Rod Set Tips for Natural Hair (Video)

Rod Set Natural Hair This is the first full-head rod set I’ve done since my transition in late 2010.  Whew!  What a task considering how much hair I have now compared to then.

First, here’s a list of the products I used and my routine.


Pre-Poo: Water, Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner (any drugstore) and Olive Oil

Shampoo: Kinky Curly Come Clean (Target)

Deep Conditioner: Organics Olive Oil Root Stimulator (Beauty Supply)

Leave-in Conditioner: Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp (Online)

Setting: Curls’ Goddess Curls (Target) & Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel (Walmart)

Moisturizer After Rod Removal: Jane Carter Nourish and Shine (Target)


  • I sat under the dryer for about an hour and slept in the rods the first night. After that, I slept in a large satin bonnet without rods.
  • On day 6 I added a headband (see video below) and wore that look for an additional 3 days.
  • I re-moisturized my hair with natural oils every 3-4 days.


  1. Jewel says

    Hi! I am 3 months in to my transition and I was wondering where you get your headbands/scarfs? I am off to explore more of your site!

  2. Sandy says

    Without seeing your hair, I’m going to take a wild guess based on my experience using rod sets. Some of the things that can create the Afro-ish appearance are the following:
    1) Not using some type of holding gel or cream
    2) Overlapping the hair on the roller instead of rolling it up peppermint style
    3) Using rollers that are much to big or to tiny
    4) Rolling the hair like the roller set when you had a perm in rows going horizontal all over the head
    5) Fluffing out the hair with fingers or comb instead of gently pulling the curl apart.
    6) Not making enough curls, so that the only way you can cover the spacey areas is to pull the hair apart which makes it look like an afro
    That said, take a look at Lisa’s videos where she demonstrates how to use the rod rollers. I think you’ll find what you’re doing wrong.
    Good luck.
    I’m sure Lisa will chime in.

  3. Denise says

    i must be doingg something wrong my hair comes out looking like a big fro from the 70s i have tried rod sets and twist outs trying to do it myself im at a lost of what to do with my all natural hair

    • lisa says

      Sandy gave great advice, and I really don’t have much to add. Can you give me more info on your technique and products you used? Also are you ensuring that your hair is drying completely? Do you use perm rods instead of sponge/soft rollers?

  4. Kenisha says

    Hi Lisa! You’ve inspired me to attempt my first rod set!! About how many rods would you guesstimate you use to do yours?

  5. says

    You are making me want to cross over to the other side! LOL, Your hair looks great. I am getting the urge, but I am not quite ready yet. I would like to try some new styles on my daughters though. They are both natural. I usually do braids or ponytails, but I want some of these jazzy styles. I have 2 left hands though!

  6. yalori says

    Hello. I am sooooo excited that I have chosen to go natural. I recently perked my hair on the 14th but I’ve had so many calcium build ups that the perm’s don’t take. I wear short cuts right now. How soon can I start with the transitioning styles? I’m loving throw rod look.

    • lisa says

      Hi Yalori

      You can start now. For example if you want to do a twist out, you’ll just have to rod the ends. I would start experimenting with the rod set at this point because this may just be your go-to style and it can last long if you do smaller rods. The rod set was the first style I started doing when transitioning.

  7. sandy says

    Hi Denise,
    I can tell you what works for me. I go through periods when my hair doesn’t hold twists and it is usually for one of these reasons: 1) I’m using too many products for moisture. Yes you can over moisturize. For me, glycerin is a problem and tends to make my hair too soft, at times, because as a humectant glycerine pulls moisture from the air. My hair becomes almost mushy like after the twists. So watch your products and see if there is some product that is making your hair too soft. It may not be glycerine for you though.
    2) Heat damage from blow drying destroys the curls over time if not done professionally.
    3) Sometimes I have to mix a product which has some holding power to my mix for twisting. For me that is a “pudding” or “gel”. Funny though: I can’t use gels by themselves or that makes my hair too hard. So maybe a dime amount of gel or a butter added to your mix will give you more hold.
    4) I also find when the tension I use for the twists is too light, it doesn’t hold. As a metaphor think of yarn. If you knit a little tighter the yarn when unraveled has more crinkles; by contrast, if you knit too loose then the yarn goes straight. So experiment with twists which are closer together or farther apart which translates into more or less twists on your head. Make sure you twist from the root. And don’t for get to twirl the ends with your fingers a couple or three times to make sure the ends wrap around each other for better hold.
    5) Sometimes I twist when the hair is more damp or wet. I get a stronger hold but my hair shrinks. Also if the twists are not the right size then the twists will turn to “coils” and not show a better curl pattern.

    In short I don’t know what your issue is; but I thought I’d share what I found for myself. Right now I twist using a mixture of an even amount of water, conditioner with oil(jojoba or olive oil) I spray on a little and this seems to work for me. I ‘ve also heard of people using Shea butter with an Aloe Vera gel mix and the two of those mixed together gives a better hold.(don’t put too much on or the hair can get gummy)
    Unfortunately twists demand experimentation until you find what works for your hair.

  8. Denise says

    hi my hair is so soft i have been twisting it i been natural for about 2 years it doesn’t hold well what can i do

    • lisa says

      Have you tried a twisting gel-like product that has some hold like Taliah Waajid Lock it Up? You can get it at most beauty supply stores.

  9. YOLANDA NERO says


  10. OCHUN says

    I love all of your videos and tips. I looked at your transitioning time line and it almost mirrored the same process that I went through and currently experiencing before and during my transition period. I am currently ending my 3rd month of transitioning, and just did my first rod set! It came out decent but I know practice makes perfect. I tried transitioning before but I “backslid” and texturized after 6 months. This website gives me so much motivational and inspiration to continue on this great journey. Thanks so much!!!

  11. Brandy says

    I stumbled upon your site trying to find new styles for my 3months natural hair. I have to say, your website and videos are really nice and exacly what I have been looking for as far as direction to take with this new me. Permed since the third grade and one day I just chopped it off. So I am at that awkward stage now! But I have hope after viewing your site. Thanks for the inspiration! (bookmarking your site)!!

  12. Amber D. says

    I got my relaxer on July 6th, 2012 and today I just decided to go natural! I was wondering if you had any extreme beginner’s tips/advice. Also, I just watched your video on doing rod twists on natural hair and I was wondering if that would work on my very relaxed hair just yet.
    Would washing my hair alot help wash out the relaxer in it now or will just time lead to the new growth?
    Should I just wait for when I start to see alot of new growth before I attempt a rod twist or any natural hairstyle?
    Do u recommend any hair magazines for girls making the transition?
    Sorry for the the mini novel I just wrote! lol

    • lisa says

      Hi Amber

      Washing the hair will not remove the relaxer. You just have to grow it out. The rod set will def work on your hair. In fact, it will probably last even longer with straighter hair. So I would definitely try that and you may find it’s a great go-to style. It was for me when transitioning.

      The twist out can work too but since you have so much relaxer you will need to rod the ends. Buy some very small rods at a beauty supply to curl the ends.

      As far as magazines, I don’t have any recommendations but I would recommend the book Thank God I’m Natural.

  13. Torrey says

    First, I want to thank you for this website, your thoughts and suggestions are really helping me through this transitioning period. With that being said, I’m hoping you can share some insight on why my rods sets have not been lasting. I’m 3 months post relaxer and I workout 5 days. This past week was the worst. I washed, conditioned and rod set on Sunday and by Tuesday it was a disaster. Could it be that my ends need cutting? Let me know your thoughts.

    • lisa says

      Hi Torrey,

      What size rods are you using? Have you tried the smaller ones to help them set better? Working out probably also doesn’t help. To be honest, I don’t exercise much and when I do, I don’t sweat a lot. So working out definitely plays a role.

  14. Petrina says

    Loving this style Lisa, this was my go to when a previous hairdresser broke my hair out in the crown from highlights. I received some many compliments when I wore this style that it became my mainstay style until my hair had grown from the damage until my hair grew out to collar length from chin length and then I my stylist did not want to do it anymore. I have considered going back to roller sets while transitioning; however, because I live in HUMID, HOT Central Texas and I have a job working outdoors for the most part this does not seem to be an option, but seeing you with it, is tempting me to give it another try but with smaller rods but the dread of having to take the time to put all those rollers in has me intimidated right now.

    • lisa says

      I hear ya, I’m in Texas too so I understand the hot, humid conditions. One thing you can always do is wear a headband and put it into a puff if it gets out of control. :) Puffs with scarves will save any style!

  15. Jo says

    Hi Lisa, I noticed that you said you moisturize every 3-4 days with natural oils. I am having trouble with this. After 3-4 days, my hair starts to feel dry, but I don’t know how to handle that without ruining my style. If I spritz with water, my hairstyle gets ruined. If I rub oil, it just seems to lay on top, while still feeling dry within. Can you share the details of what you do.

  16. Slim says

    Hi Lisa…. Thank you so much for all the information on transitioning. I have not relaxed my hair since February and began my journey in March of this year. I rod set my hair each week. I cut my hair right before my last relaxer, so it’s short. How can I maintain the curls throughout the week. Yours seem to last and stay in place.


    • lisa says

      If you use rods that are small enough and put some kind of holding / setting product they should last. All I do is sleep in a satin bonnet. The sides may get a little flat but I just put a headband on or wear a puff if that happens. Granted everyone’s hair is slightly different so your texture may have less hold. But that’s all I really do.

  17. sandy says

    Well I know you meant this for Lisa. But as a visiting board member I want to say you are quite a lady. Once you achieve your hair goals you’ll never look back. And to boot: you will gain all the confidence in the world. What a story. I will share this with some people I know. Good for you! Your true friends will accept you for who you are. Remember that.

  18. Ray of Light says

    Hello Miss Lisa..
    Just want to say thank you for your tips and advice..Your natural hair styles are so pretty.. luv this set u did!!
    i have only been transitioning for a month. This is my story sorry so long..
    Im a first generation Jamaican.. My dad was a rastafarian with thick long dreadlocks, so long he had to wear it wrapped or it would drag on the ground!! my mom a somewhat conservative christian that always in her adult life has worn relaxed tresses. i can vaguely remember having my hair pressed and curled at the age of 5 for special occasions. At the age of 12 i moved out of the “hood” to the suburbs where my family was one of maybe 10 black families in the whole town… after just a few weeks of being in the burbs i was teased by the white kids about my hair.. so my mom and aunty gave me a relaxer… i was against it at first because i saw how damaged my older sisters hair was, first from a jeri curl and then a relaxer. My older sister has worn her natural hair for about 10 years now and its beautiful healthy and down the middle of her back. I on the other hand.. When i went to school for the first time with my relaxed hair one of the white boys said to me… “you fixed your hair”. I wore my hair relaxed for about 12 years after that… my hair went from long and healthy to thin, weak and damaged. At the age of 24 i transitioned to natural via the press and curl method, or so i thought.. the heat damage that i have from the last 8 years has left my hair limp thin and severely damaged..this is very discouraging… I have come to the realization that if God intended for me to have permanently straight hair i wouldn’t have to go through such extreme measures..i want to be the natural me and just wanted to share my story with you…Thank You for showing us all that our natural is beautiful and fly 2!!!! U are truly an inspiration.. Blessings!!

  19. Leslie Jones says

    Hi Lisa your rod set is beautifullllllll!! I must admit that seems to be working for me now going into my 4th month of transitioning, like you said the smaller the rods the curls last much longerI must admit I am really loving this transitioning journey!!!!:) God Bless

  20. Aunt Jean says

    I love this style. You have the patience of Job. Never in my wildest dreams would I think about putting that many rollers/pins/etc. in my hair. Love the outcome especially with the headband. Keep it up Lisa

  21. says

    Hi Lisa,
    You are a lady of many parts who does very well whatever you put your mind doing.It is a very nice video . My wife and i watched it together and she promised to follow it and other hair tips on this site.

  22. says

    I love this style on u. I did my big chop 27 days ago. I love how it looks short but also can’t wait for growth to do styles like this. Super cute

  23. says

    Now this is too cute. I’ve got to try this one. How many rods did you use? Also have you ever tried to do finger coils? I wonder if you’d get the same effect. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

    • lisa says

      If I had to guess I’d say about 50 to 60. Never tried finger coils. Need to put that on my to do list. Thanks!

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