During my journey to restore my damaged hair to its former glory, I faced a common challenge among curly-haired individuals: lackluster curls that couldn’t hold their shape. I was determined to accentuate my natural curl pattern but found myself bewildered about where to start.
Scrolling through Instagram, I would often admire those flaunting their stunning curls, feeling both inspired and discouraged by my own hair’s resistance to cooperating. The question loomed: How did they do it?
Indeed, when it comes to curly hair care, we often encounter the need for more products and techniques compared to our straight-haired counterparts. But don’t let this complexity deter you, for managing your curls can become second nature with the right guidance and a bit of practice.
Let’s embark on the journey to learning how to make your hair curlier, demystifying the process, and making it an enjoyable experience.
Below, we’ll provide succinct answers on how to achieve curlier hair, and we’ll delve into each method to ensure you have a clear understanding.
- Get a Haircut
- Use a Frizz-Fighting Shampoo and Conditioner
- Apply Leave-In Conditioner
- Opt for Curl-Enhancing Products
- Try a Deep Conditioner
- Consider a Protein Treatment
- Explore Hair Bond Products
- Use a Clarifying Shampoo
- Scrunch Out the Crunch
- Apply a Heat Protectant
- Try “Plopping” Your Hair
- Use a Denman Brush
- Finger Coiling
- Pin Curling
16 Ways to Make Your Hair Curlier
Before we jump into the heart of the matter, it’s important to understand that your hair’s natural curl pattern is something you inherit and can’t change.
But don’t worry, there are ways to enhance and showcase your natural curls by using the right products and techniques.
With that essential understanding in mind, let’s explore some top tips and tricks to make your hair even curlier (including wavy hair).
We’re all familiar with the telltale signs of damaged hair. Often, it exhibits straighter ends compared to the roots, a parched and brittle texture, and a noticeable lack of shine. If you have straight hair, these issues can be even more apparent.
Another indicator of post-damage hair is the loss of its bounce and elasticity. This becomes evident when newly growing hair at the roots appears curlier than the damaged ends.
When your hair is damaged, it often doesn’t hold curls as well as healthy hair. Consider trimming or cutting it, or as much as you’re comfortable with to get rid of those compromised ends. You’ll be surprised to see bouncy curls, especially on the ends of your hair.
It not only minimizes the extent of the damage but also makes styling and managing your curls, and even straight hair, much more manageable.
You don’t have to go for a big chop—just dusting off as little as 1/4 inch can do wonders to enhance your waves and curls and give it a curlier appearance.
In general, experts recommend scheduling a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. The advantages extend beyond just maintaining the health of your hair – you’ll also notice a more defined and vibrant curl pattern.
Take a look at these before-and-after photos of my hair following my first Deva cut below. It’s remarkable how much curlier and more vibrant my hair appears after the cut.
2. Use anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner
Using an anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner can help make wavy hair and curly hair curlier by addressing the common issue of frizz, which often weighs down waves and prevents them from forming defined curls.1
Here’s how it works:
- Frizz Reduction: Anti-frizz products contain ingredients that work to smooth the hair cuticle layer, reducing frizz and flyaways. When wavy hair is less frizzy, it can form and maintain curls more easily.
- Enhanced Definition: By taming frizz, these products allow your hair’s natural waves and curl pattern to shine through. The smoother cuticle layer allows waves to align more uniformly, creating more defined perfect curls.
- Improved Moisture Balance: Anti-frizz formulas often include ingredients that help retain moisture in the hair. Well-moisturized hair is more elastic and resilient, which contributes to better curl formation.
- Longer-Lasting Curls: With reduced frizz and improved moisture balance, the curls you create tend to hold their shape for a longer time, giving you that coveted bouncy, and curly look.
3. Use a Leave-in Conditioner
Using a leave-in conditioner keeps hair conditioned and enhances curls. It’s lightweight and won’t weigh down your waves or curls. For fine hair, less product is better to avoid weighing down curls.
4. Use a Curl-Enhancing Product
Using a curl-enhancing product like curl cream, mousse, or gel can make wavy and curly hair curlier by providing the following benefits:
- Definition: These products help define and shape curls, ensuring that the natural wave or curl pattern is more pronounced and distinct.
- Frizz Control: Curl-enhancing products often contain ingredients that reduce frizz, keeping the hair’s surface smooth and preventing it from weighing down curls.
- Hold: They provide hold to maintain the shape of curls throughout the day, preventing them from losing definition or falling flat.
- Volume: Some products also add volume to the hair, which can make curls appear more voluminous and bouncy.
- Moisture: Many curl-enhancing products are formulated to keep the hair well-hydrated, promoting healthy curls that are less prone to dryness and breakage.
Here are brief instructions on how to use curl-enhancing products:
- Remove excess water from hair. After shampooing and conditioning your hair, remove the excess water from your hair using a microfiber towel or T-shirt.
- Apply to Wet Hair: On wet hair, take a small amount (usually a quarter-sized portion) of the product in your hands.
- Even Distribution: Work the product through your hair evenly. Use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb, ensuring it covers all your hair.
- Style as Desired: Style your hair as you prefer, whether it’s scrunching, twisting, or using a diffuser. The product will help define and hold your curls.
- Allow to Dry: Let your hair air dry or use a diffuser with a low heat setting. Avoid touching your hair while it dries to prevent frizz.
- Optional: Scrunch Out the Crunch: If the product leaves your hair feeling slightly crunchy when dry, gently scrunch your hair with your hands, or a satin or silk pillowcase (something you should already have on hand) to soften and reveal bouncy, well-defined curls.
5. Treat your Hair to a Deep Conditioner
As anyone with curly hair knows, finding the right deep conditioner can be a game-changer. When shopping for a deep conditioner, look for one that is specifically designed for curly hair.
A good deep conditioner can make curls curlier, softer, and shinier. If you have damaged hair, you need to use deep conditioners for high-porosity hair.
If your hair is healthy but has difficulty maintaining moisture, consider using a low-porosity deep conditioner.
Treat your hair to an intensive conditioning treatment once or twice a month to quench its thirst and give it bounce and elasticity.
Once you find a deep conditioner that works for you, make sure to use it regularly to keep your hair looking its best. The more conditioned and lubricated your curls are, the more they will curl up.
Here are a few of my faves:
- As I Am Hydration Elation
- Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!
- Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner
- Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment
6. Treat your Hair to a Protein Treatment
Protein treatments are a hidden gem in hair care that many people overlook, yet they can be a game-changer for your hair’s health and appearance.
These treatments work by replenishing the proteins lost due to chemical treatments, heat damage, curling iron, flat iron, and more. This not only repairs damage but also enhances the natural curl pattern of your hair.
If your hair has experienced damage, it’s often associated with high porosity. Therefore, selecting protein treatments tailored for high porosity hair is the ideal choice.
To keep your hair in top shape, aim to use a protein treatment roughly every 4-6 weeks, or as needed, depending on your hair’s condition.
Here are a couple of my favorite protein treatments:
7. Use a Hair Bond Multiplier Product
Using a bond multiplier product like Olaplex can work wonders in making hair curlier. These products are designed to repair and strengthen the hair’s internal bonds, which are often compromised by various factors, including heat styling and chemical treatments.
By restoring these bonds, hair becomes healthier, more resilient, and better able to hold its natural curl pattern.
This means that when you use Olaplex or similar bond multipliers, you’re not only improving the overall health of your hair but also enhancing its ability to form and maintain those beautiful curls.
8. Give your Hair a Reboot
Occasionally, our curls require a fresh start, and a clarifying shampoo is the perfect solution. It effectively clears away product buildup, dirt, and excess oil from your hair, restoring its natural vibrancy.
Moreover, it helps eliminate any lingering residues that could be responsible for making your curls feel heavy or frizzy.
Now, let’s dive into some styling techniques that can help enhance the curliness of your curls.
9. Scrunch Out the Crunch
You can use this method at different stages of your hair care routine, including conditioning, drying, and styling. Doing so will help encourage the formation of curlier hair.
Curly hair can struggle to distribute its natural oils (sebum) effectively due to its twists and bends, making it challenging for these oils to travel down the hair shaft. Hair oils provide an excellent solution to this issue.
Tip: Don’t use coconut oil to scrunch out the crunch because it can make your hair appear greasy and weigh down your curls.2
My favorite oil for scrunching out the crunch is Righteous Roots Oils. In the photo below are my before-and-after results.
When your hair is partially dry, bend forward and use a diffuser to gently cup your curls towards the roots while scrunching. This technique not only reduces frizz but also adds volume and body to your curls.
For a visual demonstration of how I diffuse my hair, check out the video below.
11. Air Dry
Air drying your hair is another method to make your hair curlier, especially if you have the time or prefer to avoid heat styling.
While it may work particularly well for those with naturally curlier hair, it’s worth giving it a try to see how it suits your hair type and texture.
If it’s taking too long to air dry your hair, you can also use the blow dryer on the lowest setting to help speed up the drying process.
Finish with a light hairspray for curly hair to hold them in place.
12. Use a Heat Protectant Spray
To maximize your curls, it’s wise to minimize heat styling, as excessive heat can harm your hair. However, if you do use heat tools like a hair dryer, employing a heat protectant spray is essential.
As part of your post-shower routine, generously apply the heat protectant spray to your damp hair and allow it a few minutes to set. This step is crucial as it acts as a shield, safeguarding your hair from damage caused by high temperatures.
By preserving your hair’s health and integrity, a heat protectant not only prevents damage but also fosters a healthier environment for your curls to thrive, resulting in curlier, more vibrant locks.
13. Plop Your Hair
“Plopping” is a fantastic curly hair technique that not only speeds up drying time but also enhances definition while minimizing frizz.
Here’s how it works:
After you’ve applied your styling product, take your wet hair and gently wrap it in a cloth or T-shirt. This step comes after applying the product but before you start drying or using a diffuser.
Remember, there are various methods to achieve your best curls, so don’t hesitate to experiment until you discover what works perfectly for you.
Here is a YouTube video by Penny Tovar showing how to plop your hair.
14. Define your Curls with a Denman brush
The Denman brush features thick, well-spaced bristles designed to promote curls and create clumps for defined waves and curls.
To use it effectively, begin at the roots and gently brush downward towards the tips of your hair, taking care not to pull or tug, which can lead to breakage.
If you don’t have a Denman brush on hand, no worries – your fingers can also be used to define and separate your curls, achieving a similar effect.
15. Finger Coiling
Finger coiling, a technique where you wrap your hair around your fingers, is excellent for defining your curls, especially when your hair is wet.
Here’s how to do it: Begin at the roots, take about an inch-wide section of your hair, and start twisting it tightly around your fingers. Hold for a few seconds, then gently release.
As you release, you’ll notice that the hair forms a beautiful spiral ringlet. Continue this process until you’ve coiled all of your hair. It’s a simple yet effective way to enhance your curls and achieve a well-defined look.
Check out this super quick tutorial on how to finger coil your hair by Rizos Curls:
16. Pin Curling
If you find flat or misshapen curls and waves, this no-heat styling method is your solution.
Here’s how to create pin curls in a simplified, step-by-step format:
1. Section and Prep:
- Begin with a 1–2 inch-wide section of hair.
- Start at the top of your head for better visibility.
- Brush through the section from root to tip using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
- Place your index finger on your dominant hand at the end of your hair.
2. Create the Curl:
- Wrap your hair around your finger from the end to the roots.
- Secure the ends by twirling the hair 2-3 times around your finger.
- Pinch the end of your hair between your thumb and index finger.
- Hold your hair about 2–3 inches from the bottom with your non-dominant hand.
- Spin your finger clockwise to tightly twist the hair around it, so that you’ll end up with tighter curls.
3. Secure with Bobby Pin:
- Carefully slide your finger out and hold the curl at your scalp with your non-dominant hand.
- Use bobby pins to secure the curl at the roots, positioning it around the curl and hair.
4. Style as Desired:
- Repeat the process for all sections of your hair, working from top to bottom.
5. Set with Hairspray:
- Once all curls are pinned in place, lightly spray your hair with hairspray to set the curls in position.
By following these steps, you can achieve beautiful pin curls for a classic, elegant hairstyle.
Here’s a great step-by-step tutorial by Lavdysheva:
Hair Products to Make Your Hair Curlier
The best way to ensure your curls look their best is by using the right hair products. If you’re using the wrong products, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get your curls to look their best.
When it comes to finding the right products, you’ll want to consider your hair type and texture. Not all products are created equal, so it’s important to find ones that are specifically designed for your hair.
For example, if you have dry curly hair, you’ll want to use a conditioning shampoo and conditioner, as well as a curl-enhancing product.
If you have fine or thin hair, you’ll want to use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner, as well as a product that will add texture and hold.
There are a variety of products on the market that can help you make your curls curlier, so take your time and find the ones that work best for you.
If you need to figure out your curly hair type, we’ve got the perfect article for you. In the next section, we’ll also provide product recommendations tailored to curly hair to aid you in your journey.
A curl-enhancing cream is a great way to add hold and definition to your curls.
These creams can be easily applied to damp or dry hair. They often contain ingredients that help to add definition and lightly hold curls.
In addition, curl-enhancing creams typically contain oils or butter that help to lubricate your hair and reduce frizz.
To use, simply apply a small amount of cream to your palms and distribute it evenly through your damp or dry hair. Then, style and scrunch as desired.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Bouncecurl Avocado & Rose Oil Clump and Define Cream
- Bouncecurl Defining Butta This is specifically made for 4 hair type hair. I have 3C hair type, but it works well with my texture.
- Cantu Curl Activator
- SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
There are also a few curl-enhancing mousses that I love. These will help to define the curl while also providing hold.
Apply the mousse to wet hair, then scrunch and style as desired. To achieve more definition and frizz-free curls, I like to apply mousse as the very last step in my styling routine.
- Design Essentials Curl Enhancing Mousse, Almond and Avocado
- OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse
- SheaMoisture Frizz-Free Mousse
Curly Hair Gels
Whether you battle frizz, flatness, or curls that just won’t cooperate, there are solutions to bring out the best in your curls.
One effective method to ensure your curls shine is by using hair gels. Gels can work wonders in enhancing your curls, making them curlier, and preventing frizz throughout the day.
With a wide array of gels available, you can choose the one that best suits your hair type.
Here is a list of some great holding gels that I love:
- BioSilk Rock Hard Gel
- Bumble and Bumble Anti-Humidity Gel Oil
- Camille Rose Curl Maker
- Ecoslay Orange Marmalade Curl Definer Gel
- Innersense Organic Beauty “I Create Hold”
- Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Climate
These are the methods that I’ve used to achieve curlier hair, some are quick-fix styling methods that can define your curls and others are adjustments to your regimen that will result in longer-term healthier, bouncier hair.
With a little patience and experimentation, you’ll be able to find the method that works best for you and gets the results you’re looking for.