You Probably Have Multiple Curl Patterns On Your Head: 4 Tips To Target Them All
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Beauty consumers, as well as hair care companies, know well by now that all curls cannot be treated the same. No, each curl pattern from 2a to 4c (that's loose curves to tight kinks) requires a different menu of leave-ins and stylers to effectively define those strands. But here's the thing: Most people actually have a combo of curl patterns on their head. It likely doesn't deviate too much, maybe a section or two strays from the rest, but your texture could feature a range of sorts: mostly coils with a few S-waves, kinky hair with some tight corkscrews throughout—you get the idea.
So what's a curly girl to do? Should you reach for different stylers to target each and every curl pattern you see or slather on a single defining curl cream and pray for the best? Below, hairstylists weigh in on how to manage your whole mane:
1. Pay more attention to areas with less curl.
According to hairstylist and Davines educator Michael Bowman, you don't necessarily need to pile on product after product: Just show the areas that may have less curl a bit more love. "Spend some more time in those areas by using your fingers to twist the hair into a curl," he mentions, with a styler that "will help build a curl and give it structure." For hair that's already perfectly coiled, you can stick to the same styler for definition, but leave it alone to air-dry as is and pay more attention to the relaxed areas in need of some spring.
2. Try cocktailing.
Product cocktailing, or mixing different stylers together, can help you achieve different hair needs in one fell swoop. Let's say your hair is begging for some hydration, definition, and light hold—you can mix three products together to enhance the result. Sounds simple, but like any trained mixologist, you can't just chuck in a random assortment of ingredients and expect a stellar result.
The key to cocktailing is to make sure your products don't separate, as not all stylers can be cocktailed together. According to Bowman, "oils can be mixed with creams, gels, or mousses. Never mix creams, gels, or mousses together; always layer these products!" To test, hairstylist Gigi Lenora suggests mixing the products on the back of your hand and see if they separate—if the products don't mesh well together, chances are they won't combine on the strand.
3. Or layer your products.
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If you're still not sure what products will combine seamlessly, you can always layer them on top to avoid any mishaps. Perhaps try what's commonly referred to as the LOC method—that's leave-in, oil, and cream—to seal in moisture and offer definition.
Most curlies will benefit from a member of each category, even if you ultimately have different textures on your head: "In my experience with my afro hair and working behind the chair with many different hair textures, I've found that if there is a product represented in each of these three categories, working together, your natural hair can flourish beautifully," says Lenora. Even if there are some stray curls thrown into the mix, a healthy hair care regimen can keep everything looking even and full.
4. Choose hydration over everything.
If you are going to opt for one product and one product only, Lenora suggests focusing on hydration. "If your hair is curly, you are no stranger to dryness, and sometimes multiple curl patterns all shrink differently," she notes. That may be why you're noticing those differences in texture so clearly—dryness can draw the eye right to misbehaving hairs. To target all the strands in one go, focusing on moisture is key. That way, your curls will look bouncy and shiny, even if they might not all look identical.
You may have to test different tips (not to mention products) depending on your specific curl pattern(s), so feel free to run with these guidelines as a starting point. Finding the perfect formula for an air-dry or wash-and-go is a journey, not a destination—and targeting multiple curl patterns only makes it a more personal quest.
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