If you’ve ever twirled a lock of hair around your finger andlonged for its spirally shape to hold for more than a few seconds, you are the reasonthat flexi rods were invented. Flexirods are easy to use on dry or wet hair and produce a multitude of resultsdepending on the size, hair moisture, and length of time you leave them in. Flexi rods are long foam tubes with a wire down the middle that come in varying thicknesses. They’re pretty straightforward as far as hair tools go, especially when it comes to afro-textured hair.
If I had known how easy flexi rods were to use on relaxed ornatural hair, I would never have spent so much time with my curling iron. Whileyou can use heat to achieve curls faster, the flexi rod offers a heat-free (and, therefore, damage-free) way to make your curl dreams come true. Like the classic twist out, a flexi rod style can last for multiple days if youprotect the resulting curls in your sleep and keep your hair moisturized. They come in avariety of sizes for tight, spiral curls to big, loose curls and are one of thesafest ways to stretch your hair while keeping a curl pattern.
As I mentioned, you can use flexi rods on both wet and dry hair, but it will give you different results. To show that variation, I recruited a friend who let me use the rods on her dry strands while I used them on wet curls. Here’s how it went down!
1. Hair Prep
Like any protective style, you are going to get the bestresults on detangled hair. For Shareefah’s dry hair style, I used a homemadeleave-in conditioner to help soften her curls for me to detangle. First, I wetthe ends and root of her hair with a spray bottle full of distilled water andthen I applied the leave-in from the root to the end, giving the ends someextra TLC. Since her hair wasn’t freshly washed, we had to be take intoconsideration that heavy oils would sit on top of the hair and only used asmall amount of product on each section.
My preparation took slightly longer. I used a shampoo-freerinse to clean my hair and then lightly finger-detangled in a deep conditioningtreatment. After I rinsed my hair thoroughly, I applied a lighter leave-in conditioner.
2. Pre-Roll Detangling
Since Shareefah’s hair was already in a protective style, Iknew her knots weren’t going to be an issue. I sectioned her hair into six large parts, then divided those into two or three, depending on the kinkiness of the section. Detanglingeach large section took less than a minute: I used the CricketUltra Smooth Detangling Brush and started at the ends and worked my way upto the root.
Cricket Ultra Smooth Detangling Brush, $13, Ulta
I woke up with my hair detangled, but apparently sh*t wasgoing down on top of my head without my realizing it because my hair was atangled mess. I divided my hair into 6 sections and then broke them down intothrees to detangle with the ConairHi-Style Rubber Cushion Brush. After I finished a section, I put it into loose twists and moved on to the next section. This was mainly to keep my hairfrom shrinking and tangling back up which happens to my Type 4 hair when wet.
Conair Hi-Style Rubber Cushion Brush, $12.95, Ulta
3. Sectioning For Flexi Rods
Shareefah’s hair was already winning the race against time;I was able to use the rods right away because her hair was dry and totallyknot-free. So, within each of those six sections, I sprayed water, appliedleave-in throughout the section, ran my fingers through the section, ran thedetangling brush through her hair, and immediately wrapped her hair around theflexi rod.
For myself, about three hours after I began cleansing my hair, Iwas ready to use the curlers. It was becoming apparent that using flexi rods on wet hair is more time consuming than starting dry. You’ll want to clear your schedule to get thebest results.
4. Wrapping The Flexi Rods
For waves on the dry style, I used 12 of the flexiblerollers. I started at the end of the hair and wrapped it underneath the centerof the roller, then wrapped clockwise around the parameter of the roller untilI reached the root of the hair. I then twisted each end of the rod to securethem before moving onto the next section. The entirety of moisturizing,detangling, and rolling took a little over an hour on dry, medium-length hair.
Since my twists were in various sizes, some sections werewrapped around together while others were separated in two sections and wrappedaround the rod independently. For each section, I ran a wide-tooth comb through, carefully making sure my hair was completely detangled and knot-freebefore applying the rollers. Then, I wrapped the ends of my hair underneath atthe end of the rod, wrapping around the parameter of the rod until the root,bending both ends of the rod to secure them. This took about 30 minutes, butmost of that time was spot detangling the sections.
5. Dry/Set Time
After Shareefah’s hair was complete with flexi-rods, I toldher the bad news: she would be traveling on the subway in rollers and sleepingin them to set the shape. Fortunately, it was easy to disguise the rollers witha large, patterned scarf made out of satin/silk blend to retain the moistureand protect her hair dignity. She kept the rollers in overnight for a total of12 hours.
For my wet style, I decided to let my hair dry naturally andslept in a Sue Maesta’s Hood — which is basically a giantheadband that completely covers your hair. The hood is great for sleepingwith rollers because the opening allows your scalp to breath and thestretchiness will prevent the wrap being too tight when covering the rollers.
When I woke up the next day, about seven hoursafter my rollers were put in, my hair was dry enough for me to go under a standuphairdryer on low heat — after putting on a heat cap, of course.
After Shareefah took out her flexi rods, herhair was fluffy and wavy, “This is definitely good for my texture tostretch it. [I expected it] to just kink up and poof. It didn’t! This would begreat for me when I want to do a twist out style on stretched hair.” Theresults of her dry flexi rods show above are with no product, just a quick take-down ofthe hair.
My hair was incredibly moisturized when I took it out, mostly because I couldn’t stay under the hairdryer for the full hour. Much like when I’m waiting for my nails to dry, I was up every 10 minutes finding something I absolutely had to do. So, I stayed in my rollers for another day and when I took them out, my hair had all types of life.
7. Styling The Waves
Since Shareefah’s hair was wavy on a windy day, she scooped her waves in a bun to keep the wavy effect without losing the volume from external factors. If hair is clean and freshly conditioned, the effects would have been longer lasting and she could have worn her hair out. Now that she’s able to tell which sections she’d like smaller and which larger, she’ll have no trouble rocking a dry-flexi-rod style completely out.
I’m used to my hair being larger, but I went with my hair throughout the day and was thrilled at the amount of hair compliments thrown my way. I scooped my hair on top of my head that night and while the curls didn’t keep, my hair was still textured and happy the next day.
I think it’s fair to say that flexi-rods work on both dry and wet hair, but the results of spiral curls all day are more significant on wet hair. Personally, I find all the extra time it takes to prep wet hair for the flexi rods well worth it.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (15)