Perm rods

If you want defined bouncy curls that last for days, one of the best ways this can happen is by doing a rod set. A method that has been in existence for years in the natural hair community, this is one safe and heat-damage-free way to get your curls popping and everybody admiring. This article will delve into what a rod set is, its benefits, and how to do it, and the inspiration you need to try it – so keep reading.

What is a rod set?

A rod set is a hair styling technique that involves wrapping sections of the hair around perm rods or flexible rods to create defined bouncy curls. As aforementioned, it is a heatless way of styling your hair. This means the ends and shafts of your hair are not exposed to the dangers of heat damage from heat styling tools such as hot brushes, curling irons/wands, and flat irons, among others.

When creating a rod set, the most common rods used are perm rods and flexible rods (a.k.a flexi rods). While these are designed to help you achieve well-formed curls, there are some key differences between them. Knowing these differences will help you determine which of these rods you want to use.

Flexi rods on Kathlyn Celeste

What’s the difference between perm rods and flexible rods?

1. Material

Perm rods are made of hard plastic/rubber which can be uncomfortable to sleep in if you leave them in your hair overnight. On the other hand, flexi rods are made of light foam materials which are less likely to cause you discomfort if you sleep in them.

2. Rigidity and flexibility

Flexi rods are easy to bend and manipulate which means you can use them to create different curl patterns. Perm rods, on the other hand, cannot be bent or manipulated.

3. Curls outcome

The resulting curls of flexi rods are looser waves while perm rods give tight coils.

How to do a rod set on natural hair with perm rods

To begin, you’ll need to get these tools and products:

  • Perm rods
  • Hair clips
  • Spray bottle containing water
  • (Spray) Leave-in conditioner
  • Mousse
  • Hair oil
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Blow dryer (optional)

1. Section and moisturize

On your freshly-washed hair, cut out a small section with your fingers. The amount of hair you cut out is left to your discretion and your part lines do not need to be straight and neat.

When the section is ready, spray the hair/apply your leave-in conditioner on that section and comb with a wide-tooth comb. It is important for you to comb as you want your hair smooth and free of knots and tangles.

Next, apply a few pumps of mousse all over the hair shaft from roots to tips until it is saturated. Finally, apply a few drops of hair oil to that same hair section for shine. You can comb that section again to get an even distribution of the products on your hair.

2. Roll and rotate

Start by rolling the ends of your hair and the perm rods together. It is important that your ends are flat and secure on the perm rods as this will ensure there is little to no frizz in the final curls’ outcome. After securing the ends of your hair on the perm rods, rotate the hair twice or three times before rolling up. Continue to do this: roll and rotate until you get to the roots of your hair. This technique will make your roots less puffy in the final outcome. Then clip the perm rods in place. Continue to do this until your hair is covered in perm rods.

Tip: if you are using perm rods and want more fullness at the top, use the larger perm rods at the top.

3. Dry

Leave the hair to dry overnight but make sure you wrap/cover it in a satin/silk scarf/bonnet. This is important to keep your curl pattern from getting disrupted, tangling, and frizz. However, if you don’t want to leave overnight, you can speed up the drying process with a blow dryer. Separate the curls. Gently take out the perm rods from your hair. Apply a few drops of oil on your fingertips and gently separate a curl into smaller ones, ensuring you follow the curl pattern. The oil will provide a slip between your hair and fingers as you separate the curls. Separating a curl into smaller ones will help you get more volume. You can also get more volume by using a pick comb to gently lift the hair at the roots.

For a visual guide on how to achieve a perm rod set, watch LaToya Ebony Hair’s tutorial:

How to do a rod set on natural hair with flexi rods

  • Flexi rods
  • Hair styling foam (mousse)
  • Spray bottle of water

1. Section and moisturize

Like the steps followed above, start by putting your freshly-washed hair in sections for easy styling. Next, spritz a section of hair with water from your spray bottle and apply a couple of pumps of mousse on your fingertips to be massaged into the section of hair. You may also follow this up with the application of a few drops of hair oil into the hair.

2. Use the flexi rods

Begin the flexi rod process by twisting your hair at the roots. This way, there will be no puffiness at the roots when you’re done rolling the hair with the flexi rods. Next, wrap the ends of your hair securely on the flexi rods and continue wrapping all the way up. After that section of hair is securely wrapped, bend the flexi rod to a more tucked-in position. Continue doing this until you’ve got your entire hair covered in flexi rods.

3. Dry and take them out

Leave the hair to completely air dry or use a hair dryer to hasten the drying process. After this, take out your flexi rods. Next, pick a curl and separate it into smaller curls with your oiled fingertips. Do this for all the curls. Finally, lift the roots with a pick comb for more volume.

Nae2Curly’s video tutorial will guide you on how to use flexi rods on your natural hair:

Rod set natural hairstyles

1. Perm rod set with middle part

Perm rod set on natural hair with middle part
PICTURED: Karina Karen

2. Updo with curled tips of already-twisted hair

Rod set Updo with curled tips of already-twisted hair
PICTURED: Faithys 4C Curls

3. Perm rod set on short natural hair

Perm rod set on short natural hair
SOURCE: @hairizat

4. Perm rod set + shaved sides

Woman with a perm rod set and shaved sides on short, red hair

5. Two-toned perm rods set

Two-toned blonde and brown perm rods set on natural hair
SOURCE: @dayelasoul

6. Flexi rod set on blown-out natural hair

Flexi rod set on medium length blown-out natural hair
SOURCE: Christin Brooks

7. Flexi rod set with the middle part

Flexi rod set with the middle part
PICTURED: Kristina Johnson

8. Flat twists updo + flexi rods set

Flat twists updo on natural hair with flexi rods set
SOURCE: Brenna Bynum

9. Flexi rod set on dyed hair

Flexi rod set on long, red dyed hair

10. Updo flexi rod set with blond highlights

Updo flexi rod set on natural hair with blond highlights
SOURCE: @karenbradleybrown

Will you be trying a rod set soon? Let us know in the comments.