Curls Week – Common curly hair problems and solutions

Welcome to a week celebrating curly hair!

Curls Week - Hair Romance


If you have curly hair, you will know that it comes with its own unique set of problems.

Often the grass seems greener but once you learn to love what you’ve got, it becomes a whole lot easier to manage. Maybe you just need to see your curls through someone else’s eyes.

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - hair is a mess

Today I’m taking a light-hearted look at some common curly hair problems and offering some tried and tested solutions.

Curly Hair Problem: The Triangle

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - the curly triangle

The dreaded curly triangle is something I know all too well.

It was one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever had and I had to wait it out ’til it grew out. Don’t let a hairdresser use thinning scissors on your curls. They can cut into your hair to reduce the bulk but those thinning scissors aren’t for curls.

Even with the best haircut, I can still find my hair a little flat at the top. The weight of my hair pulls it down and the shape of my curls makes my part seem wider and flatter.

The solution:

  • Get a great curly haircut. I can pretty much guarantee it will change your life.
  • Change your part as your hair dries. After washing your hair, part your hair on the opposite side to your usual part. When your hair is almost dry, flip your part back over to the regular side and notice the amazing volume you now have at the roots!
  • Wear a zig-zag partline. Instead of a straight part, angle your hair diagonally back or create a zig-zag line. This stops the appearance of a wide, flat part and lets your curls sit a little higher.

Curly Hair Problem: Half-curls-half-frizz

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - half curly half frizzy

It’s completely normal to have different curl patterns. Very few people have identical curls all over their head.

Your curl patterns can also change. The hair underneath used to be really straight but then it changed and it’s now the curliest section of my hair. Weird.

The solution:

  • Be extra careful when styling your hair. If you know you have a section that’s more wavy than curly, or prone to frizz, handle it with care. Don’t rub your hair with a towel. Instead squeeze it gently with a microfibre towel or old t-shirt. Twirl your frizziest curls with some curl cream to help them find their shape.
  • Cheat with a curling wand. Use a small barrel curling wand that’s about the same size as your natural curls. Take small sections randomly on the top layer of your hair and curl them to match your real curls. Curl half forward and half back so that they appear more natural.

Curly Hair Problem: Spend an hour on your hair but look like you just woke up

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - hair looks the same

Curly girls will know the agony of spending an hour trying to style your hair but you end up going out with your hair in a ponytail. That’s one of the reasons I started twisting and pinning my hair.

The solution:

  • Check the weather. Humidity and rain really affects curly hair and not in a good way. Check the weather report before you begin to style you hair and don’t attempt to straighten your curls when you know there’s high humidity.
  • Practice makes perfect. I know this isn’t a quick-fix solution, but it really works. Practise 2 or 3 hairstyles that you like and find a way to make them work in your hair. Then when you’re in a rush or heading out somewhere special, you know you’ll have great hair.

Curly Hair Problem: My curls have a mind of their own

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - hair looks different but ntohing changed

I swear my curls have a mind of their own.

Some days they just form perfect ringlets and other days they separate into a mane of frizz. I feel like I didn’t do anything differently, but my curls disagree.

On the days when my curls are winning, I try and remember EXACTLY what I did so that I can replicate it the next time.

The solution:

  • Handle with care. After testing a tonne of curly hair products, I’ve found the biggest difference is how I handle my hair. If I’m in a rush and rub my curls with a towel, no product will save them. Be gentle when washing and styling your curls and it will show in the finished result.
  • It’s ok to cheat a bit. Like the frizz problem above, it’s ok to reach for your curling wand to tidy up any weird sections.

Curly Hair Problem: Knots and tangles

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - knots

It’s impossible to brush curly hair so knots are a constant problem.

The follicle structure of curls is more prone to tangles too so we need to be extra careful with our fragile hair. A few tricks can help minimise the problem.

The solution:

  • Clip your hair up at night. The friction from your pillowcase to your hair causes knots and tangles to appear while you sleep. You can wake up with great curly hair with this clip trick. It really works and gives you great volume the next day too. Another way to reduce pillow friction is to buy a silk pillow slip.
  • Detangle in the shower. After applying conditioner, use a wide tooth comb to gently work out any knots in your hair. Remember that hair is weaker when it’s wet so take care and don’t pull at your knots or you’ll just break your hair.
  • Use your fingers. If you need to work a knot out of dry hair, spray the knot with a leave-in conditioner spray and use your fingertips to smooth out any tangles. The conditioner softens your hair so it’s a pain-free way to detangle.

Curly Hair Problem: Lion hair

Hair Romance - curly hair problems - Lion King extra

This was such a funny comment from Anne on Instagram that I had to include it.

Now, I’ve never been mistaken for an extra in the Lion King but I can definitely relate. My Mum used to say that my hair looked like I had walked out of a bush backwards!

The solution:

  • Embrace messy hair! I say roll with it. Big hair don’t care! Go back to the first problem and I think you’ll find that you’re just talking to the wrong person and you need to find someone that thinks your hair is awesome.

Have you experienced any of these curly hair problems? What’s the biggest issue with your curly hair?

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  1. says

    That was a great post!! I have thick curly hair and nearly every one of the problems you mentioned I have come across. My hair is always frizzy and so knotty :) Thanks for the tips

  2. says

    Hihi this is so recognizable! I totally agree with the statement that I think my hair is a mess but everybody likes it :-)

  3. Jill says

    Here’s my biggest issue–my curls look awesome after drying with a diffuser. Bouncy, full of body, no frizz. Then, after a half hour or so, the curls fall flat and lose definition. I’ve tried hairsprays for curly hair to “lock” things in place, which helps a little with the definition, but everything still falls flat. Any ideas?

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Jill, you should try styling powders. They’re amazing for keeping volume at the roots. Sometimes hairsprays can be quite heavy on your hair and weigh your hair down. Try a roots volumiser on wet hair before you diffuse or styling powders once your hair is dry x

        • Jill says

          I got the Vintage Glam hair powder, and it’s fabulous. I still have to fluff the roots up now and then throughout the day, but I don’t have to reapply the powder as it reactivates when you touch it…good stuff!

    • Lotus1922 says

      YMMV, but this is what works for my S-curly, just shoulder-grazing hair that loves going flat on top:

      1) Flip head forward so your hair hangs upside down
      2) Make a “rake” with your fingers spread apart and loosely scrunch part of your hair up to about an inch away from your scalp. Basically using your hand to hold the weight of the hair while leaving room for the air to flow through the roots
      3) Blow-dry with the diffuser directing the air around and under your hand toward the roots, not your hair. Repeat all over your head until scalp is dry.
      4) With your head still upside down, mist a good anti-humidity hairspray over your head, spraying “against the grain” while using the rake-hand to keep the roots open. Flip your head up slowly and gently scrunch hair into place as needed.

  4. Sophie says

    Hi. I am following your blog from Denmark and I just love the blog and the tutorials for curly hair – especially the braids. My hair is curly and thin. When braiding my hair, the braids get really small/thin and doesn’t have enough volume. How do I create volume in a braid? If I make the braid too loose, then my hair fall out if the braid and looks like a mess. Furthermore I find it difficult to braid my hair since there are so many knots in my hair. Any ideas or suggestions?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. Jacqueline says

    I had the most beautiful long curly hair until January this year when i went to the hairdresser for “foils” and he completely fried my hair. I have tried so many products available in South Africa, but to no avail. I have chopped my hair into a bob now and my curls look just awful. It’s been the most depressing 7 months of my life and my hair feels like it’s not growing and i still have damaged ends which don’t curl like the “healthy” hair … any suggestions? I have been keeping my hair tied up most of the time :(

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Jacqueline, I’m so sorry to hear about your bad experience at the hairdresser, that’s awful. Sometimes the natural remedies like coconut oil masks are best, especially if you’ve spent so much money on other products already. On weekends or when you’re not going out, try and let your hair dry naturally as this will help your curls remember their shape. It can take a bit of time for them to settle so you can always put your hair up when it’s dry later. Do a weekly conditioning treatment, either with coconut oil or one of your products, and give yourself a good head massage too. Not only does it feel great and help you to relax, but it increases blood supply to the follicles which helps with healthy hair growth. Good luck, I’m sure your curls will come back soon. Christina x

    • says

      Hi Jacqueline,
      I was in South Africa and there’s a brilliant product called ‘Twisted Sista’ that you should be able to buy in any pharmacy. My hair is very curly but it helps give the curl extra boost or curl! Best of luck!

  6. Jess says

    Hey Christina,

    I have just discovered your website and loving all your articles on curly hair. I have long thick curly hair and wanted your advice. I know that you mention in this post to avoid thinning scissors, and I have had a bad hair cut with them before today, however as my hair is both thick and long my curls are turning into dreads!! Its got layers in it already, and I will be starting a new hair care routine based on suggestions from your other posts to combat the frizz, I just don’t know how to remove the weight so that my curls can actually spring up. Thanks :)

  7. Norma says

    So relieved to find your website. I am almost 70 and had curly hair since getting my first short hair cut as a child – it curled up when it dried on its own. I have had sort of curly hair (not pretty curly -( just aggravating/deep waves and frizz). I was able to blow dry the curl out with some success using some hair products, but all of a sudden, it is so curly NOTHING seems to help. I do take thyroid and hormone replacement and wondering after seeing your site if that is the big change. Thanks for the tip – my hair dresser did not have a clue as why it changed so suddenly. Now do not know if I should see my doctor or the hairdresser :-)

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks so much Norma! Hopefully you can find a solution between your doctor & your hairdresser 😉 I also have a thyroid issue and it can really affect my hair when it’s out of balance.

  8. sheana says

    I have medium length thick curly hair that I do straighten quite a bit, but as it grows the ends are losing their curls, ive never had this problen before even with the amount of straightening i do to it. Please help me!

  9. Charlotte says

    I have just tarted to love my curls when I went to the hairdressers and got my hair dyed, trimmed, washed and blow dried. I also got it thinned out because it usually doesn’t change my hair at all after I’ve washed it at home. But now after two washes my curls still haven’t come back! :( . Is there anything I can do? (This has never happened before)

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Charlotte, sometimes the colour can affect your curls. Do a treatment and let your hair dry naturally and it should come back :)

  10. Angela Lattrell says

    Just went to hair stylist, who did a really great job three months ago. I wanted my hair one length bob. I just went in and asked for same; just a little trim. The top looks untouched, frizzy, and heavy. The bottom looks like Betty Boop, flipping up. What did she do wrong? It’s also knotting and breaking. Thanks!

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Angela, so sorry to hear you’re not happy with your hair. I can’t tell you why that’s happening, you need to go back and ask your stylist. Or get a consultation at another salon if you don’t want to go back to your original salon.

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