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Train Your Natural Curls to Behave

If you want to learn how to train your natural hair to be curly, you’re in the right place. You’ll find tips to help you find the best way to work with your natural texture so you get beautiful, bouncy curls.

how to train your natural hair to be curly

If your hair is kinky or coily in its natural state, you may not think so but, you do have natural curls. I promise you. You still have a curly hair type.

The reason your curls don’t appear “curly” or they may “seem” to lack curl definition is because the curls are very tight.

If you were to pluck a single strand of tightly coiled hair from your scalp and stretch it out, you’ll seeing nothing but a curled hair.

You may also struggle with dry hair which has a great impact on the appearance of your curls.

So, this article is for all curly girls of any hair length. Those with a hair texture that is obviously curly, those with wavy hair and those whose hair texture has a little bit more difficulty revealing the curl. We’re about to fix that.

CURLY HAIR TRAINING

While what most of you may read on curly hair training is about doing finger coils or finger coiling, using curling rods, rollers and even straw sets, this is not curly hair training.

These methods are curling your hair in a manner that’s not “natural” to how your hair grows out of your head.

The only way to truly train your natural hair to be curly is to “teach” it to be defined and consistent from root to tip.

There are few methods that can help you achieve that.

We’ll go into them in detail but essentially, these are the only true methods and offer you the fastest way or ways to train natural hair to curl.

Some of these are specific routines while others are things you just shouldn’t do if you want to enhance your natural curl pattern (in no particular order):

  • The Shingling Method
  • Clumping your curls
  • Using a curl defining brush
  • Not over stretching your natural curls
  • Neglecting sleek hairstyles
  • Using curl activators
  • Keeping your hair well moisturized
  • Washing your hair more often
  • Avoiding heat styling as much as possible

Now, let’s look at how each of these methods can help train natural hair to curl.

THE SHINGLING METHOD

shingled natural hair

While, this technique of defining curls is the most time consuming of wash and go techniques, it is a great way and in fact, the best way to train your curls.

The reason is you are working with curl units. You are touching every single one of your hair strands equally while “training” the curls to be smooth and to fall a certain way.

When shingling your hair, you’ll use certain products which will help freeze the curls in place. This could include a curl defining cream and/or a gel layered over your leave in conditioner and hair oil (more on hair products for training curly to come).

CLUMPING YOUR CURLS + USING A CURL DEFINING BRUSH

This is closely associated with the shingling method because when you shingle, you encourage your curls to clump aka creating curl units. 

Another method of creating curls that clump is to use a Denman brush or a Tangle Teezer on your hair, while working in small sections.

DON’T OVER STRETCH YOUR HAIR

banded natural hair stretched
Banded Ponytails

The practicing of stretching your hair is good for showing your curls a little hang time. However, if you over-stretch your curls, you are essentially training them to be “straight.”

Allowing your curls to just “be” in their naturally curly state will train them to be that way. You can slightly stretch your roots for the hang time you desire.

The banding method is also a method you can use to stretch your curls. The key is to not over do it.

If banding, make sure there’s a lot of space between where you place the bands. Otherwise, your curls will be stretched out too much.

NEGLECT SLEEK HAIRSTYLES

Sleek ponytails and buns are cute. Yet, doing them all the time will also train your hair to be straight. Now, we aren’t talking about straight as in hot comb straight. But, you temporarily alter the bonds of your hair that make it appear curly.

I experienced it and talk about it in this post: Are your sure your hair is really heat damaged?

USING CURL ACTIVATORS

Curl activating products do not make your hair curly. They enhance your curl and essentially train your natural hair to be curly.

I remember buying Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding some years ago. I just KNEW it would make my transitioning hair curl up. It did not.

In fact, my curls were awful looking. The natural hair that had grown in was curling some but the relaxed hair was straight and stringy.

Don’t be me. Only use a curl activator when your natural hair is in good condition, you are fully natural and preferably, not heat damaged.

KEEP YOUR HAIR WELL MOISTURIZED

Moisture is the key to starting off the process of training natural hair to curl. 

Make sure your hair always has adequate moisture. In fact, make sure it’s hydrated. The two aren’t the same. Hydration starts on wash day.

WASH YOUR HAIR MORE OFTEN

Closely connected to keeping your hair moisturized, when you wash it a little more often you also give your hair the hydration it needs.

Moisturizing deals with the surface of your hair. Washing your hair (and deep conditioning it) moisturizes it but it also infuses the hair cuticle with deep moisture leading to hydration.

AVOID HEAT STYLING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Unlike using heat with a deep conditioner with a plastic cap on your head, using hot tools to style regularly (and for some just a few times) can damage the cuticle layer, causing heat damage. This can occur even when using a heat protectant.

Heat styling also trains your hair to be straight, even when done so to curl the hair.

If you use a curling iron, the ends of your hair curl up but the entire hair shaft from root to tip is essentially straightened.

When you are seeking to reveal your natural curls, using heat to style your hair is counter productive as well as counter intuitive.

HOW TO RESTORE CURLY HAIR

curly hair training

Using each of the techniques above will improve the appearance of your curls but it starts with getting your hair prepared to actually retain its curly structure. There are some important steps to take to help facilitate the process.

First, you have to learn how to restore your curly hair if it’s been damaged.

Here are some hair practices that will help:

  • Working with your hair’s porosity
  • Making sure your hair is pH balanced
  • Getting your hair trimmed
  • Clarifying your curls to start
  • Protein/moisture balancing to improve hair’s elasticity

KNOWING YOUR HAIR’S POROSITY

When you know your hair’s porosity, you’ll care for it in such a way that moisture is properly imparted and retained. Remember, dry hair won’t allow your curls to blossom.

pH BALANCING YOUR HAIR

Making sure your hair is pH balanced will keep the hair cuticle in check so your natural curls shine and aren’t frizzy. Your hair will also retain more moisture when your hair is pH balanced.

When your hair is out of balance, it’s more alkaline than acidic. Naturally, it should be in an acidic range of 4.5 – 5.5.

A few cues that your hair is not pH balanced is:

  • your scalp is very dry
  • you have frizzy hair
  • your hair is very dry and/or brittle. 

A simple treatment can restore its pH balance. I love an old school DIY leave in conditioner shared by Kimmaytube on YouTube (no longer on Youtube).

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 ounce of Kinky Curly Knot Today leave in conditioner
  • 2 tablespoons of Lily of the desert Aloe Vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons Jojoba Oil or Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Castor Oil (preferably Jamaican Black Castor Oil)

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate anything unused. Then, use within 10 days.

Others have used this recipe successfully. Some have even changed the leave in conditioner but since is the one that Kim recommends, that’s what I prefer and it’s worked very well for me in the past.

TRIMMING WHEN YOU NEED TO

Damaged ends will never curl properly. They just won’t and even if they do, the curls will be inconsistent. Straight ends after heat damage anyone?!

Keeping your ends in good condition requires little more than trimming your ends as needed. Plus, avoiding too much heat styling, of course.

CLARIFYING YOUR CURLS

If your curls are going to look their best, it certainly won’t happen with product build-up. When you start the process of restoring your curly hair, the best course of action is to start with a clean slate. One way is to use Bentonite Clay.

Clarifying your hair will give you that. Here’s an article on How to Clarify Curly Hair (yep, read that. It’s important)

THE PROTEIN-MOISTURE BALANCING ACT

Ensure your hair has adequate amounts of protein and moisture is important for curly hair to thrive. A good practice is to deep condition your hair 2-3 times to every 1 time of using a protein treatment.

Let’s use my protein moisture balancing routine as an example:

Week 1: Wash and Deep Condition Hair (always sans protein)

Week 3: Wash and Protein Treat Hair

Week 5: Wash and Deep Condition Hair

Week 7: Wash and Deep Condition Hair

See how over a seven week period I only treat my hair with protein once but I deep condition it three times. This routine can change the more often I wash my hair.

However, I don’t have a need to wash as often as I once used to because I don’t use a lot of styling product, nor do I sweat a lot in my head.

When washing weekly, I still deep conditioned and protein treated my hair with the same frequency. The time between washing was just shorter.

PRODUCTS & TOOLS TO TRAIN YOUR NATURAL HAIR TO BE CURLY

Water is the number one “product” (if you will) that you need to train your natural hair to be curly. This is because dry hair is not conducive to having curly hair. Let’s say it again for the folks in the back.

DRY HAIR ISN’T CONDUCIVE TO HAVING CURLY HAIR OK? OK!

This is why you notice your curls the best when you have wet hair.

So, first and foremost, the best thing to do when you start your curly hair training is to do so on freshly washed and conditioned hair.

You’ll also want to use the right products on your curls. This includes the right tools as well.

Hair products and tools you will need:

  • Clarifying shampoo or other clarifying cleanser
  • A good leave-in conditioner
  • A really good hair mask for conditioning
  • Defining curl cream
  • Alcohol free gel (flaxseed gel and aloe vera gel work very well)
  • A lightweight oil (for sealing in moisture) like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil
  • Curl defining brush like the Denman brush or Tangle Teezer
  • Metal clips (for holding pieces of hair in place while drying)
  • Hair dryer with diffuser attachment (if you don’t want to air dry)
  • Concentrator nozzle for the diffuser. (Can be used to slightly stretch curls at the right. Don’t overdo it though)
  • A satin or silk pillowcase (because you want to protect your curls as well)

Remember curl training is not about creating curls that don’t naturally exist. It’s about teaching your natural curls to be defined and consistent in appearance. That doesn’t mean you can’t do twist outs or braid outs.

Just know that a twist out or a braid out is not how your natural curls grow out of your head. It’s simply a different type of curl.

WHERE TO NEXT

While this article was all about how to train your natural hair to be curly, more important than training how your hair looks is the health of it. In fact, when your curls are healthy and thriving, they will appear all the better.

Some questions that may have arisen for you will be covered by these articles:

How to Clump Your Curls and How Doing So Prevents Breakage

How to Shingle Fine Natural Hair

Maintaining Your Wash and Go

Godspeed to your curls!

train your natural hair to be curly

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