This is definitely one of our longest posts. I apologize in advance. But if you have curly hair, it’s a good read, I promise!
Curly hair is complicated. Frizz; crunchy curls; knots; hair weighed down; uneven curls; do I brush it, do I not; should I use cream or mousse, or both…there are countless issues we face. Most people who ask about my curly hair for the first time assume I’ve pulled out the curling iron and spent hours curling individual strands. But I don’t. And I’m excited to tell you that getting beautiful curls with volume is crazy easy!
So if you have waves or curls and want to know how to make the most out of them, read on, your life’s about to change;)
THE PRODUCTS I USE
Because curly hair is typically drier than naturally straight hair, I only shampoo my hair twice (maybe 3x) a week, and I only shampoo the roots. When you rinse your hair the shampoo will run through the ends, which for me is plenty. Curl shampoos are great, but I’m not as concerned about the kind of shampoo I use as I am the number of times I use the shampoo during the week. So experiment and pick the best one for you.
I use Caviar Anti-Aging Replenshing Moisture Shampoo, which I usually find at Sephora, and I quite like it. It is pricey, but remember, I only use it twice a week so one bottle lasts me a long time.
I use the same Caviar conditioner on the days I shampoo, but I also have a stock pile of inexpensive conditioners that I use on the days I’m not shampooing. I condition my hair every time I take a shower. Again, I’m not fussy about the kind of conditioner I use, but I generally pick a hydrating one like Herbal Essences Hello Hydration.
For twenty-five years, ever since I discovered the curls on my head, I have been experimenting with products. Even today, I’ll switch brands just to see if I like one over the other.
My biggest piece of advice, if you take nothing else from this post, is that the only way I have ever been able to achieve voluminous, bouncy curls is to use a weightless product, like mousse. Spray gels can work too, but if they’re not sprayed properly they can leave your hair crunchy. And we all shudder at the idea of crunchy, over-gelled curls. So invest in mousse, it’s easy to use and works perfectly with the below curling method.
What about creams?
Creams add tons of moisture and are great for the stay-at-home days, but I find they weigh my hair down and actually make my hair less curly. The process of having to smooth the product over the hair is where I struggle. “Smoothing” any product throughout my hair pulls the curls, and once I’ve pulled on them they’re gone=( So unless your hair is very, very curly and will curl regardless of brushing, smoothing, or the like, you’ll find creams will only weigh your hair down.
I like using protective sprays, and find that many of them work well. Right now I’m using Pantene’s Curly Hair Heat Protection.
HOW TO ACHIEVE VOLUMINOUS, BOUNCY CURLS: A Step By Step Process
Most of everything written below is fully-detailed explanations of why or why not I do something. I have used and tweaked ten times over this process for twenty years now. Once you’ve tried it two or three times, it will become so easy. The whole process from shower to hair spray takes me 20 minutes (not including leaving it in a towel for a few minutes), even with my long hair!
If you want a super fast version, or need a reminder after you’ve read my novelette below, scroll all the way down to my signature, I’ve left a short-hand version for your reference.
Step 1: Here’s what you’ll need
A wide tooth comb, conditioner, old t-shirt (optional) or towel, mousse, heat spray (optional), a diffuser and hair dryer, and hair spray.
Step 2: Flip your head and condition your hair
While you’re in the shower, add conditioner to your hair. Using the wide tooth comb, comb through your hair until all the knots are out. Now, flip your head and comb through your hair again until smooth.
Step 3: Rinse your hair
While still in the shower and head still flipped, rinse your hair clean. Do not ring out your hair!!! And try not to over rinse as it’ll make your hair dry. You want it to still feel smooth when you’re finished.
Step 4: Scrunch hair
At this point your hair should still be sopping wet and head still flipped, so I usually stay in the shower for this step.
Now here comes the important part! Scrunch your hair. Be sure to get the back of your head as well, as shown in the bottom left pic below. Do this until you’ve reached the right amount of curl. Essentially, scrunching is the process that curls your hair. But be careful, you DO NOT want to over scrunch. The more you touch your hair, the more the curls will separate. I usually scrunch about three times. And NEVER PULL or RING out your hair to get the water out! This will remove the curls.
Finally, scrunch lightly with your towel OR an old t-shirt to help absorb more of the water. The t-shirt will help if your hair tends to get frizzy.
Step 5: Add product
Now add your mousse all over your head, by scrunching it through your hair. Again, DO NOT PULL, wipe, or smooth it through your hair. Use a scrunching motion.
I usually use about a baseball amount, because I have a lot of hair. This step may take you a few tries to get it right. If you end up with crunchy or weighed down curls, try a little less next time. Or if you find your hair frizzing a lot, try adding a little more.
If you use heat spray (must be a spray), add it now. You don’t need to touch your hair for this step.
Step 6: Wrap and leave it
Wrap your head gently with a towel and stand up. Yay! You finally get to stand;)
I usually leave my hair wrapped in the towel for about 10 minutes, while I put on makeup or do things around the house. If you don’t have the time, that’s okay, skip this step and move onto step 7. It will just take you a little longer to dry your hair and it may add a little bit of frizz.
Step 7: Unwrap and scrunch
Flip your head and unwrap the towel gently. Scrunch one last time with your hands to bring back to life some of the curls that may have flattened a bit.
Step 8: Dry your hair
Now, get comfy, it’s time to dry! You’ll be flipped over for most of the drying process (this is how we get the volume), so a chair, bed, or toilet seat are all great to use so your back doesn’t get tired.
- Using a diffuser and your hair dryer on a medium speed and/or medium heat (depending on the settings your dryer has) and letting your hair naturally fall onto the diffuser, bring the dryer up toward your head. NOW LEAVE IT. Do not move the hair dryer all around. Do not massage your head with the little fingers that might be in your diffuser. This creates frizz. Leave it in that one spot for as long as you can take (usually about 30 seconds).
- Then move to another spot. Again letting the hair naturally fall onto the diffuser and bringing it up toward your head. Now leave it here for as long as you can take.
- You are simply drying your hair in small sections by placing, then leaving the hair dryer in spots all over your head.
- Keep doing this until your hair in this flipped over position is about 2/3 dry.
- See the top two pictures below as a reference.
- Now, turn your head to the side and using the same motions as above, dry along your neck line, the underneath sections, as well as the sides of your head near your ears.
- For best results, you’ll be in a side arched position from one side or the other, as shown in the bottom two pictures below.
- Repeat steps 1-7, flipping your head upside down then to the side, until your hair is 95% dry. Yes, you want your hair to be completely dry!
- Finally (yay!), switch your dryer to the cool setting and dry hair all over using the same placing motions from above. This will actually also help you figure out if your hair is fully dry.
Why do I dry my hair completely? Because the hair dryer I can control. The weather I cannot, especially here in the Caribbean. So if my hair is fully dry, the outside elements won’t affect my hair as much. If it’s still wet, then my hair will react to the air outside, because the air will be “drying” my hair for me. And that I don’t want. Plus, wet hair is weighed down hair, and we want volume!!!
Step 9: Add hairspray
This is my favorite step. Now with your head flipped over, spray hairspray all over your head. I use a lot, which is why I usually opt for an inexpensive brand. While the hairspray is drying, lightly sway your head from side to side (think head banger) to give your hair a bit of movement and so the hairspray doesn’t dry it in one place.
Once the hairspray is dry, flip your head right side up and smile, you’re done!
Big, voluminous, bouncy curls. This process will work for any length hair. I’ve used it on my hair when it was above my shoulders. It just means more volume.
- Put conditioner in hair.
- Comb hair with head flipped. Rinse.
- Scrunch hair with head flipped.
- Towel scrunch hair with head flipped.
- Add product.
- Wrap head in towel. Come back in 10 minutes.
- Unwrap towel with head flipped and scrunch with hands.
- Dry using a diffuser with head flipped.
- Spray hair liberally with hairspray and head flipped.
- Stand up and style.
Stay tuned, I’ll have another post on how-to style curly hair soon!