How I Create Classic Voluminous Curls

A step-by-step guide to the hair products and techniques I use everyday!


I’ve been getting inundated with emails, DMs and comments about my hair routine lately, so thought I’d give you a quick breakdown of how I create the classic voluminous curls I’ve been sporting in recent months.  Believe it or not, it’s a very simple process that really only requires 2-3 products and a trusty set of HOT ROLLERS!  I know, I know, the 80s called and want their hair tools back.  But hear me out on this one.  I break down exactly what products and tools I use and exactly why I use them below.  If you’re shocked and confused at my mention of hot rollers, you’re going to want to read up!


Before jumping in, I should mention that my hair is naturally straight, and the process I detail below starts right after I’ve blow-dried my hair (I use this blow dryer).  If you have naturally curly hair, you’d likely need to straighten your hair first—either with a flat iron or with a round brush—before jumping in.





Favorite Dry Shampoos:

Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo

SHOW Beauty Premiere Dry Shampoo

DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo (Brunette version HERE!)


Favorite Volumizing Powders:

Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion

Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder


After blow drying my hair, I always spray dry shampoo lightly throughout my roots, particularly on the crown of my head.  This not only helps add texture and volume to that area, but (fun fact!) it also extends your blow out.  Applying dry shampoo right after showering actually prevents oil buildup and does wonders for making your hair last for 2-3 days before the next wash (which is optimal for healthy hair).  You don’t want to wait until your hair is already super oily to start the dry shampoo process.


PSA: If you’re a brunette that’s frustrated with the light powder of dry shampoos showing up on your dark roots, check out this dry shampoo that’s designed specifically for darker hair colors!


In terms of laying a volume-optimized foundation for this hair style, dry shampoo at the roots is my go-to starting point on a daily basis.  However, when I’m really looking for extra volume for a special occasion or my hair just feels lifeless, I’ll also sprinkle volume powder lightly at the roots as well.  When using these products, remember two things: (1) a little goes a long way; and (2) you have to work the products into your hair and give them a little time to set.  Don’t be discouraged if your hair feels sticky and weird immediately after you apply.  If you continue through the process, the products settle in and you’ll start to see results.



Mary Orton wears a See by Chloe front-zip denim dress, a white layering turtleneck, a brown Frame leather belt, brown suede over-the-knee boots and a burgundy Zara moto jacket




Favorite Volumizing Hairspray:  Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray


After applying dry shampoo and volumizing powder at the roots of my hair, I lightly spray this hairspray throughout my hair.  When it comes to dry shampoos and volumizing powders, as noted in the section above, I have a few favorites that do a great job.  However, when it comes to hairspray, I’ve never found a hairspray that holds a candle to this Spray & Play hairspray when it comes to volume and hold.  After spraying it through my hair, I give it a second to dry and then completely brush out my hair again before using the hot rollers.






My favorite hot rollers for tighter curls: Remington Compact Hair Rollers

My favorite hot rollers for larger curls: Conair BaByliss Pro Nano Hot Roller Set  (also very similar set here by the same brand)


If you get the right hot rollers and give yourself a week or two to get used to using them, I promise you, you’ll never look back.  There are three main game-changer reasons I use hot rollers:


(1) WAY BETTER FOR YOUR HAIR // Hot rollers are much much better for your hair than a curling iron or flat iron.  Since hot rollers sit in your hair for a longer period of time, they’re able to use a much lower heat temperature, slowly curling and adding volume, instead of scorching.


(2) SO MUCH FASTER // If you’ve never used hot rollers before, it will take a few times to get use to wrapping your hair around each roller.  But after a bit of practice, I promise you will find that the entire process of doing your hair is INSANELY FAST.  To achieve this look, it takes me about 7 minutes total to do my hair from start to finish.  NOT KIDDING.  Instead of the painstaking process of curling each 1-2 inch section of hair with a curling iron, I throw each section of hair into its respective roller (it takes me about 3-4 minutes for my entire head), do my makeup for 10-15 minutes while the rollers set, then pull out all of my rollers, brush/shake it out, and I’m done.


(3) WAY MORE VOLUME  //  Since hot rollers aren’t ironing out your hair (and flattening the cuticle), you’ll find that they produce significantly more bounce and volume from root to tip.


A MAJOR DON’T:  I have used hot rollers since I was in middle school, so trust me on this one: DO NOT buy hot rollers that come with plastic clamps (that look like large butterfly clips, as pictured in this article).  Only buy hot rollers that come with metal clips like the two sets that I link to above.  In recent years, tons and tons of companies have been selling hot rollers with large plastic clamps because they think the average consumer will find them easier and more convenient to use than the skinny metal clips.  The downside?  I guarantee you will have giant crimps in your hair from where the plastic clamp holds the roller in place.  They’re virtually impossible to prevent with plastic clamps and I’ve found that this is the reason 99% of people think they hate hot rollers—because they have no idea that the crimps that they see throughout their hair after they take the rollers out are due to the crummy plastic clamps.  Metal clips secure the rollers in a way that totally prevents any crimping effect.


TECHNIQUE TIPS:  When using hot rollers you have two options: (1) You can roll horizontally from the bottom tips of your hair to your scalp; or (2) You can roll vertically, starting at your roots and wrapping your hair around the roller from there.  I almost always use option one to create that bouncy, retro look, but if you want to achieve a more tousled, modern effect, you can also try the second technique.





Favorite Volumizing Hairspray:  Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray


After pulling the hot rollers out, I lightly brush my hair and spray all over the same volumizing hairspray that was used in Step Two above.  Et voilà!



Let me know if you have any questions below!!

34 thoughts on “How I Create Classic Voluminous Curls”

  1. Love this! I definitely want to try that. I have thick hair so I spend over an hour sometimes curling my hair and it STILL doesn’t turn out the way I want it to. I’m all for quick & Easy so this sounds like the go to hack for me. Thanks for sharing!!

        1. I have straight hair, but according to my curly-haired friends, the answer is yes! They typically blow dry it straight (sometimes use a straightener as well) and then put in the hot rollers. : )

  2. Thank you! I had a suspicion that hot rollers were the trick. With these product recommendations, I’ll try going back to them. Interesting tidbit about the butterfly clips. Also, Do you have enough of the 10 rollers per set? I have a lot of fine hair and I always seem to need a dozen or so.

    1. I have really thick hair and these work great for me! But, when I do smaller sections of hair, I’ve thought about buying two sets of the Remington rollers so that I have more of them to use. That might be a good idea!

  3. This post came at the perfect time for me. I have recently grown my hair our from a bob and I have been struggling to find a way to add volume and interest. I have ordered everything in this post and I cannot wait to perfect this style on myself.

  4. I recently cut my hair into a little shoulder skimming bob and I used to love doing hot rollers in my longer hair. Would you recommend the larger or smaller rollers for short hair? With the big ones I’d be concerned that maybe my hair wouldn’t wrap around the roller enough times to get true loopy curls, but I’ve never used smaller rollers and also would be afraid of a Shirley Temple look.

  5. What set do you recommend for fine shoulder length hair? In the pic in the fushia suit, is that tight or loose curls?

  6. Hi Mary,

    I have a really hard time keeping my hair looking good Day 2 and 3 (see: rat’s nest) when I add hairspray to my hair. How do you preserve the volume/bounce in the morning without ripping out half of your hair?

  7. Hey! Question: I have been using hot curlers since I read this post, but I am struggling with my hair looking messy and “frizzy” with the hairspray. How do get yours to be so soft and smooth?!?

    1. If the ends are looking crimped and frizzy, then you might need to be careful with how you’re wrapping each section of hair around the curler barrels. Think of each curler barrel as a curling iron or curling wand. Hair needs to be wrapped flatly and evenly around each one in order to produce a smooth curl. Aside from that, if you happen to have curly or really wavy hair, you might need to straighten it beforehand (either with a blow-dryer and round brush or a flatiron).

  8. Any tips on keeping your hair looking great through gym sessions in the morning? I’d love to do this but I go to the gym every morning before work. How do you keep your hair from getting that wacky hair tie crimp in it?

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  10. Mary,

    Your hair is beautiful! I just recently moved to NYC and was wondering if you had a hair stylist you use that you could recommend? Your layers are sensational.


    Mary I love your style your clothes and hair! Do you recommend a UK version of the rollers? I’m struggling to find the conair babyliss version.

    Kind Regards

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