Straw set curls are a tight version of corkscrew curls, popular in the mid-20th century. The straw set method of curling hair is used for naturally curly hair, such as African American hair, as well as straight or relaxed hair. Drinking straws and bobby pins are essentially all that are needed to create this curly, versatile hairdo. The diameter of the drinking straw determines the diameter of the curl.
The first step in the straw set method is washing and conditioning your hair according to your usual routine. Naturally curly hair is often dry and porous due to the lifted cuticle. Use a conditioner designed for your particular hair type for best results. Prevent breakage of naturally curly hair by using a wide-toothed comb for detangling. Assemble straw set curl supplies: a rat-tailed comb, hair clips, drinking straws, setting lotion and bobby pins. End papers -- the type used with hair permanents -- can be used if they are available. Scissors are also needed if you plan to cut the straws.
A straw set allows you to gain control of naturally frizzy hair, but it is also a popular style for people with straight hair who want lots of curls. Short hair can be set with straws in horizontal or vertical rows. Medium-length or long hair should be set in vertical rows. For short, horizontal rows, cut straws to the desired length. For short hair set in vertical rows, cut straws to the length of the hair. Medium or long hair uses full-length straws in vertical patterns.
To do a straw set, section off hair, using the tail of the rat-tailed comb to part hair. Clips hold sections out of the way so that one section at a time is set. Setting lotion is applied to strands of hair before each strand is twisted around a straw. End papers are used to keep the ends from straying. Fasten the rolled hair to the straw with bobby pins inserted into the straw at the top and bottom. Smaller sections create tighter tendrils; larger sections create looser curls.
After hair is completely dry, remove hair pins and gently twist each straw back and forth to dislodge it from the curl without disturbing the curl. Leave hair as it is, or rub a small amount of oil or conditioner into the palms of your hands and run your fingers through your hair for a loose-curl hairdo.
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For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.