How to define curly hair for the perfect wash and go

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. 

How to Define Curly Hair

¡Hola, Curl friends!

As a Black Dominicana with curls, I know firsthand the struggles of trying to define our rizos with the volume you want (whether it’s a little bit of volume or a whole lot!). It can get real! Trying to find the right products and techniques that work for your hair—mixing and matching different styling routines until you find one or a couple that works for you, your curls, and your lifestyle. But trust me, it’s worth it to embrace our curls and find a routine that works for us. Keep reading to find different methods to define your curly hair for the perfect wash and go. You can use one or combine them to find the best way to define your curly hair or natural hair.

How To Define your Curly Hair:

I’ll start with the three methods I use on most of my wash-and-go’s: Defining with a brush, scrunching, and plopping. Yes, all three. Then, what I use when I have something special going on and I want to make sure my hair is extra defined: shingling or finger coiling (depending on how much time I gave myself to get ready).

Defining your curls with a brush:

This is a technique for defining curls that involves using a brush to shape and define our curls. It gives definition and some volume to our curls. To define with a brush, separate your wet hair into 4-6 sections, depending on how long and how much hair you have. Working by section, apply the curl-defining product(s) of your choice to your wet hair. Then, use a curl-friendly brush (like the Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush) to brush it through our curls gently. Brush the products through until you feel your hair sufficiently saturated with the product. Then, in smaller sections of each section, brush your hair with the product out and away from your head.

If you want bigger curl clumps, turn your brush slightly so that your hair sections graze the back of the brush. For smaller curl clumps, brush your hair with the brush parallel to the hair section. working by section, apply a curl-defining product to our hair, and then use a brush (such as Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush) to shape and define our curls. The benefit of defining with a brush is that it helps to create defined, bouncy curls. It can also be done quickly. You can customize the technique if you want bigger curl clumps by using bigger sections with the brush, or similarly, smaller curl clumps by using smaller sections. By personalizing these directions, you can reach the perfect wash and go for you and how you like your natural or curly hair to look.

My Take

I like this method because I can distribute the hair styling products evenly throughout my hair, and help define my curls at the same time. I have medium density hair, and so I part my hair into 5 sections usually. My sections are my bangs in the front, then 2 back sections, and 2 sections in the middle. Those are the larger sections that I use to then make the smaller sections as I work my way through all of my hair. 

Defining Your Curls with Scrunching:

This is a technique for defining curls that involve scrunching our hair with our hands or a towel to create volume and definition. To scrunch, apply a curl-defining product to our hair and then gently scrunch our hair, starting at the ends and working our way up to the roots. The benefit of scrunching is that it helps to create volume and definition and can be done quickly. The drawback is that it can cause frizz if we’re not careful and can be a little rough on our curls.

My Take

I use scrunching in tandem with defining my hair with the brush. I brush my section of hair for definition and have the curl clumps that I like. Then, I’ll scrunch that section to give my curls a little bit of extra bounce and juicyness. I find that this works because working the product through my hair with the brush elongates my hair, and scrunching it again after the curl clumps form with the brush helps encourage my natural curl pattern to bounce back in. 

how to define your curly hair best way to define your natural hair perfect wash and go

Defining your Curls with Plopping:

This is a great way to define our curls for the wash and go style to let our hair air dry (I’m talking summertime or those of us that live in hot climates). I also like to plop my hair because it shortens the drying process under the diffuser, on top of helping with definition. To plop, after adding your styling products, gather your wet hair in a microfiber towel or t-shirt (something with a smooth, soft texture) and tie the ends together so that your hair is secure and off your neck. The benefit of plopping is that it’s quick and easy to do. Plopping helps to preserve our curls and reduce frizz. 

My Take

I use a microfiber hair towel with a button. After defining with the brush and scrunching all the sections, I wrap my hair in my microfiber towel. It makes it extra easy to wrap my wet and styled hair to tuck it away with the help of a button. I leave it in the towel for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on what I’m doing in the meantime. The microfiber towel helps take out the excess water and product, which makes it easier and faster to diffuse or air dry my hair. Otherwise, I’m walking around with dripping wet hair for way TOO LONG if I air dry. Or it just takes FOREVER to diffuse my hair. Plopping helps me complete my wash and go with less drying time.

Disclaimer: I would not recommend plopping overnight with wet hair. Going to bed with wet hair can result in damaging our strands.  Our hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet. The tossing and turning in bed with wet hair for 8+ hours can lead to some damage, even with satin pillowcases or bonnets. 

how to define your curls with Shingling:

This technique for defining curls involves using our fingers to gently separate and define our curls. It provides a lot of definition with less volume. The benefit of shingling is that it’s gentle on our curls and helps to define them without causing frizz or damage. The drawback is that it can be time-consuming and requires a little extra patience.

To shingle, separate your hair into 4-6 sections, depending on how long and how much hair you have. To each section, apply the curl-defining product(s) of your choice to your hair. Use a curl-friendly brush (like the Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush) to brush it through our curls gently. Working by section, take smaller sections to separate and define the shape of each curl strand. Where the curl already wants to clump together, take that and twirl it around your finger once or twice to define their shape. Move on to another small section and work through all the sections in that way.

how to define your curls with Finger coiling:

This technique for defining curls involves using our fingers to shape and twist our curls for the wash and go. To finger coil, apply a curl defining product to your hair. Then use our fingers to twirl small sections of hair into tight curls. This technique is great for defining and separating our curls. The benefit of finger coiling is that it’s gentle on our curls and helps to create defined natural-looking curls. The drawback is that it can be time-consuming and requires a little extra patience.

My Take

I don’t use shingling or finger coiling on my own hair. I will use shingling or finger coiling if I have an event that day or the next day, and I want to be 100% sure that my curls will be defined, like a prima’s wedding where all my tía’s are going to be scrutinizing any curl I have out of place. But even then, I don’t do it more than one time a year or such. Because I love how my curls are with my simpler at-home routine. This gets me my perfect wash and go for my every day routine.

As I said, these take more time and patience than plopping or defining with a brush, which are my preferred at-home styling methods. It also gives my hair little volume compared to the other styling methods, and I like a lot of volume for my curls! If you’re looking for definition with little or moderate volume, consider trying the shingling method for yourself. 

Finally

Remember, finding a routine that works for our curls takes time and patience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different products, ways to define your curly hair for your wash and gos, or different hair styles to find what works best for us. And above all, embrace our curls and love them!

So those are some ways to define your curly hair for your wash and go routine by me, Curls by Mili. What do you think? Have I introduced you to any styling methods you want to try ? Are there other methods you want me to go over? Let me know in the comments below.

For more content, visit my other blog posts!

¡Hasta luego!


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