The mestiza muse

be beautiful. be natural. be you.

Hello There!

I'm Verna,
Your Curly-Haired Friend.

Curly hair is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. It could be super-defined one day and a frizzy concoction the next day – and it's never exactly the same from one head to another. Our mission is to equip you with the necessary tools for restoring and maintaining healthy locks and celebrating the hair you were born with! 

We only work with and promote products from companies that we trust and feel are good for our consumers to use. We are reader-supported. If you decide to make a purchase through one of our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please read our disclosure for more info.

follow @themestizamuse
Curl care

With extensive experience in the beauty industry, I specialize in writing for curly hair care brands, websites, and magazines.

Not only do I have curly hair, but my children, friends, family members, and even friends who are professional curly hairstylists, each with their unique curly textures.

 You get the point :) 

I also partner with a friend who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist, ensuring our content is scientifically accurate and help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. 

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure and make sure to pack these essential items to take with you on your journey.

Great hair goes beyond using shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Shop my favorite must-haves.

After years of requests, I'm finally sharing my go-to skincare products.

Give your space a quick refresh with these ultimate home decor ideas.



Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Verna Meachum

If you’ve ever had a crunchy feeling in your hair after applying a gel or mousse, you’ve likely got a gel cast! This can feel hard and may seem like it’s not normal, but it’s actually common and a good thing.

But, how do you remove the crunchy cast? Well, that’s where the process of ‘scrunching out the crunch’ or SOTC comes in. The key to getting those soft and fluffy curls is to give them a good scrunching to break up the cast created by your styling products.

In today’s article, we’ll share 16 fool proof ways to scrunch out the crunch, or “break the gel cast’ ‘, as we like to call it. This ‘cast’, as it’s been termed, is what can help to create smooth, soft clumps, once you remove it.

Back in my day, the crunchy curl look was all the rage. We would scrunch our hair with gel, mousse, and even hairspray, and hope for the best. The result was rock hard glossy defined curls. It was definitely not a style that everyone could pull off, but we liked it anyway.

Nowadays, there are much better ways to achieve the well-defined soft curls without the crunchy feeling. The crunchy curl look is out and the smooth, glossy, soft curl look is in.

Let’s get right into it.

How to Scrunch Out the Crunch

Video credit: Hair Romance

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

Things you may need:

  • a satin fabric (this can be a pillowcase, bonnet, scarf, or headband)
  • microfiber towel
  • old t-shirt
  • oil

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.

16 Different Ways to SOTC

There are many different ways to scrunch out the crunch, so find the method that works best for you and your hair. Experiment and have fun!

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 gel 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 to demonstrating the clapping out the crunch technique.

Video credit: Curls and Canines

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

7. Sleep on it. This is great option if you prefer to wash your hair before bed. Wait until your hair is completely dry, then sleep on a satin pillowcase. This will help to break the gel cast while you sleep.

8. Use a small amount 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, wiggling or shaking them around. This will also create a little volume at the roots. Hopefully these tips will help you achieve the soft and shiny curls of your dreams!

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 breakage and frizz.

13. Use a little bit of water.  If your hair is still feeling crunchy after you’ve scrunch 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. You can a curl cream to help soften your hair. Emulsify a small amount into your hair and scrunch away.

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 crunching.

16. Mix up the techniques. You don’t have to just use one scrunching technique. You can mix and match different techniques to find what works best for you and your hair. The bottom line is that there are many different ways to scrunch out the crunch.

How To Achieve A Gel Cast

Combining styling products on wet or damp hair creates a firm gel cast. Different formulations can yield many different types of casts, but strong-hold gels and mousses are generally the most effective technique to make one.

There are a few tips that one can follow in order to achieve a gel cast.

The first is to make sure that the hair is completely wet before applying a gel or mousse.

Secondly, let your hair dry completely without touching it. This will allow the products used to set properly into the hair and form the cast.

For a list of the best gels for curly hair, read: Best Hair Gel For Curly Hair: The Top 25.

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.

The first is to make sure that you are using the right products for your hair type. If you have frizzy hair, it is important to use a gel or mousse that is designed to control frizz.

You may get frizz when SOTC for the following reasons:

  • hair was not completely dry
  • too much product used
  • you were overly aggressive when scrunching
  • need hair 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 that can be used to scrunch out the crunch. The type of product you use will really depend on your preferences.

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 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

  1. Soaking wet hair. Applying gel or mousse to soaking wet hair is a sure way to achieve even coverage and allowing 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.
  2. Damp hair. Ok, I know this sounds contradictory to what I just said, but hear me out. Applying 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Don’t use too much product. Simply put, too much product can weigh your curls down and may not help form a gel cast.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 hope these tips help you in your journey to scrunch out the crunch! What’s your favorite method or product to use? Let me know in the comments below.


I had to listen to what my hair curls are finally ready to take in some moisture again!!!


- renee, Stylist Liaison

- renee, Stylist Liaison

“I truly couldn't have gotten through this without her knowledge, advice and support...after suffering from Hygral Fatigue and getting tons of advice @themestizamuse.”

“@themestizamuse: for ESSENTIAL information you will NEED TO KNOW in order to see results.”

See how easy the topics are to find on her page (a few posts screenshot)? There is no topic Verna hasn't covered.

- dominique P, wavy hair enthusiast


- dominique P, wavy hair enthusiast

“I have learned a whole heap of knowledge from @themestizamuse.”

Inspiring hair tutor, grateful for what she offers the Curly Community in authenticity, passion, and knowledge.

- zoe F, Producer & Host of The Curl Squad


- zoe F, Producer & Host of The Curl Squad

“I was so excited to embrace my curls and take better care of them. As I started to dive in, I immediately became overwhelmed with the information.”

I read books and tried doing things because "that's what I'm supposed to do," but it didn't always work and I didn't understand why. I'm so grateful for Verna and her blog. Her info. actually helped me understand more of the science of why some methods helped and what products or ingredients to use and why. Anyone that compliments my hair and wants to start a curly journey, I tell them to start here. My hair is so much healthier and I'm so happy with it.

- stephanie, Curly hair enthusiast


- stephanie, Curly hair enthusiast

Our Manifesto

“One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now”

- Paulo coelho

Skip to content