A common complaint among many curly girls is that their curls are super clumpy and defined only when soaking wet; as their hair dries, their curls lose definition. Check out my tips below for consistently achieving clumped, defined curls, even after you air dry!

1. Moisturize

If you wash and style once a week, you need to deep-treat once a week. All you need is your conditioner, a plastic cap and the heat you’ll generate from moving around — nothing special. If you’re feeling fancy, you can mix some oils, yogurt and honey into your conditioner for an added punch and/or sit under a hooded dryer or wear a micro heat cap.

Also avoid shampoos that contain sulfates as they strip your hair of natural oils and dry your hair out, which is the opposite of what we’re going for here. Overuse of sulfates can send your curls into hiding, even in the shower.

Opt for conditioner washes or shampoos with detergents of the coco betaine variety.

Finally, remember that hair health starts on the inside: Drink your water and eat a healthy diet!

2. Define

Style on soaking wet, conditioner-laden hair.

My most defined curls happen when I leave my rinse-out conditioner in from the shower. After cleansing my hair, I apply a conditioner (like Tresemme Naturals or Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa), detangle my hair with my fingers, and only rinse a little bit of the conditioner out. I leave in the rest, get out of the shower and BOOM — curls galore.

The moisture from the conditioner can leave you with more curls once your hair finally dries. This method can also give you some added hang time, as the weight of the conditioner may reduce shrinkage. However, it takes FOREVER to dry. So you must have patience and remember NOT to touch your curls while they dry or you may lose definition.

3. Hold

While some women find that conditioners have ample ingredients to hold their curls, others find they need a little extra help from gels.

Smooth or scrunch in some gel (preferably one containing aloe vera) carefully and without disturbing the curls too much. (Eco Styler Gel is a popular one in the natural community.)

Here are a few more notes on creating the perfect clumpy curls:

-Some products don’t play well together, and you can end up with a flaky, gummy mess that you’ll have to wash out, starting the process all over again. Before applying a product combo to your hair, test it on the back of your hand first. If it coagulates or turns into a milky, curdled mess, find a new combo!

-Your texture may naturally wave through the length and curl on the ends. My hair does this. I have S waves from the root down to the last 2 inches of length and then I get cute curly-Qs on the end. There’s nothing I can do, short of a wet set, that will give me uniform curls from root to end. The process described above will help you maximally define your natural pattern but won’t fundamentally change your situation. Hope this helps!

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