Curls are lifesavers. I might be biased when saying this (gosh, I love my natural curls) but they really are that great. No matter what your hair type is, curls can last you for days and there are so many ways to easily create and maintain them. From the straightest of straight to the curliest of curly, read on to find out how to create (and maintain) the best curls ever.
Most people (myself included!) believe straight hair is easy to curl, but it’s not if you want long-lasting curls. Tashina Tantalos, a hairstylist at the Bumble and Bumble Salon in New York City, says that one of the biggest mistakes she sees women with straight hair making when it comes to curling is not using any product.
Joico’s celebrity hairstylist Paul Norton couldn’t agree more. He suggests that women with straight hair use curl-friendly products such as the Joico Curl Defining Contouring Foam Wax to help repair damaged hair but also to help develop curls with or without the use of heat.
“When curling their hair, women try to use the same products they use when they are doing a blow out or straightening their hair,” says Norton. “It’s crucial that they use curl-friendly products that encourage curl formation.”
Another mistake? Blow-drying too much. “Blow-drying the hair too much breaks down the hair’s elasticity and creates limp hair,” Tantalos says. Instead, she suggests starting with doing a quick hand-dry with a blow dryer to get all of the moisture in the hair out before styling.
A wet set method is one way to create longer-lasting curls on straight hair. After washing and conditioning the hair, apply a mousse like Bb. Curl Conditioning Mousse, then braid or pin curl set the hair while wet and let it air dry or sleeping on it overnight. Afterwards, unset the hair and lock in the style with a finishing spray like the Bb. Strong Finish.
Not quite curly and certainly not straight, wavy hair exists on the cusp of both worlds. But, regardless of where your wave pattern lies, one of the most important things to remember when curling it is not too touch or brush it too much. “Let it lay in its natural state and gently add in necessary products to help define and remove frizz,” celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin suggests.
2A: This wave type is defined by it’s slight “S” shape, is very fine and usually lacks volume and density. Atkin suggests applying mousse throughout damp hair and then blow-drying with a diffuser in sections. Be sure to lift the diffuser off of the scalp in order to create maximum volume and fullness.
2B: This wave type is very similar to 2A in that the similar “S” shape is there, but the pattern tends to stick closer to the head instead of only mid-shaft or only the ends. These waves lose curl definition easier and might be slightly frizzier. To create lasting curls for 2B waves, Atkin suggests applying OUAI Wave Spray along with a quarter size amount of the OUAI Finishing Crème throughout damp hair. Then, take three four-inch sections and fold the hair like an accordion with your hand. Hold the blow dryer (using a high heat/low fan setting) on the section in your hand for about 15 seconds. Do this all around the head until each section of the hair is dry. “This will create more wave/curl throughout your ends,” Atkin says.
2C: This wave type is the coarsest of all wavy hair patterns and loses curl definition very easy. It also contains more actual curls than waves and can be resistant to styling. To create lasting curls for 2C waves, Atkin suggests applying an oil with OUAI Finishing Crème throughout towel-dried hair. Then, take one-inch sections and twist the curls in the direction of their natural curl pattern, then air-dry. “This will help to define the natural curl while removing any frizz and adding shine,” she says.
It might sound redundant to talk about how to curl curly hair, but trust me when I say the struggle can be real. But, the one tip to always remember is the less product, the better. “For full head curly girls, I recommend less is more and use products with a light touch,” advises celebrity hairstylist and Shea Moisture ambassador Diane C. Bailey.
3A: This curl type has a well-defined (usually springy) loopy “S” pattern. It can be easily straightened, however it is prone to frizz and losing definition.
To create voluminous curls, Ouidad Master Educator Chadwick Pendley suggests applying a root-lifting foam like the PlayCurl Amplifying Foam followed by Ouidad’s Rake and Shake technique, applying product in sections evenly from the scalp to ends using your fingers as a rake– before air drying.
If you are using hot tools to add additional definition to the curl type, Pendley says that priming the hair to protect hydration levels is key before styling the hair. Start by applying a light oil followed by PlayCurl Amplifying Styling Spray. Then, diffuse the hair to dry (use the blow dryer on high heat but low air flow to create volume). After hair is dry, apply a shape-setting spray before using a curling iron (try the Cricket Ultra Smooth Curling Iron) or wand to properly set the shape.
3B: This curl type has a dense, coarse texture. It also has more volume and a smaller circumference than Type 3A curls.
Before styling 3B curls, Pendley advises properly shampooing the scalp in order to remove the sebum that traps dirt and debris that causes flat curls at the scalp. Also, avoid applying conditioner at the scalp and, instead, apply from the ends up to about two inches away from the scalp. Also, since this curl type is most prone to frizzing, remember to apply proper moisture levels to the hair throughout the week to avoid dull looking curls.
To add more definition to 3B curls, Pendley suggests using the Rake and Shake method while applying conditioner to wet hair. Then, with a blow dryer set to low air/high heat, diffuse the curls until completely dry for best definition.
3C: These tight, corkscrew curls are coarser and higher in density, meaning more volume. It is also finer in texture.
“These curls are very delicate and not often very forgiving, so often times a single use of a hot tool can alter the pattern of the curl permanently and will need to be cut out,” says Pendley.
Bailey suggests using the L.O.C ( leave in conditioner, oil and cream) method onto each section of your curls. Start with applying a leave-in conditioner like the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow, to clean, damp hair—avoiding the roots. Then, use a styling cream like the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Finger coil to define and set curls. Finish by applying several drops of your favorite oil to seal in moisture and add shine.
Well-defined curls that pop are forever #hairgoals for those with the curliest hair types. While consistently adding moisture is key for this to happen, celebrity hairstylist Tym Wallace warns that you should always avoid over conditioning your curls. “By the time hair emerges from the skin, it is made up of protein-rich fibers,” he tells Allure. “Conditioners, in most cases, are made with protein-like ingredients and too much protein can cause the hair to become porous and eventually break. Hydrate the hair, but do not overdo it.”
4A: This tightly coiled curl type may have a high density, but it’s fragile and fine. Wallace suggests using double strand twists to create more definition for this curl pattern. Start by using the L.O.C. method on clean, damp hair. Detangle the hair from roots to ends and divide into the sections that you’d like your twists to hang. Apply a bit of the As I Am Twist Defining Cream and begin twisting your hair as tight to the root as you can. Then, wrap the bottom of the twist around your finger to create a finished curl. Do this to your entire head and let air-dry. After hair is completely dry, remove the twists and apply a spritz of the Jane Carter Hold Lock spray to set.
4B: There are lots of strands packed densely together in this tightly coiled and wiry curl pattern. It typically has a “Z” shape and is less defined and can range from fine to coarse. Flexi rods are great tools to use for this curl type! Wallace suggests using small sized rods like these. Start with clean, wet hair and apply a leave-in conditioner like the Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner. Section off hair and twist strands around the flexi rods until all your hair is twisted into the rods. Sit under the hair dryer for about 45 minutes (or until hair is completely dry) and remove the flexi rods for defined curls.
4C: This curl pattern looks almost like 4B curls, but the hair is kinkier and has less definition. Two strand twists, flexi rods and Bantu Knots are all great methods to define 4C curls. But, whichever curling method you choose, Wallace says it’s very important to consistently keep your hair cleansed and conditioned in order to avoid product buildup (which can easily lead to dull, lifeless looking curls). Always use a sulfate-free shampoo like the Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo in order to keep the hair and scalp healthy.
Now check out these simple DIY hairstyles: