how to dry set your hair

hello my beauties,

If any of you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have seen that I’m starting to get to grips with styling my hair. I’ve recently had my hair cut into a middy to help the curls get that full vintage look. For this tutorial, I’ve “dry-set” my hair using foam rollers. As I have fine hair that dislikes holding a curl, this is the best way for me to get long-lasting bouncing curls.

The first step I took was to get my hair cut into a Middy. I managed to find this image online.

For the record, I’m not very good at explaining myself, so I always  take a picture in. This is the one I ended up taking in, and we tweaked the length a little.

middy hair cut diagram

If you don’t know, a middy cut is a style that was used in the 40’s and 50’s to get perfect curls easily. With the war going on, women kept their hair short as a show of solidarity, plus it was easier to keep out-of-the-way when working. Most modern haircuts (think the Lob) are actually based off this too. It’s not a very long cut, 6 inches is the longest, and it’s layered so you get bouncy, beautiful curls. Now this tutorial, can be used on any hair with layers, not just a middy. But, I thought I would give you a bit of the history being as that’s the hair I have.

Firstly, let me show you my hair when it’s not been set. This is just my natural, dry hair. No styling products, nothing. You’ll also be able to see the curve of the cut at the front. I apologise for the horrendous quality, I had no assistant, and I cut myself on my tripod so I wasn’t really in the zone.

unstyled middy

At the back, it kind of sits in a U shape. I couldn’t get a decent picture of the back but you get the idea anyway.

unstyled middy

Without further delay, I’ll show you how to dry set using foam rollers for your own vintage curls.

How to dry set your hair for perfect vintage curls.

You will need:

dry set using foam rollers

Preparing your hair.

To start, make sure that your hair is brushed. No snags or tangles here please. You need your hair to be as smooth as possible so that the curls are neat. Next section your hair. I do two parts on each temple, running back to the back of my ears. Clip those out-of-the-way. Then divide the remaining hair at the back of your head in half vertically from the crown to the nape of your neck, clip these sections too.

To start, take a section of hair from the top of one of your front sections, and brush or comb through the length to make sure it’s smooth. Then take your setting lotion, and spray the entire length of the section. I do it piece by piece, because otherwise the setting lotion tends to dry before I’ve finished my whole head. You want the hair to be damp, not soaking otherwise it’ll take ten years to dry. Believe me, I’m speaking from experience here.

Starting to roll.

  • Take a roller, and starting a rollers width from the ends of your hair, wind your hair on to the roller. Do this from underneath, and roll in a downwards motion. Make sure that the ends are tucked in under the hair as you roll, otherwise the ends of your hair will be all over the place.
  • I roll mine in slightly angled as you can see. This seems to make it a bit more flattering on me as the curls tend to sit around the face a bit neater.
  • Once you’ve done one side, repeat on the second. I usually end up using 4 -5 rollers on each side. The take the remaining rollers that you have, and divide them in half. I find this is the easiest way to make sure that you don’t run out and have to have one massive piece at the end.
  • Next, take one of your back sections, and starting from the top again, start the process again. The section of hair I take is usually moderately thick, and about 3/4 the length of the roller. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of how big a section I use.
  • Repeat on the other side, until you’ve rolled up all of your hair.

dry set with foam rollers

Once you’re done, you should have something like this. I push all the rollers on the top of my head downwards a bit at this point. This gives the flatter look that we are going for. If you want a full head of curls, you would skip this step. Make sure that all the curls on the top have the plastic holder twisted around, this is so you aren’t left with bumps tomorrow.

dry set with foam rollers

Pop on your hair net, or tie your scarf around all the rollers and it’s time for bed. This keeps them all in place, and I find it’s much more comfortable to sleep with them all in one place.

Next day.

Remove your hair net. Starting at the bottom this time, remove all the foam rollers by carefully unwinding them. I start on one side of my head, working my way around taking the bottom ones out. Then I move around my head layer by layer. I found this makes it much easier to stop everything tangling up.

brushing out your dry set

A word of warning. You will look like a Shirley Temple wannabe at this point. But never fear, it’s time for the brush out. Some say this is the most important part of all, as everything now seems to come together.

Brush Out.

Take a plastic or nylon bristled brush. I use the classic styling brush by Denman which I find stops my hair becoming a frazzled, untidy mess. Grab a curl and firmly brush through. You’ll notice that the curl drops out a lot, and becomes much more smooth. Grab more sections and brush them together with the parts you have done. Doing this in the same sections you parted your hair in at the start helps this process.

brushed out curls vs fresh set curls

To show you how it starts to look after you’ve brushed it out I took this picture. On the right, is after my brush out. On the left, well Shirley Temple ahoy is all I’m saying.

vintage curls after setting middy

Carry on until you’ve brushed out all the curls. Brush them in the direction you want them to sit, manoeuvring with your hands. Try not to use your fingers, as this separates the curls. A quick spray with hairspray and you’re done. PS do you like the fact that my dress matches the kitchen? 😉

So there you have it. The setting process from start to finish. It takes me about 20 minutes to put the rollers in at night-time, then 5-10 minutes in the morning to brush out my curls. It may take a little longer when you first start, but you’ll start to get quicker.

I hope you found this useful, let me know if any of you try it or if you have any questions. I’m happy to help 🙂

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