How to define curly hair

Who says we can not do it? Just follow the proper routine and you can get the well defined curls. And please keep in mind that it applies for wavy hair as well.

I follow the CG method with shampooing once a week or sometimes once in two weeks and a co-wash in between unlike pure CG in which you only co-wash. I like the CG method because it gave me superior results which is quite evident from my before/after pics.



This is me with combed hair, undefined frizzy curl

Shampoo: As usual, use a sulfate-free shampoo to wash your hair. It is a myth that only sulfates can clean your hair. It is brisk movement and scrubbing the scalp with finger tips (do not use fingernails) that removes the dirt and sebum. Just concentrate on your scalp with firm finger movement to loosen the dirt. You can follow a weekly routine to wash your hair with sulfate-free shampoo and in between these washes you can use a conditioner (silicone-free) to wash your hair. You should cleanse your scalp properly while washing your hair otherwise your hair follicles can get clogged which might lead to hair-loss over time.


1. After shampooing, apply a good moisturizing conditioner (silicone free) and follow your usual bath routine and keep the conditioner on for at least 3-4 minutes.
2. After 3-4 mins, detangle your hair while your conditioner is still on your hair. Use a wide tooth comb or fingers to detangle your hair from bottom to top. Here is a useful post on How to detangle curly hair. This is the only time you will use a comb on your hair. Don’t comb your hair any other time! If you comb your wet hair (without conditioner) it will lead to breakage and if you comb dry hair, then it will open up your curls, more breakage and make the hair looks frizzy. I think most of us are guilty of this one, combing dry hair. This is crucial to get that curly defined hair. DO NOT COMB!
3. After detangling, rinse hair with cold water. Even during the rinsing do not separate curls. Because this is the point your curls are very well clumped to each other due to conditioning.  Let the conditioner wash off from hair in cold water. Cool water shuts your cuticles, this helps to keep the moisture inside your hair. Once you rinse your conditioner off, DO NOT rub your hair with towel, DO NOT put your hair in a towel turban.

Leave-in conditioner: If you feel your hair is dry, you can apply a leave-in conditioner (again silicone-free). If you follow the Squish to Condish Method, then you can skip this step. But for most people a leave-in conditioner always gives extra moisture and provides good base for styling.

You can use your silicone-free rinse-off conditioner as leave-in as well. Most of the leave-in conditioners are just watered down version of rinse-off conditioners anyway.

The process is :
1. Flip your head down.
2. Apply leave-in conditioner section by section on your hair using smoothing motion (or we also call it praying hand motion) without moving your fingers though your hair so that your curl pattern is not disturbed. The amount of conditioner should depend on your hair condition, if your hair is extra dry then take sufficient amount to submerge your hair until your hair feels smooth. Make sure your hair is getting enough. It is lack of moisture that causes frizz.

If you have wavy hair that is not dry you can skip applying the leave in conditioner. For more information on wavy hair styling refer to this post.

Hold product: According to my experience, a leave-in conditioner and a hold products are main things you should concentrate upon. Conditioner will give your hair the moisture that it always needs and styling product will give it definition it wants. Buy a good styling product, again silicone free (it can be a gel, mousse or in lotion form). You can use the homemade flax seed gel as your styling product as well.

1. Make sure your hair is completely wet at this stage. Apply the styling product again the same way as we apply the leave-in conditioner above (praying hand motion). Apply it section by section through the length of your hair. Make sure all your hair is covered evenly.
2. Scrunch your hair in upward motion towards your scalp to squeeze as much excess water as you can. Do note that when you apply conditioner, leave-in and styling product and scrunch your hair, it is better you keep your head upside down. Applying product upside down will give you better volume.

Use a generous amount of the styling product. It helps the hair in keeping the frizz at bay while hair gets dry. Do not worry about the crunch once the hair gets dry. We will be taking out the crunch in the next step.

You can watch different styling video tutorials for better understanding of the whole styling part.

Drying process: 

Crown clipping (1)
1. If you want more volume on the top of your head then insert a few clips wherever you notice flat spots on your head.

Hair dryer with diffuser

2. It is always better to air-dry your hair (but it takes more time, 2 hours at least depending on the length and volume) or if you are in hurry, you can use a blow dryer with diffuser and dry it around 70%, do not dry it completely and do not use blow dryer without diffuser as it causes frizz. Dry your hair upside down if you are using diffuser.

While your hair is getting dry DO NOT touch them, it disturbs your curl pattern and causes more frizz. You will feel crunchiness in your hair once hair is completely dry.

Some people also plop their hair to enhance the curl pattern. You can find more information on plopping in best methods of drying curly hair.

SOTC: (scrunch out the crunch) Next step is scrunching out the crunch from hair. Flip your head down, hold your hair in both the palms and gently scrunch hair towards the top of your head to remove the crunchiness. If your hair is dry, you can use small amount of some oil in your palms while doing SOTC. I use jojoba or coconut oil to do the final scrunching of my hair. Also it adds shine to your hair.

Now you are done! Just see the difference in your hair. Well defined curls! DO NOT touch your hair and DO NOT comb rest of the day.

How to define curly hair

Still me…well defined curls using this method

Night routine:To get second day curls, tie your hair on the top of your head like a pineapple. It is called pineapple-ing. It is recommended to use satin pillow cover to sleep so that your hair does not get frizzy.

Weekly routine: Curly hair is naturally dry hair. It is not as if you can deep condition (DC) it once a month and you are good to go. If you want well moisturized hair then you should deep condition once a week and oil your hair. You can use any homemade recipe for DT.  You can watch this video tutorial about how to deep condition hair using a store bought deep conditioner.

Non-wash day Routine: Hair starts to look dry and frizzy the next day. You can refresh hair on non-wash day as I have shown in the refresh video. Also, you can try refreshing it without water and use only styling products. Or mix water and conditioner and make a spray, or just run tap water over hair without wetting your root and restyle it again (the same process explained above). Just experiment with different things as it works differently for everyone.  These days I refresh my hair by following the method as I have shown in the video. But I keep changing the products.


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35 thoughts on “How to define curly hair

  • charu

    Hi Asha.. You have gorgeous hair. I went through your blog and its so inspiring..!! I have 3A long hair. I saw the recommended product list in one of your post. But I am totally confused. Can You please suggest a good shampoo, conditioner and leave in? Thanks in Advance 🙂

  • Asha

    Thanks Charu!!! 🙂
    You can use Giovanni products but they are not easily available. Other than that try the body shop products. I use small amount of silicone free rinse off conditioner as a leave in also. Also you can try using oil once you do your final scrunch when your hair is completely dry.

  • charu

    Thanks a lot Asha 🙂
    I will certainly try the products suggested by you and will try oil in the final scrunch. Will Olive Oil (Figaro) be fine for it?
    Can you also suggest some styling product like gel or mousse for me? Also how frequently can we use the styling products. Thanks again 🙂

  • Asha

    Yes, You can use olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil. Any light oil of your preference. You can use any styling product that I have mentioned in my products post. Also, you can try homemade flax seed gel. It really works for many. After every wash I use the styling product 🙂 which I have been doing now for more than 6 yrs. Without a styling product, it is hard to keep the curls in shape.

  • charu

    I got the Giovanni mousse and conditioner mentioned in your post . Luckily it was available in my office shop itself. I am totally in love with the products 😀 I will surely try the flax seed gel this weekend. I hope my curls get better with time. And I really appreciate you for having the Indian curly hair blog. It is a great help 🙂

  • Asha

    Hi Samanta, many people do use silicone free conditioner on scalp to wash their hair when they do not want to use the shampoo during the week. If you want to give it a try then it is a good practice to keep massaging your scalp while rinsing the conditioner off. I use enliven conditioner whenever I want to co-wash my hair. I do not co-wash on a regular basis. I use shampoo at least once a week to clean my scalp. Again everybody's hair is different so it is a matter of personal choice.

  • Damsel in DiStress

    Hi asha can u give a list of shampoos and conditioners available in India that are sulphate and silicone free. Preferably under 500 rs.
    Also is it Alryt to use herbal products like khadi herbals, sattvik as hair care products?

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Yeah it feels hard after drying but when you scrunch hair after drying, the crunchiness goes away. The hardness helps to keep the hair frizz free while drying. But once hair is completely dry then scrunch hair again to remove the crunchiness. You can also fluff hair to increase volume. Insert your fingers at the roots and just shake your hair.

  • Anjali Khandelwal

    Hii asha can I use the store bought gel( fx curl booster) regularly (after every hair wash )..does it harm my hair in long run or is it OK to use ??

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Anjali, you can easily use any CG friendly gel or styling products without worrying build up etc. You can enhance their performance by using oils and leave-in along with them. Always include deep conditioning using homemade masks or store bought deep conditioners in your routine as our hair need regular care so that it wont feel dry.

  • aparna

    hi asha i have read your all posts bt as a starter i am little confuse how to begin pls help me by giving easy to do steps and dont use those technical words pls.also it will be kind of you if you suggest me some hair products easily available and affordable. i have long hair of type 4a.
    thanks a ton!!!!

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Aparna, I can understand it is quite confusing in the start. I would recommend you to use Giovanni products that I have mentioned on the blog. They cost around 595 per product. For main links you can go through the “start here” tab in the blog’s menu. Follow the “wash and style routine to apply products on hair. You can use flax seed gel after wash to retain the curls definition. Many people are liking the results with whipped shea butter after wash.You can find the recipe and how to use whipped shea butter (In LOC method article) on my latest posts on blog. I recommend to use products that are sulfate and silicone free because it really makes a big difference in hair with time. Do not use hair serums as these contain mostly silicones. And use deep conditioning masks and cold pressed coconut oil before you shampoo you hair or at least once in a week. Homemade mask recipes are also there on blog. These really works really well when used regularly. I hope this would help you to start and please do get back if you have any question or doubt 🙂

  • purva

    hi,what is hair smoothning? i have 3 a type curls ,will it be benefitial for me i am so much irritated with my hairs any i have 10 hours job so what to do

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      In India, we do not have silicone-free leave in conditioners. So most of us use silicone free rinse off conditioner as leave-in after diluting it with water. If your budget allows then you can buy kinky curly knot today or shea moisture curl and style milk from amazon.

  • Moutushy Shome

    Hi, my question was, what if follow the CG method but I do not want to rock the naturally curly look & instead comb it & wear it normally, in braids or buns, will it cause damage to my curls? Thanks in advice. 🙂

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Hi Moutushy, you can still keep using the products that are sulfate and silicone free. Use hair masks to deep conditioner your hair regularly. It is a personal choice how do you want to wear it. You can comb your hair and keep them in bun. It is perfectly fine. I would suggest while combing your hair use some leave-in conditioner or little oil so that you have less breakage while combing.

  • Sandhya maan

    Hi, thanx for this routine tips, very well explained. I want to know that don’t you comb your hair at all,except during conditioner? And if i leave that step of drying my hair with cotton tshirt, as i have very dry hair, then they will be dripping constantly and it’ll be hard to apply gel or anything. What is the solution for that?

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Thanks Sandhya! I do not comb at all other than my wash days. When I feel my hair is looking messy then I tie them up as it is without combing What I do is I rinse off my conditioner and then I wash my face, during this time all the excess water starts dripping down. Then I come out of shower then I use a cotton t-shirt to dab hair once.. just not overdoing this step as you want it to be wet not damp. At this stage water is not dripping and still your hair is properly wet. Then you apply your styling products.

  • Radhika

    Can someone help me with how to apply the flex seed gel. Do we have to apply it to the scalp and then through the length?

    Can we apply FSG and styling cream both together. Also should we apply styling cream also to the scalp?

    My hair is dry in parts. Can I use the deep conditioning products everytime or do I need to use normal conditioners and sometimes deep conditioning products?Also can I use diluted form of conditioner /deep conditioner as leave in conditioner

    Also the method of applying leave in conditioner is similar to FSG?

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Hi Radhika, flax seed we only apply through the length of our hair. Here is a video link where I have shown how to use flax gel. You can mix different styling product like cream, leave-in and gel and apply one by one. All these styling products we apply only on hair. Which styling cream here you are talking about? Deep conditioning you can do weekly and can use homemade masks every time. Use diluted version of silicone free regular conditioner as a leave-in.

  • Anna

    Hi Asha!I have a few doubts ..Like what about the non wash days ?I mean don’t you even rinse your hair with water?I’m asking this since I was taught from childhood that bathing usually involves hair rinse also no matter if you apply shampoo or not.Since I’m new to this I really need help to just figure out things.
    The second thing I want to know is how do you get your hair ready for going out?Do you detangle,comb nd then style or is it no comb at all?

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      On Non wash days I just wet my hair with water. I take some water in my palms and smooth it over my hair. It is not kind of dripping wet. You can also use a spray bottle to make it damp. I only detangle my hair in shower as I have shown in my latest video. On nonwash days, depending on my hair I refresh it with water, conditioner and sometime gel again, somedays I dont refresh at all if my hair is looking fine and sometimes I even tie them in ponytail as well. You can go through my latest video to see how I apply products.

  • Dev

    Is Curly same as wavy? I’m a man and I’m planning to grow my longer and it starts becoming wavy as it grows and finally curly. Can I follow the same routine?