If you’ve decided to embrace your natural curls for a change, you may be realizing that caring for them is a lot more time-consuming than you ever imagined. Years of coloring, weaving, and styling may have taken its toll on the health of your hair, leaving it brittle and lackluster.
Finding the right products and techniques to enhance your curls and tame the frizz most certainly involves plenty of trial and error, especially when there are so many products to choose from.
If you, like many people, have wondered how to use styling gel on natural hair, then look no further. We’ve done all of the research, so you don’t have to. Keep reading for the best tips and tricks of the trade.
Styling Gel 101
Past attempts at styling your natural hair with gel may have ended with crunchy, flaky curls that are stiff to the touch. Below are four simple steps to ensure definition, control, and minimal clumps and fuzz.
Test Product Compatibility
You should always use a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer to protect your hair from the styling gel and to soften your natural curls. The compatibility of your conditioner and your styling gel is important, as they may not work well together, leaving that flaky, crusty feeling you’ve experienced in the past.
The easiest way to test them together is to apply a small amount of each to your palm and mix. If the two products form a nice smooth blend, then they will work well together. If they clump or form balls when mixed, then try another product combination before continuing.
Soak Your Hair
Always apply to wet hair. Your hair should literally be saturated with water before applying your product. If your hair dries quickly, then you should apply the gel in sections, wetting your hair with a spray bottle of water as you go.
You need to try and apply the product as evenly as possible throughout your hair, covering every single section. There are several different ways you can go about this:
- Apply the styling gel to your hands and run them down a small section of your hair at a time, using “prayer hands”. This is best achieved by tilting your head to one side and clasping your hands together as if you were praying, right at the top of your hair next to your scalp.
- Move your hands downwards until your hair escapes from their clutches. Apply some more product, and then repeat the action with another section of hair until it is all covered.
- Apply the product to your fingertips and use your fingers like combs from roots to tips to work the product through your curls, as evenly as possible.
- Apply the product to your hands and “scrunch” it into your hair. Balling your hands into fists around the bottoms of your curls and pushing them inwards towards the scalp.
Scrunch it Out
If you find your curls to be a little overstyled and stiff once they’ve dried, then you can try and scrunch them out with a bit of hair oil. Rub a small amount of hair between your palms, and scrunch your hair once more, all over. The combination of scrunching and the addition of oil will soften your curls up in no time at all.
How to Use Styling Gel on Natural Hair
Mix Your Styling Gel With Water
If you don’t want your hair to look too styled and want a bit more bounce and movement, then you can try mixing your styling gel with a small amount of water before application.
Using water to thin the product out more will also make for easier application, as a thinner product will distribute more evenly throughout your hair.
Mix Your Styling Gel With Oil
Mixing your styling gel with a good hair oil will help to seal in the moisture and smooth down the hair shaft. Choose your oil well, though.
Lighter oils, such as grapeseed, will have the easiest application but will have to be reapplied more often. Heavier oils, such as olive oil, can leave the hair looking or feeling greasy and can weigh your curls down.
A good medium-ground would be something like avocado oil. Avocado oil has a good moisturizing effect without being too thick and heavy.
Once you’ve mastered your product combination, your technique will soon fall into place with practice. Try the different application methods above to find out which one suits your curl pattern the best. You may even find that using a combination of two or all three methods is best for you.
Luckily, if you over-apply your product, then you can use oily hands to work the crunchiness out. If you find over-application a common problem, then try mixing your styling gel with water or oil, before styling. Before you know it, you’ll love your natural hair more than ever.