Defining My Curls

Getting good definition for your natural curls in probably one of the most sought after abilities for those with natural hair. This is especially important if you have any 4 type curl. I would put myself at 4a/ab. My hair in the front is a loser 4a curl pattern, and the hair in the center of my hair is the thickest at 4b. When I was going natural I was praying for a bouncy 3c hair type, but I have learned to love wait I was blessed with. But even if you do have denser, tighter curls, that doesn’t mean you can’t have that defined curl look. There are a couple ways you can achieve this look regardless of your hair type.

Different Sets:

Setting you hair in various ways can help you achieve a defined curl look. This may not be the way your hair “naturally” looks, but that’s the beauty of natural hair, the ability to manipulate the way it looks so easily. You may choose a roller set, braid out, or twist set.

  1. Wash hair using your typical conditioner and shampoo (if any)
  2. Starting with very damp hair, apply your favorite moisturizer.
  3. Separate hair into small sections and apply gel. I use Eco Styler Olive Oil. It will hold the style without making it dry and crunchy.
  4. Put each section into your choice of roller, braid, or twist.
    • If you do a roller set I would choose either a straw or small perm rod set to achieve small, tight curls, rather than the big “Shirley Temple curls”.
    •  With braid and twist out sets, although more time consuming I get the best results with individual twist and braids, rather than cornrows on under twist. Under twist and cornrows will still look good, but for me they tend to be more wavy than curly.
  5.  Use your favorite drying method
    • For a very sleek and shiny look sit under a dryer until hair is completely dry. It takes my hair up over 2 hours to dry under a hooded dryer.
    • You could sit under the hooded dryer for a shorter amount of time like 20-30 minutes, then let it finish by air drying.
    • Or you can let it air dry totally. I usually set my hair the previous day and let it dry 24 hours. This works for me on a lazy weekend and my hair is ready to go the next week.
  6.  Once your hair is dry take out the rollers, braids, or twist. I CANNOT stress how important it is that you wait to take your hair out until it has dried completely. If you don’t you’ll have a puffy mess on your hands once it dries.
    •  When you have out your hair you have choice of separating your hair on leaving it in “clumps”. Sometimes I like the way it looks separated, others I prefer unseparated. For me it’s a catch 22. If I separate my hair, it can turn out fuzzy, if I don’t separate it doesn’t look at full as I’d like and it looks like its been set, not very naturally curly. I typically do which ever I feel up to that day. Choosing between roller, braid, or twist sets are away of achieving a defined curl “look” if your hair doesn’t seem to cooperate on its own.

Wash and Go:

I don’t get to use the wash and go method of defining my curls often. I can only use it during the summer as when I am not working, because my mornings are too early and hectic to attempt this during the school year. This method can be more difficult if you have 4b/4c hair. But there are a few things I can do to make the curls I do have “POP”.

  1. Wash your hair in sections with a VERY good, moisturizing conditioner, saturating each section. When I am attempting to do a wash and go I save it for a co-washing day, not a long shampoo and deep condition day.
  2. Lightly rinse each section out. I never completely rinse conditioner out of my hair.
  3. Ring hair out, so it is not dripping, but DO NOT towel dry.
  4. Apply you favorite oil to wet hair. I use extra virgin coconut, or EVOO.
  5. Apply your favorite curling moisturizer and gel (optional) to sections. I use Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Eco Styler Olive Oil gel.
  6. Blow dry hair. You can set under a hooded dryer for 15-20 minutes or run a hand dryer over your hair for several minutes.
  7. DON’T MESS WITH YOUR HAIR- this is my biggest flaw. Let the curls be or else certain places with turn into a fussy mess.
  8. My wash and go typically only looks really good for one day, but I can come times stretch it out by putting it in a pineapple at night and in the morning spritzing it with a leave in conditioner (water, conditioner, and oil) and reapplying some of the Shea moisture curl enhancer.

These are my techniques for achieving a defined look. What I do may not work for you. Everybody has to experiment to find what products and techniques agree with their hair. When I first went natural and came back to college after winter break I had a twist out. One of my friends asked me, “Why doesn’t your hair look nappy like it did in the pictures?” I took it as a compliment meaning that my twist out made my hair look like defined curly hair. But it did start to make me feel like doing these sets was a cop out, rather than embracing my natural hair texture. I know people who only wear there hair out if it has been set someway because they aren’t confident in their texture. I just see it as another style. Just like I wear different clothing styles, I change my hair style. Its not about not accepting my natural texture, its about getting the look I want at that point in time. I hope everyone can love their natural texture as well as learn different ways to style and show off the versatility of natural hair.

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