Natural products to enhance wave/curl?
November 25, 2017 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Anyone know of some great natural products to enhance wave/curl?

I have a natural wave? or curl? I'm not really sure which. This is my hair after air-drying (I actually slept with it damp, but it looks like this after air-drying even if I don't sleep on it).
I *think* it looks like there's some waviness or curliness that I could try to enhance in some way, but I don't really know if that's right, or how I would do that.

I'm open to all sorts of suggestions, whether for products or "methods". (Although I would be a little concerned about using heat on my hair.) Just a couple of caveats: I'd rather not use silicones and ideally would prefer natural products. Also, I am in the UK, so US-based suggestions may not help.

(Also, if anyone knows what "curl pattern" my hair is, that would be cool. I'm thinking probably 1c, but don't know. If it's based on *brushed* hair, though, mine would look a lot less wavy.)
posted by tangerine_poppies to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a similar wave to my hair. To make it look curly, with discrete locks, I added a texturizer (sometimes called a wave enhancer or a curl enhancer) product and used a hairdryer attachment called a "curl diffuser." During the heat application process I used only the diffuser and my fingers. No brushing or combing.
posted by xyzzy at 4:15 AM on November 25, 2017

A beach or surf spray and a little scrunching (flip head upside down and gently scrunch all around) prior to air drying will help. You can buy one or make your own natural version at home. Here is one recipe. You can also add a quarter teaspoon to half teaspoon of coconut, argan, or almond oil to that recipe for extra moisture if your hair is dry or frizzy.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 4:55 AM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think drying with a diffuser would make the biggest difference, but and this is a big one, use the diffuser like this: After you put in whatever product you're going to use, leave in conditioner or whatever, pick up sections of your hair and place in diffuser, turn on, leave it there for a minute or two, repeat around your head. I have my hair super short now, but I used a diffuser, I used to do this until I got it somewhat dry, would maybe put some gel on that worked for me, and then let my hair air dry the rest of the way. It's also pretty important for wavy hair that you don't mess it after this. No fingers, etc, to break up whatever waves/ringlets formed.
posted by not that mimi at 5:11 AM on November 25, 2017

Something I find helpful is washing my hair at night, then sleeping with my wet hair up in a satin sleep bonnet (satin so the fabric doesn't cling the way, say, a terry cloth towel might). It keeps the curls smushed together instead of letting gravity loosen them downward as they dry. My curls look much tighter this way.

I hear you on the natural products preference, but if you would be willing to consider it, I have had fantastic luck with Marc Anthony's curl mousse, if you can get it in the UK. (Not the lotion or cream.)
posted by aquamvidam at 5:29 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Using the curly girl method (that I learned about right here on Ask Metafilter), my sorta wavy hair has become truly curly. You might be similarly surprised once you stop fighting the curl and wave you've got.

No silicone, ever. No comb or brush, ever. Don't rub your hair with a towel coming out of the shower, just squeeze it like a sponge in a microfiber towel. You probably don't need to shampoo very often (I do it twice a week), but use cheap, non-silicone conditioner to "wash" your hair in between shampoos. Since you're avoiding silicone, you don't need a very harsh shampoo. A totally natural product is best for that.

You'll want to seek out non-silicone products designed for curly hair. The less weight you put on your hair, the better. So rinse your hair, and dry it with a diffuser, bending over so your hair hangs free. Dry it most of the way with the hairdryer, then let it air-dry the rest of the way without touching it. I scrunch a gel into my hair when it's wet so the curls are better defined.
posted by DrGail at 5:49 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you want to go super-natchy, homemade flaxseed gel is supposed to be fantastic for curly hair. There are plenty of commercial gels and creams if you’d rather not DIY; I currently use DevaCurl but many of the brands that cater to curly hair have good stuff. I put a bit in the ends of my hair when it’s damp, scrunch gently and air dry.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2017

My hair is very tangle-prone. To those suggesting never combing or brushing, how am I supposed to get it de-tangled? It takes a fair while even when I use the Tangle Teezer (my favourite thing to use on my hair).

And to those suggesting not touching or messing with hair once it's dried - lots of tangles form over the course of a day. If I don't de-tangle my hair, it will mat up and I literally have to cut pieces out. I'd like to not mess with my hair, but I can't see how that's possible? (I can't see how it's possible for anyone to completely skip combing/brushing/messing-with their hair!)

DrGail, I have tried the washing with conditioner, but I tended to get an itchy scalp and then need anti-dandruff shampoo. What would you do to fix itch/dandruff when using conditioner-only?
posted by tangerine_poppies at 10:00 AM on November 25, 2017

If your hair is well-conditioned and moisturized, it shouldn't tangle. Once it's got gel (or whatever product you're using) on it and has been dried, the curls/waves will stick together and resist tangling. I believe there are detangler products for curly/wavy hair, but my hair is so short there's no need for anything like that.

When you use cowash instead of a shampoo, the rinsing process takes a lot longer. That stuff really likes to stick around unless you massage your scalp with your fingertips while rinsing. The itchiness you're experiencing sounds like left-behind cowash. You might also try diluting your cowash with a bit of water to thin it out. Also, part of the reason I shampoo twice a week is to remove any build-up that the cowash didn't get. So maybe you need to establish a schedule of more frequent shampooing.
posted by DrGail at 10:59 AM on November 25, 2017

You are probably between 2a and 2b according to this page.

My hair is similar to yours. Personally, I like Davines’ Oi Oil. It’s expensive but my bottle has lasted well over 2 years. It has minimal ‘cones in it, but I don’t find it builds up—it washes out easily with sulfate-free shampoo.

Haircut matters too. I have mine in this style (My hair looks terrible when it’s all one length.

I find my hair dries most nicely when I put a small amount of the oil in (concentrated on the ends), comb it with a wide-toothed comb, blow dry it for not more than 1-2 minutes to eliminate the excess moisture. Then I leave it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2017

I have hair similar to you, though I'm more of a 2b. I use two methods to enhance the wave, 'squish to condish' and 'plopping'.

Squish to condish: You'll probably want to google a video on how to do it properly but basically you wash your hair (I don't co-wash either because I get exactly the same issues as you, I just use a sulfate-free shampoo), leave it sopping wet, then put enough silicone-free conditioner in it to get 'slip'. This is when you detangle. I usually flip my head over to do this. You run your hands through your conditioned hair until it is tangle free. At this point I'll wet my hair a bit more if it's dried out, then add more conditioner. You can just smooth the conditioner over your hair. With your head still flipped over, you scrunch your hair up toward the scalp repeatedly. This creates 'locks' while working the conditioner and the water into the hair to moisturise it. You should get to the point where you hear a 'squish' sound but there isn't any water dripping from your head anymore. At this point, I'll put my hair up into my shower cap and let it sit while I take care of other stuff. I let my hair out of the shower cap, cup water in my hands and sort of drizzle it over my hair while still sorta squishing until about 80% of the conditioner is out. Sometimes I'll squish some gel in it at this point, sometimes not. Gel def helps the wave stay defined though.

Plopping: After you get out of the shower, use a t-shirt (has to be big enough, my smaller fit ones won't work) or a microfibre towel to wrap your hair on your head so it stays on top. With a t-shirt, you lay it on a flat surface with the arms closer to you, and the body away from you. Lower your head down onto the t-shirt so the hair stays in one section, and will become a pile on your head when done. Once your head and hair are on the shirt, you take the body and bring it over your head to the base of skull, then grab the arms and tie them over the body around the back of your head so it secures the whole thing in place. You leave this on for 15-30 mins, it'll soak up some of the water without making it all frizzy like a towel. When you remove it you should see your curl really defined. Now, I don't use heat on my hair at all, because it just dries it out so I let it air dry. If I've used gel I'll scrunch it out once it's dry and maybe I'll scrunch in some hair oil for shine. After this, I don't touch or brush my hair at all, and because of everything I've done to it, it doesn't tangle or anything like that. Before I started doing this, my hair used to tangle a lot too, and I would be constantly brushing it, but I think it was just dry and wasn't being treated the way it should have been. I 'pineapple' my hair at night which keeps it looking ok.

As far as products go, I use Tresemme 'Perfectly (Un)done' shampoo and conditioner because it's all I can afford. I think when you are starting out, don't go too crazy buying stuff, because stuff is expensive and may not even work for your hair type. I think you've got to work out the processes first, then experiment with the products.
posted by BeeJiddy at 12:22 PM on November 25, 2017

Your hair texture looks similar to mine. I shampoo and condition my hair every few days with the Deva Curl low-poo product. Co-washing or water-only washing made my hair oily and dull, and shampoos that contain sulfates make it dry and crispy like straw. If you're getting a lot of tangles this might be your problem—avoid shampooing your hair every day, check to see if your shampoo contains sulfates, and also avoid products aimed at oily hair, "extra clarifying", etc.

After washing I wrap it turban-style in a regular terry-cloth or microfiber towel. Gently scrunch and squeeze to get water out, rather than pulling or rubbing. If your hair needs to be detangled this is a good time to do it using a wide-toothed comb. Gently work out tangles from the bottom up, taking care not to tear through any knotted sections. I comb my hair periodically before styling and brush it (but only when dry) every once in a while. Advice to never comb or brush your hair doesn't work for me especially when my hair gets longer.

After towel drying I scrunch in a light hold gel (for softer waves) or a medium hold gel (for more defined, curlier texture), finger style it, and then time permitting either let it air dry or else use a blow dryer with a defuser attachment. When dry, gently scrunch again to break the gel cast.

I also talked to my stylist about wanting haircuts that work with my natural wave rather than having to blow-dry my hair straight or flat-iron it.
posted by 4rtemis at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2017

Aveda's got a good line of products for curly hair. My daughter's hair is curly but also fine and tangle-prone, so we use Damage Remedy as needed (once a week or so) and it, combined with good hairbrushes and a lot of patience, can get out even the worst of knots.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:47 PM on November 25, 2017

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