Late­ly I’ve received sev­er­al emails from read­ers want­i­ng to know how to define their curls and coils.

Franch­esca says.…

“After I wash my hair, I love the curls that I see. But after I detan­gle it, it turns into a fro with no def­i­n­i­tion. How can I detan­gle my hair and still have the curls I see after sham­poo­ing?”

and Alex­is says…

“My issue is that I have mul­ti­ple tex­tures in my hair and I real­ly don’t know how to define my curls… It is so hard to find a pro­duct that is not too heavy for one part an not too light for anoth­er and I just real­ly need advice.”

I know that defin­ing coily/curly nat­u­ral hair can be a chal­lenge. What is your method?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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60 Comments on "How do you get coil/curl definition?"

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I just cheat with twist-outs (about 1 or 2 inch­es wide) and sep­a­rate each sec­tion ful­ly or spray my hair with a lit­tle bit of water. It gives my hair a cute fuzzy kind of curli­ness that I like a lot bet­ter than that super defined type that you get from shin­gling. Any­thing else is too much effort for my 4b hair.

Sofull Sista

I’m a solid 4b, I don’t expect to see CURL def­i­n­i­tion in my hair any­more. I just don’t have hair that does that, but I’m ok with that b/c it can do plen­ty of oth­er things. My nat­u­ral curl pat­tern con­sists of lots of very small coils, thus no pro­duct sep­a­rates them to achieve this coil/curl def­i­n­i­tion.

If I want small curl def­i­n­i­tion, I’ll twist/braid my hair, keep them in for most of the week and rock the twist/braid-out for the remain­ing days.


I’ll be watch­ing this close­ly, because oth­er than cre­at­ing curls with twist outs, I have no clue :( It does look nice and curly when wet and fresh­ly shampoo’d or cowashed…then just dries into afro/fluff. not that i mind my afro, just would like the curlies to pop some­times too

I think peo­ple have dif­fer­ent mean­ings for “curl/coil def­i­n­i­tion.” Take, for exam­ple, that gor­geous pic of Ayo above. I call that a “chunky fro,” and I don’t think of it as “defined”… but I LOVE that look! I think my tex­ture is quite sim­i­lar to hers, and today my hair­style looks very much like that pic, same length and every­thing. I achieve *that* look by doing a twist out on dry hair with but­ter and then sleep­ing scarf-less on a sat­in pil­low­case. It lasts about three days before I need to re-twist.  To me “curl def­i­n­i­tion” is see­ing almost each… Read more »
Anoth­er rea­son why I’m about to return to almost-TWA length is that it’s always been a lot eas­ier for me to get pat­tern def­i­n­i­tion with prod­ucts alone on short­er hair (3 inch­es or less). I am very much in the type 4 fam­i­ly: When my hair is wet I have a lot of small coils in the front half of my head and almost none in the back half. In the past if my hair was short enough I could use either a heavy gel or a thick styling cream (I used to use Kiehl’s) on most­ly-wet hair. This makes… Read more »

To Fran: I have the same prob!!! I wash my hair, condish and THEN detan­gle, pulling through defines the coils. When I rin­se the condish, I use my hands on my scalp to shake all residue out. After that I shake the water from my head and don’t touch!! This can only be done in the hot days of spring and sum­mer though…soooo sor­ry if it wasn’t a RIGHT NOW.…kinda thing, lol.


The quick­est and eas­i­est way to refine your curls would be to put more con­di­tion­er back in after you detan­gle then either rin­se it under cool­er water or leave it in…then don’t touch it.You can also put a lit­tle eco styling gel/whatever you like when it still soak­ing wet to help with the frizz and add more def­i­n­i­tion if the con­di­tion­er doesn’t give you as much as you like.


I actu­al­ly Googled this very ques­tion about 2 months ago.
Google direct­ed me to the fol­low­ing YouTube video:

Nice, right?
I actu­al­ly haven’t tried it yet.
I’m a 4b/4c who wants the curl def­i­n­i­tion but who’s too lazy to do the work it takes to get them.
I’m so not into ded­i­cat­ing hours to achiev­ing a cer­tain look.


The #1 rule for curly hair: no comb­ing. After sham­poo­ing, I detangle/comb-through with con­di­tion­er. Then rin­se that out, con­di­tion again, rin­se (curls are back, ya?), nev­er touch the comb again, and add styling pro­duct to my hair. I use a cot­ton scarf to dry my hair by wring­ing my hair in it and leav­ing for a bit. Kin­da like a Music Soul­child head wrap. Some­times when it’s halfway dry, I’ll add a lit­tle more con­di­tion­er. The least manip­u­la­tion the bet­ter. I get best curl def­i­n­i­tion in the sum­mer when I can just go out with wet hair and it’ll dry… Read more »

Here is what I do, I detan­gle in the show­er, apply pro­duct i.e.conditioner,gel,oil or what­ev­er and shake, after that I do not touch it again because if you manip­u­late it in any way it will become a fuzz ball.

Renise B.
I have mul­ti­ple textures…3 to be exact. To main­tain curl def­i­n­i­tion, after I detan­gle, I rin­se most of con­di­tion­er out of my hair. Add a lit­tle bit more and do the shin­gle method. I do anoth­er light rin­se and then shake out as much of the excess water as pos­si­ble. I do not use a tow­el. Just let my hair drip dry. I apply mois­tur­iz­er and con­di­tion­er while still wet.  This works best for my mul­ti­ple tex­tures since con­di­tion­er is not too heavy for the looser curls and not too light for the tighter/coily parts. I use Herbal Essence Hel­lo Hydra­tion,… Read more »