November 15, 2009

Is this normal? Question about new hot roller set

Hi my wonderful dears, just a quick question as the mister and I are heading out momentarily. I’ve been getting ready (hair, make-up, etc) to go and decided that I want to add a dose of curl to my (naturally) straight-as-an-arrow hair, so, after reading the instruction pamphlet and removing any packaging, I decided to plug in a new set of hair rollers that I recently picked up at Shoppers Drug Mart (a Canadian drug store chain).

I’d been wanting a set for ages, especially since I know some of you vintage loving gals have spoken highly of the merits of hot rollers. So having saved up enough “Shoppers Optimum” bonus points from prior purchases to be able to get a set for free (it took ages to save enough!), I recently grabbed the only version (“Solutions” by Vidal Sassoon) that the (fairly large) location I was at had on the shelf. (I couldn’t find an image of the exact model I have online, but did come across this one which looks extrememly similar.)

Today I plugged my set in for the first time and had barely had it on for two minutes when I began to notice a smell (sort of chemically) emanating from the unit. It wasn’t overpowering or enough for my husband, who was in another room, to detect from where he was, but I could definitely smell something (and not just that “hot” metallic smell that curling and flat irons sometimes get while they’re heating up). A few seconds later I thought I saw a teeny whiff of smoke, so I immediately unplugged the unit. As far as I can see it (the unit) looks entirely normal and it certainly did not feel overly warm (the instructions said to plug it in for ten minutes before using and there’s no way I’d had it on for any more than three minutes), so I was a bit baffled as to why it might smell.

I’ve never owned a set of hot rollers before and have no prior experience with them, so my question to all of you who’ve used this kind of styling product is, is it normal for your hot roller unit to smell the first time you plug it and heat it up?

{Just longing for soft vintage curls like the ones Ann Sothern sports here, I’m not trying to start a five alarm blaze with my new hot roller set! Gorgeous image via Myvintagevogue’s Flickr stream.}

As we’ve got to get going in a matter of minutes, I just turned off and unplugged the unit and figured I’d ask my question before attempting to heat up the set of hot rollers up a second time. (I looked all over the box and through the instructions, but could not find a 1-800 number anywhere to call and ask the manufacturer directly.)

I don’t want to risk starting a fire, so before I try turning my hot roller set on again, is it normal for them to emit a bit of an odour the first time or do I have a defective unit that should be returned?

Huge thanks in advance for your thoughts and insight on this matter, everyone. I hope you’re each having a marvelous Sunday evening!


  1. I've had that happen with hot rollers before (the funny "hot" smell)--some sets seem to be worse than others. However, if you did see smoke I'd be rather concerned--see if you can find a customer service number for the manufacturer just to be safe!

  2. Oh honey I haven't used hot rollers so no idea. I do hope you can get it sorted. Love the picture, she is so beautiful.

  3. I've noticed a faint smell before using hot rollers for the first time... and for some time after. The smoke- could have been moisture in the air or on the unit. Whatever you decide to do, keep us updated and good luck!

  4. It's been years since I used hot rollers, but remember that burning plastic smell. I'm not sure about the smoke though honey! Have a great time tonight! Kori xoxo

  5. I'd return to be on the safe side. If the new unit has the same smell then it's probably just typical of the unit. Smoke is never a good sign so if the new one smokes perhaps the item is not properly manufactured. Is it UL listed?

  6. some will get a weird chemically smell when you first use them.

    I would look into thermal spray for your hair if you want to make your curls hang on.. its really hard to curl straight hair with larger hot rollers, the curl tends to fall out quickly. thermal spray can help it.

    You should be fine with your curlers. Mine still get a weird smell every once in a while ( i rarely use them...)

  7. I doubt very much you'll blow up!
    The small is usual, abit like when we used to get a new doll, if that makes sense?

    Don't know about pooooofs of smoke tho!

  8. I don't know if that smell is normal, but I did find some contact info that might help you (located here:

    The last information we had on Vidal Sassoon hair styling products, brushes, hair dryers, etc., was that they were manufactured by Helen of Troy. You can reach their
    company by writing to them at:
    Helen of Try, Attention Customer Service, 1 Helen of Troy Plaza, El Paso, TX 79912
    -or you can try emailing:
    -or by calling toll-free:
    Consumers: 1-800-487-7273
    Retailers: 1-800-487-8432

    Good luck and be sure to show us pictures when you finally get your hair in pretty curls! :)

  9. I agree with the other posters: I have had that weird smell, but not so much with the smoke. I would plug it in again and watch it closely. If there is no smoke, then go ahead and use them. If it smokes again, unplug and return to the store you purchased them and get new ones. Let us know how it turns out!

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  10. I have never used hot rollers myself, but I have had them done in a salon and from what I remember, I do not recall any sort of strange smell...
    Maybe look up the provider on the internet to see if you can find a number to call!

    Hope it works out, those curls are lovely :)

  11. I have a set I picked up at a garage sale, and they had a bit of a smell but nothing to much.

    As for the smoke that sounds a little fishy if it is really cold in your house it could just be that since they get really hot I would give it another go and see what happens after you leave them plugged in untill they are ready to put in your hair and by the time they are ready if they are still smoking bring them back to the store and maybe ask for another set to try.

    Good luck hun and hope all goes well.

    You can always do sponge curls they are my favorite!

    xo Darla

  12. I haven't used them in years, but the ones I had smelled when they heated up.
    Blessings, andrea

  13. I would return the rollers, for sure. The smoke is definiately not normal. If I were you, I would also buy a different brand next time just to be safe.

  14. Where there's smoke there's FIRE! Yikes, maybe an exchange is in order!!! xo Julie

  15. Hi there, I had the same thing and realised (and read in the very small print) that i was supposed to keep the lid shut while they were heating up, for some reason the when the lid was open i suppose the heat was escaping rather scarily in smoke form, i don't know if you have a lid on yours but thats all i can think of! xxx

  16. That heated chemicalistic smell is pretty normal from what I remember. Yummy, huh?

    I would be a little concerned with smoke though. Vidal should have a number on their website you can call. It's ridiculous they don't have it on the product or the packaging. I would call to complain about that in and of itself, really. If you do decide to plug it in again, stand right there by it just to make sure no funny stuff is happening. I know sometimes if I smell something, my eyes will play tricks on me. Especially smoke.

  17. I've had heating issues with hot rollers, too. That's why I switched to soft rollers.

  18. You know I haven't used them in years, but was thinking about getting a set to get those perfect waves I'm lusting after. Hope you figure it out!

  19. i'm so happy to have stumbled upon your blog. i have straight as an arrow hair myself, and i've always wanted soft 1920s waves... i'm definitely here to learn! xo

  20. I have never used hot rollers either!! Although, maybe I should give it a try sometime! xx

  21. oops my spelling in my reply!

    What happened with them in the end?

  22. Hi my immensely helpful dears. I just want to say thank you very, very much for your insight and assistance regarding my strangely behaving hot roller set.

    I'm going to write a follow-up post sometime before the week is over to let you all know how things turned out. I actually haven't been home much at all since I posted this entry on Sunday night and plan to try plugging in the hot rollers for a second time tomorrow (Thursday).

    I'm going to take all of your wonderful suggestions to heart and will be testing out the set in a warm part of my house (it was actually near a drafty door, which could have accounted for the smoke - thank you, Darla!), with our fire extinguisher (we actually have two little ones, but I think one will suffice - goodness forbid I actually need to use it though!), and will call the hotline (huge thanks for locating that information for me, Kristen!) if I'm still on the fence about whether or not to keep the set once I plug it in for a second time.

    If there's clearly a strong odour - and unquestionably if there's any smoke - I'm going to return the set ASAP and will just have to keep my eyes peeled for a store that sells another brand.

    Huge thanks again, everyone, I truly appreciate your terrific and very helpful ideas.

    ♥ Jessica