Clumping? That’s an alien sounding term unless you live in the world of curly hair.
Then it’s right at home.
It fits right in for a reason. Weird words like plopping, pineappling, and praying hands are used all the time in that world.
The real problem is getting curls to actually clump. Now that experience IS alien for some curlies.
But before you throw up your hands in disgust and frustration here’s 41 tips for you to try. Or ideas you might want to use to improve your approach to getting your curls to clump.
So you might want to hold off on shaving your head until you see if any of these tips help. Just saying! 🙂
The Importance of Deep Conditioning
Tip#29: Regularly deep conditioning is not optional for curlies. At least not if you want curls that clump better.
Said the other way, not making time for a weekly hydrating habit fix can kill your hopes for getting gorgeous curl clumps. I hope that’s not news.
Naturally you want to do this regularly because the one constant with clumping ease is being properly moisturized. Curls that are properly hydrated do that a whole lot easier than those that aren’t.
Which is why at least once a week is considered the bare minimum for deep conditioning. (More often if your hair is on the dryer side.)
Now some prefer a conditioner containing protein as that can help high porosity hair to hold a curl better.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously there can be no hard and fast rule about protein infused products that applies to everyone with curly hair. Depends 100% on your hair and its needs.
Tip#32: Protein ingredients to watch for on the bottle’s label. Hydrolyzed wheat protein, soy and silk protein, keratin and less often oat flour. They all work to strengthen, repair damage and add shine. Just know that not everyone’s hair needs protein.
Tip#37: To get your strands to drink in the conditioner deeply consider using a thermal heat cap. Pop it into the microwave for a few and you’ve got gentle heat to ready to work its magic as part of your after shower curly hair routine.
You want to give it like 20-30 minutes on your head.
This works because the heat opens up the hair cuticle. Doing so makes it easier for the conditioner penetrate the hair’s shaft.
Tip#03: Rinse out the deep conditioner starting with warm water then finishing off with cold. That will snap the cuticles shut tight. Locking in all that conditioner goodness at the same time.
Tip#40: Use your microfiber towel when scrunching to absorb any excess moisture. This will speed up air drying or cut down on diffusing time.
Also if you don’t want to drip all over everything now’s the time to gently scrunch into a microfiber towel. Just don’t go crazy. The idea is to leave as much water as you can in your hair.
Styling Products Role In Clumping
Before we get too far down the product highway remember this….
Tip#22: From reading about clumping online here’s the consensus. Technique is more important than the products used.
That’s not to say products don’t matter. They do. But what you do when styling your hair can have a bigger influence on how well it clumps.
We’ve got the help you need on this site. Both those links lead to in-depth looks at those two techniques to insure you’re up to speed. Just click on either if you need to find out more.
But for now here’s what you want to hear when squishing:
Tip#17: Yeah, you definitely want to hear that squishy sound in your hair when scrunching after you’ve applied the products. It signals you have enough product and water in your hair for clumping to happen.
Tip#34: Plop much? Whenever you do just understand this. Along with the water you’ll likely be removing product too along with the water. Of course you can always scrunch more back in.
Tip#41: There are benefits of having your hair upside down flipped in front of you. Makes it easier to clump together when you can see what’s happening. Raking forward can help with volume too.
Tip#01: For some clumping success hangs on product distribution success. Plus when following a hair-upside-down routine don’t forget to give the crown some product love.
Tip#04: Take care when applying gel. You do not want to treat your hair too roughly so as to break up those clumps you took pains to create. Gently smooths the product over you hair followed by a bit of scrunching.
Tip#39: It’s generally best to apply product with praying hands method. While trying not to separate the clumps.
Given the need to be careful raking product in is often a no no for many. Think about it. Your fingers are going to break up your clumps, right?
Tip#09: Using a wide toothed comb after applying product while still in the shower can be another good way to get thorough distribution.
Tip#10: Some find creamy styling products weigh down their hair. One trick is to dilute it with water in a spray bottle. Then apply.
Tip#26: Using a wet brush can also help with product distribution of your leave in or gel.
Tip#16: Try to avoid applying products directly to the root area. Instead see if putting it on the ends and then flipping your head upside down and scrunching it in gets some product there. This might work better than combing it through.
Clump First Aid
Tip#30: Fan of finger coiling? Believe it or not some take the time to do that to all their clumps. While time-consuming it may be THE thing to make your curls last way longer.
Tip#02: Others finger coil only those that look to be in need of a little help. Then give the salvaged coil a gentle smooosh up towards their scalp.
Tip#08: Still not happy with a clump? See if slathering it with a bit of gel and then finger coiling can help the curly friends stick together. This can encourage more ringlet type coils.
Tip#33: Feel like your clumps too big and are costing you volume? Do this. With your palms oiled up if you see a bigger clump that stands out go ahead and break it up. Then maybe finger coil the new smaller clumps. Smooth over with your oily hands and VIOLA!
Tip#05: That said, and again, vigorous raking with your fingers is not usually recommended if bigger clumps are what you want. Too often this results in bigger clumps becoming smaller clumps.
Clumping and the Importance of Water
Tip#14: Problems clumping? Maybe you hair isn’t wet enough. Or is it too wet? The amount of moisture for your hair is probably the most important variable to nail down first.
This next tip further refines the why behind working with hair that is super drenched.
Tip#27: Clumps typically need to be dripping wet to stay together. It’s a surface tension thing. (go ahead and google it.) Ignore this bit of science at your peril.
Tip#13: On the flip side, if your hair is too wet you risk over-diluting the gel or other products you may apply in the shower.
Tip#25: All that said most still swear the more water the better. That combined with gentle scrunching insures the curls are hydrated to the max. Hydrated curls tend to be clumpy curls.
Tip#15a: Dreaming of using no products and still getting lots of defined curls? That usually happens with super healthy hair that is properly hydrated. Only then can you get away with using no product.
Tip#31: If clumping is a problem some find that using lighter products is the solution.
Tip#12: Sometimes huge clumps leads to too much definition. In that case raking in your products instead of scrunching gives your hair a chance to dry in smaller clumps.
The other benefit? All the extra volume you end up with.
Speaking of which…
Tip#10: Break up your curl clumps if you want more volume. Here’s how…
Tip#18: We know raking when trying to boost clumping is risky business. Some would go so far as to say the same applies to scrunching as your hair dries.
Not sure I agree with that. But some do find all this raking/scrunching creates unwanted frizz if your hair isn’t it’s best healthiest self.
Tip#06: That’s not to say there might not be an exception to the rule that raking disturbs your clumping action. Especially if your curls are on the tightly coiled side.
In that case it may be the best way to insure your strands get their fair share of product. You know, back to that evenly distributed thing?
Tip#11: Hair tend to form four or five huge clumps? Could you try the rake and shake method (or something like it) to help separate the curls in the shower a bit more? Perhaps if your curls start more separated they’ll be more likely to stay that way.
Clumping and Brushing
Tip#35: Got a Denman brush or a knock off? Those can be useful for working the product through your strands in the shower.
Tip#21: Actually some swear the brush makes the clumps. Like a Denman 7 row using the “brush under, drag out and down, then twist the section” method.
Not familiar with that move? Here you go:
See? Some use their brush to encourage their spirals.
Basically she points the head of the brush downwards and wraps the smallish section of hair around it once. Much like you would with a curling wand.
She then pulls the hair through the brush – again like you would with a curling iron. Smoothing the strand with help from the edge of the brush like this encourages ringlets to form which helps with clumping.
Tip#23: Maybe your curls are not clumping due to a lack of protein? Some report much better clumping after just such a treatment. Doesn’t work for all but can work for those who’s curls love protein.
Tip#19: Roots not as voluminous as you’d like? Here’s how to get more volume at the roots with your curly hair. Try clipping them in the clump they belong with to give them a bit of a volume boost.
Tip#38: Need still more curl definition at the roots? Try zig zagging your part.
Having a messy part can give you more texture at the root. Basically the idea is to avoid the traditional super straight part which highlights any lack of root volume like a floodlight.
Tip#17: As your hair dries try fluffing your roots using just your fingertips. The idea is to slide them under the top layers. This separates the hair at the scalp and adds volume while creating the illusion of thicker hair.
Here’s another think about…
Tip#28: Your curls may simply not be long enough for good clumpage. Longer curls just tend to clump better naturally.
Better Diffusing For Those In Hurry
Yes you can always air dry. But for the impatient there is always diffusing.
Speed drying aside, some also notice diffusing produces lot more definition and volume.
As a bonus the process also causes the clumps to shrink up giving tighter curls.
Tip#43: Diffusing causing frizz? Maybe stopping before your hair is totally dry might be a trick to try. Going for too dry can break up the gel cast prematurely. That results in more frizz than you may have bargained for.
Now if you’re reaching for the blow dryer I would urge you do pixie diffusing.
Should that video snippet have you thirsting for more check out our guide to pixie curl diffusing. You’ll find out what to look for in a diffuser plus what to do to cut down on frizz.
Just click that link to read all about it on our site.
Tip#20: Hover diffusing, or holding the diffuser in one place longer without constantly shoving the attachment in and out of your curls is thought to minimize clump break up.
Tip#07: When SOTC oil on your hands can go a long way to preventing frizz while amping up the shine.
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