Kay's hair is so pretty that she's earned herself more than 345,000 views in less than a week just for sharing the secret behind those curls. That secret is not a fancy curling wand or even an elaborate flatironing method. Her everyday mermaid waves are simply the work of some water and... socks. Yes, socks are apparently the best heatless hair curlers ever and we've totally been sleeping on them. Kay's video makes the process look almost too easy to be true: She simply separates her hair into sections and weaves a sock into each one. Cut to some time later when she pulls out the socks and boom — flawless ringlets.
Shortly after her first sock-curling video went viral, Kay posted a more in- depth tutorial. She starts with damp hair and doesn't mention any priming or styling products, which is bewildering to me, but I digress. She separates her hair into four sections and grabs four socks that are almost the same length as her hair. She uses a claw clip to attach one sock to the first section of hair and divides that section in half before wrapping both strands around the sock in a crisscross motion.
"You're going to want to take your two strands and wrap them around each other... so they form little Xs," she explains in the video. It looks a lot like braiding, just less elaborate. She secures the hair at the bottom with a tiny plastic hair tie, removes the hair clip, then repeats the process on the rest of her sectioned hair, and lets it dry.
Turns out, Kay is not nearly the first person to find results with this wacky yet effective trick. There are hundreds of people in the app's #SockCurls feed with equally effortless and envy-inducing curls. And it definitely didn't originate there. "The sock technique is age-old and has been around for centuries. It was very common in the 1950s and '60s with foam rollers, fabric, or strips of an old T-shirt," says hairstylist Justine Marjan.
First of all, you will look and feel fucking ridiculous while doing this — but the payoff is worth it if you've got hair on the longer and wavier side. The first time I tried sock curls, I did it in the morning so my hair could set as I did my makeup for the day — and so I didn't have to risk the socks falling out while I tossed and turned overnight. I got my hair a little more wet than damp and also raked a waving mousse through before getting the socks in place. I figured starting with wetter hair and some product might coax my uncooperative hair into more defined curls, but apparently, it is possible to do too much with this trick. I got soft waves instead of ringlet curls, but I wasn't upset.
I learned by repeating the process one more time that the key for me is to use less water and not even bother with product until my hair is totally dry. This trick, I've learned, will not do anything for you if you don't let your hair fully dry before removing the socks. Sock curling is definitely a winner in my book, but it does take some trial and error to nail down what works best for your hair.
As someone with fine and easily damaged hair, I'm always looking for new ways to avoid heat styling. I could just buy big foam rollers, but where's the fun in that? I've never found them all that comfortable, anyway. Consider sock curling a key part of my new morning routine. It's easy. It's quick. It's effective.
Angela Trakoshis, digital assistant beauty editor
Trakoshis, who's known in the ishonest offices for her supernaturally long and straight hair, almost always styles it with a heated tool. "One of the shitty things about having long hair is that there’s almost a need to heat style it," she says. "I'm always looking for beachy waves, which my trusty Amika High Tide Waver gives me. However, my hair gets damaged — quickly."
So Trakoshis was definitely skeptical about whether or not socks and some water could give her the same results as her most beloved heat tool. Nevertheless, she grabbed some socks out of her dad's dresser and went for it. Well, you see the results... I was shocked too.
She put her hair up in these socks and let everything dry while she slept. When she took the socks out in the morning, she did notice that some curls were flatter than others and used an iron to touch those up before leaving the house. The couple of flat curls, she thinks, is probably because she has so much hair.
"Because my hair is so long, it's heavy, which means it can get flatter on the top," she says. "When I woke up with the socks tied into my hair, I just fluffed up my roots with some texturizing spray, and I was ready to go."
Trakoshis probably won't be doing sock curling on the regular just because she likes the speed and efficiency of her heat tools. Still, she'd definitely recommend it to people with shorter and finer hair than hers.
Sabrina Chatlani, associate social media manager
Chatlani's hair is thick and wavy, so she had doubts about the socks' ability to curl it. Like Trakoshis, she slept with them and woke up to soft, disheveled waves. "This is the best technique because I can just fall asleep while my hair gets styled," she says. Although she thinks she needs to use some styling products the next time.
"I woke up with slightly damp hair, so I would definitely keep [the socks] in longer to make sure my hair is completely dry," she says. "I would also top it off with hairspray."
The success of sock curling seems to differ from person to person. Those with finer hair might reap more benefits because fine hair dries faster. Others might want to use a beach spray or hairspray after removing the socks, and some people might prefer to use a hybrid method by adding a little heat to create a bit of volume at the crown. Still, none of us could turn down the luxury of a method that does all — or most of — the styling work for you.
Now, see how hairstyling has evolved within the past 100 years:
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