curly gel cast

Pictured: @actuallyalicia.curls with a gel cast (left) and after scrunching out the crunch (right) 

We curly girls are a funny bunch as we talk in code amongst ourselves easily. Whether you are talking about a gel cast, TWA, WNG, rake and shake or carve and slice, talking about curls can feel like its own language. If you are looking for more curl definition and less frizz, it's time to get to know all about a gel cast. 

What is a gel cast?

During the drying process after gel is applied to wet hair, the gel will harden around the curls, creating a gel cast. A cast is actually a good thing for your curl definition, but if you don't know how to properly break the cast, it can be mistaken for hard hair, and you may feel you have a bad product. If you have ever felt that a gel or styling product made your curls feel "crunchy," this was probably a cast. 

What are the benefits of a gel cast?

A gel cast actually helps to hold the curls in their natural formation until the hair dries while simultaneously protecting the hair from outside elements like wind, sun, and humidity. This is why we discourage touching your hair after you have styled it. The more you touch your hair, the more likely you are to disturb the curl and create frizz and lose definition. This works the best for me on wash day after I have cleaned my hair, deep conditioned, and applied my gel throughout my hair.

Make sure your gel does not have any drying alcohols so that your hair is not losing moisture. Another tip is if you have frizzier sections pay more attention to applying the gel to every strands in those areas to fully fight the frizz.

How to scrunch out the crunch

Once your hair is dry, it is time to remove the crunch of the gel cast to release the hair from the protective barrier. Simply break the cast by lightly scrunching upward. I usually have to take my finger into my hair to reach my scalp. This helps to release the gel while lifting from the scalp to give my hair height. You can rub a few drops of your favorite light oil between your hands to keep your hands from causing friction in your hair and disturbing the curls.

You not only end up with softer curls but fully moisturized, frizz-free curls that can give you second, third, or even fourth day hair. I cover hair with a Loc Soc (you can pineapple) spritz with some water in the morning, fluff, and go.

Here’s a simple video by Curly Susie on how to easily create a cast and then scrunch out the crunch for soft, touchable curls.

And here is one more video from Bianca Renee showing how she scrunches out her crunch.

The Best Gels for Curls

If you're looking for a styling gel that works, these were voted the best gels for wavy, curly, and coily hair by the NaturallyCurly community in our Best of the Best awards.

Raw Curls Firm Hold Gel

Best for: Wavy Type 2 

This gel is made up of 99.7% natural ingredients and is Curly Girl Method-friendly. Wavies love that it gives them defined, soft curls without drying them out.

Ecoco Eco Styler Argan Oil Gel

Best for: Curly Type 3 

This gel is a go-to for curlies because it creates great definition and extends their wash and go for days. This will create a cast so make sure to master your scrunching skills. 

Ecoco Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel

Best for: Coily Type 4

This gel also won the award for Best Gel for All Hair Types and you probably recognize this bottle because it is a classic Holy Grail product. And coming in at under $5, it can't hurt to give this gel a try. 

Many curlies also DIY their gel using natural ingredients like flaxseed gel, sea moss gel, and aloe gel.

Is a gel cast part of your styling routine? Let us know in the comments!

This article has been updated with new products and resources.