In a world full popping natural curls, you want your own right? Not the curls to pay for but the ones to WORK for! But for some reason, you get more frizzy and “bad” hair days than days with well-defined curls. You hate that. But you don’t know what to try. You’ve probably attempted your own research and made educated decisions based on what you found, but the results still prove to be inconsistent or unnoticeable with your hair. You may even be thinking it’s impossible to have
Well first things first, no natural naturally has ultra-defined curls. Whaaat? Shocking right? So if you’ve been envying a curly girl on the internet or walking down the street you can go ahead and stop because you are envying a façade. That woman had to MAKE those curls happen. And she made it happen with two things: Finding ingredient(s) that HOLD and find ingredient(s) that CLUMP your strands together!
Your number one component: Polymers
You’ve been displeased with your curl definition probably because you thought the ingredients you were using were supposed to HELP. Well sista, there’s actually a high chance that’s not the case. What you need is an ingredient that provides the HOLD. More than likely, your curl defining products contain more moisturizing ingredients than anything. And it’s true that moisture helps, but that’s mainly because moisture is just water (right?), and water turns our hair back into its “curliest” state. But that doesn’t mean the curls are defined.
What you need are polymers.
Polymers are often the prominent ingredients in many styling products that are aimed to provide HOLD.
And as you apply the product, the polymers are deposited onto the surface of the hair and cause adjacent strands to be attracted to each other. Once they are attracted to each other, they create a bond and then step it up by getting “married”, or what the hair community calls CLUMPING. The more clumping you see happening, the better the final result. Especially for type 4 b and c hair.
According to curl chemist, Tonya Mckay:
A gel consists of solid particles (usually polymers) dispersed throughout a liquid. These particles form a network throughout the liquid that swells and forms a gelly.
And there’s simply one product that’s more than able to provide the clumping and the holding…
No gel = you’re in hell
Let’s go ahead and get over the fact that if you want the most defined curls you can get, you need gel. But as you know, gels are DEFINITELY not made the same. And some are even disguised with other names like custards and gellies—so don’t be confused by those.
Some may do exactly what you need it to, others will give you exactly the outcomes you DON’T want (flaking, hard and brittleness, etc.), and others will give you the best of both worlds (but that ain’t good either).
Now I definitely haven’t had the patience, time or money to try them ALL (lol), but I’ve definitely had the opportunity to research what polymers have been working the best for most naturals. But like I always stress, just like the gels, WE are not the same either! You can conduct your own research and may be able to get away with using slightly different ingredients; as long as you understand the principle behind the HOLDING and CLUMPING method, you should be fine!
But to get you going, here’s 5 polymer NAMES to start with first:
- Xanthan gum
- PVP/VA Copolymer
This is still going to require a little research on your part. I would NOT suggest just walking into the beauty store and turning every bottle around looking for these ingredients (some may not even be found at your local beauty store). BUT hopefully I provided you with some relief so you can focus on finding the best products containing those ingredients instead of just researching, “What gel will work for my curly hair?” That’s so vague.
Find an effective application method
Alright this uber important! Just as important as finding the perfect gel.
You wouldn’t just slab a handful of gel on a section of your hair and try to comb through or style it would you? Jeez I hope not. With gel, less is sooo more!
Truthfully, gel should never even touch the palm of your hand! Every time your hand returns to the container to scoop more, all you’ll need is a fingertip (or two) of gel. Don’t overdo it!
Too much gel will cause a great gel that actually works with your hair to seem like it doesn’t because it’ll be more likely to flake and be terribly hard to the touch. And worse…you’ll never know that THAT was actually the gel you should invest in.
So whether it’s through shingling, sectioning, or as you’re styling (or anything else), it’s important to find an effective way to apply the gel to your hair that gives you the best style. Do all of this and honey, YOU are going to be the curlista worthy of #curlenvy!