Last summer, I visited my parents back home in San Angelo. Every time I walk through their door, I’m hit with the huge amount of snacks and knickknacks my mom has gathered for my arrival. But on this trip, what I really wanted wasn’t Cheetos Puffs or IPSY bags. It was under the bathroom sink and had been collecting dust for more than five years.

I headed to my mother’s bathroom, where I’d watched her get ready for work, spray-paint her hair green for a makeshift haunted house, and burn her fingertips off with the latest straightening tools. I opened the bottom drawer and found them: her purple and gray hot rollers. 

The main goal of a true Texas blowout is volume—almost too much of it—and I spent many mornings watching my mom secure the U-shaped metal torture clips around each roller to create what the girls on TikTok are now calling “the blowout look.” The end result is big, bouncy curls that look as if they’re toppling over one another like a waterfall. (Despite the current trend toward middle parts, your part is most likely to the side. This allows for double the volume on whichever side of your head you favor.) When I was growing up, there was always something special about those Conair hot rollers. No matter how many times I made comments about the amount of hair spray my mom would use, I always admired how her hair had a life of its own. 

Today, I can’t open Instagram without seeing ten examples of the big Texas hair I’ve always associated with the smell of hair spray, lots of back-combing, and Friday night football games. My mom, unaware that her lifelong love of big hair has come back into fashion, says she’s “with the times now” and uses a straightener to create her curls. But when I sought to re-create the look, I wanted to do it without hair-damaging hot tools.

I went back to basics and asked my mother and her friends, my coworkers, and all the other women in my life how they used to get their hair up high. From perms (“Hey, it was the eighties”) to very specific ways to flip and flop your hair around while spraying Aqua Net, I tried out every heatless hair trick out there. Only one will become a staple.

Beer cans

I grew up hearing stories about my grandmother, the matriarch of a military family who spent time living on a military base in Taiwan. She didn’t have access to extras like hair tools, and she, like the rest of her military-wife neighbors, would often use beer cans to curl her hair. The only problem for me was that the cans needed to be empty, so to save face, I gathered all the empty Rambler cans I could find from fellow colleagues. 

How I secured the cans to my head was a work of faith and determination. My grandmother would loosely drape a headscarf over her head to keep everything in place; a colleague told me that her sister used to use orange-juice jars and Dippity Do hair gel. I found some metal sectioning clips that had tiny teeth and began shoving them into any open spots between my scalp and each can. It wasn’t easy, and most times, I got lucky if the can stayed on my head. To smooth down the curls and ensure the cans wouldn’t be wiggling around, I used a headscarf.

My grandmother and her friends would often clean the house, take care of the kids, and cook three meals all while having their hair up in cans. As for me, I sat stiff as a board catching up on the latest episode of The Last of Us and FaceTimed friends for the next few hours to show them my new, revolutionary hair trick. After what I went through trying this hack, I believe there must have been some sort of second-wave feminism sorcery keeping everything in place. The cans didn’t curl my hair or give it any volume like I needed them to. If I’d had more patience with the cans, the curls might have come out better, but I say, stick to drinking out of ’em. 


The most humbling of hair hacks involves leggings. I started with a pair on my head, with a leg hanging down by each ear. With my own pants in my face, I began the process of looping a strand of hair over the leggings, pulling more hair each time as if I was braiding my hair. Starting from the top and spiraling toward the bottom, I twisted each legging-pigtail hybrid and secured the curl with a scrunchie. (If you do this correctly, you will resemble Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter when you’re done.) The best part of this hack was pulling the waistband of my leggings over the curls to protect them while sleeping. 

The next morning, I woke up feeling dissatisfied. As someone who sleeps on her side, having two huge lumps flanking my head was not ideal. The curls that resulted held more weight at the bottom rather than giving all-over volume. They weren’t as cookie cutter–shaped as I would’ve liked. They were messy wannabe curls, not Texas curls. Did it work? Kind of. Will I do it again? Perhaps. However, I will never look at those leggings the same way again. 

Stray Socks

For my next trick, I utilized another object from my closet, a method that felt strikingly similar to the leggings one mentioned above. Using socks as a heatless hairstyling option has seemingly just found its way to social media last month. Most videos start out the same—“You guys will never believe how I did this to my hair”—as the girl shows off her perfect hair in the greatest blowout known to man. No way socks did that. I digress. 

I grabbed three of my longest socks, heeding the tip to not use fuzzy socks, as the hair won’t curl the same. My hair was slightly damp, which I believe is the key to most of these hacks—you want your hair to dry around the object you’re using to curl it. I sectioned my hair off into three pieces: the lowest layer, the middle layer, and the bang area (think: bangs and fringe). From there, you have to treat each sock like a flexible, and perhaps polka-dotted, roller.

I started with the sock placed horizontally across the tip of the lower strip, rolling upward toward my scalp. I repeated this with the middle layer. The most important layer is the bangs—make sure to roll toward your forehead instead of toward your scalp. You may look like a founding father, but once you flip your hair once or twice, it’s yearbook-photo worthy. This will give you a crazy amount of volume. To tie each layer off, I suggest longer socks: you can use the ends of the sock to tie around the curl so no clips are necessary.

This time, sleeping was much easier. I unrolled each curl in the morning, and when I tell you it was like my hair had a life of its own, I’m not lying. It had the greatest amount of bounce—the kind that makes you want to reach out and uncoil it just to watch it spring back up. It felt like a trip to the rodeo back in the seventies with your hot pants on. If you like a big-blowout-with-defined-curls look, this method is a must.

Velcro Rollers

My last attempt at the heatless curls, and my fourth night of sleeping with foreign objects tied to my head, was with the velcro rollers you can find at almost any store. They’re just like hot rollers without the heat, and with a built-in strip of velcro to keep everything secure. Rolling from the bottom of each hair section to the top, this was the easiest and fastest hack I tried.

You can sleep in these rollers or just wear them as you’re getting ready, which is super convenient. I used a blow-dryer to make sure everything was dry before I rolled them out, which I believe was a great move. The very minimal heat reinforced the curls, which allowed the definition to last a bit longer. After taking the rollers out, I followed some wisdom a colleague told me one morning at the office. I bought the iconic Aqua Net hair spray. This specific hair spray, which was the subject of a lawsuit in 1989 for not having adequate warnings on the bottle, was often used by punk rockers and Texas women alike, as the hair spray was sure to keep your hair in place. Following instructions from a colleague, I flipped my head to the left, sprayed at the root, and let it dry. I did the same with the right side and the hair at the nape of my neck. The blowout had been great before the hair spray, but after, there was no contest. It was the definition of the perfect Texas blowout.