Review: Caruso Steam Curlers

I first tried steam curlers* when I was in college. I had been torturing my hair with curling irons and hairspray – and my curls always disappeared within two hours. My dorm-mate (who had waist-length blonde hair) offered to curl my hair for me. She brought out a pastel contraption, filled it with water and salt, and put the warm foam rollers in my hair. I was amazed at the results – curls that lasted for days – not hours!
Last year, I decided to purchase my own set of steam rollers. After researching on the internet, I found out that steam rollers using salt were no longer made (I wish they were – from the reviews it seems that they locked in the curls for longer, and the units lasted forever!). I chose to purchase the Caruso Professional ProSet Steam Hairsetter from Sally Beauty Supply – but they are also available on Amazon. (Link HERE).

What it does:
The curlers are filled with steam – this steam affects your hair’s molecular core, creating a curl that lasts until you shampoo it out.
How it works: You fill the unit with water (I use filtered water, as many units stop working because of mineral build-up). After a minute or so, steam starts coming out of the unit. You put the foam curler on the steam spout for 5-10 seconds, and place it in your hair. You can heat the curler cover for 3-5 seconds too. After rolling up all of your hair, wait 10-30 minutes, and take the curlers out. You can use hairspray to set the curl (I didn’t).

1) My hair, freshly washed and air-dried
2) With the curlers in my hair
3) Right after taking the curlers out (looks like a horrible perm!)
4) After finger-combing my hair and rearranging the curls
5) The next morning, after sleeping on the hairstyle
6) That night (24 hours after the steam set)
My thoughts:
For a product that gives great result with zero damage to your hair, you can’t beat these curlers. As I have very fine silky hair, I have to be very careful not to damage my hair. I never blow-dry my hair, and I rarely use products in it. These steam curlers let me have body and style without heat damage or product build-up. The steam makes my hair very shiny, and the curls really do last a long time. I’m going to grow my hair long this year, and want to use this product to get loose beachy waves.
-It is hard using rollers to curl hair – I still have to perfect my technique to achieve the hairstyle that I want. I’m more used to styling with curling irons.
-I do think the “salt-added” units locked in the curls for longer. I may have to search on eBay and see if I can find an older unit. (I think the new rollers will fit on the older units – I do NOT want to reuse old curlers – yuck!)
-I have to figure out what products I can use with this (for when I style my hair for special occasions). I’ve tried heat protectant and setting lotion – these made my hair greasy and my curls limp. I want to try Bumble & Bumble Thickening Lotion, and also something to give my roots volume.

Disclaimer: I purchased this item myself, and was not paid to review it.

*These are NOT to be confused with Hot Rollers, which are found at most pharmacies, and contain rollers in a heated box. Steam rollers require water, and are heated up one at a time.

Have you ever used steam curlers? What did you think of them? What hair products do you think I should try with this?


  1. Veronika
    June 30, 2010 / 2:22 am

    thanks for posting the link to this on my blog!

  2. Ella Pretty
    June 30, 2010 / 2:54 am

    I was excited to find out about these – as I think they're much less damaging than other curling methods :-)I just wish they were more widely available – I think if more people knew about them, they'd want to use them more.

  3. Karen
    November 20, 2010 / 7:34 pm

    Great review! I like the pictures you took as well over time to demonstrate how long the curls last 🙂 I just came across your blog because I was looking at alternatives to curling irons since I know they are damaging even though like yourself, I love the look of a curl produced from a curling iron.

  4. Ella Pretty
    November 21, 2010 / 9:16 pm

    Thanks Karen! I'm currently on holiday – so am using curling irons…and I must say – the holding power of these steam curlers is SOOO much better – and you don't need as many products either (heat protectant, mousse, hairspray).

  5. TorontoViewer
    January 19, 2011 / 2:54 pm

    I'm having a heck of a time trying to locate these in Canada. Any suggestions/help would be GREATLY appreciated.Thanks

  6. Ella Pretty Blog
    January 19, 2011 / 3:27 pm

    Do you have a Sally Beauty Supply store close by? There are several in the Toronto area, and that is where I purchased mine.

  7. Aimee
    January 25, 2011 / 5:12 pm

    I loe these soooo much! I got my set in 1992 and still use the unit as do my daughters now too. Mine is the one you add salt to. I have very fine hair and it works so well for me. I used it for my prom and wedding and my hair lasted all day and even had curl the next day too. All other irons/curlers leave my hair flat within hours. I was looking around to see if they still sold this because mine is getting to the point it could stop working anytime now and we are in need of new curlers. After about 18 years of use no wonder they don't sell too many, you hardly ever need new ones! Well worth every penny!

  8. Ella Pretty Blog
    January 25, 2011 / 6:34 pm

    Glad to hear that they're so long-lasting! I wish they still made the salt-added models.

  9. Texskiss
    May 9, 2011 / 10:45 pm

    I just purchased these on Amazon as well but am a little discouraged. I have very fine hair as well and the curl isn't holding very long. The curl isn't very tight and the top of my head isn't getting any lift or volume…I'm bummed. I had big hopes for these.

  10. Ella Pretty Blog
    May 9, 2011 / 11:36 pm

    Sorry to hear they aren't working that well for you. Here are some tips that may help you:- I've found that the rollers work best on freshly washed (and dried) hair, without any product on it. Once I used it after putting lots of Moroccan Oil on, and the curl didn't stay long at all.-You don't want the rollers to be too moist, and you don't want your hair to be damp at all when you take the rollers off.-Try wrapping smaller sections of hair – as my hair's grown longer, I've had to use a smaller section per roller to get the same curl.-You can lightly mist your hair with hairspray after all the curlers are out (I don't usually do this)Good luck! If it still doesn't work, I'd return it to Amazon and get a refund 🙂

  11. tightsandtea
    October 9, 2012 / 6:22 am

    thanks for the review! I'm debating getting one myself, since it seems pretty simple and low-maintenance :). how hot is the steam? is it like, scalding hot or kind of like shower steam?one thing I can't seem to find out is, how damaging hot steam is to hair. a lot of people say that because it's not dry heat, it doesn't damage your hair.. but other people say that it penetrates your hair shaft and can kind of 'cook' your hair. I don't know what to believe 😡 lol

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      October 9, 2012 / 1:37 pm

      The steam is pretty hot – like steam from an electric kettle. I don't think it is damaging to hair – the steam goes inside the curler – and the foam part that touches your hair is only warm, not hot – it is less heat than you'd get from a hairdryer.For me personally, it doesn't feel damaging at all – but you should give it a try and see how your hair feels after using it – if you're not happy, you could always return it 😉

  12. CJ
    June 21, 2013 / 12:50 am

    I have the original unit that requires salt. It still works, but haven't used my unit in forever, because I changed the style of my hair and just got old enough that I didn't want to spend so much time on my hair… so I'm selling it.The steam is great for your hair… when you put the curler on the unit and steam comes out of the curler, it's ready… take it off the unit and shake the excess water out of the curler (a couple of shakes is all it takes), then roll your hair.Be careful of the ends, that they don't kink awkwardly in the wrong direction.I had to use clips and the covers, because nothing stays in my hair, but the cheap metal clips I bought took care of that.If you have problems with your unit not working, you should clean it similarly to your coffee pot… water and a little white vinegar… then just water again. In fact, try scheduling regular cleanings so it will never stop working on you.

    • JuneHoneyBee
      July 4, 2013 / 4:23 am

      CJ- Im interested in your salt steam curler. Are you still selling it?

    • JuneHoneyBee
      July 4, 2013 / 4:26 am

      A great tip for making the ends smooth and beautiful is to wrap a piece of one-ply toilet paper (1 square) around the tip and slide it down so that a tip of just the toilet paper is extended off of the tip of your hair, so you first roll the toilet paper onto the roller and then your hair follows. I saw this on you tube ( and it worked really well.

  13. Margot
    July 24, 2013 / 7:26 am

    I love Caruso curlers. I have been using them for 15-20 years. I dont know if my unit was supposed to have salt based on the age but if so, I skipped that in the directions and have never had any problem with it working. I am an African American, Latin, Creole mix. My hair texture was relaxed = straightened and now natural for past 2yrs which is like extra soft cotton with a loose wavy base when air dried or silky straight when blow dried. When my hair was relaxed I would use the Caruso's with a little creamy setting lotion and end papers. Both items usually used for roller sets but I found that the curls would definately hold better with just a dot of setting lotion on each section and the end papers kept my hair silky all the way to the end. I would leave the curler on the spool for 10 seconds and then put the clip on to heat while wrapping hair arould the roller. Remember to shake off excess water from roller and clip before using. Remember let your hair dry! If you take a curler off and realize its not dry do not take another curler out. Either wait 5-10 more minutes or use blow dryer with curlers still in to finish drying process. Now that my hair is natural = no relaxer. It works pretty much the same except I blow dry it out and then put a little serum aka polisher aka frizz buster before I roll hair. Some people may think why would I go through all of this? Once you take those curlers out and finger through hair or comb it or whatever you choose to do and you feel that luscious, bouncy volume and texture to your hair you will realize how much healthier this process is. Also if you are going to be busy for 1-3 days. A wedding, a weekend get-away, holiday season,all day picknic or function when I want to look as good at the beginning as I do in the end. These curls will drop and change a little every day withought you having to do any extra work. Just bring along bobby pins or hair clips for that 3rd day so that you can pin most of it up and pull out some curls where you like. I ususlly lean over and pull my hair into a "loose" ponytail as high as possible on top of my head at night and the curls keep thier volume when I take the band out the next morning. Man that was a really long comment but I hope that you all go out and buy Caruso Curlers if you dont have them already.. And remember practice makes perfect it will take a few times to get your timing and rythem down after that its a breeze. Oh I almost forgot for the person who got no lift in the top with fine hair. when I first got mine I thought I'll never use the smallest ones. Now I do the whole top crown of my head with the smallest ones. Its the only way that my hair will stay up in the top (if thats the look im going for at that time) especially since my hair is pretty even throughout in length and I use the different sizes of curlers to make it look more layered. Smallest on the crown, Medium ear to ear horizontally and large on the bottem to retain lenght. O.K. by!

  14. Devonne Hefner
    October 24, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    Wondering if you could use a pinch of salt in the new machine surely it wouldn't damage it or do anything to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *