Wig Tutorial: Curling with Hot Water

In my previous wig styling walk-through, I demonstrated curling a wig using a low-temperature curling iron. However, there are several other methods to curl wig fiber that could be considered “safer” (i.e., less likely to accidentally melt your wig). The hot water method — a.k.a. “poster-tubing” — is one of them.


  • wig or extensions to curl (for this example, I am using a section of Yaki braid hair)
  • a cylindrical object (I’m using a wooden dowel rod here; you can use anything to shape the hair, but choose a material with a melting point well above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Also keep in mind that the diameter of your mold determines the size of your curls.)
  • tape
  • tea kettle or pan of water
  • an empty pot or saucepan
  • stove or other heating element
  • wooden spoon, spatula, or other heat-safe utensil
  • pot holder or oven mitt

kettleSince my kettle of water will take a while to boil, I put it on the stove to heat while I prepare the rest of my materials.

wig fiberI’m curling about 18″ of synthetic hair here. I coil the section of hair fiber tightly around the dowel rod, taping it at both ends. (Note: The hot water may cause the adhesive tape to peel off; if this happens, use a heat-safe implement such as a wooden spoon to hold the end of the hair in place as you continue pouring the water.)

wrapped fiberThe section I am curling is relatively small, once coiled. To curl a full wig, prepare the entire wig for curling at once, so you don’t risk un-curling parts of it while curling others. (If curling a full wig, it’s a good idea to test a small section of your wig fiber before subjecting the whole wig to heat, so you don’t accidentally overheat the wig and damage the fiber.)

When the water boils, take it off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Ideal curling temperature is somewhere around 170 or 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t use boiling water; 212 degrees is hot enough to melt some synthetic fiber. While the water is cooling, you can arrange your pan, pot holder, wooden spoon or whatever else you’re using.

pouring hot waterCarefully — because steam is hot, and can burn you very badly — pour the hot water over the hair fiber.

Let the fiber dry completely, and then carefully peel it off of the mold. You should have bouncy curls!

curly hair

If for some reason the hair didn’t curl, it may mean that your water wasn’t hot enough, or that you didn’t pour water over the hair long enough. If you’re using a small pan that won’t hold enough water for your wig, try pouring the heated water back over the hair a couple of times, pouring from one pan to another. The water will cool slightly each time you pour it, but it should still be hot enough to style the wig.

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  1. Awesome tutorial. have never done something like that before!

  2. that is easy to get curls

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