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how to curl black hair

How to Make Black Hair Curly | You Too Can Have Lush & Relaxed Curls

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If you’re a sophisticated woman of color, you’ve probably wondered how to make black hair curly… like, really curly. Not frizzy or unmanageable. Now, you don’t have to worry anymore about finding a great solution. This guide is the ultimate resource for all the ways to curl natural and relaxed black hairstyles. 

How to Make Black Hair Curly – How to Curl African Hair

So, can you make black hair curly with the best automatic hair curlers, or do you need something different to make those curls prefect and bouncy? It depends on your hair’s texture and how much time you have. Keep reading to learn a lot of different ways to get your hair to behave. 

Permanent solution for creating curly or wavy African hair

If your hair is really coarse and tightly coiled, you can use a texturizer to transition your hair into a looser curl pattern. This method is often called a curly perm or kiddie perm. 

permanent solution for creating curly or wavy African hair

You can also use a less harsh method called a wash and wear relaxer. These are lye relaxers that will let your hair become semi-natural, with a texture in the middle of your own natural look and completely relaxed hair. 

Using permanent solutions will cause long lasting results.

You can’t return hair to its natural state and restoring it takes months while new hair grows back. Use caution doing this solution. 

If you choose this method, go to a salon. Home relaxing kits don’t work as well and aren’t the same quality as salons. Relaxers need to be reapplied every 6 to 8 weeks if you don’t want to transition back to natural hair, and you have to take care of transition hair very carefully or you will cause massive breakage. 

How to create soft springy curls from naturally kinky hair

To make your hair curls more soft and smooth, you can use shampoo, conditioner, and a comb with a dryer. 

Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo then condition and detangle. Leave your hair wet and use a wide tooth comb to detangle it.

While your hair is still wet, put in a lot of pomade and gel. Section your hair into even sections, anywhere from half an inch to an inch depending on how relaxed you want the curls to be. Add pomade to each section as you work with it.

With a wide or medium tooth comb, you’ll need to comb your section from root down, starting with the back of your head and working your way forward. Pull the hair slowly to get your hair out of the natural kink and into a smooth, long curl. 

Make sure you keep your hair wet for this entire process. Set your hair with a dryer to keep the curls locked into place. If you want a part, or a specific style, then get that done before you go under the dryer. 

If you still want longer curls, then use a hand held dryer instead of a hood. Grab your hair by the end and gently stretch it while blowing air from the root down. 

How to do a straw set

how to do a straw set

Straw sets are extremely popular because they are very cheap and the curls last for days! On top of this, there’s no heat, pulling, or tight weaving, so it is completely safe for natural hair.

All you need are drinking straws (or for tight curls try coffee stirs and loose ones use jumbo), bobby pins, and either mouse or styling gel. 

The first thing you need to do is make sure you shampoo or condition your hair first. You want your curls to last and you don’t want your hair to dry out and need re-moisturizing. 

Moisturize your hair and use setting products first. This will keep your hair bouncy and let it last longer, especially if you have naturally dry hair. Then, section your hair off. 

Select a section of hair and moisten it. The thicker the strand, the bulkier the curl. Roll your hair onto the straw. Start with the bottom end and wrap it around the straw until the entire strand is coiled. Keep the strand taut but don’t pull too tightly. If you want tight ringlets, roll flat. If you want long, lean spirals coil your hair and keep the section rounded. 

Next, secure the straw in place with a bobby pin. Clip the hair strand near your roots and slide the pin over both your hair and the straw. 

Tip: Keep the strands as close to the same size as possible for a consistent curl. The more similar the wrapped curls look to each other, the more consistent your final curls will be.

Leave the straws in until your hair is completely dry. Taking them out early will result in big time poof, which may be what you want… or may not be!

Remove your straws one at a time. Unclip the bobby pin then roll the straw in the opposite direction from before. Then, style your hair as desired. For fluffier curls, separate each strand into multiple curls. 

How to do a two strand twist and a twist out

For a two-strand twist, wash and condition your hair. Prep your damp hair with detangling oil and let it air dry to 90% dry. A lot of people ask whether to twist on wet or dry hair, and it’s really up to your hair so experiment a bit. 

profile view of black curly hair, dyed blond

You pick the size you want for each section to twist, but make sure they’re all roughly the same size. The smaller the strand, the curlier the results. Finger comb each section before twisting and use a holding product to make sure hair holds. 

Divide your section into 2 parts (again – keep it even) and twist by hand over hand or fingers to move each section of hair around each other. This is kind of like a braid, but with only 2 pieces. Twist the same direction for each strand and keep your tension even so they don’t unravel. 

Go all the way to the end of your hair strand, and then add a dab of oil or a holding agent to keep the strands together – especially with dry hair. Hold the ends firmly together between your fingers then gradually release the pressure so the twist settles on its own. 

For wavier twist outs, use larger sections and for curlier twist outs use smaller sections. Unfluff each coil when it dries for a gorgeous twist out. 

How to define curls in biracial hair

Mixed hair is naturally dry, so use a lot of conditioner when you wash and continuously moisturize. To define curls, use gel. Start with less so you don’t get stiff hair that crunches everywhere. 

Avoid washing daily, as this will strip away the natural oils and leave curls dry and frizzy. The same can be said for hair brushing. Use a comb to detangle.

If you moisten and wet your curls every day, you can run a comb and detangler through to reactivate the natural curls. This will help define them better and prevent frizzing and breakage. 

The best way to define your curls is to use moisturizers and oils on wet or damp hair to pull and relax your curls and gels to set them in place. Using a hair dryer on the lowest heat and speed settings will also allow you to pull the curls into more relaxed positions. 

Bringing out curls with gel

african american woman in tribal dress with a fall setting background

Gels can really improve your curls and make them much springier and more well defined. Unfortunately, they can also be your hair’s worst enemy and overuse will result in stuff, crunchy, and unnatural curls. 

When using gel to bring out curls, it is important that you wash your hair and detangle it from the ends to the roots. Use a wide tooth comb to detangle wet hair while conditioner is still in it.

Apply the gel to very small sections of hair – ½ inch to 1 inch – and look for gels that are curl defining or specially designed for curly hair. Focus on the middle of your hair and the ends. You want to use much less gel as you get closer to your roots. 

Use a comb to stretch your hair, starting from the back and moving forward. Pull the section firmly so that you get a longer, smoother curl. Then, finish under a hooded dryer to quickly set the curls. 

Using flexi rods

Flexi rods are another way to style your hair. It is an ideal way to transition from relaxed hair back into natural hair because the size of these curls will conceal the texture change. Start with your hair dry and freshly detangled. 

For the best results, your hair should be stretched like it gets after a braid out. Longer hair should be sectioned into 2 top and 2 bottom areas, secured with a clip. 

You will then take a 1-inch section of hair at a time and mist it with water. Don’t soak it but dampen it. ) If you want tighter curls, take ¼ to ½ inch instead. If you’re starting with micro or box braids, then don’t get your hair wet. Just grab a few braids.)

Wrap your hair around the flexi rod. The end of your hair should be against the middle of the flexi rod. Wrap your hair around the rod until you get to your roots, then fold the rods into each other to secure. 

If you’re curling braids, stop when you get half way up the braid instead of going to the roots. If you want tighter curls, consider using a straw treatment instead. Flexi rods come in different sizes, so as a rule of thumb, the smaller the rod the smaller the curl and vice versa.

action shot of woman flipping hair in white t-shirt

Work this process until all of your hair is curled. Keep each strand a consistent size if you want large and chunky curls. Let your hair air dry. Use a silk scarf to run errands or sleep while hair is drying; it will hide the rods from view and secure them into place. 

Remove the rods when your hair has completely dried. If your hair is still damp, the curls won’t set. When you remove the rods, separate the curls into a few individual curls for volume without adding frizz. 

For natural hair, the curls should keep for a week. For relaxed hair, the curls may not last more than a day so you will need to repeat this more frequently to maintain curls hair.

If you have braids, this will be a pretty permanent style until you dip your braids in boiled water and let them hand straight and loose until dry. 

Curling with heat tools

It is possible to use heated tools to curl African hair. While you can use a straightener, this is not recommended. It will take forever and doesn’t give you as much control over the shape of your curls, and the barrel angles are friendlier to African-rooted hair. We recommend looking into the best curling iron reviews to find the right option for your needs after considering a few things.

First, your hair type matters. Whether it’s fine or kinky, your hair will style differently. Make sure that you know what your hair does naturally o you can be prepared to style it how you want it to respond.

Curling irons can be used to redefine your curl’s natural look to remove some kinks and unruliness and change curl sizes. They can also style relaxed hair into waves and loose curls for a sophisticated look on special occasions.

The barrel size matters. For natural hair, you want a 5/8-inch barrel and for relaxed hair consider 1.5 inch barrels. A larger barrel makes for larger curls, so if your hair is already curly you can’t use a bigger barrel. Relaxed hair has been damaged, so it is not advisable to use smaller barrels than 1 inch. 

Materials also make a difference. Tourmaline is ideal, because it will generate negative ions that will protect against damage and seal off cuticles, locking in the natural oils of your hair. 

If you can’t get Tourmaline, then get barrels that are either solid or coated in ceramic, porcelain, or titanium. Using anything other than these 4 materials will damage your hair.

You also don’t require the highest temperature to achieve results. Natural hair needs moderate to high heat, so start low and increase the heat if it isn’t working well enough. Relaxed hair should use much lower heat temperatures. 

Caring for natural curls

profile view of woman with long bushy hair and plant background

Wash your hair using cool to warm water, not hot or cold. Heat is a major frizz inducer for natural hair, and it also dies your hair out.

You don’ need to wash daily; wash based on how quickly your hair gets greasy. This is anywhere from 3 to 10 days for most people.

Don’t lean forward when rinsing your hair. This will cause your hair to tangle when you lean back up. Just stand straight ad tilt your head back under the water.  

Keep your curls moisturized constantly. Use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, deep condition regularly, and find a good moisturizer. Hair oils will lock in moisture, but they don’t give your hair any extra moisture so don’t rely on them or you’ll jut end up with shiny, greasy hair. 

Don’t do a lot with your hair while it is wet if you aren’t going for a specific style. You should only handle wet hair when you are detangling it, applying product, or patting it dry. The more you mess with your wet hair, the frizzier it will be and the more broken your curls will become. What you can do with wet hair is wrap it around straws or flexi rods and put it into two strand twists. 

Apply oil free products to wet hair. This includes a great moisturizer. Pat your hair dry first with a t-shirt (never a towel – those cause frizz), then apply the product. This includes gels and leave in conditioners, too. 

If you can’t let your hair air dry, then make sure to use a diffuser on your hair dryer. Keep it on the low heat setting of your hair dryer and stop when your hair is mostly dry. 

If you want even more advice for how to style natural hair, then this guide offers invaluable information about caring for natural hair, transitioning, and the techniques required for maintaining great looking natural hair. 

About the Author Lindsey

I developed a love for the outdoors, particularly enjoying gloomy days spent in the forests. Almost every Sunday, my dad would drive my mom, myself, and my older sister to go hiking for family time and escaping the "city" life. Because of this, you'll find me writing a lot about various health topics. Whenever I get the opportunity I also love to write about make-up, skin, and hair! I've been obsessed with it ever since middle school so be sure to check out these topics that I write about as well.

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