Do your curls come out different each time you style them?
Doesn’t that just drive you crazy or what? It’s so annoying.
Many factors come into play that accounts for that.
It can be how you’re applying the products.
How wet your hair is.
What kind of products you’re using whether gels, cream or mousse and in what order.
Then there’s the curl type you have.
The porosity of your hair.
How much moisture and protein your hair has.
How damaged it might be.
Geesh! No wonder some hate their curls.
But you CAN consistently get a look you’re happy with.
Just know it CAN take a lot of testing of different ways to style curly hair to find THE perfect routine for you.
But that trial and error CAN be the diff between gorgeous curls and those that are crunchy or all crazy and frizzy.
To help you get a consistent look we found a super helpful video. It covers various techniques for curly hair product application in great detail.
Four Curly Hair Styling Techniques To Use With Gel, Mousse and Cream
Here’s the time stamps if you see one that’s peeked your interest. You can also jump to our analysis of a specific tactic if you like.
- 1:35 Sectioned Product Application
- 5:23 Rake Product Into Upside Down Hair
- 7:44 Praying Hands Method
- 11:19 Finger Combing
Application Technique#1: Sectioned Product Application
Product Type: Gel (or Mousse)
Specific Product Used: Garnier Fructis Style Curl Treat Jelly
Try If You Desire: Super Defined Frizz Free Curls
Humidity an issue?
No fan of fighting frizz?
Want a long lasting style?
Then this approach is the one for you.
Many find the results of this first routine are usually good for a week. To pull this off you’re going to want to use a gel or mousse.
The key to making this work is starting off with wet hair.
In fact that’s the case with all four of these.
And I know most using gel routines suggest this. That’s because applying products to wet hair USUALLY gives the best results.
But will wet hair work for you? Dunno. Honestly you’ll really need to experiment with the amount of water in your hair. Because that’s one of the factors that can affect the outcome.
Which is why …
Some like to apply products while right after turning off the shower and their hair is seriously dripping. As is super soaking wet.
Some like to let the hair drip dry just a bit so it’s wet but not super soaking wet.
Others find squeezing out the excess water into like a micro fiber towel gives the best results for them.
HINT: If you’re applying your products to towel dried hair and ending up with a frizz fest. Stop!
The problem may be your curls are too dry to work with the products.
There’s a good reason for this. It’s that dryer hair makes for inconsistent product distribution.
So how wet is wet enough? If you hear “squishes” when scrunching your “wet” hair after applying product you’re probably good.
Silence on the squish front is a sign things probably aren’t wet enough. Signaling it’s time to break out the spray bottle to add the moisture required for a good result.
Or not. Wet enough kinda depends on your hair too.
Section Your Hair – She uses a Denman brush but says a Tangle Teaser or your fingers can work too. But for her to get super defined curls she finds a Denman brush works best.
Sectioning matters because by doing so you insure every strand in that section is coated evenly from the roots to the tips. This works to seal off frizz from any part of the strand.
It’s all the more important for those with thick hair.
Scrunch – You can flip your hair over to scrunch if you like. As you know that will build in more volume. But the key is giving every single strand some product love.
Plop to let your hair dry some before diffusing. How long to plop depends on your hair. Think 10-20 minutes here.
Diffusing is pretty much optional in any gel routine. Air drying should work too. Again it’s another thing to test to see how your curls respond.
The only catch (read: drawback) is while you get super defined curls here volume may be a problem (depending on how much hair you have). That’s because this approach produces serious curl clumps. Those often come at the expense of volume.
Possible solution? Flip your head over and give the roots a good shake. You can shake out your roots or use a pick.
Tip: Just make sure everything’s totally dry before you touch your strands. Otherwise you’re giving frizz an open invitation. And can forget producing the same look from wash day to wash day.
But if you’re looking for a long lasting look this is the way to go.
Application Technique#2: Rake Product Into Upside Down Hair
Product Type: Cream and Gel
Specific Products Used: DevaCurl Styling Cream and DevaCurl The Curl Maker
Try If You Desire: Lots of Volume With Defined Curls
Here’s the routine that mixes a cream and a gel (both from Devacurl) to get a lot of volume but still have defined curls. This approach is a way to get both without a lot of frizz.
Apply the cream to hair that’s flipped upside down – which as just mentioned also helps with volume.
She applied a generous amount of cream using two application techniques.
First she basically used the praying hands method to smooth the product over her hair. This helps to clump the curls.
Then it was on to raking to further distribute the product throughout. This also creates a bit of separation which helps with volume.
Brush Through – Brush the product through to insure even distribution with no strand left behind.
Tip: If at any time if you hair starts to dry while applying product you might want to add more water with a spray bottle.
Gel Time – Apply your gel overtop raking throughout and then scrunching it in. Focusing the gel on the outside layers.
The idea is to seal in the volume and provide for some hold. Creams alone often don’t provide a lot of hold.
Tip: With spray products it’s kinda hard to tell how much your applying or if you’re doing it evenly. So it might be better to spray into your palms and then work it into your hair.
Plop then Diffuse – Need I say more?
Tip: Air drying a little before diffusing lets your curls cast to the max.
Inspect for Frizz – With your head returned right side up, eye ball things to see where you may have any gel deficiency.
Typically undetected frizz will be most common in the hair that’s underneath. Although a tolerable amount of functional frizz can also help with the volume. Assuming it’s hidden under the top layer. So there’s that to consider too.
Application Technique#3: Praying Hands Method
Product Type: Mousse
Specific Product Used: Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Mousse
Try If You Desire: Volume with Lush, Looser Coils
No time to layer on products? Then this technique may be great for days when you don’t have the time for multiple product application.
This is another one trick pony – mousse and mousse alone. Just be sure it’s a mousse specially formulated for curly hair.
Which means no silicones.
This is also great for those who usually get tight curls when styling. Making it almost perfect for those days you want a add a little length to your look but still with volume to spare.
What Praying Hands Does – Praying hands smooths the product over the out layer of your hair. Usually on top and the underside. Doing so tames some of the frizz in the outer layers.
But the magic is any frizziness in the underneath layers is still alive and well. And like I said it’s this functional frizz that creates the volume you get with this technique. You just can’t tell it’s there.
So for once you’re actually using frizz to your advantage. Because that inner frizz will help to puff up your curls to create the appearance of added volume.
Raking – After praying hands the product on she raked her finger through her strands.
Also she took smaller sections and stretched those curls out. The result is less coily curls
Scrunching is something else to consider doing. But I’d think since that will shrink up your curls some you probably don’t want to scrunch when using mousse like this.
Tip: As before to volumize further this can all be done with you bent at the waist with your curls hanging down.
Plop and diffuse as usual.
Now if you change your mind and want to shrink things up a bit you can always cup your curls in the diffuser. That will bring more definition back into the picture.
On the other hand to keep things loose and lanky just hover diffuse.
Or there’s always air drying.
Application Technique#4: Raking and Finger Combing
Product Type: Gel
Specific Product Used: Dippity Do Girls with Curls Gelee
Try If You Desire: Quick Easy One Product Styling
This is a one product demonstration that anyone can afford. Yet it has the potential to produce results you’d expect from my more expensive lines.
Simply finger comb the product through your tresses. Basically just running the product into your hair with your fingers.
No upside down styling.
No multi step product application.
Easy-peasy. Like the going through the express self-checkout aisle at the grocery store.
Want to shrink up the curls? You can scrunch with a t-shirt or micro fiber towel if you like.
If your curls are on the dryer side starting with a leave in might not be a bad idea.
Gels are meant to be paired with creams. That said this gel still works good enough on its own.
This is a water based gel, if that matters to you. Practically weightless. Not sticky. Which might account for the results she gets with it.
Is Mousse Or Gel Better For Curly Hair
Better is subjective. The answer depends on what you want to achieve. The mousse vs gel debate often comes down to volume or definition.
Foamy mousse is often better for those going for lift and volume without weighed down curls. You can expect to get at most a slight cast. Gel meanwhile means moisturized definition with some frizz fighting super powers thrown in. Crunch goes with the territory but should be no problem as long you know how to scrunch it out.
With hair mousse less is usually more. So don’t go crazy.
Application should be focused on your roots.
There are products designed to work with curls often with an assist from your diffuser.
Available in different strengths you can usually find a gel for your hair texture. Girls with fine or thinner hair just want to use a more runny formulation. While those with thicker coarser hair would go with a thicker gel.
With gel more is more. Especially if going for a cast.
Here application should avoid the roots for the most part.
So if you wake up wondering. “Should I use gel or mousse for my curly hair today?” here’s your answer albeit over simplified.
If you want to zap the frizz with hydration to spare consider gel. Or a cream product layered with a gel chaser.
But if you feel like going for the volume then definitely reach for the mousse.
If you’re feeling like you’ve hit pay dirt with this in-depth look at curly hair product application you’ll definitely want to follow our Pinterest board dedicated to curls. It’s loaded with all kinds of tips for curly hair care.
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