What is a Gel Cast? (And How to Break It)
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We, curly girls, are a funny bunch as we easily talk in code amongst ourselves. Whether 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 learn about a gel cast. 

What is a gel cast?

What is a Gel Cast? (And How to Break It)
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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 good for curl definition, but if you don’t know how to break it properly, 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?

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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, create frizz, and lose definition. This works best for me on wash day after I have cleaned my hair, deep conditioned it, and applied gel throughout it.

Ensure your gel has no 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 strand in those areas to fight the frizz fully.

How to scrunch out the crunch

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Once your hair is dry, it is time to remove the crunch of the gel cast to release the hair from the protective barrier. Break the cast by lightly scrunching upward. I usually take my finger into my hair to reach my scalp. This helps release the gel while lifting from the scalp to heighten my hair. 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 end up with softer curls and 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.

The Best Gels for Curls

If you’re looking for a styling gel that works, here are the best gels for curls, coils, and waves.

Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel 

What is a Gel Cast? (And How to Break It)

Best for: Wavy Type 2 

This gel is the perfect anti-humidity protector and is Curly Girl Method-friendly. Wavies love that it gives them defined, soft curls without drying them out.

Curls Sea Moss Sea Slip Mineral Infused Slime Hair Jelly

What is a Gel Cast? (And How to Break It)

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. However, it will create a cast, so make sure to master your scrunching skills. 

The Doux Bee-Girl Curl Enhancer

What is a Gel Cast? (And How to Break It)

Best for: Coily Type 4

This gel also won the award for Best Gel for type 4 coily and tighter textures because of its hydrating custard formula. The super charged honey and aloe formula is great for growth, fighting frizz, and shine.

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.

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