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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! 

Reasons Why You’re Not Getting a Gel Cast

March 4, 2023


Verna Meachum

Image of my hair- left photo of hair with gel cast. Right side after breaking the gel cast.

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Curl care

I am highly experienced in the beauty industry and specialize in writing for brands and websites that focus on curly hair care. Moreover, I actually have curly hair and have curly-haired children with varying hair textures. I am also surrounded by curly-haired friends, including curly hairstylists and curly-haired family members. You get the point :) I’m well-versed in the language and nuances of curly hair care, styling tips, and product recommendations.

Furthermore, I collaborate with my friend who has a Ph.D. in organic and inorganic chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist to help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. He advises us on Hair Care Science to ensure we are well-informed.

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Last Updated on April 7, 2023 by Verna Meachum

Are your natural hair styling efforts not turning out as expected? If you’ve been struggling to get a good gel cast, you’re by no means alone.

We know how frustrating it can be when the curl definition and hold that you were hoping for don’t materialize, especially after you’ve put all that time and effort into it.

I’m sure you can relate – all of us curly-heads loathe wasting a wash day!

Don’t give up though! Fortunately, the answer isn’t that the rest of us are doing something wrong – oftentimes there is an underlying reason why it won’t hold.

To help demystify this situation, we’re sharing some science-backed reasons why you might not be getting a gel cast. We’ll also talk about methods to get a gel cast, product recommendations, and more.

What is a Gel Cast?

Image of my hair with a gel cast.
Here’s a picture of my hair with a gel cast.

If you’re in the curly hair community, chances are that you’ve come across the term “gel cast” at some point but aren’t quite sure what it means.

Don’t be alarmed; this is a positive development and something we want to happen to our curls.

However, if you don’t understand what it is or how to manage your hair once it takes place, you might mistakenly categorize it as hard hair and think that you used a poor product or did something wrong.

Put simply, a “gel cast” is a hard gel layer that forms around the hair strands to keep the hair from moving so it can retain its shape, definition, and style.

Image of my hair after breaking the gel cast.
Here’s my hair after breaking the gel cast.

What is the Purpose of a Gel Cast?

The purpose of a gel cast is to help keep the curls in their natural formation until it’s dry, which is how we achieve that well-defined look.

When you apply a gel to your wet hair (as the final styling product) and then either air-dry or diffuse it, the gel will slowly harden and give off that crunchy texture as you wait for it to dry.

Getting that “gel cast” is usually a sign that the gel has been used properly and is setting your hair in the shape you want it to be in.

After your curls are completely dry, they will be glossy and have a wet appearance.

Benefits of a Gel Cast and Why it’s Important

In much the same way a cast for a body part keeps the injury stabilized and protected from further damage, gel casts can have a similar effect on hair by protecting it from the elements, such as humidity, sun, and wind.

The gel cast is beneficial because it serves as a protective coating to keep the moisture in and the frizz out, a longer-lasting style, thus resulting in shiny and well-defined curls.

Think of how hair is set in rollers and then sprayed with a product to help “lock” it in place for styling. In the same way, gel casts provide a strong hold on your hair to keep your curl pattern and shape locked in place, without the use of heat styling tools.

Above all, a gel cast will keep your hair sleek and smooth by preventing frizz and controlling flyaways, which is what we curlies all strive for!

Let us take a deeper look into the science behind gel casting to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how it works and what can prevent success.

Exploring the Science Behind What Impacts a Gel Cast’s Performance

Hair is made up of protein and it has tiny pores on its surface all along its shaft. Our hair can be very sensitive to certain treatments and products, thanks in no small part to their proteinaceous nature. Therefore, it’s important to take great care when choosing what we put on our hair.

Several elements are necessary to create a style with the desired firmness, form or shape, and overall look, including ensuring that your gel cast is correctly formed.

Remember – Gel casting is a technique that is guided by a gel and acts as a coating to allow you to achieve super-defined curls without compromising the health of your hair.

When styling hair, there are several considerations to bear in mind; each type of gel must be applied differently depending on the hair’s unique characteristics, such as porosity, curl pattern, and more.

For example, a wavy head with low porosity hair will use a gel that is designed for that type of hair and may use the praying hands method to apply the gel. A coily head with high porosity hair would require a gel tailored to that specific hair type and may use the raking technique to apply a gel.

So, many factors are involved in the process of gel casting. It will take some experimentation to see what gel and what method of application works best for your hair type.

Mechanism of Setting Hair and Styling

The distinctive feature of setting hair with styling products is their ability to gelify and form a flexible cast that sets the hair in the desired shape.

What causes this is the presence of large polymer molecules that are mostly man-made and synthetic.

The basic objective is to create a uniform film from the root to the tip. These unique polymers provide a variety of benefits, such as reshaping strands while providing long-lasting hold and shine.

This coating may be homogeneous or heterogeneous at the microscopic scale, and this coating offers hardness and stiffness that keeps the hair strand in a definite desired shape for a certain period.

The aim is to “weld” hair together in a definite shape.

This film alters the morphology and physical properties of hair such as bending, texture, tensile strength, and tactile response.

The level of adhesion between a polymer and hair is contingent upon the type of polymer, its concentration, the physical characteristics of one’s hair, as well as humidity conditions.

Also, the time it takes to hold a style (style retention time) varies greatly depending upon the same factors.

However, this is temporary reshaping or “gluing” that can be reversed easily. This polymer film can be readily dissolved by simply using an anti-residue shampoo.

Hair Porosity

Image of hair cuticle showing low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

Hair porosity is another factor that should be taken into consideration when gel casting. Hair porosity refers to the ability of the hair strand to absorb moisture.

Everyone’s hair has different reactions to hair care products and techniques. If a person finds that their hair does not respond well to gel casting, it can become a hassle trying to manage or style it accordingly.

The hair’s surface is composed of a large number of cuticles, arranged in a fashion similar to that of shingles on the roof. These cuticles need to be smooth to reduce fiber friction; furthermore, they play an integral role in defining hair’s sensorial properties.

Everyone loves lustrous, glossy hair that emanates a healthy shine and smooth cuticles. Unfortunately, frequent maintenance, brushing, and chemical treatments can cause severe damage to the cuticles of your hair that irrevocably alters their physical and chemical properties.

As a result, hair becomes more porous, and fragile, and is more vulnerable to high moisture uptake from its surroundings.

Porous hair absorbs more of any substance applied since its pores are now more open and there are large empty areas within the hair shaft.

When applying gel to porous hair, there is no uniform homogeneous coating of product formed. If you were to look at it under a microscope, it will appear to have a “rough, bumpy” texture that is insufficient for a good definitive hairstyle.

When trying to style porous hair with a gel, you won’t get the desired uniform layer of product. If examined under a microscope it will appear rough and bumpy which doesn’t create a great hairstyle outcome.

The “less is more” concept should be kept in mind when it comes to styling this type of hair. Apply the product sparingly and evenly in small sections of your hair for the best results.


Infographics showing the different dew point levels and its affects on hair Also, tips on what to use for hair. Reasons Why You're Not Getting a Gel Cast

High humidity can also be a deterrent when it comes to achieving desired results from styling gels and product application. Hair absorbs moisture from its surroundings and its water content varies with the humidity outside.

High humidity can be a difficult hurdle to overcome when attempting to get a perfect style, as it directly impacts product application and gel cast results.

To conquer these obstacles, polymers must possess resilient film coatings that can tolerate changing levels of moisture in the air. Water-soluble polymers usually do the job well because they absorb water too.

High humidity can leave your hair limp and hard to style. It is likely due to the additional weight of water molecules that builds up in each strand, thus increasing the mass (weight) of the entire head of hair.

That’s why polymer manufacturers and hair care formulators collaborate closely to craft new polymers that provide higher water resistance, as well as hold the style for a long time even under high humidity conditions.

Hair Treatments Previously Applied

Now more than ever, our hair care routines are becoming increasingly complex. We wash and condition regularly, in addition to trying new treatments such as coloring or chemical applications.

These cosmetic treatments greatly alter the morphology, physicochemical properties, sensorial touch, and even hair volume.

Unlike virgin (unprocessed) hair, chemically treated hair fibers possess a unique texture that necessitates different styling and daily care requirements.

Getting that gel cast can be a difficult feat, especially if you’ve used multiple products and treatments beforehand.

Finding the ideal product for your hair might seem like a daunting task due to its unresponsiveness, but with trial and error as well as some research – it can be done.

High Protein Products

Consumers who have had several or continuous protein treatments might not get a gel cast, as well.

If you’ve had a few or multiple successive protein treatments, it may be impossible to get a gel cast.

Just like proteins form a coating on the hair surface that prevents any additional ingredients from penetrating them, polymers also do the same thing.

Consequently, styling polymers may not work or perform effectively, and may not offer tight firm curls as expected.

If this happens, use an anti-residue shampoo or clarifying shampoo at least once a week to remove this film.

High Humectant Products

Image of glycerin in bottle.

Humectants absorb water molecules from their surroundings; glycerin is a great example of this. Their main goal when included in a formula is to deliver water to hair.

Humectants are powerful in their ability to hydrate and preserve the water balance of hair fibers. However, using too much can make hair sticky, which is the result of the overloading of water molecules.

Under these conditions, your hair will feel wet, sticky, and gummy, and hair gel will not work.

Hard Water

Hard water contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium ions. They may be present naturally or as a result of environmental pollution.

Tap water contains metal ions, which are absorbed by the hair.

Repeated deposits of metal ions may lead to crystalline build-up on the outer cuticular surface of the hair fiber.

Laboratory studies have concluded that metal build-up can alter the morphology, and affect the combing force, sensory feel, and shine of one’s hair.

Moreover, with an accumulation of metal particles on your hair strands, it’s difficult for cosmetic active ingredients like styling polymers to penetrate the shaft. Consequently, you might face difficulty in forming a gel cast or obtaining desirable styling results.

Aloe Vera Treatments

Image of aloe vera plant cut up and aloe vera in a jar.

Aloe vera is an ingredient that’s frequently used in hair care products. It mainly contains starch and protein along with small amounts of essential minerals and elements.

Aloe vera ingredients are capable of withholding and attracting large amounts of water from hair, which can also work like humectants. This can interfere with hair styling causing your hair to not get a gel cast.

Reasons Your Hair Might Not Get a Gel Cast

Are you using gel to style your curly hair, but it’s not holding the way you want? You might have “hair that does not cast at all”.

This happens when your hair type doesn’t get the right level of firmness or hardness from any gel, making it difficult to manage and shape.

If this is the case, don’t worry – there are a few reasons why this might be happening, and we have some solutions for you!

With the vast amount of styling products available, it can be difficult to decide which one works best for you.

Each product provides a unique result—from texture and style to how long your look will last and whether or not it needs moisture.

If your hair refuses to hold shape or style when using a gel or setting product, there’s no need to panic as this is normal for particular hair types.

Every person has unique hair which could explain why gel isn’t giving you the desired outcome. The solution may lie in trying different products that are better suited for your hair!

Image of my hair before with a gel cast and after breaking the gel cast.
Here’s another photo of my hair with a gel cast in the left photo and after breaking the gel cast in the right photo.

9 Most Common Reasons

Hair gel is an essential part of a good hair care routine. It provides hold, definition, and shine, but sometimes our hair just won’t get a gel cast if:

#1 Your hair is too dry.

To get a gel cast, your hair needs to be moisturized. If it’s too dry, the gel won’t hold properly and you’ll end up with a flaky, frizzy style.

For maximum results, ensure that your hair is damp to wet when you apply the gel; any drier and you won’t get a cast.

Make sure you’re using a gel that is compatible with your hair type, and try incorporating more moisture into your routine either through deep conditioning or by using a leave-in conditioner.

#2 Your hair is too oily.

On the other hand, if your hair is too oily, the gel will slide right off and you won’t get any hold at all.

In this case, it’s important to use a gel that is light and won’t weigh your hair down. Look for gel products that are water-based and silicone-free.

#3 You’re using the wrong type of gel.

Not all gels are created equal – some will work better with certain hair types than others.

If you’re not getting a gel cast, try switching to a gel that is specifically designed for your curl type.

#4 Are you using the right styling products along with the gel?

Make sure you are using products that will enhance your curls and not weigh them down.

For example, if you have frizzy hair, try adding a gel made for minimizing frizz.

#5 Are you using too much gel?

Never go overboard with the gel! Too much of it will pull down your curls, while not providing them a firm hold. A light layer should suffice; enough to create an even coat on your hair.

#6 Are you using the right method to apply the gel?

If your gel isn’t sticking to your hair, it could be because you’re using the wrong method. If you are not applying gel correctly, it will not work properly.

Try applying gel with a styling brush for more control and add gel to your hair in sections. You can also try plopping your hair to allow the gel to set in before drying your hair. But, make sure not to plop too long.

#7 The gel is too heavy for your hair.

Some gels are too heavy and will weigh down your curls which will prevent you from getting a gel cast. Try switching to a gel that is specifically made for your curl type to get the best results.

#8 Is your hair clean before applying gel?

To get the most out of your gel, it is essential to cleanse your curls thoroughly before applying. Doing so will ensure that the gel coats them evenly and stays in place for a smooth, well-defined style.

If your hair is not forming a cast, it is likely due to an accumulation of product residue. Use a clarifying shampoo and notice the difference when you try again.

#9 Ask a curly hairstylist.

If all else fails, reach out to your stylist for assistance. They may be able to recommend an approach, product, or curly cut that is perfect for you and ensures maximum success.

#10 Are you using too many styling products?

Using too many products at once can prevent your hair from getting cast. Try to use the gel as your only styling product and see if that makes a difference. If you want extra hold, consider using a little bit of hairspray as the final product.

For a few people, it’s impossible to get a cast regardless of their efforts. Don’t pressure yourself; gel casts are not for everybody. You don’t need a gel cast to have beautiful curls!

Steps to Get a Gel Cast for Curly Hair

1) To get a gel cast, it’s best to work with wet hair.

2)After you have finished washing and conditioning your hair, blot out any excess water. If desired, incorporate a leave-in conditioner or cream as the foundation. Then, follow with your favorite gel – being sure to evenly distribute it through your hair while scrunching up the strands for enhanced curl definition.

3) Stick to your preferred method of applying the gel or use a rake and shake technique. The rake and shake technique is raking through the curls with your fingertip.

As your fingers come to the end of each section while styling, give it a gentle shake to detangle any strands. This simple gesture will allow the curls to form in their most organic manner.

Here’s a tutorial on how to do this technique:

Video credit: Penny Tovar

4) If you’d like to speed up the drying process, plopping with a t-shirt is an excellent option. However, some people have noticed that they have to add a bit of styling gel back in after this step since the t-shirt removes some product.

5) Dry your hair by air-drying or diffusing. Do NOT touch your hair until it is completely dry! The more you touch your hair, the more likely you are to disturb the curl and create frizz and lose the definition.

6) As it dries, the gel will harden to form a protective shell around your curls that locks in maximum moisture and helps them dry in their natural curl pattern.

7) When your hair is completely dry —break the gel cast by scrunching out the crunch to help soften the curls, and perhaps even tousling the roots just a little.

Use a small drop or two of your favorite hair oil (my favorite oil to use for this is Righteous Roots Oils) and scrunch out the crunch to help break the cast.

Image of the Righteous Roots oils in my hand to break a gel cast.
This is how much of the Righteous Roots Oisl I use to break up the gel cast.

If you prefer not to use oil, then just use your hands or your satin pillowcase and scrunch upward to release the cast. Using the satin pillowcase is a great technique for minimizing frizz.

Another way to break the gel cast is to set your curls in the diffuser bowl and adjust your blow dryer to the warm or cool setting at a low speed, then scrunch upwards to release the cast.

Once you break the gel cast, it will be soft and shiny, but still without the frizz.

For softer-looking curls, opt for flaxseed gel, which is known to be more flexible than gel cast. Flaxseed gel will not harden as gel does, however, it can provide a softer and more natural look. My absolute favorite flaxseed gel product is the one by EcoSlay – this product is amazing. Not only will you have super-defined curls, but shiny hair as well.

Get A Cast With These 12 Wonderful Gels

AG Hair Mousse Gel

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Isobutane, Vp/Va Copolymer, Propane, Propylene Glycol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Peg-6 Cocamide, Butane, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Glycerin, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Parfum (Fragrance), Panthenol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Laurtrimonium Chloride, Limonene, Sodium Bisulfite, Rice Amino Acids, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic Acid.

BioSilk Rock Hard Gelee

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, PVP, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Itaconate Copolymer, Hydrolyzed Silk, Panthenol, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Blue 1 (CI 42090), Red 33 (CI 17200).

Bouncecurl Light Hold Cream Gel

Ingredients: Water, VP/VA copolymer, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Jojoba Esters, Hydrolyzed quinoa protein, Hydrolyzed Oat protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng root Extract, Salvia Officlnalis (Sage) Extract, *Nigella Sativa (Virgin Black Cumin) Oil, Boswellia Carter Oil, Aminomethyl Propanol, Carbomer, Sodium Phytate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, **Fragrance (100% Natural Fragrance).

Bumble and Bumble Anti-Humidity Gel Oil

Ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Glycerin, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopherol, Sucrose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Octyldodecyl Citrate Crosspolymer, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hydroxide, BHT, Fragrance (Parfum), Citral, Linalool, Geraniol, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol.

TWIST Weather Up Gel

Ingredients: Aqua/​Water/​Eau, Polyquaternium-11, Polyquaternium 37, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, PVP, Isoceteth-20, Polyquaternium-7, Hydroxypropyl Bis-Hydroxyethyldimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Parfum/​Fragrance, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sericin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene.

Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Pectin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Althaea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Leaf/Root Extract, Agave Americana (Agave) Leaf Extract, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus (Seaweed) Crispus Powder, Polysorbate 20, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12), Phenoxyethanol (Optiphen ND), Caprylyl Glycol, Phthalate Free Fragrance.

Curl Keeper Gel – Ultimate Hold with Frizz Control 

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, VP/VA Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Panthenol, Oleth-20, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Polyquaternium-11, Fragrance/Parfum, Benzyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Benzoic Acid, Amyl Cinnamal Geraniol, Linalool.

Jessicurl Spiralicious Styling Gel (Fragrance-Free)

Ingredients:  Aqua (Water), Polyquaternium-69, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-11, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Alcohol.

Ecoslay Jello Shot

Ingredients: Water, Hibiscus Esculentus Fruit (Okra) Extract, Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) juice, Pectin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Urtica dioica leaf extract, MELISSA OFFICINALIS LEAF EXTRACT, Mentha piperita (Peppermint) leaf extract, Horsetail leaf extract, Yucca Vera leaf extract, Propanediol, Aminomethylpropanol,Fragaria Ananassa (Strawberry) Fruit Water, Benzylalcohol, dehydroacetic acid, Carbomer, Sodium Gluconate.

Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Climate 

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-28, Sericin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-7, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Glycerin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).

Aussie Instant Freeze

Ingredients: Water, Laureth-23, Polyquaternium- 4, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Ecklonia Radiata Extract, Fragrance, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Benzyl Alcohol, Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, DMDM Hydantoin, Acrylates Copolymer, Disodium EDTA.

Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel Extra Hold

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-11, PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides, Sericin, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Polyquaternium-59, Polyquaternium-10, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cassia Auriculata Leaf Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Panthenol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-7, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Polysorbate-20, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Butylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum (Fragrance), Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool.

Discovering the Perfect Oil to Release Your Gel-Cast

Trying out different oils is a great way to find the one that works best for you. Here are some of my favorites when it comes to gel cast:

These are lightweight oils that will not weigh your hair down or make it look greasy. A little goes a long way so you don’t have to overuse them.

How to Avoid Frizz When Breaking the Cast

When you’re breaking out of a gel cast, frizz can be your worst enemy! But luckily there are a few tips and tricks to help keep your hair looking sleek and smooth.

To start, it’s important to break out of the gel cast gently. Pulling or tugging too hard can cause lead to frizz. Instead, use your fingers to carefully loosen up sections of gel cast in smaller parts.

It’s important to condition your hair after you shampoo. Conditioner helps to lock in moisture, which can help reduce frizz.

Make sure your hair is completely dry before scrunching out the crunch.

Finally, give your hair a chance to air dry naturally. Blow drying and other heat tools can take away moisture from your scalp, causing more frizz.

Using gels with anti-humectants helps prevent the binding or absorption of water molecules. Anti-humectants are a fantastic way to fight frizziness by preventing the absorption of water in your hair’s proteins.

If your gel isn’t providing enough hold, you can layer another gel on top of it. This will help to hold your style in place while still preventing frizz.

Find gels that contain:

  • Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) – a reliable, long-lasting film former designed to create a gentle hold.
  • VP/VA Copolymer – is a styling polymer used to achieve the strongest hold, while still offering water-resistant protection.
  • Polyquaternium-55 – a new generation styling polymer for extra hold and humidity-resistant styling to keep your hair in place for longer.
  • VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer – is proven to be an exceptional hair fixative. When dried, it creates a thin layer on the hair that will maintain your hairstyle for hours on end.
  • Polyquaternium-69 – is an amalgamation of vinyl caprolactam, vinylpyrrolidone, dimethylaminopropyl methacrylamide (DMAPA), and methacryloylamino-propyl lauryldimonium chloride – is a quaternary polymeric ammonium salt which functions as a fixative for hair care products.
  • Pectin – a naturally occurring setting agent.
  • Okra Extract: Through biotransformation, okra seeds are converted into a complex that is packed with oligopeptides. In addition to this, it grants antioxidant properties and has been formulated to naturally plump curly or coily hair types – smoothing out strands and taming flyaways all while preventing frizziness! Its unique combination of ingredients helps soften the hair while providing ample moisture.
  • Polyquaternium-4 – not only provides a glossy finish to your hair, but also ensures that the curls remain intact during humidity.
  • Polyquaternium-11 – is a cellulose derivative that provides an incredible film coating for hair and ensures that products won’t separate. This advanced molecule works to provide superior thickness, making it easier to comb through hair.
  • Polyquaternium-28, a combination of PVP and methacrylamidopropyl trimethylammonium chloride, offers hair conditioning and added manageability. However, with successive uses the product can start to build-up on hair.

To understand and learn more about the fascinating science-y stuff behind Polyquaterniums, be sure to check out: Polyquats Explained!

FAQs About Gel Cast

Can you sleep in a gel cast?

Yes, absolutely! Sleeping in a gel cast will yield extra-defined curls the next morning. Just make sure you preserve your curls by sleeping on a satin pillowcase or using a satin bonnet or scarf. I prefer to sleep in a gel cast and then scrunch out the crunch in the morning.

Is it possible to create a cast using other products other than gel?

Yes, you can use mousse to create a cast. However, depending on the formula, some mousses will create a slight cast to provide a soft, touchable hold. 

Is a cast essential for all those with curly hair?

If you have naturally wavy, curly, or coily hair, achieving a gel cast is not always necessary. My 3C hair type usually prefers a soft hold; however, when the humidity kicks in and I’m looking for extra definition, strong-hold gels are my go-to product.

What if you can’t break the cast?

If your gel cast is too hard to break, you likely need to add some moisture. Before you apply styling items, give your hair some nourishment by utilizing deep conditioning treatment. Alternatively, try using a leave-in conditioner or curl cream as the base before adding any gel.


If you’re having trouble getting a gel cast, try some of these troubleshooting tips. But if they don’t seem to be working for you, consult your curly hairstylist for help.

Getting a gel cast can be an effective way to enhance definition, fight frizz, and keep your hairstyle under control. With the right gel and styling technique, you can achieve the gel cast pretty easily.

Have fun experimenting with different oil products to find the perfect gel cast for your unique hair type!

If you found this post to be helpful, please share it with others. We thank you for taking the time to read through and give our blog a chance!


1. Johnson, D. H., Hair, and Hair Care. Taylor & Francis: 1997.
2. Zviak, C., The Science of Hair Care. Taylor & Francis: 2005.
3. Marsh, J. M.; Gray, J.; Tosti, A., Healthy Hair. Springer International Publishing: 2015

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