How to Rag Curl Your Hair

The first time I looked up rag curling, there wasn’t much info about it available. There were a handful of sites that explained it to some degree, so I decided to follow the advice of one site that recommended you place around 40 rag curls in your hair.

I only managed to get 20, and the result was that I looked like Donna Summer at the height of disco fever.


Now that rag curling is becoming more popular, there are more sites out there (blogs, mostly) that tell you how to do it correctly. If done correctly, you bypass the child beauty pageant contestant look and wind up with gently curled hair that looks something like this:


So lemme explain just a few things before we get started:

1.) This is a wet-set method. Do this at night with slightly damp hair (takes me less than 10 minutes to set my hair) and sleep on it. Take the rags out the next morning (takes 2 or 3 minutes) and that’s it. Or, do it in the morning and wear your hair up in a scarf all day (8-12 hours depending on the thickness of your hair) and take the rags out at night.
2.) Less is more. I have long, very thick hair, and do 6 curls for gently curled hair and 8 curls for bigger hair. More curls = more volume.
3.) If your hair doesn’t like to hold a curl, you’ll need to use setting lotion or a similar product that helps hold curls in place. I use Tresemme Curl Definition jelly. It’s like apple scented axle grease.

Alrighty. Let’s get down to bizzness.

You will need:


– Slightly damp hair. If it’s too wet the curls won’t dry.
Setting lotion or similar product, optional
– Cotton or linen rags. They should be 2-3 inches thick, and 8-10 inches long.
– A scarf. Not necessary, but keeps your hair out of your face and protects the curls during sleep.
– A brush or comb

First, brush your hair to remove tangles. Part your hair wherever you prefer. It’s a lot easier to part the hair ahead of time than trying to part it after it’s curled. Then, gather your hair into two more-or-less even bunches. Perfection is not necessary. Obviously.


I like to bring the two sections around in front of me so it’s easier to see what I’m doing.

Take a section of hair starting at the front, apply product if necessary, and place the end of the hair around the rag. Begin rolling it up toward your scalp. When you get as far as you can go, tie the rag under the hair. The higher and tighter you roll, the curlier the hair. Keep in mind how many curls per side you want to do, and try to keep the sections of hair of fairly equal thickness. (For these photos, I was doing 4 per side.)




Note that I’m just wrapping the hair around the rags, I’m not twisting the hair. If you spiral twist the section of hair and then roll it, it becomes frizzy and tangled a lot easier.

So. Repeat with the next section. And repeat. And repeat. Easy peasy.



Tie a scarf around your head if you like. To do that, fold your scarf into a triangle, and center the point of the triangle between your shoulderblades. I use the term ‘center’ loosely.


Bring the opposite edges of the scarf up to the top of your head and tie.


Bring the point of the scarf up to the front, making sure to tuck all the curls into the scarf. If you have a lot of hair, it will look like you’re smuggling hamsters up there.


Place the point right on top of the knot you’ve already tied. Tie the scarf again over the point. Tuck the loose ends underneath.



The next morning (or after 8-12 hours) untie the knots and carefully remove the rags. Be careful not to yank them out, just gently pull them and they should come right out. Loosen any tangles gently with your fingers, and that’s it.

It may seem like a lot of futzing around at first, but it’s actually pretty fast once you get used to it. Because no heat is used, it’s also gentle on your hair.
Curl on!

5 thoughts on “How to Rag Curl Your Hair

  1. wow! like ur site could be the first who has had picture step by steps that u can understand.

  2. I just can't seem to get the curls right >.< I have curly hair but it gets really curly into riglets at the bottom but at the top not so much & in the back it gets wavy so i thought doing this would be a healthy way to even out my curls what I am really confused about in all the "tutorials" is how to roll up the curls. When your first about to put a strand of hair on the rag, do you put it under the rag or over? does it make a difference cux my curls just wont come out :O

    1. The problem may be because you have curly hair already – when you try to add more it all goes bananas. You can put the strand of hair over or under the rag, it doesn't matter. Whichever is easiest for you. I usually wrap the end of the strand around the rag once or twice (with the rag underneath) and then roll it up.

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