly with buns) has helped maintain their health.


How often did you air dry your hair when it was SL/APL? Every time I air dry my hair (it’s SL now) it dries BIG (but it doesn’t look good ’cause of the length). Did you just pre-dominantly rollerset at those lengths with a little air-drying thrown in every blue moon or was it pretty equal? I can’t decide whether to just wit til my hair is close to your length to start air-drying mostly or just suck it up… Thanks Jeni!

I rarely air dried my hair when my hair was SL/APL. I hadn’t mastered air drying at the time and my hair always dried really big. My BF would call me “Simba” because my hair back then dried so big lol. Maybe you can try alternating, air dry one week (if you wash weekly) and roller set a week.


So, the questions above got me thinking about whether it’s better to air dry or roller set…

Time & Ease

  • Air drying — Time and ease are the main reasons I no longer roller set my hair every weekend. I’ve always been a slow “roller setter.” It takes me an hour to detangle and get all my rollers in place. It takes an additional 2.5 + hours to completely dry my hair. Even though I study, read, watch movies or shows while drying it’s still a long time to be constricted to one place. Here, air drying takes the win. When I air dry, it takes me about 45 minutes to detangle and although it takes longer for my hair to air dry, I get to do more, move more, be more… okay, maybe not the last one.


  • Roller sets — As I mentioned above, roller sets are a great way to achieve straight hair and curls without using a flat iron or curling iron. I think styling wise, air drying and roller set results are nearly a tie. I love my big air dried hair but I love wearing my hair straight just a little bit more.


  • Air drying — Air drying wins this round as well. It takes much less manipulation to detangle and air dry than roller setting. When I roller set, I detangle first with my largest wide-toothed comb (Hercules Sagemann #5580) and then follow up with a smaller toothed comb to smooth the hair before rolling it onto the roller. To read how I Decrease Breakage When Roller Setting, follow the link! With the use of the tips in the linked post, I don’t see much breakage when I roller set but nevertheless, it still takes more comb action (and parting) to roller set than it does to air dry.

So there you have it, a few pros and cons to air drying and roller setting. Even though it seems like air drying pulled ahead, I’m not giving up my roller sets… I just need to work on being more patient 🙂


  1. Your hair looks great when it air dries unlike mine. which looks just nappy! Do you have some suggestions for beginners and detangling properly? Because now that I know the importance of deep conditioning weekly and co washing, I want to do it properly without causing anymore stress to my hair.

  2. After you roller set your hair, how do you wrap it for a smoother look ? I usually roller set my hair, then either flat iron or blow out the roots. I know this is stressful on the hair. Is there another option for a smooth look?

    1. Author

      Hi Alex, I cross wrap my hair. There is another option: after taking down your rollers, wrap your hair and cover with saran wrap and sit under the dryer for 10-15 minute. This will help smooth your hair without using direct heat. Hope this helps!

  3. Oh my! I can't believe it takes 2.5+ hours to dry your roller sets. It sounds like you've already got a lot of patience. 🙂 Great post.

  4. How do u get your hair straighter and less big after you have air dried it? Cause my hair does the same thing and the scarf method doesn't seem to work that well for me..

    1. Author

      Hi there, I don't do anything to my hair after it's dry to get straighter air dry results.

  5. Great post! Quick question: If you wash and air dry on the weekend, how do you typically style your air dried hair during the week? Are you limited to buns or do you get more creative?

    1. Author

      I either bun (out of laziness because buns are easy lol) or I wear my hair down. I'm pretty boring when it comes to styles.

  6. Great q's and a's! I'm finally "back" online so I'm forgive my commenting frenzy…I am warning you now! lol

  7. Great post! Maybe I don't spend enough time detangling because air-drying loose leads to major tangling for me…

  8. Roller sets hmm is my biggest challenge but as you encouraged me to start with baby steps that's what I'm doing. It's not easy but can be done. I love air drying; I use a bit of smoothing cream in addition to my leave in and serum and then finally seal it with oil when dried. I can safely say it's getting better

  9. How do I master roller setting?…that alone is a deterrent, not being able to do it, have any advise on how to get it perfect?

    1. Author

      Honestly – practice, practice, practice. It was such a struggle for me when I first learned how. Don't give up, you'll improve!

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