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If you’ve been in the curly world for a while then you are no stranger to the general curly hair advice for avoiding frizz: shampooing less often, moisturizing more, and avoiding damaging habits like heat styling our hair. But sometimes we have specific questions for persistent issues like frizz that just won’t quit, no matter what you do. We received this question from a NaturallyCurly reader and to help answer it we’re bringing in heavy-hitting curl experts to share their insights on possible frizz fixes.
My 3c/4a hair is completely frizzy with no definition when wet, and always frizzy, why?
“I have 3c/ 4a hair and I have been CG [following the Curly Girl Method] for almost a year. I co-wash, deep condition with heat and style my hair once a week, faithfully. My hair is always, I mean always, frizzy. So frizzy that even after styling it with loads of gel to tame the frizz, the very next day it is frizzy all over again, as if I never used all that gel the day before and on top of all the gel I put on the previous day I have to load it with more gel every day until wash day. When I style I use the LCO method. Then when I wet my hair, it is so frizzy when wet. I see girls who wet their hair and their curls looks so defined but when my hair is wet there is barely any definition and massive frizz, when soaking wet :(. I don't understand. I thought it might have been build up but I clarified my hair last week and same frizz. This is becoming very very frustrating and I hate having to use so much gel everyday. My hair is low porosity and I stick to shea moisture coconut and hibiscus line for my whole regimen. Can anyone please help me figure out the problem? :( Also even after a protein treatment, same frizz. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...on day 1 my curls are nice and defined, every day after that frizz. my curl pattern is the same as Christina's from maneobjective.com”
1. Make sure to remove buildup
Frizz can be the result of product buildup, and it is possible the clarifier you recently used did not contain surfactants powerful enough to do the job. According to Rhonda Marshall, a Chemist, Educator, and the Founder of Inahsi Naturals, even common clarifiers like apple cider vinegar can leave product buildup behind that contributes to frizz.
“Apple Cider Vinegar is a weak acid which will remove some product and close the cuticle which will reflect light, which in turn will give shine. But to remove conditioners, gels, mousse, and oils/butters which are positively charged designed to stick to the hair, you need a clarifying shampoo that contains anionic (negatively charged) surfactant like Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate which is a key ingredient in our Soothing Mint Clarifying Shampoo.” As this reader co-washes, Marshall suggests she “alternate between the cowash and the gentle cleansing shampoo. Adding a gentle cleansing shampoo will provide better cleansing to remove oil, dirt, and product without stripping... Not using a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup and hard water will definitely lead to frizz.”
2. Use more water when applying product
You described applying loads of gel on day one followed by even more gel on day two, but experts suggest water may be the key. “Frizz is can also be the result of improper application of product,” says Marshall, “When you are applying product particularly gels or custards, you want to make sure that your hair is saturated with water and that you emulsify the product in your hand then apply it from root to tip.” Even damp hair may not be saturated enough to prevent frizz, it should be soaking wet.
Nubia Suarez is a Master stylist, curl expert, and the owner of the Rëzo Salon in NYC and the creator of the Rëzo Cut method of cutting curly hair. Suarez has coined the 80/20 Rule for applying products to curly hair (from cleansing to conditioning to styling): a ratio of 80% water to 20% product. So if your hair is starting to feel damp during the styling process try adding more water instead of piling on more product. She recommends using 20% of a styling gel like her Rëzo gel because it’s hydrating, and “if the curls still feel dry, go apply more water and work the product until the section feels like seaweed. Work it evenly from roots to ends, continue in sections (usually 4) until you’re done!”
3. Style your hair in the shower
If all of this water sounds like it might create a mess in your bathroom, consider styling your hair in the shower instead. “Many people wash their hair in the shower,” says Marshall, “but you can also style there as well. Your hair is cleansed, conditioned and dripping wet, which are the best conditions for your styling products to work effectively and for you to achieve the best results.”
4. Follow the Rake & Shake Method
Christina Patrice of the ManeObjective (who you referenced above as sharing your texture type) wrote an article for NaturallyCurly titled "My Hair Looks So Good When It's Wet"... Here's How to Make That Last. In it she admitted that despite being a product junkie, what matters most is how you apply the product.
Marshall says “to get curls that will last for days make sure you apply your gel on clean dripping wet hair manually using various methods such as the praying hands method, shingling or a styling tool like a detangling brush.” Patrice’s personal favorite method is the Rake & Shake method, created by master curl stylist Ouidad. Although Patrice had seen this method used by Type 2 wavies and Type 3 curlies, she actually found great success when she experimented with it on her own Type 4 coils. She started with soaking wet hair, “remember, the best wash and go's happen on WET hair! Capturing the curl while it's still wet will guarantee you a longer lasting result.” Here is her process:
- Smooth and rake a generous amount of your curl definer from root to tip in a section, “Really work it in so it coats all the strands.” Then take hold of one small part of the section and move the rest of the hair out of the way.
- Starting at the root, “rake your fingers through your hair. Rake thoroughly 3 or 4 times, so that your hair is evenly clumped between your fingers.”
- On the 3rd or 4th rake, “stop just short of letting the hair go. Holding on to the ends, gently shake the hair up and down a few times to set the curl.” Ouidad recommends shaking at the wrist to help curl formation.
Continue this until you’ve coated all of the strands. It takes Christina Patrice 15 minutes to complete her whole head, then she air dries. Click play to watch her method here:
5. Spot treat frizz
Chuck Amos is a celebrity stylist who has styled everyone from Tracee Ellis Ross to Alicia Keys to Kerry Washington to the NaturallyCurly Texture On The Runway event. Amos says that if you’re noticing frizz in sections throughout the day or on day two or beyond, “don’t be afraid to rewet your curls and layer products on,” and at this point it’s no surprise, but he recommends using water. “If there are just certain curls that need your attention, I recommend applying the Ouidad Coil Infusion Give A Boost Styling + Shaping Gel Cream and the Coil Infusion Good Shape Defining Gel with your fingers, with an extra spritz of water on your fingers as well, and run the product from root to tip to ensure perfect frizz free defined curls during your touch up days.” He recommends reapplying the Coil Infusion Soft Stretch Priming Milk on day one to “elongate your curls and bring total definition into your curls, preventing frizz at the ‘curl priming’ stage” and layer your styling products on top of that. “As the days go on, you should reapply the gel cream and also use the Coil Infusion Good Shape Defining Gel for the unruly curls that get undefined and frizzy after a good night’s sleep. These three curl styling products together will really do the trick without leaving hair hard, crusty, or flaking!”
We hope that these expert insights will help you find new methods to experiment with in your frizz fighting routine!