Top 10 Travel Size Hot Rollers to Pack for your Next Trip!

by Stephanie Sanchez
[ Veteran Hair Coach and Stylists ]

Do you have a trip planned? Is it a formal event? Is picture taking involved?

Weddings and formal events are probably the number one reason to use rollers and hot rollers.

The reason is, the best updos start with rollers.

But how do you get the results you want without packing a suitcase full of hair stuff? Because you'll probably want to bring some clothes as well!

What are the benefits and differences between hot-rolling your hair and traditional air-drying roller sets?

We will consider that, and lighter compact travel-sized versions of both.

Hot Rollers vs Roller Set​

Hot rollers are heated and then placed in the hair.  They are indirect heat. Indirect heat is much less damaging to the hair than direct heat. That means the hot rollers will only be as hot as they are going to get at the beginning, and then they start to cool off. Meanwhile, rearranging the bonds in your hair make a curly or wavy pattern.

Direct contact with a heat source could burn and damage the cuticle layers of your hair making it dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage.

Some hot rollers have the added features, like negative ions and steam (like Caruso).

The steam locks in the curl a bit better than heat alone.   Humidity resets the hydrogen bonds then as they cool, the new pattern is locked in the hair.

Steam is a good thing if you have bone straight or wavy hair. But very bad if you’ve got super curly or kinky Coily hair.  Since the humidity will be re-setting (reactivating) the stronger bonds of your natural curl, rather than the weaker ones of the temporary smother pattern.

We have discussed in the article best blow dryers for fine hair the topic of how negative ions are beneficial for your hair.

That leads us to why traditionally setting damp/wet hair using rollers lasts the longest.

Traditional roller sets may seem like a thing of the past, but they are the reason why our predecessors would go a week without washing their hair.   Still a huge weekly tradition in other countries.

Since the hair is wet/damp when you start out the tension actually helps to smooth super curly or kinky coily hair without the damage of heat or chemicals.

As mentioned above the Hydrogen bonds in your hair get reset when heat or humidity are introduced to the hair.  Hydrogen bonding is the reason why your hair frizzes and curls fall.

Direct heat can have a strong effect on those bonds.  But with direct heat, you risk prolonged exposure, damage to the cuticle, and over time breakage.  The effects of direct heat on the hair are cumulative, over time the hair gets worse and worse until it breaks.  Hair treatments can help prevent or repair. But it's the adage of “we need to give more than we take” from our hair, for it to be strong and healthy.

Indirect heat sources can soften the bonds, but these have less effect on the hair.

That is why hot rollers are quick and easy to use but the curls may not last like setting your hair traditionally.

When water is introduced and not just moisture (sweat or air humidity) all the hydrogen bonds become pliable to change.  When tension is applied and the hair dries completely in that state, all of the hydrogen bonds take the new shape until humidity or heat are.

Summary ​

  • Hot rollers don't usually leave demarcation
  • Hot rollers are quick and easy to use 
  • Hot curls may fall out faster
  • Roller setting is best to straighten curlier textures of hair.
  • Roller set lasts longer than hot set curls

Plastic Magnetic Rollers​

Best Rollers for Straightening and Smoother Hair

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How do these magnetic rollers work?​

Some people get confused by the name magnetic.  These don’t magically make your hair stick to them.  They don’t use a magnetic field. They use the same principle that electrostatic stickers use. If It's not static electricity, then what is it?  

Adhesive and Cohesive Forces

Cohesive forces are the inter-molecular forces (such as those from hydrogen bonding and Van der Waals forces) which cause a tendency in liquids to resist separation. These attractive forces exist between molecules of the same substance. For instance, rain falls in droplets, rather than a fine mist, because water has strong cohesion which pulls its molecules tightly together, forming droplets. This force tends to unite molecules of a liquid, gathering them into relatively large clusters due to the molecules' dislike for its surroundings.

Adhesive forces are the attractive forces between unlike molecules. They are caused by forces acting between two substances, such as mechanical forces (sticking together) and electrostatic forces (attraction due to opposing charges). In the case of a liquid wetting agent, adhesion causes the liquid to cling to the surface on which it rests. When water is poured on clean glass, it tends to spread, forming a thin, uniform film over the glass surface. This is because the adhesive forces between water and glass are strong enough to pull the water molecules out of their spherical formation and hold them against the surface of the glass, thus avoiding the repulsion between like molecules.-Libretexts

The smoothness of plastic, the fewer holes it has (thus more surface area to stick to) hair wetness, and using hair gel or other setting lotion, are all the factors involved in helping the hair sick magnetically to the rollers

Hair Curlers Rollers Silicon Hair Style Rollers​

Best Compact Travel Hot Rollers

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Okay, so air drying your hair on rollers is never easy especially if you need to sleep on them.  Japanese women had to rest their necks on wooden supports so that they didn’t mess up their hairdos. 

If you have time restraints while traveling or thick hair opt for a hooded dryer attachment to speed up drying time.

Hooded Dryer Attachment ​

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Pro tip:   When sectioning the hair for rollers.  The hair section should be 80% of the width of the roller and twice as wide as the diameter.
width of roller section

Velcro Roller​

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I have been using velcro rollers for years.  They are very versatile easy to use and lightweight. 

They are a little bit of bulky depending on how many you need. Since my hair is fine and Medium length I have a set of 18. Three different sizes that fit inside each other. 

Velcro rollers are great for dry or wet hair. If you are going to be drying your hair or if it's already dried, roll your hair before you get dressed or while you're doing your makeup. They add a lot of volume and refresh your style. Your own body heat a humidity can be just enough to reset your hair.  Also if you just blew out your hair the rollers can help set the hair as it cools, locking in the style. 

I use them to air dry my hair (if you have thicker hair you may need to use a hooded dryer attachment when traveling.)  Bobby pins are needed so they don't flop around. Be sure not to pull too much on your wet hair. 

Tip:  All roller setting can leave a demarcation where the spaces were between the rollers.   Wrap your hair in a doobie afterward so the hair relaxes and smooths out. 

Here’s how to do it -

Dominican Doobie Wrap And Cap Handmade​

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The downside to velcro rollers:  I feel that the rollers can pull your hair and cause a bit more to fall out than regular brushing. 

Tifara Beauty 42-pack ​

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For Spiral Curls and Thick Hair


  • Smoother Curl ​
  • No Demarcation on the hair
  • The best way to spiral​ ​


  • I find that they don't stay in my hair ​
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5 Best Travel Hot Rollers Sets​

Remington H1016 Compact Ceramic Worldwide Voltage​

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  • Most affordable
  •  Lightweight 1.55lbs​​
  • Dual voltage ​
  • Large set (10)​


  • J hooks: I personally don’t like them. my hair falls out (not great for fine hair)​

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Roller Hairsetter​

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  • Butterfly clips (great for fine or shorter hair)​
  • Lightest travel set at 1lb ​
  • Dual voltage ​



  • Smaller set (5)​

Conair Instant Heat Compact Hot Rollers​

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  • Smallest overall size for traveling ​
  • The lightest set of hot rollers for travel - 1lb​
  • Dual voltage ​
  • Large set (12) ​


  • J hook clips​

John Frieda Body & Shine Smooth Waves; 5 2-inch Jumbo Rollers​

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  • 2” rollers for volume not curl ​
  • Butterfly clips​
  • Dual voltage​


  • Weight 3 lbs​
  • No storage for clips ​
  • Small set (6)​

If you haven’t, why not check out some of the travel size hot Rollers!

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