Gel is the number one product that defines curls and waves BUT it looks and feels awful when you end up with crunchy, stringy, wet-looking curls. Here are 7 tips to help you get soft, defined, bouncy curls from gel!
How to Get Soft Curls (& How to Avoid Crunchy Curls!) When Using Gel
1) Condition your hair!
Conditioner softens gel. When you apply gel to dry, unconditioned hair, you’re more likely to end up with that stringy, crunchy look.
Be sure not to overdo the conditioner, though. You need to use a conditioner that’s suited to your hair type so your hair is properly moisturized and/or not weighed down. Depending on hair type, some people may have to fully rinse out their conditioner and others might need to leave some in (not fully rinse out) and/or use leave-in conditioner, too. (Here’s how to determine your hair type.)
2) Use a GOOD gel.
Some gels are just not that great. They make your hair look stiff and stringy no matter how perfectly you apply them. So it’s really important to start with a GREAT gel that gives soft, defined, bouncy curls.
Let me know if you’d like a recommendation for the gel I use… it’s not only non-toxic, it’s the best one I’ve ever used! Some people prefer even softer curls from a curl cream, and I can also recommend a wonderful one of those, too. Oh, and sometimes layering styling products, like curl cream and gel together, gets a great results, too! Reach out any time for more info.
3) Don’t use too much gel!
Adding too much gel is the #1 way to get that undesirable crunchy, stringy, wet look.
How much should you use, though? The right amount for YOUR hair. Again, your hair type comes into play here.
If you have fine hair, you’ll use less than someone with coarse hair. This is because fine hair is quite smooth and the gel just sits on top. On the other hand, coarse hair can absorb a lot of product right into the hair and can actually use and benefit from the styling power gel offers. Experiment with different amounts to see what’s right for your hair.
Personally, I have fine hair, so I err on the side of less gel; about a nickel size dollop.
4) Apply gel to sopping wet hair, then scrunch dry with microfiber or cotton t-shirt towel.
Not only should you avoid using too much gel, here’s a really cool way to ensure you end up with just the right amount on your hair!
After you’ve shampooed and conditioned your hair (if it’s a wash day), while your hair is sopping wet, apply gel throughout your hair and really squish it in. Make sure you spread it evenly throughout. THEN, scrunch dry your hair with a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt.
Applying the gel while your hair is wet dilutes the gel, helping you spread it out more evenly and thinly. When you dry your hair, you’re leaving behind just the right amount of gel.
It’s still possible to overdo the gel or use too little, but applying it this way helps you get closer to the right amount of gel for you.
You can actually use more gel and benefit from more volume and curl definition (without more crunchiness) if you diffuse your hair.
This means, you’re NOT handling your hair much at all, NOT moving the diffuser constantly, and only diffusing to about 80% dry. You’ll get more volume and better defined curls as well as benefit from getting to use more gel (even on fine hair)… without frizz!
6) Break the cast.
Even if you do all the tips above perfectly… if you air dry your hair, your hair may still develop a crunchy texture. No worries, just break the cast!
This means: When your hair is fully dry (and please don’t touch it while it’s drying), gently break up the stuck together curls with your fingers. No rubbing. It’s more like gentle shaking to loosen the curls up. You can even do it with your head upside down. This will reduce some of that crunchiness, leaving behind softer curls.
Feel free to set your curls with hair spray if you’d like (after air drying or diffusing)!
7) Use a clarifying shampoo regularly.
In addition to using a great daily shampoo, make sure to clarify your hair regularly. A clarifying shampoo removes build-up (some of it from gel use over time). That build-up contributes to hair styling products not working as well as they should. To fix this, your hair just needs a reset.
I have another video and article that goes in depth on how and why to use a clarifying shampoo here. Personally, I always have a great hair day when I use clarifying shampoo!
And that’s it! 7 tips that will help you avoid the yucky stringy, crunchy gel look… and give you soft, defined, bouncy curls instead.
Remember, gel is just ONE part of a hair care routine that can help your curls bounce and shine! If you’re interested in the products I use and recommend (they’re non-toxic and they work GREAT and I have options for all hair types and issues), go here to answer a few quick questions to see if they might work for you, too. No pressure from me, ever.
Or… feel free to text me at 1-208-516-3615 or reach out by email right here.
God bless you!