See how popular vintage hot rollers like these made retro hairstyles happen (1960s-80s)

Old GE Hairsetter - hot curlers from 1969

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In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, anyone who wanted to give their hair a healthy, voluminous bounce could get it with the help of vintage hot rollers like these.

These retro-style curlers — which were made of plastic (shaped with wide teeth or spikes to hold the hair), usually with a metal core on the inside — were pretty much considered essential hairstyle tools for women across the nation.

Here, take a look back at some of the old-school Clairol, Remington and General Electric hot roller sets that were used to make millions of big, bouncy curls and waves a few decades ago.

The most popular vintage hot rollers: KiNDNESS by Clairol (1968)

Christmas Bonus. (Clairol gives you 2 gifts in 1.) You get a light-up makeup mirror in the new KiNDNESS Instant Hairsetter.

Winning Combination: 20 fastest-heating rollers for instant hairdos. And, a bright-light mirror for flawless makeup. Only Clairol fits it all into a slim, holly red attaché case. Easy stowing. Easy going. Just plug it into any handy outlet.

Instant Hairsetting: 5 minutes from roll-up to comb-out. And, to do your face while you’re doing your hair, that big, lighted mirror in the lid. It’s like getting 2 gifts in 1!

Makeup mirror and Kindness curlers from 1968

Vintage hot rollers: General Electric’s Fast ‘n Fabulous hairsetters (1969)

The Roller that doesn’t go to bed! Touch up your set in minutes — it holds for hours!

Yes, in just minutes you can restore your entire set…or spot-set a few soft, manageable curls with a General Electric Hairsetter. You can even design your own new hairstyle… it’s that easy.

The result — a lovelier, more confident you! You’ll love the way your sets really last… and you’ll never sleep on lumpy rollers ever again!

Vintage General Electric Fast N Fabulous hairsetters - Hot curlers from 1969

Retro KiNDNESS Instant Hairsetter hot curlers (1968)

The night before Christmas… It could be the last night you sleep with a headful of curlers!

Ask Santa for a KiNDNESS Instant Hairsetter! (5 minutes from roll-up to comb-out!)

Curlers in your bed? Shame on you!
No husband can have a heartful of love for a headful of curlers! (Indoors or out.)
Help keep America beautiful.
Plug a KiNDNESS Instant Hairsetter into any handy outlet.
Set dry hair with comfortable controlled heat. In minutes.
No water. No lotion. No waiting. And, no more shame on you!

Christmas is the time for KiNDNESS: Gifts of the year from Clairol!

DON’T MISS: 50+ sexist vintage ads so bad, you almost won’t believe they were real

Retro Kindness rollers from 1968

Vintage hot rollers: Remington Steam Rollers hair curlers (1970)

Introducing Remington Steam Rollers: They increase the life of your curl without decreasing the life of your hair.

Instant curlers can set your hair in about ten to fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, five or six hours later, it usually looks like it was set in ten to fifteen seconds.

According to actual laboratory tests, however, Remington “Steam Rollers” can keep your hair in beautiful curls for 24 hours or more. Which, for an instant curl, is practically immortality.

ALSO SEE: How to get Farrah Fawcett’s famous long feathered hairstyle from the ’70s

How can we do it?

Our rollers are specially constructed to build up heat faster and to bold the beat better. (It has to do with how they’re made and what they‘re made of.)

And our Sure-Grip clips are specially constructed to hold our rollers better. (They sandwich the roller so tightly, it has no chance to sag. Which means your curls won’t sag either.)

Perhaps even more important, our steam curler sets your hair with moisture as well as heat. And, as you well know, your hair holds better when it’s set slightly damp.

(Besides, when your hair is set with moisture as well as heat, the chance of split ends is greatly lessened.)

Retro Remington Steam Rollers for hair curling 1970

A few more things about our Steam Rollers.

Its front opening drawers make the rollers very easy to get at. It also has a dot that tells you when the rollers are ready to roll and a safety thermostat that prevents burnouts if you forget to shut the machine off.

But we didn’t just worry about the condition of your curl and forget about the condition of your hair. For that, we recommend our new lanolin enriched, heat-activated Remington hair conditioner. Use it with our Steam Rollers and you’ll find you’ll get an even better set.

So, not only can we give your curls a long life, we can also give them a happy life.

Lady Remington Steam Rollers. The instant curler that gives you a 24 hour set.

Clairol Kindness Compact vintage hot rollers (1969)

The Kindness Compact. This latest addition to Clairol’s collection of instant hairsetters is the skinniest little appliance you ever saw.

Thanks to some tricky engineering, we’ve put 20 curlers in a case smaller than a lot of handbags. The curlers come in 3 sizes. And the case comes in a bamboo color with a handle that snaps down out of the way

Inside, it has an on-off switch and signal light, compartments for the cord and clips, and a good-sized mirror. All you need is an electric outlet and straight hair.

Because like all the other Kindness Instant Hairsetters, the Compact makes all the curls you want in just 5 minutes, No wetting. No waiting. No going out in curlers. No sleeping on them. Ever.

DON’T MISS: See 30 fab vintage blow dryers/handheld stylers from the ’70s & ’80s

The Compact was designed especially to fit in small places. Like desk drawers. Vanity drawers. Lockers. Luggage. Attache cases. Bookshelves. Weekend bags. Beach bags. Sailing duffels. Dormitory closets. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The Kindness Compact. About $30 at drug, cosmetic and beauty appliance counters everywhere. It’s Clairol’s answer to the Space Age.

Kindness. America’s number one instant hairsetters, from Clairol.

Vintage Clairol Kindness hair curlers from 1969

How to use vintage hot rollers step-by-step

Retro Clairol Hairsetter instructions for a conditioned set (1970s)

1. Slide indicator to “Treatment.” Replace flat cap of Custom Care Conditioner with applicator cap. (Save flat cap for travel.) Shake well.

Lift applicator tip. Squeeze single treatment of Custom Care Conditioner into filler. Single treatments are marked by blue lines on bottle. (Bottle contains enough for 12 treatments.) Close tip to prevent leakage.

2. Switch on unit. The red Ready-Light will go on. Close lid. Some steam will rise from the setter, and you will hear the tiny vaporizing sizzles.

Pick one of the hairstyles in the back of the booklet or plan your own setting pattern. In about 8 minutes the Ready-Light will go off… you’re ready to set.

3. Rollers are now warm and lightly covered with just the right amount of vaporized conditioning formula. Open lid and leave open. (Heat won’t escape as with steam-type setters.)

ALSO SEE: 1970s home perms: How women got those retro permed hairstyles

Vintage Clairol Hairsetter instructions (2)

4. Carefully section off a small amount of hair and comb smooth. Select proper size roller and slip off post. Bring roller through hair smoothly and evenly until ends are gripped, rolling carefully but firmly until roller touches your head. (Not too tight, please).

Secure roller with proper size clip placed crosswise over roller. (For extra comfort, wedge one of the little foam pads between your scalp and the roller before using clip.)

Each roller needs only one clip. Match clip to color at base of roller: Small roller — blue clip. Jumbo roller — salmon clip. Large roller — green clip.

5. All set? Switch unit off. Leave rollers in hair for 3-10 minutes, depending on how tight a curl you’d like. The longer you leave rollers in, the tighter the curl.

6. To remove rollers hold roller still with one hand. Use other hand to pull out clip. Unroll gently and evenly (don’t pull or yank) letting each new curl spring back into position.

7. Let hair cool for a minute or two. Comb or brush hair into a softer, shinier, more manageable hairdo than you’ve ever had before.

Vintage Clairol Hairsetter instructions (1)

Remember these 70s shampoos? Retro brands so good, you can almost smell 'em

Clairol Kindness: Vintage hot rollers (1982)

What to look for in a roller when you can’t see the difference.

On the outside, most people can’t see the difference between Clairol’s Kindness roller and everybody else’s.

Which disappoints us, because if you look very closely, you’ll see that ours has gentle ribs and raised rims for smoother, tangle-free sets. But the biggest difference is the one you can’t see: the inside.

This heated roller is plastic to the core. Clairol gives you an inner core that holds heat longer.

Clairol rollers have an exclusive high-energy inner core. They keep more heat longer than all-plastic rollers, give you maximum curl power, and leave your hair with twice the body it had before.

Now that you’ve seen Clairol’s inside story, you know that there really is a difference between rollers. It’s the difference that has made Clairol America’s #1 hairsetter.

Vintage Clairol Kindness hot rollers from 1982

NOW SEE THIS: Do you remember these 32 shampoos & conditioners from the ’80s?

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. My sister bought a set of hot rollers that were just metal tubes…and you dropped the curlers into one of the two slots on the top of the box…they dropped down, heated up fairly quick… it came with a small rod /clamp type thing (same design as a curling iron) you chose a small or large curler You pushed the rid into the hole and it slid onto the rod…you maneuvered it just like a curling iron….and held it with a clamp (clamp was like a half tube that fit over the hair and curler)…the rollers didn’t slip down…or fall out😊 Once the rollers cooled…you removed them, dropping them into the appropriate chamber…and you were ready to style and go!!! I’ve tried to track them down over the years…to no avail😞 my sister can’t remember the brand name either. I can say that she bought them in 1978-1981 (my best guess would be 79-80) it was shortly after “Gee your hair smells terrific” shampoo…

  2. I had some of the Kindness rollers with the red dot that would turn black when the curlers were ready. I have to say those rollers did work well and were quicker to use than a curling iron.

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