I’m always asked how to style curly hair and this trick with gel really surprised me.
When I used to think of gel, I’d remember crispy curls. Hair that’s so hard you can’t touch it.
But it turns out I was using gel wrong the whole time.
You see, gel is a two stage process.
Gel does make your hair crispy but that’s not where you finish. You have to do the important second step to get the perfectly defined curls you’re searching for.
Gel forms a casing around your hair that allows your hair to dry into fine ringlets and yes it does feel crispy. But the idea is to break that cast around the hair and soften it to release the natural curls underneath.
The reason I didn’t get to the second step very often is because it requires patience. Patience is a virtue that I do not naturally possess. But if you are like me, there is a way to get through it and once you see the results you’ll be able to persevere.
How to style curly hair with gel
Gel is the final styling product that you’ll apply to your hair when it’s wet.
I like to use a curl cream first to shape and define my curls. I do this straight out of the shower so my hair is soaking wet.
Then I’ll grab a t-shirt and scrunch the curls up and squeeze them to remove any excess water. You can see more of this process in my post on how to style frizz free curls. There’s a video which helps to explain it.
Then I apply a dollop of gel, say, around a 20 cent piece (that’s around a quarter size depending on how much hair you have). I rub the gel between my palms and then I apply it to the ends of my hair, scrunching lightly up into my curls.
I also smooth the gel down my hair with open palms. You don’t rake your fingers down your hair when applying gel, using more of an open palm hand to smooth the gel over the surface of your curls.
The next step is to wait. You need your hair to be completely dry for step 2.
You can speed this up by using a diffuser or just let your hair air dry naturally. Then once your hair is completely dry, you can scrunch out that crunch.
Now it’s time to release your curls from their crispy coating.
Use your hand to scrunch out your curls and you’ll feel the gel soften and release allowing the gel cast to break and the softer hair to come through. You can also use your diffuser again at this stage on medium heat and low speed to warm up your hair. This has the effect of softening the gel to really release your curls from that crispy coating. Another tip is to use a soft t-shirt to scrunch your hair and release the gel.
As a final stage, I like to flip my hair over and put my fingers right through to the scalp and give my hair a little bit of a shake. This just lifts and releases my hair at the root giving my hair a little bit more volume and releasing that gel cast right through.
Gel styling tips
- Apply gel as the last stage in your curl styling routine on wet hair.
- Don’t rake the gel through your hair, apply it to the surface of your curls with an open palm and lightly scrunch up.
- Allow your hair to dry completely. Be patient!
- Scrunch out the crunch to remove the gel cast. Use your hands, a soft t-shirt or your diffuser to break that crispy coating and release your curls.
The difference in not using gel on my curls
I find that if I don’t use gel, I end up with so much more frizz. The ends of my hair dry first and become really frizzy and the gel makes a really noticeable and dramatic difference.
The gel I’ve been using is the Schwarzkopf Taft Mega Styling Gel. I also hear good reviews on this gel too. It’s alcohol free and has a really high hold without stickiness. The best thing is it doesn’t flake or leave any white marks as it cracks out on your hair.
Why does my gel leave white flakes in my hair?
If your hair gel leaves white flakes on your hair, this can be caused because of your reaction between the gel and the conditioner or styling cream that you use underneath.
To test if this will happen, mix a little bit of the styling cream or conditioner that you would like to style your hair with and the gel together in the palm of your hand, if it starts to bead up or roll into a ball, you know it’s going to flake in your hairs so you don’t use them together.
Gel for frizz free curls
So if your frizz is really bothering you, I highly recommend trying gel on your curls next time you wash your hair. Have patience and push through that crispy stage and once your hair is completely dry, crunch your way to super soft and defined curls.
My new curly hair ebook
Be the first to see my new ebook by pre-ordering your copy now!
The ebook will help you to master your frizz and love your curls every day. Inside you’ll find over 36 curly hairstyle tutorials plus bonus styling tutorials and curly hair tips.
By pre-ordering now, you’ll be the first to get a copy before it is launched on April 28. Plus you’ll secure the very limited pre-launch price, saving you 33%!
Good luck styling your curls and leave me a comment below letting me know if you’ve tried gel before and what brand of gel you like to use.