How To Style Curly Hair: 10 Curly Hair Hacks 

Need a few curly hair hacks? Curly and wavy hair can be temperamental. Flat roots? Lack of definition? Here are 10 styling hacks to try out.

The hacks are a mixture of products and techniques to help you wear your curly or wavy hair at its best every day. 

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1. How To Choose The Right Product Application Method

There are quite a few product application methods to choose from; ‘praying hands’, scrunching, raking, brushing products through..

praying hands hack for curly hair
The ‘praying hands’ technique

Will changing the method of product application really make a difference to the results, though? Yes! Absolutely.

I would suggest using a combination of application methods.

To start, apply products with a smoothing action. This can bepraying handsor brushing products through with a wet detangling brush. This helps ensure that the products are evenly distributed through your hair.

I would then move on to a second method to define the curls or waves. This could be scrunching, finger coiling/rolling, twisting or brush styling (see curly hair hacks no. 4 below)

2. How To Prevent Flat Roots

There are several curly hair hacks you can use to combat flat roots.

  • Try using a mousse at the root. Mousse has enough hold that it is worth putting it right at the roots as well as at the ends of your hair, unlike most styling products. 
  • Diffuse for volume. Air-drying is unlikely to give you much volume. You may get defined curls from air-drying but if you’re looking for volume the best way is to diffuse. Move your head around gently as you diffuse. This will help to lift your hair away from your head at the root and create volume.
  • Root clipping. This is a popular hack from the Curly Girl Method Handbook. Add these clips to your roots while your hair is still partially wet. Your roots will be lifted from your scalp as your hair dries and give you root volume. 
root clipping hack curly hair

3. How To Remove Excess Water

Rather than a regular towel, remove excess water from your hair using either a cotton t-shirt or a microfibre towel.

Both of these materials will limit any damage to your wet hair as you scrunch to remove water or plop your hair. A regular towel has an uneven texture and can roughen the cuticle of your hair so they are best avoided. 

plopping hack for curly hair

4. Considering Brush Styling?

How do you choose the right brush?

Brush styling is best done with either a Denman Brush or a Tangle Teezer Wet Detangling Brush.

These brushes are the most widely used and the most effective. Both will help define curls without causing unnecessary damage. (It is worth noting that brush styling is best avoided if your hair is in recovery from damage. Hair is at its most vulnerable when it’s wet and brush styling can exacerbate this.)

Brush styling can mean simply brushing products through your hair before you scrunch, or it can mean using the brush itself as a styling tool.

You can do this by gently wrapping your hair around the brush, starting at the root. 

Take a small section of hair – the amount that you would expect to make up one curl clump. Hold the brush upside down and put it at your root. Gently move the brush through your hair, rotating the brush as you do. This will wrap your hair around the brush, helping to define curls as it does. Carefully remove the brush as it reaches the end of your hair. 

brush styling hack for curly hair

5. Practise Finger Coiling/Rolling

This is a fantastic alternative to brush styling. It is particularly good if your hair is fragile or recovering from damage and you are worried about causing damage by brushing.

With this method, you use your fingers to roll up small sections of hair to define your curl pattern. 

First, apply products to your hair as you would usually. Then, making sure you also have products on your hands, take a small section and hold it out from your head. Starting at the bottom roll the hair up as if you were wrapping it around an invisible roller. When you get to the top you can either give it a good scrunch to emphasize the roll or pin it in place using the same pins as in hack 2. 

This method is also great for refreshing your hair. You can finger roll just one section of hair in between washes if it has gone flat (see hack 7).

finger coiling hack for curls

6. Learn How To Layer Products

Layering is a key part of product application. Having one amazing product that you love is great, but what if a combination of products could give you even better results? 

The key areas that we are looking at are hydration, volume and definition. 

Start by using a leave-in conditioner for hydration. This is layer number one. It can be a spray or cream or you can use the squish to condish method if you prefer. I like the added benefits that a stand-alone leave-in conditioner can provide, such as heat protection.

The next layer would be for volume or definition.

If you like to use a curl cream, apply it here. If you use a mousse to add volume, apply that next.

The final layer should be your strongest hold product and this would typically be a gel (this is my favourite). Gel helps to seal in hydration from earlier layers and sets your curls so this is why it should be the last layer in your wet styling routine.

  1. Leave in conditioner
  2. Curl cream
  3. Mousse
  4. Gel

You don’t have to use this many but I would still follow this order even if you just choose 2 from the list above. 

As a rule of thumb, work from the lightest hold product to the strongest.

product layering hack

7. Nail The ‘Quick Refresh’

It’s common to see a full refresh of curly hair on days 2, 3 or 4. The trouble is, there isn’t always time to fully wet down your hair and reapply all your styling products again. Try these tips for a quick refresh in between washes.

  • Buy a re-usable water spray bottle and just target the areas that have gone flat or fluffy. 
  • Use a small amount of product on the section of hair. Either one of the products that you originally used to style or a specific refresh spray
  • Scrunch or finger roll this section and clip it if you wish
  • You can diffuse the section or just leave it to dry. You have only sprayed it, so your hair won’t be soaking wet. 
curly hair refresh hacks

8. Damp or Wet Styling?

We all know that styling on soaking wet hair is the original advice, but have you considered damp styling? (Full disclosure – this works better on some hair types than others.) Here’s a quick breakdown:

Wet styling is best for thick hair or tightly curled hair

Damp styling can work well for finer hair or less tightly curly hair that you wish to define

By letting your hair dry a little before you apply products you are likely to:

  • Increase volume
  • Avoid flat roots (water weight can drag roots down and make them flat)

Try using leave-in conditioner on wet hair, then wrapping your hair in a t-shirt or microfibre towel for 10-20 minutes before you add any styling products. 

9. Diffuse Without Causing Damage

Diffusing can increase volume, increase curl definition and reduce drying time. All fantastic benefits. We’ve always been told to diffuse on low heat, so what’s the problem?

Even low heat can cause a level of damage and dry out your hair.

Even though the heat isn’t as direct as when using a regular nozzle, use a heat protector on your hair whenever possible. This is for the long-term health of your hair. Look for a leave-in conditioner that contains heat protection.

curly hair diffusing

10. Don’t be afraid of the crunch! 

If you are avoiding gels because of the crunchy feeling, you might be missing out on one of the best curly hair styling products available.

Gels are designed to create crunch!

The crunchy feeling is the cast that has formed around your curls as they have dried. This is what helps set your curl pattern.

Once your hair is 100% dry (always check at the roots as well as the ends) you can gently scrunch the gel cast away using your hands. The cast should disappear completely, leaving soft curls underneath.

gel cast curly hair
Gel cast before scrunching it away

These curly hair hacks can be used on wash days and the days in between to increase volume, improve definition, speed up styling time and keep your hair healthy.

I hope you enjoy using them!

Lauren xx

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