How to Define Curls: A Guide for Men’s Hair

November 28, 2023

 by

Verna Meachum

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Last Updated on November 28, 2023 by Verna Meachum

The plethora of information in the curly hair community doesn’t always include information for men. Men also want defined curls – even with short hair. It may seem challenging, so in this post, we will help you understand how guys can achieve healthy, defined curls. 

Understanding hair type is essential to know your curl pattern and hair requirements to define curls for men’s hair. Co-washing instead of shampoo and deep conditioner to improve moisture helps. Quality styling products and techniques are necessary to achieve defined curl patterns that are lasting.  

While several tips can help you achieve defined curls as a guy, an overload of information can feel overwhelming. This comprehensively refined guide for men will be the ultimate tool to help you understand what causes undefined curls and strategies to fix and improve that. 

How Men Can Improve Curl Definition 

Image of man with well defined curly hair.
Photo credit: Pinterest

To understand how to improve curl definition, you must first learn why curly hair doesn’t hold shape – the causes. Incorrect haircare per curl type, humidity, product residue, hard water, poor styling techniques, and hair and scalp damage and conditions all impact the ability of your curls to reach their full potential. 

This post lets you learn more about the causes of undefined or falling curls. The main point is that there are many factors to fix your curl pattern and have longer-lasting results. All aspects must be considered with suitable solutions. What are those solutions, you ask? Well, let’s find out. 

Tips and Techniques to Help Men Get More Defined Curls 

Image of a man holding a small board that reads "Helpful Tips."

Use the following methods to help get your curls back to bouncy, shiny, defined patterns: 

Learn Your Hair Type 

Your curl type determines your hair texture, density, diameter, and pattern. You may think you have undefined curly hair, but it’s actually wavy. Your hair type can also impact hair porosity, all influencing how your curls fall. Check out my full guide on curly hair types to learn yours. 

Reduce Shampooing or Implement Co-Washing 

Men don’t need to shampoo every day, and definitely not twice a day; reducing shampooing to 2-3 times a week can help retain moisture. Cutting out sulfate shampoos is even better. And if you have very dry or low porous hair, try co-washing instead. 

Excess shampooing and overwashing can lead to dry hair, strip the natural oils from your scalp, and lead to damage, frizz, flyaways, and falling curls. Curls require moisture to look and feel their best. Less shampoo, less sulfates, and using quality conditioners will retain and restore moisture. 

Use Deep Conditioning Hair Treatments 

Hair treatments are not only for women. Guys must care for their hair on a deeper level, too. Deep conditioners, hydrating hair masks, oils, and protein treatments ensure you feed your curls with the nourishment they need to repair damage, restore moisture, and promote healthy growth. 

You can apply a deep treatment bi-monthly or even once a week if your hair is extremely dry or damaged from chemical treatments and relaxers.  

Remove Build-Up 

As much as good products are necessary to ensure healthy and defined curls, removing product residue is just as important. The build-up also occurs from environmental elements, pool/sea water, hard water showers, and general dust, dirt, and grime. 

Use a chelating or clarifying shampoo once every 2-3 months to deep clean your scalp and hair (like exfoliating the skin to remove dead skin cells and clogged pores). This will refresh your hair and provide luster. It will also add bounce back and allow your curls to better absorb styling products. 

Invest In Quality Styling Products 

You want the best styling products designed for curly hair to suit you and your techniques. Proper gels, mousses, hair sprays, and curl creams will ensure your locks curl to their full potential and remain in place for longer. It will reduce frizz, combat humidity, provide shine, and define your pattern. 

Style Your Hair While Wet 

A mistake many men make is applying gels or sprays to dry hair. Curls are best styled when wet. Wet hair absorbs product more thoroughly, is easier to work with, and promotes longer-lasting, more defined, and bouncier curls. 

Remember that while styling wet hair is preferred (damp also works), your hair should not be soaking or dripping. This can alter the way styling products interact and bond to your strands. First, squish or dab the excess water with a cotton t-shirt or microfiber cloth. 

Section You Curls 

If you want super-defined and tighter curls, use the sectioning technique to style your curls. This takes about 30 seconds extra and allows you to work your styling products thoroughly through each section. 

You can also use a Denman brush to encourage uniform curl definition, which will help contribute to a more polished and structured look. Check out this quick YouTube tutorial by Carlton Rose:

Video credit: @itscarltonrose

Here’s how to use the Denman brush:

  1. Start with Damp Hair: Begin with clean, damp, detangled hair. It’s essential to work with hair that is slightly wet for optimal results.
  2. Apply Your Styling Product: Use your preferred styling product—such as a curl cream, gel, or leave-in conditioner—to ensure even distribution throughout your hair. This step is crucial for defining curls and providing hold.
  3. Divide Hair into Sections: Section your hair into manageable portions. This allows for a more focused approach and ensures that each curl receives attention.
  4. Begin at the Ends: Starting at the ends of a section, gently run the Denman brush through your hair. The brush’s multiple rows of bristles help detangle and define curls without causing excessive breakage.
  5. Work Upwards: Gradually work your way up towards the roots, gently gliding the brush through each section. Take your time, and be mindful of any resistance or tangles.
  6. Use the Brush Horizontally: For tighter curls, use the brush horizontally. This technique encourages curl clumping and definition.
  7. Repeat for Each Section: Continue this process for each section of your hair. Pay attention to the natural curl pattern, and coax curls into shape with the brush.
  8. Scrunch if Desired: If you prefer a more voluminous look, scrunch your hair gently after using the Denman brush to encourage natural curl formation.
  9. Allow Hair to Air Dry or Diffuse: Let your curls air dry for a more relaxed finish, or use a diffuser attachment on a blow dryer for quicker results while maintaining definition.

If you are a guy with short hair, this might not work. You can still apply products properly throughout your hair without concern about missing sections. For men with long hair, use a clip to secure sections of your strands and work through each section gently, scrunching or twirling as needed. 

Use a Hair Diffuser 

While you can let your hair air dry, a diffuser helps to set your products and hold curls in place the way you shaped them immediately. It seals the product and reduces frizz that may come up while your hair air dries and is exposed to wind or other factors like rubbing against chairs, car seats, etc. 

Use Protective Accessories 

Protective accessories are an absolute requirement to maintain defined curls. They protect your curls from falling and reduce frizz, tugging hair fall, and dryness. It is especially important to use protective accessories overnight to prevent your curls from flattening out or becoming stringy. 

Accessories like satin and silk pillowcases, satin bonnets, and satin scrunchies (for longer hairstyles) are great options to use while you sleep. Microfiber towels are better than traditional terrycloth towels for drying and plopping to prevent frizz and tugging. 

Conclusion 

Information about curly hair for men may be lacking online, but you can find everything you need here. The above tips and methods for defining curly hair for guys will ensure you get your curls to where you want them – full of health, bounce, luster, and definition!

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“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.

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