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How do you get coil/curl definition?

• Mar 17, 2010

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?

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

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Renise B.
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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… Read more »
Melinda
Guest

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.

AdriB
Guest
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 »
Sandy
Guest

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.

GOOD LUCK!

beautywithcurls
Guest

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.

CandyceNoelle
Guest

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.

LBell
Guest
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 »
Shones
Guest
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 »
vonnie
Guest

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

http://socialitedreams.wordpress.com

Sofull Sista
Guest

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.

Athena
Guest

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.

christina
Guest

For me, I like the frizz! However, when I want curl definition, I do these 6 steps:

1. ACV rinse
2. Deep condition
3. Finger detangle in sections
4. 100% boar bristle brush to smooth hair
5. Make 8 braids
6. Completely air dry

Let me be honest, this is a true process, but it gets the curls poppin’

kadiane*francophone
Guest

FOR 4C hair type

stretch the hair . Grab a little section and apply a tiny bit of gel that can dry out quickly. The hair will revert to it coils but will not shrink up as much. I do not recommend to apply as much as on this video but she has it right :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk0B3K-NrWM

cassadie
Guest

+1 on the no combing…sure finger detangle a bit in the shower, but stay away from the full out combing on a regular basis… I didn’t know I even HAD curls until I stopped combing!!!

cassadie
Guest

OOH! Also— Try the Cherry Lola Treatment! It worked wonders on defrizzing and conditioning my curls!!

Jc
Guest

I don’t even try because I’m enjoying my comb free/brush free life. If I want curls I’ll fake it with a bantu knot out.

NapturallyHappy
Guest
Co-sign with detangling in shower (preferably while conditioner is in hair) with the widest-tooth comb you can find. Once you get out, use your fingers to comb through and add product and then let your hair do what it may. IMO, the curl will never look the same as when it’s wet. The water weighs the curl down changing it (i.e making it seem looser). Curls will always look different when dry. Side note: I have been able to use Ms. Jessie’s curly pudding and a comb AFTER showering and I find I get great curl definition for a week.… Read more »
NapturallyHappy
Guest
This is a lil off topic, but I’ll post anyway. I watched the video posted by Sandy and was a bit bothered. As I said earlier, I believe in letting hair do what it may). Anyway, onto the video.… Her description of her hair: “kinky, kinky, dryyyyy, rough, tangled-up bush”, “as tough as you get”, “can’t put your hand through it” “just cotton” in a tone that seemed to indicate she could not stand her natural texture. Her comments on what she achieves after all of the manipulation and products: “gorgeous, defined, shiny, glossy, defined curl that gets lots of… Read more »
DaliSalvadorAde
Guest

haha @ Sofull Sista, I’m over the “curl-definition” effort as well. I too am a 4b/c and my hair just doesn’t have the “curls” that are so coveted. I think its okay though because one has to realize that natural hair comes in so many different forms that if your hair doesn’t do what another natural’s hair does, its okay. I too just do a twist-out or braid out to achieve somewhat of a “curly” look, but for the most part, it doesn’t really bother me.

http://www.notlikereallife.blogspot.com

Delle
Guest

I get definition by finger styling while my hair is still soaking wet. I either leave quite a bit of conditioer in my hair from washing to ease finger styling, or I use pro-style gel if i want more defined curls. Just twirl strands around your finger and let them dry! My hai type is 3c/4a and I had the same problem starting out.

Hair Rules! kinky curling cream works to define as well.

Quell
Guest

a good youtuber to watch about detangling and still keeping definition is cynthiarf on youtube. her fro is amazing and her definition is gorgeous.

Sarah
Guest

I have 4C hair and I can have some pretty curls. All that I do is

-Washing my hair with Dr Bronners castile soap ( I love this!!)
— Conditionning with VO5 Moisture Milks
— Rinse the V05 with water + Apple Vinegar mix
— Put Coconut oil during 5 min
— Rinse with source water
— Put a little amount of coconut oil on damp hair
— And then, make bantu knot with aloe vera gel lily of dessert.

The next morning take it off, brush slowly from the root to the end or u can do this with your fingers and It’s perfect!!!

But

Cardenie
Guest
I have about a 3 inch (stretched) TWA now, after cutting my locs last August, with 4 a/b hair. My current routine is simple: a daily cowash with V05 Free me Freesia (or any moisturizing, non-cones condish) and I put in Say Yes to Cucumbers conditioner as a leave-in (they have a marketed SY to C leave-in, but the ingredients are identical and the leave-in is more expensive for less product, so I just use their rinse out condish as a leave-in). I deep condish as I see fit, which might be every two weeks or so. My curl definition… Read more »
kdub1119
Guest

braid outs with products heavy in castor oil give me great definition. in the morning i take down my braids with minimal manipulation. i do a little bit of fluffing and i got pretty kinky/curly fro.

warm weather helps too. my loose hair doesn’t react well to the cold weather. i usually wear cornrows in the winter.

LBell
Guest
NapturallyHappy, I co-sign 100% re that video. Back when I first saw it I left a comment saying that that so-called “tough” hair looked gorgeous and soft. I’ve seen some of her other videos but I’m not going to put her on blast…I’ll let other people judge for themselves. I too have mostly 4b/4c hair that doesn’t have super-obvious curls. As I said, I can get what passes for pattern definition with products alone (without twisting, plaiting, etc.) if my hair is a certain length or less. But I also don’t have a problem wearing it in its naturally frizzy… Read more »
kechy
Guest

why the curl/coil definition obsession. just let your hair be.

tracyata
Guest
@NapturallyHappy and @LBell — I see where you’re coming from in reference to the video. I think that playing with your hair and achieving different looks is cool and fun but can easily cross the line into curl obsession for some people. An indication that you’ve crossed the line into obsession might be spending HOURS each week to achieve a different texture-look and feeling your own isn’t as great. My hair has a small but naturally occurring curl you can easily see. But my experience with wearing my hair out with curls on display was that my hair didn’t retain… Read more »
Andrea
Guest

While my hair is dry I put box braids in. Then I wash it. Then I put hair lotion over my wet hair. Often I leave the ends unbraided and twirl it around my finger to give it a curl. I do this at night so that when I wake up my hair is dry. Take out braids and your hair has some weight to fall down and not stick up, if you have some length to it. My hair is about 6–7 inches and it falls down for about 3 days and then starts to defy gravity.

Tonya
Guest

When my hair was really short — (an inch or 2) I’d do the Kinky Curly method in the shower and then I’d let it air dry. Then a few weeks ago I discovered the magic of twisting! I wash my hair, let it air dry and then twist it (I guess that’s not really my true curl pattern this way) but when I take the twists out in the morning my hair is so curly and defined — really cute!

target queen
Guest

conditon wash
rinse
put it conditioner again, DO NOT RINSE
air dry..no combing or detangling.
finger style when halfway dry.
DO NOT BRUSH OR COMB.

Cygnet
Guest
One thing I’ve discovered about my hair is that when I keep it properly moisturized, I don’t have any problem getting it to curl. It insists on doing so. But when my hair is too dry, I get a greater tendency to end up with a nice case of cotton-head. Now I don’t mind some fluff; it keeps my mom happy when she sees me. But for my hair, nothing else I do matters as much if I don’t keep it moisturized. So if you’ve tried several things, and none of them seem to be working for you the way… Read more »
Patti
Guest

After I wash my hair, I simply braid my locs and leave the braids in after my hair is dry. I twist it first with shea butter. After my hair is dry, I simply take out the braids and voila…coil and definition.
http://www.naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com

brunettefury
Guest

I’m digressing from the original point, but V05 conditioners seem to work for a lot of people, but I think my hair hates it. It’s funny because I don’t read a lot of negative reviews for that product, only positive. I’m transitioning and usually when I use V05, it wreaks havoc on my hair. It gets pretty dry…I’m wondering if maybe it’s the soy protein in the conditioner.

Angel
Guest
4Bs and 4As, for a great defined twist our product that is all natural try Nature’s Natural Twist & Grow Loc Gel. I used to use Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercream (not all natural and pricey), but this stuff works. Can be found at http://www.chatto.com for $5.00 for a 3 oz jar, and she usually sends along with your order a sample of her Aloe Conditioning Mist! Do not use gels unless it is Aloe Vera Gel or damage will be result. Or you can try gels that are natural for definition under a dryer. I believe Susheka has a good… Read more »
b.
Guest

brunettefury, you’re not the only one. I don’t use VO5 either. I’m not really fond of Suave or Cream of Nature either (yes, really). If your hair doesn’t agree, just keep it moving no worries. I may revisit Cream of Nature soon out of curiosity…but I mostly use Giovanni and Nature’s Gate at this point.

Toya
Guest
brunettefury and B, I’m not a fan of VO5, Herbal Essence, or Suave…my hair likes Tresseme as a rinse out conditioner and Pantene ProV moisture rich line…I was kind of dissappointed bc the other stuff is so cheap and everybody seems to love it but it’s my hair so I gotta let it do it’s thing..lol…I have tried Cream of Nature leave in and my hair loves it so that’s a plus…! I tried my first wash n go last weekend, stalked youtube and found a girl with hair as close to mine and her technique work…she did a rake… Read more »
Davu
Guest

Taliah Waajid has great and affordable products with fabulous herbal ingedients for natural hair, I love her detangling protective mist bodifier and the crinkles and curls natural hair and lock styling lotion.

Nicole
Guest
I keep it pretty simple. I BC this past January and my hair is about 2–3 inches in length. I wash, condition and do a ACV rinse every Sunday night, then I use ECO styler gel to wet set finger coils all over. I tie it up in a silk scarf and the next morning I lightly unravel the coils. I apply a small dab of Lite S Curl activator to soften and shine and I am done. Every night I tie it back up, and every morning I lightly mist with S Curl activator spray (this works for me)For… Read more »
Ms. Abri
Guest
keep your hair soppin wet when you get out of the shower, dont comb it every day (it takes 3–6 weeks for hair to loc) pick it every 2 weeks with shampoo in your hair rinse condition rinse while really wet put in (i like elasta qp feels like silk i have multiple textures and all of them are curly)dont comb wipe around edges until it stops dripping,air dry, also for better curls try washing your hair upside down(it really works,dont comb it every day let your curls get to know each other and dont wash everyday rinse and use… Read more »
JouJou Louix
Guest

Ladies great info. By the way the beautiful woman in the photo above’s name is Ayo she is an amazing african singer. Beautiful, gorgeous and talented thanks guys Please give props to her by spelling her name correctly. She is an icon in my book!

Kenda
Guest

I define my 4a/4b hair using my Miracle Moisture cream. I formulate a lot of stuff and was just looking for something that would tame the frizz on my curls. I used this as part of air dry routine and wow! I started testing it and so far my 3b/3c ladies love it too. Best yet it has absolutely no silicones or mineral oil (I don’t believe in that stuff).

Dee
Guest
I wash my hair with a gentle shampoo and rinse. While still in the shower, I squeeze some water out, and saturate my hair with conditioner. Then, I detangle (gently!), rinse out the conditioner with lukewarm water, and do the cold water rinse for as long as I can stand it. Don’t touch your hair while rinsing, as the water actually “sets” your curls. When I step out of the shower, I wrap a soft towel around my hair, taking care to not squeeze or wring out. Last step is to apply more conditioner. I usually use Aussie 3 minute… Read more »
Danielle
Guest

I have to try this for I have different texted hair going on also. If I airdry my hair, it becomes like an afo so I have to lay my hair down. When I do a braid or twist out the front holds and looks great and the rest frizzes out. I need help.

Shanelle
Guest

What is your hair type though?

goyta
Guest

i use the TC method, where you just take condish and run it along individual sections all over your head. works great and lasts forreeevver…until you wash your hair again at least.

myrissa
Guest

Is buildup an issue with this method?

goyta
Guest

no, generally, so long as you shampoo every 3rd or 4th wash

myrissa
Guest

What is your miracle moisture cream?

myrissa
Guest

Ty for the advice

MsNay24
Guest
Hello Ladies: You will have to form your curls. My hair is just like yours.…I turntp into a fro. Use Eco Styler Gel and Shea Smother Curl Smoothie together. Also have a spray bottle on hand. You will spray your hair when your hair becomes dry. Anyways, part your hair in sections. You will then grab pieces of hair from one sections at a time and apply the shea butter first with a little gel to give the curl definition. You will either use the smooth method where you just rub down the piece of hair smoothly and once you… Read more »
Shanelle
Guest

But what is your hair type? Is it type 4b/4c?

MsNay24
Guest

Hello..my hair type is 4a. I can share some other tips via email.

Shanelle
Guest

But how do I get my 4b/c hair to look like 4a.tips will be appreciated 😉

charell
Guest

You gave the best answer. Thanks for the tip, Ms Nay 24. I will use it.

Dot
Guest
I have 4bc hair and usually I don’t bother to define my curls as I have gotten use to the fluffiness and Afro texture of my hair. However, I recently started using Shea Moisture products which I really enjoy. I discovered that a mixture of Shea Moisture Curling Gel Soufflé and echo styler gel works well on wet hair to give definition to my curl reluctant texture:) My hair doesn’t get crunchy using the mixture of the two. I do find it hard to revive this wash and go style the next day…it just isn’t the same, but a second… Read more »
Gloria Nelson
Guest

I have element texturizer in my hair. Can I do finger coils? The texturizer made my hair straight.

Zee
Guest

nope not if your hair is straight

Twin1
Guest

SHINGLING! Me and my twin sister are 4b/4c, and I honestly say it works! It’s basically partitioning into smaller parts, detangling, dampening, adding a curl definer then a gel to define curls. You don’t detangle again after. Works a treat! YouTube & Google it for better description

Jdenni12
Guest

Finger detangling. Using even a wide tooth comb on my hair makes me lose all curl definition. Once you continue to finger detangle it becomes easier and you have increased curl definition. It doesn’t take forever as time goes on as well. I’m 4a/b, super coily

mara
Guest
yep I would say finger detangle and don’t stretch your hair at all if you want your natural curl definition to shine. Think of your hair as a slinky, after you’ve stretched that slinky a couple of times it doesn’t coil back up like it used to. I also only finger detangle now. I use NO styling tools because they break my tiny coils apart. Lastly moisture is so important. I remember someone said frizzy hair is just curly hair waiting to be moisturized. Moisturized hair will clump in some form or fashion. It might not be how you want… Read more »

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