whats wrong with my hair??

i don't know why it won't behave
this is my routine:
rake in conditioner and detangle
rinse out conditioner and put a little more in
rake/scrunch in gel

but i always end up looking like a poodle. my hair feels incredibly soft, and if i look closely, i can see nice, clumpy curls, but they ALWAYS stick together into one big mass of hair. i have a few layers, but they didn't help much. and it's flat and pin-straight on top.

so i have two questions:
1. how do i get the individual curls to stand out (except of all being a big lump)
2. how do i get the top not as flat

i've read about putting in all of the products in upside down, which i'll try tomorrow. but is that the answer?
Hmm I'm guessing that it's the way you're putting in your products rather than the products themselves which is causing your issue. If I were you I'd check out some product application videos on youtube to get a technique down. There are a couple options and you just need to experiment to find out what's best for your hair. A couple good ones are the mysteryflavored KCCC video (I've used her technique even with different products) and the Ouidad rake and shake video

I'm sure other people can come up with other good ones. Hope this helps!
Thank you for the quick reply! That rake and shake method looks really cool, I will definitely add that to my list of things to try.

I was browsing livecurlylivefree.com and was looking at the photos and I found great examples.

My hair looks like this right now:

Actually, it's not even that good :\ What I'm trying to demonstrate is that I have these coils/tubes of curls that make me look like a poodle.

This is the kind of hair I'm trying to achieve:

The curls are much more defined and individual. It also looks like there are curls throughout, not just on top.

Am I making sense? If I somehow am, how would I go about doing this?
Hi you could try reducing the amount of conditioner you are leaving in and increasing the gel a little bit, plus the girl in the second picture looks like she may diffuse. A lot will depend on the properties of your hair though - fine hair is hard to get volume into without losing definition (I have found anyway) but if I diffuse that helps. HTH
UK curly

fine to medium strands, porous, medium density
CG May 2009 - low poo occasionally
Co-wash: Tresemme Naturals
Styling -Naked Curl Defining Cream, BRHG, Mop Top, FSG
Product for a good hair day: FSG or Mop Top
Hair loves protein!
new pics added Jan 2012

Enjoying the freedom of going curly!
Duchess of Alba, Keeper of the Tartan Curls in The Order of the Curly Crusaders
In my opinion, the biggest difference between those two photos (aside from a slight shift in curl pattern) is the one has a 'curly' cut, whereas the other is all cut to one length without any shape. Getting a cut that suits your hair can really make a huge difference in how it looks.

That being said, it is possible to get curl throughout and volume without forking out for a curly cut. I use plopping to help give me curls throughout. For volume on top, some people clip their to pull it away from the scalp until it's dry. The way you apply your product can also help - making sure you get product on all your hair is a good step in the right direction. I like the mysteryflavored method that was mentioned above. Doing things upside down, sideways, and any direction other than sitting/standing up can help as well.
3b/c. Fine, med-high porosity, normal elasticity. Hair loves oils in summer, protein in winter. Constantly battling the hard water monster.

CJ Curl Theory, Curl Rehab, Smoothing, Curl Fix, Daily Fix, CCCC, CIAB, CQ, SSCC, MC shampoo, Inecto Pure Coconut Oil, CP luscious curl creme (summer), DB Pumpkin Seed (summer), FD/MT, JCWDT, JCTS

American literature PhD student in the UK...
I would like to bump this thread up if you guys don't mind!

I've been looking on the boards for other people who suffer from "poodlehead," and I have seen a few curlies on here who do. So, I'm wondering, how do we shape these curls? My natural curls are so individual, each in their own little clump that doesn't get very thick at alllll, even though I have a lottt of hair!

I would absolutely love to have the hair in the second picture, it's gorgeous! I think that may be my new goal, haha!
Went from 2c to 3b/c after 2 years of hard work!
Medium density and texture

Currently in love with the Salma Hayek Nuance Blue Agave Curly line
SM Curl & Shine Low poo - HG forever and always
KCKT as leave-in
Miss Jessie's Multicultural Curls, AG Re:curl, Argan Magic Defining Cream
Plopping! It'll give you more volume and better curl definition.
I've tried, but once I take it down the frizz just goes I don't plop for very long, maybe 10 minutes? Should I try longer?
Went from 2c to 3b/c after 2 years of hard work!
Medium density and texture

Currently in love with the Salma Hayek Nuance Blue Agave Curly line
SM Curl & Shine Low poo - HG forever and always
KCKT as leave-in
Miss Jessie's Multicultural Curls, AG Re:curl, Argan Magic Defining Cream
I think the coils/tubes in the first pic are beautiful. Those are corkscrews, not poodle-ly at all. They would look even better with some layering IMO, but to me they look amazing and are simply curlier than the hair in the 2nd pic. The hair in the 2nd pic also looks more product-y.

If you don't like the first look, these curls patterns look close enough so maybe the same curls could be had on the same head of hair. For me, my curl pattern depends on weather, styling, and product, probably in that order, though all important factors.
Formerly Urbancurl.
Medium-high density, fine-medium, low-normal porosity, 3b/c, permanent color.
CG, no heat, combs, brushes, parabens.
Fall/Winter HG=Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream.
Spring/Summer HG=MGA Sculpting Gel
Current fave LI=Madre Labs Made by Nature for Baby Conditioner.
Limit oils, butters, glycerin.

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