35 Lit Rod Set Styles on Natural Hair (Flexi, Perm, Spiral and More)

Few hairstyles get us more excited than a good rod set on natural hair. All that volume and bounce? You can’t tell us nothing!

Most of all, we love the variety of looks that are available just by varying the type of rod you use, the size you choose, how you wrap your hair around it and whether you start your set on wet or dry hair.

Let’s not forget all of the possibilities when you play with clip-ins, color, cuffs and cornrows. Needless to say, it’s cute curl overload.

What’s the difference between flexi rods and perm rods?

Perm rods contain a clasp to hold them in place, and are best suited for short and medium length natural hair. Flexi rods are foam-like sticks that have to be bent on each end to secure the hair, but can easily accommodate longer lengths.

Flexi rods not only require less time to dry, since the hair has space to be spread out, but they result in a more elongated, but still voluminous finish, similar to wand curls. Because the hair on perm rods tends to be rolled onto itself, drying time is greatly increased, and a tighter spiral curl can be expected.

Are rod sets beneficial for natural hair?

Rod sets are healthy for natural hair, however they are not a protective style. A rod set allows you to achieve bouncy defined curls without the use of damaging direct heat from styling tools. Also once set, minimal manipulation is required throughout the week to style or maintain.

Should you rod set wet or dry hair?

No matter the type of rod set, always start on clean, freshly washed hair. Perm rod sets yield the best results and last longer, when done on wet or damp hair. Flexi rods sets, on the other hand, are easier as well as quicker to install, require far less drying time, and result in sleeker roots and an overall smoother finish, when done on dry, stretched hair.

What products are good for a rod set on natural hair?

For a flexi rod set on dry stretched hair, apply a moisturizing mousse to each section and comb through, to provide hold and a polished finish. When it comes to a perm rod set on wet hair, opt for a nourishing liquid leave-in conditioner, followed by a setting lotion or mousse.

How long should you leave your rods in?

Whether you’re using perm or flexi rods, ideally you want to keep them in overnight, but at the very least, until your hair is completely dry. Sitting under a hood dryer is recommended, not just to speed up the process, but to set the style.

The Secret to a Perfect Frizz-Free Perm Rod Set

  1. Start with the proper foundation. A slamming perm rod set can attribute much of its fabulousness to being done on clean, deep conditioned, healthy, natural hair. When the ends are trimmed, shape is perfection, and your mane is moisturized, the curls are more likely to be popping.
  2. Pick your products wisely. While cream based products work well for a twist out, they’re not the best choice for a perm rod set. Opt instead for a mousse or setting lotion that is designed to dry fast, reduce frizz and provide hold.
  3. Don’t apply products all over at once. Divide your hair into sections to work through one at a time.
  4. Comb product through, detangling and smoothing each section, paying particular attention to the ends before wrapping. Failing to do so can yield rough results.
  5. Use small sections for each perm rod. Overdoing the amount of hair can prevent it from laying flat and drying thoroughly in the allotted time.
  6. Increase tension for sleeker roots. While your perm rods shouldn’t be uncomfortably tight, there also shouldn’t be noticeable slackness when installed.
  7. Make sure your hair is completely dry before you unravel your perm rods. Not even the slightest bit of dampness should be detectable or your style will frizz.
  8. Sit under a hood dryer to set the style, as air drying can often result in puffiness.
  9. Apply a light oil to your hands before takedown to add sheen and help prevent frizz while you separate and fluff.
  10. Don’t manipulate too much while styling or you’ll disrupt, or even destroy, the definition.

How do you maintain a rod set at night?

To maintain your rod set, put your curls up into a pineapple and wrap them in a silk scarf, or gather your hair into several loose ponytails and sleep in a satin bonnet. In the morning, you shouldn’t have to do much more than shake, fluff and go.

Deep conditioning prior to setting, and using a moisturizing styler, make it possible for many naturalistas to get by without having to apply additional products, other than a scalp oil, throughout the week.

How long will a rod set last on natural hair?

A rod set typically lasts for 5-7 days depending on how you preserve the style at night, as well as in the shower, where it’s subject to humidity and prone to frizz. You can however get more longevity out of the look by opting for an updo, like a frohawk, afro puff or half-up half-down hairstyle, when your rod set starts to lose its luster.

35 Wonderful Ways to Style a Rod Set on Natural Hair

OK, enough talk. It’s time to get into the rod set realness. One of the easiest natural hairstyles, with a little practice, will become one of your favorites too. So scroll down for plenty of pics, tricks, tips and tutorials. You’re welcome.

1. Ombre Flexi Rod Set

Black woman with a flexi rod set on her ombre natural hair
IG: @tierechristyan

This copper-tipped flexi-rod set is the curl of our dreams.

For similar results, start on dry, stretched hair. If you opt for a blow dryer, be sure to keep it on low and use a heat protectant to avoid damage.

Then, comb foaming mousse through each section before rodding to ensure a smooth, shiny set with soft hold.

2. Flat Twisted Frohawk Rod Set

A perm rod set frohawk on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @ravishing_tresses

This fab frohawk starts with several flat twists done on damp hair. Directed up each side to meet in the middle, a perm rod set is then used to bring the color to life and complete this coily look.

3. Flexi Rod Set Afro Puff with Bangs

A flexi rod set afro puff on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @slimreshae

We adore the Shirley Temple effect of this rod set. But gathering the hair into a high puff that blends with the bangs, is absolute perfection.

4. Blue Flexi Rod Set

A blue flexi rod set on a Black woman with medium natural hair
IG: @itscaseyjoe

Blue hair wax is an unexpected way to elevate a flexi rod set. Pinned back on one side, this colorful look is sure to make everyone green with envy.

5. Defined Perm Rod Set

Black woman wearing a defined perm rod set on her natural hair
IG: @heycurlie

While it might have been easier to reach for a curling iron and throw in some wand curls, perm rods plus Kurlee Belle Jelle Coconut Styling Gel delivered all of the definition with none of the damage.

6. Twist and Curl with Clip-Ins

Twist and curl hairstyle with clip-ins on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @_harrisjanae_

Our good sis used Better Length Afro Kinky Clip-ins to create this voluminous twist and curl on her similarly textured natural hair. Watch the video below to see how easily and beautifully it blended.

7. Flexi Rod Set on Red Natural Hair

Flexi rod set on Black woman with red natural hair
IG: @naturally.sunny

When fiery red meets a fluffy flexi rod set, the color and curl combo is lit.

8. Flexi Rod Set on 4C Hair

Flexi rod set on Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @lioness_davis

Soft, defined, chunky and elongated, this flexi rod set created on stretched 4C hair, is literally everything.

9. Blonde-Tipped Perm Rod Set

Perm rod set with blonde tips on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @ravishing_tresses

These blonde-tipped curls are proof that a perm rod set can make even the remnants of your color look chic.

10. Perm Rod Set Frohawk with Cornrows and Cuffs

Perm rod set frohawk on Black woman with natural hair

A perm rod set on top with cornrows and silver cuffs on the side? This look just screams festival frohawk. Although you should ideally make sure the middle is completely dry before you remove your rods, a little frizz in this case can turn an otherwise epic fail into an epic frohawk.

11. Flexi Rod Set on Long Natural Hair

Flexi rod set hairstyle on Black woman with long natural hair
IG: @slimreshae

These moisturized curls were courtesy of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter and Biotin Length Retention Collection. And after lots of separating and twirling, this voluminous flexi rod set truly put the full in beautiful.

12. Half-Up Half-Down Chunky Flexi Rod Set

Half-up half-down chunky flexi rod set hairstyle on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @shaakiramolisho

To achieve this look, separate minimally and gently secure half of your curls with an elastic band, making sure not to disturb the sleekness, of this chic and chunky flexi rod set.

13. Dreadlocks Spiral Set Side Ponytail

Black woman with long spiral dreadlocks in high side ponytail
IG: @missrii

A fresh retwist on long cascading spiral locs, gathered into a high side ponytail? These are literally the dreads of our dreams. Click here to check out even more dreamy loc looks.

14. Flat Twist Out with Perm Rods

Black woman wearing a flat twist out hairstyle done with perm rods on short natural hair
IG: @_kaicealea

This lovely look is a departure from the type of curls typically created by perm rods. Flat twisting before setting, gives you the best of both worlds; a perfect combo of compact coils with curly ends.

15. Rod Set in High Curly Bun with Bangs

Black woman with natural hair wearing rod set in curly bun hairstyle with bangs
IG: @thechicnatural

Her curls were gathered into a high bun hairstyle and secured with a scarf, while her bangs draped to the side. Fashionable without the fuss, it’s hard to believe this was the result of a “failed” rod set.

16. Perm Rod Set on Short Tapered Cut

Perm rod set on Black woman with short tapered natural hair
IG: @glammzmore

If you’re looking for some curls with definition, then a perm rod set is definitely for you. Of course, the length of your hair and rod size will affect your results, but as you can see by this tapered TWA, this hairstyle werks!

17. Fluffy Flexi Rod Set

Black woman wearing fluffy flexi rod set on her natural hair
IG: @_harrisjanae_

Applied to dry hair, the Fortify’d Naturals Collection was used to hydrate, define and pump up the volume of this fluffy flexi rod set. And we are here for every bit of this height.

18. Afro-Inspired Perm Rod Set

Afro-inspired perm rod set on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @creolenaturelle

Curlsmith’s stylers came through with the definition, but it’s the round afro shape of her natural hair that makes this perm rod set even more stunning.

19. Braid Out with Perm Rods

Braid out with perm rods on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @creolenaturelle

A braid out with perm rods, plus a few cornrows with cuffs, all come together to create this masterpiece.

20. Half-Up Half-Down Auburn Perm Rod Set

Half-up half-down perm rod set on auburn natural hair
IG: @itszitarose

Flora & Curl Sweet Hibiscus Curl Volumizing Foam was used on damp hair, which was set on perm rods and air dried overnight. The result, as you can see, is soft, lightweight, ultra-defined curls. Enhanced by an amazing auburn color, this half-up half-down hairstyle is clearly a hit.

21. Blonde Perm Rod Set

Black woman wearing perm rod set on her blonde natural hair
IG: @bycourtneydanielle

Vibrant with volume, we can’t get over the bounce and color of this beautiful blonde perm rod set.

22. Voluminous Flexi Rod Set on Short Natural Hair

Flexi rod set on a Black woman with short natural hair
IG: @awalkingdoxology

According to sis, this look was shaped by shrinkage and getting slept on. Not only is it proof that flexi rod sets get better with time, but they also look amazing on short natural hair.

23. Perm Rod Set on 4C Natural Hair

Perm rod set on Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @tayloranise

Using small sections and the right setting lotion or mousse are a must-have for smooth results.

Once your hair is fully dried and you’ve carefully removed the perm rods, be sure to twirl each curl around your finger as you separate. This helps the set keep its shape and takes the volume to the next level. Using an afro pic to lift the roots, will also do the trick.

24. Perm Rod Set Updo with Bangs

Black woman with natural hair in perm rod set updo hairstyle with bangs

While we love a rod set that’s out in all of its glory, there’s an undeniable elegance when it’s gathered into an updo. This perm rod puff hairstyle with blended bangs is not only pretty, but pretty easy to pull off.

25. Perm Rod Set Frohawk with Copper Tips

Black woman wearing perm rod set frohawk on her natural hair with copper tips
IG: @nae2curly

It’s no secret that we’re a huge fan of frohawks on natural hair. Between the edge and the ease, you really can’t go wrong.

Once your hair is dry and perm rods removed, minimal manipulation is needed. Just brush and pin the sides into place and you’re good to go.

26. Flexi Rod Set with Single Flat Twist

A flexi rod set hairstyle with a flat twist on a Black woman with short natural hair
IG: @jd_winters

Created using Luster’s Pink Shea Butter Coconut Oil Collection, this flexi rod set is the definition of perfection. A single flat twist puts the finishing touch on an already adorable hairstyle.

27. Retro Rod Set

Black woman wearing retro rod set hairstyle on her natural hair
IG: @temi.adesina

This retro rod set may feel like a throwback, but it’s definitely serving fashion-forward.

28. Perm Rod Set Updo with Clip-Ins

Black woman with natural hair wearing perm rod set updo hairstyle
IG: @_harrisjanae_

Better Length afro kinky curly clip-ins blended seamlessly with her hair to serve as the foundation for this pretty perm rod set updo. To see how they were applied, along with several other ways to style them, check out the tutorial below.

29. Perm Rod Set with Gold Cuffs

Black woman wearing perm rod set with gold cuffs on medium natural hair
IG: @_harrisjanae_

Whether it’s cuffs, clips, charms, beads or shells, hair jewelry is one of the easiest ways to transform a more traditional natural hairstyle. Depending on which you choose, your look can lean more tribal, boho, elegant, or even edgy, so be sure to explore all of your accessory options.

30. Perm Rod Set with Flat Twists

Perm rod set with flat twists on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @jd_winters

Reminiscent of a frohawk, but far more subtle, this perm rod set with flat twists is tame but still terrific.

31. Perm Rod Set with Deep Side Part

Black woman wearing a perm rod set hairstyle with s deep side part on her natural hair
IG: @_harrisjanae_

A simple way to switch up the look of any style, we heart the instant drama and volume that comes with a deep side part.

32. Clipped Crown Flexi Rod Set on Long Natural Hair

Flexi rod set on  long natural hair with hair clips across the front
IG: @naturallynella

A middle part plus metallic contour hair clips along the front equal a simple, standout flexi rod set.

33. Twist and Curl

Black woman wearing twist and curl on her medium natural hair
IG: @allthings_moelle

Perm rod set meets twist out, to create this super cute twist and curl hairstyle.

34. Perm Rod Set on Sisterlocks

Perm rod set hairstyle on Black woman with long sisterlocks
IG: @drknlvely

There’s no limit to the styling options with Sisterlocks™️, so this perm rod set is really no surprise. While tighter coils are totally possible, we’re loving the look of these looser curls .

35. Spiral Rod Set

Black woman styling her natural hair with spiral rods
IG: @curliecrys

Last, and quite possibly least, is this spiral rod set. Truth be told, the results were lovely and similar to a bantu knot out, but the process is not for the faint of heart.

Check out the tutorial below and decide for yourself if it’s worth the effort.

Hopefully we came through with all of the info and inspo you need to slay your rod set. But if it doesn’t work out the first time (or three), don’t give up. Practice will make perfect, and it’ll be totally worth it.