What are the different ways I can define my curls?
There are basically three different techniques I recommend for defining natural curls, or for transitioning from very damaged/ relaxed hair to natural curls. One gives you more "set" curls, and the other helps emphasize your natural curl patterns that grow from your head.
The first is to set your hair. If you are wanting a more set look, you can put your hair in about 20 two strand twists after combing it and let it dry. It's best to sleep on your hair. In the morning, untwist all your twists (but no fingercombing, water, combing or brushing unless you want big hair). This set lasts about a week. This is the best set if you are growing out a perm. You can check out Growing It Out
for some ideas of how to do this.
The second setting technique works best for natural hair. After combing your hair wet, leave in lots of conditioner (so it foams up when you comb it. It looks scary, but it goes away when it dries). Then while your hair is wet, take each little curl, or tiny little sections of your hair (like for really tight curls I sometimes take sections that are only maybe 50 hairs thick), and twist it around your fingers. You'll have hundreds of little Shirley Temple spirals over your head. Let it dry. Don't fingercomb or brush it. At night, pull it back if your hair is long enough. In the morning, just re-twist the little spirals that came apart with water and more conditioner. You can check out how Aja
is doing her hair for ideas. This should also last about a week.
A third technique, best for wearing your hair in your own natural curls in their own curl pattern (this is how I wear mine): Comb lots of conditioner through your wet hair. It should foam up if you use enough. Don't worry, if you use the conditioners I recommend, they don't dry white. To define
your curls, go through your hair, and one by one, take each curl that you see and smooth it by running your fingers down it. If you have tight curls, you will have to make very very small sections. Like some sections will only have about 30-50 strands in it. Otherwise the curls will puff apart. The smaller your curl, the smaller the sections. You may have hundreds by the time you are done, depending on your curl size.
Let your hair dry. Don't do anything else to it. Put up your hair at night in buns or braids to protect
it. In the morning, don't comb, brush, or separate these curls. In the morning, undo your hair. It will look like your curls are gone but they aren't. To refresh
your hair, just wet your hands, add a little conditioner, rub them together, and smooth any fuzz, smooth your ends, and re-smooth any curls that got mashed.
If you find that your curls are puffing apart after they dry, you might need to make them smaller. Divide them in half, or even more pieces. I know this sounds like lots of work, but once you do this, it lasts all week, and it only takes a few seconds in the morning to refresh your curls.