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16 Fool Proof Ways Scrunch Out The Crunch

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Learn ways to scrunch out the crunch. Photo shows curly hair with a gel cast.

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In today’s curly hair landscape, curly girls love nothing but the allure of soft, bouncy curls that emanate shine and definition. Gone are the days of rock-hard crunchy curls kept in place by a layer of gel or mousse. If you’ve been a curly-haired individual for any length of time, you’ve likely experienced the crunch—a gel cast that, while initially intimidating, is actually a blessing in disguise.

“Scrunch out the crunch” (SOTC) is a haircare technique used to break the gel cast formed around curly or wavy hair after applying styling products like gel or mousse. The process involves gently scrunching the hair upwards towards the scalp to break the hardened layer, revealing softer, well-defined, and frizz-free curls underneath. This method helps to maintain the shape and integrity of the curls while eliminating the crunchy texture.

16 Different Ways to SOTC

There are many different ways to scrunch out the crunch, so it’s important to find the method that works best for you and your hair. Experiment and have fun! However, one crucial point to remember is to ensure that you do it on completely dry hair before you even attempt to scrunch out the crunch. Doing so guarantees that the styling products have fully set, making for a more effective and less frizz-prone scrunching session.

#1 Use an old cotton T-shirt

Try scrunching your hair with a T-shirt or microfiber towel instead of scrunching it with your bare hands.

#2 Use a tiny amount of oil

To help achieve soft and pliable curls, add a small amount of oil to your hands before scrunching. This will also add shine to your hair.

#3 Use a satin fabric

Gentle scrunching with a satin fabric will help to break the crunchy cast and achieve softer, shinier curls. The satin fabric can be in the form of your pillowcase, scarf, bonnet, or headband.

#4 Twist

Take a section of your hair, then twist it around and release it. Repeat this scrunching technique all over your head.

#5 Clap out the crunch

Here’s a short video demonstrating the clapping out the crunch technique:

YouTube video
Video credit: Curls and Canines

#6 Rope scrunch

Take a section of the top of your hair and squeeze your hair downwards until you reach the ends. Repeat this technique all over your head.

#7 Sleep on it

This method is likely my favorite way of achieving maximum curl definition with less frizz when scrunching out the crunch.

This technique fits seamlessly into your wash day routine if you’re someone who prefers to wash your hair before hitting the sack. After completing your wash day steps—shampoo, condition, and applying your chosen styling products—wait until your hair is fully dry.

Then, go ahead and lay your curls to rest on a satin pillowcase. The smooth texture of the satin will help to naturally break the gel cast overnight, leaving you with soft curls come morning.

#8 Use a small amount of conditioner

Emulsify a tiny amount of conditioner into your hands and scrunch out the crunch.

#9 Diffuser

With the blow dryer on “off”, place your curls in the bowl of the diffuser and push it upwards towards your head. Turn the blow dryer on for approximately 10 seconds then turn it off and release it.

#10 Fluff the roots

To help loosen the cast at the root area, begin by inserting your fingers into your hair at the root, and wiggling or shaking them around. This will also create a little volume at the roots.

#11 Achieve volume at the root

To achieve volume at the root area, scrunch your curl clumps quite vigorously. The more you scrunch, the more volume you will achieve.

#12 Use a pick

You may need to use a pick or comb to help loosen the gel cast. Be careful not to over-comb or pick your hair, as this can cause unnecessary breakage and frizz. It can also disturb your curl pattern.

#13 Use a little bit of water

If your hair is still feeling crunchy after you’ve scrunched out the crunch, you can add the tiniest bit of water to your hands and scrunch it through your hair. This will help to loosen the gel cast even further.

#14 Use a curl cream

To tackle those stiff curls, you can incorporate a curl cream into your routine to help soften them. Take a small amount of the cream, emulsify it between your palms, and then scrunch it into your curls. This will not only add moisture but also assist in breaking down the gel cast, leaving your curls soft.

#15 Smoothing

Gather a section of your hair near the roots, holding it between your palms. Gently run your hands down the length of your hair to the ends. This will help reduce the chances of getting frizz, which is a common problem with over-vigorous scrunching.

#16 Mix up the techniques

You don’t have to stick to just one scrunching technique. In fact, the best way to achieve your curl goals may involve mixing and matching different methods. Experiment to find the combination that works best for you and your hair type. The bottom line is that there are numerous ways to scrunch out the crunch, allowing for a personalized approach to achieving soft, frizz-free curls.

How to Scrunch Out the Crunch

YouTube video
Video credit: Hair Romance

If you want to eliminate the crunch from your hair, follow the simple steps below.

Things you may need:

Step 1: Hair must be 100% dry

Examine a clump of hair between your fingers and check for dampness by gently squeezing it. If it still feels damp or moist, it will not work and you must continue to dry your hair until it’s completely dry.

Step 2: Scrunch upwards

Scrunch your hair by gently cupping the curl clumps in your hand and scrunch upwards with a little bit of pressure (be gentle), then release it and repeat. You can also scrunch your hair upside down to help loosen the gel cast.

Some curlies like to use oil to help break the cast. You can use any oil you like, such as olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil. Just add a small amount to your hands and scrunch it into the ends of your hair.

Step 3: Break the gel cast

You’ll notice that your hair will start to feel softer and more pliable. Keep scrunching and cupping until you have scrunch out the crunch or “break the gel cast” from all of your hair.

Why the Gel Cast is Your Friend

Before diving into the methods for scrunching out the crunch, let’s understand why this seemingly ‘hard’ phenomenon is essential. A gel cast acts as a protective shield, locking in moisture and shaping your curls as they dry. This is the secret sauce behind those defined, frizz-free curls.

How to Perfectly Craft a Gel Cast for Defined Curls

Creating a gel cast on wet or damp hair is a proven way to get well-defined, frizz-free curls. While various products can do the job, strong hold gels and mousses tend to be the most effective for forming a resilient cast. To ensure you achieve the optimal gel cast for your curls, consider the following expert tips:

Start with Thoroughly Wet Hair

For best results, ensure that your hair is fully wet before applying any styling product. Damp or partially wet hair may not allow the gel or mousse to distribute evenly, compromising the quality of the cast.

Let Your Hair Dry Undisturbed

Resist the temptation to touch your hair as it dries. Allowing your curls to dry naturally and undisturbed ensures that the styling products have the chance to set effectively, thereby creating a strong and durable gel cast.

By following these guidelines, you’re setting yourself up for a successful scrunch-out-the-crunch session, leading to curls that are as soft as they are vibrant.

For a list of the best gels for curly hair, read: 30 Best Curly Hair Gels and the Key Ingredients to Look For.

If you have issues with achieving a gel cast and want to understand the science behind it, read: Reasons Why You’re Not Getting A Gel Cast.

How To Prevent Frizz With Scrunching Out the Crunch

Frizz can be a major problem when trying to break the gel cast out of your hair. There are a few things you can do to prevent frizz when scrunching out the crunch.

First, ensure you are using the right products for your hair type. If you have frizzy hair, using a gel or mousse designed to control frizz is important.

You may get frizz when SOTC for the following reasons:

  • Hair was not completely dry
  • Too many products used
  • You were overly aggressive when scrunching
  • Hair needs moisture
  • Using the wrong products
  • You have product build-up. Click here to learn how to get rid of it.

Products To Scrunch Out The Crunch

There are many different products available for scrunching out the crunch, which is a good thing as it allows you to tailor the process to your specific preferences. The type of product you ultimately choose will depend on what works best for your hair and your desired outcome.

Some people find that using a leave-in conditioner or curl cream helps to scrunch out the crunch and add moisture to the hair.

Others prefer to use oils or serums. Here is a list of my favorite oils to get the job done.

Some curlies even like to use a mousse or foam so as not to weigh their hair down. My favorite products are:

Other Helpful Tips For Scrunching Out The Crunch

  • Soaking wet hair. Applying gel or mousse to soaking wet hair is a sure way to achieve even coverage and allow the product to get beyond the top layers of your hair. When it comes to curly hair, many curly hair stylists utilize this approach in the salon.
  • Damp hair. Ok, I know this sounds contradictory to what I just said, but hear me out. Applying the product to soaking wet hair doesn’t work for everyone. It really depends on your hair type. I have high porosity hair, which means my strands are dry and drink up moisture quickly – especially after being washed and conditioned. So, applying products to damp hair works best for my hair. If you have fine hair, it also may be best to apply products to damp hair.
  • Even product distribution.  When scrunching out the crunch, it is important to make sure that the product is evenly distributed throughout your hair. You may be applying too much product to a section of your hair, which can lead to overly crunchy ends while softer hair towards the area where you didn’t apply enough product. If this happens to you, rake the product through your hair or use the praying hands’ technique for even distribution.
  • Don’t use too much product. Simply put, too much product can weigh your curls down and may not help form a gel cast.
  • Attempt to form larger clumps. Using a curl clumping cream will really help with this. Also, using the right technique such as using the squish-to-condish method. Here is a great tutorial on how to do this.
  • Be patient. scrunching out the crunch can take time. If you don’t have success the first time around, give it another try. Don’t give up! Try one of the above techniques and see how it works for you.


I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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