Just like most people, I used to stay away from hair gels. Sticky, hard, crunchy and slicked back hair – Who wants that? We all desire soft flowy curls. Conclusion- gels are for guys only. This is until I very recently discovered a big secret. And ever since I cannot style my hair without a gel :D. So how should we apply gel to curly hair then?
Benefits of using gel on curly hair
- Prevents frizz by forming a protective layer over curl clumps.
- Helps in curl definition, clumping and hold by forming a cast around curl clumps till they are dry.
How to apply gel on curly hair
- Start with freshly washed hair. Apply whatever products you use like curl creams or lotions or leave ins. Gel should be the final step. All curl products are best applied on dripping wet hair.
- Take a lime sized quantity and rub the gel between your palms. You should use enough gel to thoroughly coat each curl clump
- Flip your head down. Use a scrunching motion to directly apply it on to curls.
- You can also smooth the gel on both sides of your hair with open palms before scrunching. Scrunch well.
- But DO NOT rake/run your fingers through your hair because gels should coat each curl clump so that it stays so. Raking will open up the curl clumps.
- Now you may use a t-shirt to scrunch out excess water.
- Use tiny amount of gel on your crown to reduce frizz – Rub the gel on your palms and lightly glide over the crown.
- Let your hair completely dry. Either air dry or use a diffuser.
As your hair dries, you will start noticing that it gets harder. That is the protective gel cast forming. This will prevent frizz and disturbance as the curls dry.
Part 2 (The secret revealing part 😛 and probably the most important step) – Remove the gel cast
What we don’t like about gels is the hard crispy crunchy feeling they give. The cast is only required till the hair is drying. Now we need to break that cast around the curl clumps it to reveal the soft curls inside.
Hair should be completely dry before proceeding to this step or it will frizz up instantly.
Gel cast can be removed in 2 ways –
Scrunch out the crunch (SOTC) – Flip your head down and scrunch your curls either with your palms or with a cotton tee. This will break the cast revealing soft defined curls. You may hear or feel the cast breaking slightly. Scrunch thoroughly all through till all the cast is broken. You can also smooth a serum or oil on your palms before scrunching to add shine to your curls. This method is good for removing light to medium gel casts.
I do it in this video (at around 2:35)
Twisting method – Take sections of your hair and keep twisting them till they feel tight on your scalp and release. Continue till all of your hair has been twisted. This motion breaks cast better because of the tightness and is a good way to remove gel cast if your gel has formed a really hard cast.
Finally, with your head flipped over, use your fingers to rub your scalp and give the roots a good shake. Remember to not run your fingers through the length of your hair. Just shake the roots. This lifts the crown and gives volume to hair.
You can also dilute your gel with water in a spray bottle to make your own hairspray for refreshing 2nd day curls.
Properties of a good gel for curly hair
- A good curly hair gel should have good polymers like PVP, PVA, PVP/PVA copolymer, Polyurethane, Polyquaternium etc. the polymers are deposited on the surface of the hair and create bonds between adjacent strands thus clumping them together.
- It should be alcohol free.
- The hold of drugstore gels are mentioned as numbers on the packaging. Start with a medium to medium high hold and increase hold if needed.
I am going to review some curly hair gels in the coming days! And here is a post with my full curly hair routine – My curly hair routine.