Today we’re answering the question how to make curls stay or why won’t my hair hold a curl. I have lived that hard-to-curl hair life and even though my hair is a lot easier to curl now, I still have a lot of tips to help you.
Let’s jump into the actual subject of this article – how to make curls that last all day.
Table of Contents
How to Make Curls Stay
Hair Too Healthy
One reason your curls might not last is that your hair is just too healthy. That’s most likely the case if you haven’t colored your hair a lot, if your hair doesn’t go through a lot of heat styling and if it’s naturally a smoother, sleeker texture.
And when your hair is in that really healthy state, especially if it’s virgin hair, that means that its outer shield, the cuticle layer is super-duper strong.
You have to get in through the shield to be able to curl the hair. But basically you have an extra wall of security that those of us with very bleached hair might not have.
So what’s the answer to that?
Well, I mean, the first easy answer is that you could damage your hair a little bit.
So if you wanted to do some highlights, some balayage, play with color, just know it would help your hair to hold a curl better.
Not necessarily a reason to do it but if you need more reason to go for that color changing you’ve been thinking about, there’s one. Go into the salon if you’re thinking about changing your color.
But if you wanna keep up with the super healthy hair, but you wanna be able to curl it as well, I think the tips that I’m gonna give you are gonna help you with that
I had virgin hair and I curled my hair and I made it work. And I’ll tell you guys how to do that.
So if you think you might be in that category, just go ahead and file that away as we go through the rest of the tips.
Too Much Moisture
The next reason your hair might not hold a curl is that you’re using too much moisture on your hair.
What, moisture is good for your hair. Yes, it actually is but if you hair is resistant to holding a curl, then things like oils on your hair are actually going to weigh it down and make it harder to curl.
So depending on how healthy your hair is, you can kind of back off the oil. If your hair is a little bit less healthy like mine, then you can still moisturize your hair in the shower, but, I wouldn’t necessarily go through putting an oil on your hair. You use maybe a light-weight leave-in conditioner to none at all.
If you’re hair is resiliently healthy, just so healthy it goes back to straight as soon as you try to curl it, then you could start cutting back the moisture even more. So maybe just a very light rinse with the conditioner in the shower and then nothing else until you heat style it.
And you might be wondering wait, is that bad for my hair and the thing is, you always have to take into consideration the hair that you’re starting with, because what could be bad for some people’s hair might not be bad for your hair.
If your hair is really that healthy and you’ve got the double-walled security, then you can cut out the conditioner and your hair will be totally fine. If you had somebody with super-porous hair, that would not go well.
So, again, categorize yourself, use the information from there.
Products That Add Hold
On the other hand you could be neglecting some products that would really help you and those are products that add hold.
Now I know when we think of products that add hold we all automatically think of hairspray. If you’re in the fine-hair category, then lots and lots of hairspray, especially lots of super-hold hairspray, is just gonna create a massive, sticky, mat and we don’t want that.
Okay, hairspray might not be the answer, what is?
I love utilizing products that are activated by heat and those are typically ones that you’re supposed to put in when your hair is wet. Now if you put them in when you’re hair is wet and then your hair is dried either by the air or through a blow dryer, the product’s still on your hair and it’s still gonna be activated even more by your hot tools.
And the even better thing about those products is that they’re typically meant to be super-duper touchable and easy to work with.
So I picked out some favorite’s from my hair closet.
See the best hair tools!
So the first category wet-to-style products that I like are mousses. Most mousses add hold. That’s their purpose. You can pick just a basic mousse like the SGX One or you can pick something that adds volume, sich as Bumble & Bumble Soft Mousse.
Maybe your hair is damaged and still a little hard to curl. You could use something that adds a little bit of shine, maybe just a little bit of volume, such as Matrix Oil Wonders Mousse. It kind of lets you customize what you want a little bit more.
I do find mousses give a little bit of a hairspray texture to the hair in the sense that it will feel a little bit more produdct-y and a little bit more like faux hold-y. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I might have just been using products for too long. But, it’s also very, very effective.
The next product that I love in the wet-to-dry category are blowdry balms.
Now these can come in all shapes and forms, you definitely have to read the back and see what they offer because some add hold, some don’t, you want one that adds hold.
And again, if your hair is really hard to curl you definitely don’t want to pick one that’s super-smoothing ’cause it’s gonna be adding all the moisture in.
But the balms can be really nice ’cause their just a little more touchable, they’re also a little softer. So if you really need that intense hold then go with the mousse, but if you like really soft, touchable, play-with-able hair, the balms.
The one I used today is this Kerastase L’incroyable Blowdry Lotion. I really like it, my hair looks really nice
and smooth and pretty and it holds a lot better when I use this.
Another one that would be good for those of you with more smooth, silky hair naturally, is the Bumble & Bumble Thickening Blow Dry Creme. This one adds a little bit of roughness as in enough to make your hair more normal, and volume and a great amount of hold. So I would recommend this if you’re in the super, super-shiny healthy category.
And of course there are heat protectives out there that are meant to add in hold. A favorite of mine is the Ouai Memory Mist. But there are a lot of others out there that are equally as good.
Heating to Cooling Process
The next reason your hair might not be holding a curl is that you are not utilizing the heating to cooling process. Your curl actually forms when your hair cools down from being hot. Your hydrogen bonds temporarily break when your hair gets hot and they reform when your hair cools. They actually do the same thing when your hair goes from wet to dry.
So it’s not a scary process, it’s not an inherently bad thing. But that’s also why if you go to bed with your hair wet and you wake up and it’s dry in the morning, it’s probably in some funny shapes.
So the way to use that for your advantage to make sure that your hair holds a curl, is to let it cool in its shape. You can do that either by not touching your hair whatsoever after it comes off the iron and giving it that chance to set, or you can go the extra mile and take your curl up right after it comes off the iron and clip it up to cool. That way gravity can’t get to it, you’re not tempted to run your fingers through it, and then when you take it back down it’s much more robust.
Wrong Iron Size
Another reason why your hair might not be holding a curl is that you’re using the wrong iron size.
For me if I were to use a one-and-a-half inch iron or anything larger, my hair would definitely be straight by the next day if not the end of the day. With a two-inch iron, it would be straight immediately, like no question.
And I wanted to point that out because a lot of you say how your hair is hard to curl, how it goes back to straight so quickly. I don’t know what curling-iron size you’re working with, but it’s very easy to assume that if you are working with a one-and-a-quarter inch iron or a one-and-a-half inch iron and your hair’s hard to curl, it would absolutely go back to straight super-duper quickly.
If your hair is hard to curl, I would start with a one-inch iron and maybe even go smaller from there ’cause a three-and-quarter inch iron was my jam for a really long time when I had virgin hair.
Going a little bit smaller helps because your hair is then going to loosen up and it’s going to loosen up to the size you’re actually going for.
It’s kind of annoying that you have to cheat the system but you can cheat the system and that’s a really easy way to do it.
Reset Your Expectations
Piggy backing off going with a smaller curling iron, if your hair is really hard to curl, really healthy or really long, you might just need to reset your expectations.
And I don’t mean that you have to completely throw having some movement and body out the window, but I am saying that maybe you’re not gonna have perfect ringlets all day, every day for three days straight.
Honestly, my hair can’t do that.
Right now the result of you putting a curling iron through your hair might be waves. I’m sure those waves can still be really, really beautiful.
But I think the biggest thing is not to give up, to keep trying, figure out what works for you.
But understand that most likely if you’re hair is hard to curl it’s going to loosen up, at least a little bit from where you’re working. And that’s okay, that doesn’t mean that it’s gone back to straight or that all of the work that you put in wasn’t worth it.
It absolutely is because you’ve got something going on, it just might not be what you see on Instagram. And honestly what you see on Instagram is often taken right after the curls were done, not three days later.
A funny tip that I have learned in my own experience of doing bridesmaids hair, ’cause I’ve had a lot of bridesmaids who have long, thin, virgin hair and have to have it curled for a wedding that’s happening like five hours after I’m doing their hair.
The second pass through, meaning going through and re-curling either a couple of sections or like half the hair, really makes a big difference.
If I have somebody sitting in my chair that has really long, really virgin hair, I’m gonna do all the tips I just gave you. I’m gonna be puttin’ in product. I’m gonna be curling with a smaller iron. I’m gonna clip it up, I’m gonna let it cool. I’m gonna send her away to go chat with her friends while I do somebody else’s hair before I take it down.
But then, she’s gonna come back over, I’m gonna take the clips out, and more likely than not it’s not gonna look quite the way I wanted it to. So what I do is I go back through and I re-curl any pieces that look like they need it. It might be a few pieces,it might be up to like half the hair. Really depends on the girl.
But what I will say is after that second time through, it’s there, and I see the pictures from the wedding later, and they’re still there.
It’s a lot of work, it might be more than you wanna do, but if you’re in that position where you’ve tried all the other stuff, try doing a second pass and see if it helps.
Your hair might also not be holding a curl because you need some more practice. And I know that’s probably not the most fun thing to hear but think about the first time you applied mascara or anything else that was once hard for you and you can now do in the morning without coffee.
It’s a new skill that you’re learning and you’re gonna have a few times where it’s not right. So if you’ve tried it, three, four, five times and it hasn’t worked out perfectly that just means that you’re still learning your hair.
You’re both learning the skill of moving your curling iron through your hair and the skill of working with your own hair type. I do hope that this article really helps you to figure out where you could tweak things to get a better result.
And there you go, those are my tips and tricks on how to make your curls stay in your hair all day or days.
Samantha is a hairstylist with over 12 years of color and stylist experience. She enjoys using her knowledge to create what her clients really want when they sit down in her chair. Her passion is creating unique looks that her clients feel great in.