For decades, it’s been one of our best-kept beauty secrets — witnessed only by the four walls of bedrooms, bathrooms and hair salons.
Now, though, the secret to sexy hair is out after Italian Vogue magazine decreed, we kid you not, that curlers are “cool”.
Following a fact-finding mission to Liverpool, where women regularly walk the high street in rollers, the fashion bible revealed that the Hilda Ogden look is set to be big in 2012. Already, Colleen Rooney, Fergie, from the Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga have been pictured out and about in them.
We followed the pack and rolled with it in Dublin, debuting the hair-raising trend on Grafton Street. Sure enough, our locks weren’t the only thing curling up with embarrassment. So is this one do that’s a don’t?
“At first glance, wearing rollers in public could be seen as a sign of how open women have become about beautification,” says Rosaleen McMeel, beauty editor of Stellar magazine.
“Between eyebrow threading in shop windows and ‘vajazzling’ on TV, there’s little mystery left in the beauty world any more.
“Unlike the PJs-in-public phenomenon, however, the rollers trend isn’t about laziness — as it actually takes quite a bit of time and elbow grease to set your hair in rollers in the first place.
“Whatever Vogue says, in reality it’s more ‘function’ than ‘fashion’,” she says. “Just like applying your make-up on the bus, though some things are best kept to the privacy of your own home.
“There are definitely more stylish ways to get noticed.”
Liverpudlians like Rooney, Abbey Clancy and Jennifer Ellison aren’t the only ones rocking rollers right now.
In Hollywood, everyone from veteran actress Diane Keaton to teen starlet Elle Fanning has been snapped adding more bounce to their bonce while out and about.
Meanwhile, Lady Gaga took the trend to the extreme with Diet Coke can curlers.
Even the sexiest woman on the planet, Angelina Jolie, famously posed in the ultimate OAP hair accessory for a magazine shoot.
But it’s not enough to convince stylist Cathy O’Connor.
“Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that wearing rollers in public is anything other than ridiculous,” says O’Connor.
“As every girl knows, the longer you leave your rollers in, the better the curl.
“So for busy fashionistas like Coleen Rooney, I’d imagine that time rather than taste is the driving force behind the trend.
“Hilda Ogden pioneered the look all those years ago and it never caught on — hopefully, it won’t this time either.”
From Marie Antoinette’s elaborately curled powdered wigs to Kate Middleton’s tumbling waves, retro rollers — which temporarily break down the hair’s hydrogen bond, causing it to curl — have technically never gone out of fashion.
And since the invention of the world’s first heated rollers in 1966, girls no longer have to bake under a helmet hair dryer to achieve perfectly tousled tresses.
“There’s nothing sexier than big, bouncy, glossy hair and rollers are still one of the best ways to achieve this,” says Paul Davey, of the award-winning Davey Davey Hair Salon on Drury Street, Dublin.
“We use them all the time at the salon — but I’m not sure that many of our clients would be willing to leave with them still in.
“Heated rollers are best and you should be able to buy a good set for around €70. However, old-fashioned velcro rollers — which only cost a few euro at Boots — are fine for home use.
“The key thing is the size of the roller,” he says. “A large roller doesn’t give much of a curl, whereas a small roller gives a much tighter curl.
“So, to achieve the soft wave that’s currently in fashion, I’d recommend going for something in the middle and always brush it through after you’ve taken the curlers out.”
Across the pond, journalist Amanda Platell went one step further — blaming the humble roller for ruining her love life. “Recently, another long-term relationship came to an end — and I knew it was over not because we were constantly arguing … but because I no longer cared if he saw me in my rollers,” she says.
So could girls here be wrecking their relationship one roller at a time too?
“When we first meet someone, most of us go to great lengths to look our best for that person at all times,” says David Kavanagh, of Avalon Relationship Counselling.
“As we get more comfortable in the relationship, we tend to relax about our appearance — for instance, letting your partner see you veg out in an old tracksuit or without make-up.
“Although it’s nice to feel this secure with someone, I think totally letting yourself go can signify a bigger problem in the relationship, that you no longer care what your other half thinks or if they’re attracted to you,” he says.
“What starts as rollers in the hair can segue into weight gain or poor personal hygiene.
“Without that certain element of mystery, your sex life could end up suffering.”
On the plus side, at least you’ll have fabulous hair.