The Mane Objective: Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture

Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture

12:41 PM

Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture

Hey Curlfriends! I can't believe we're 6 weeks in to Curl Care 101 already! We've discussed texture typing, regimen building, detangling and pre-pooing, cleansing the hair, and deep conditioning. Today, we're gonna talk STYLE! No, I'm not gonna tell you how to do your hair (YouTube is a bountiful resource with tons of women more talented and styling adept than myself). Rather, we'll be discussing how to layer products for maximum moisture retention, cutting down on frizz when defining curls, and a little bit about how to achieve your desired styling outcome. Let's get started!

Layering Products for Maximum Moisture Retention
Since we've gone through all the steps that help you infuse hydration and moisture into your hair throughout the course of wash day, half the battle is already won. The other half of that battle is retaining that moisture. I'm sure many of you have heard of the LOC and LCO methods (with the variations LBC and LCB). I'll spare you guys the explanations of both, because this right here from pretty much tells you everything to know -- just switch out O for B//Oil for Butter and you're golden.

Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture

I'm not going to advocate for one method over another, because we all have different hair that responds to different things differently, and has different needs. That's a lot of differents, huh? There's also another method that I do from time to time, and Princess Linzz was genius enough to attach a name to it -- LOG. The "L" and "O" are the same, but the G stands for gel. Wait, whet? I'll explain in a few. But rather than try to assign you a clique, I'll share what each step does and, you can determine what steps to keep, eliminate, and move around:

Leave-In: Leave-in conditioners are designed to perform multiple tasks. For one, they help maintain the hair's internal hydration by providing it with water and other vital nutrients to absorb. Leave-ins also help with moisture retention by helping to lay the cuticles flat, smoothing the hair and promoting shine and elasticity. Lastly, if you're a wash & go gal, leave-ins help to "capture" your wet curl pattern and serve as a primer for styling.

Creams: Creams help provide the hair with additional hydration and softness, and can help you maintain your style longer with key blends of water, oils, butters, and fatty alcohols. Creams are your second line of defense in terms of providing the hair with hydration, nourishment, and softness. They also help form a protective barrier around the hair, preventing gels and styling products from coming into direct contact with the hair.

Oils/Butters: Oils and butters serve the primary function of sealing all that hydration into the hair, preventing rapid evaporation of water from the hair that can leave it feeling dry. Oils and butters also impart additional softness to the hair, enhance shine, and serve as another protective barrier from styling products coming into direct contact from the hair.

Gels: Gels can be botanical or chemical in nature, and have varying holds depending upon their ingredients and intended purpose. They are styling products intended to capture your curl pattern, enhance definition, reduce frizz, and clump curls and coils. Pretty much all gels form what is known as a gel cast aka crunch. Most ladies loathe the crunch, but it actually serves a protective purpose. The gel cast envelops the hair as it dries, forming a protective barrier that locks in moisture. It also helps reduce frizz while drying. Once your hair is completely dry,you can scrunch the crunch with an oil, butter, or serum and go about your merry way.

So, which method do I use? It honestly depends on which gel I'm going for. Some products are more easygoing in the layering department (like Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, TreLuxe Hi!Definition, and BeKekoa BeHold Ultra Light Defining Gel), and others are more difficult to match (like Eco Styler and Obia Natural Hair Curl Enhancing Custard). There are some in the middle like Miss Jessie's Jelly Soft Curls and TGIN Twist & Define Cream that can handle layering, but only with a select few products.  Some days I LOG, others I LCO/LCB+G. It really just depends on what gel I feel like using.

How do you determine which method is right for you? 
Two words: test patch. Before I apply any product combination, old or new, I test it on a small section of my hair. I will cleanse and lightly condition a small section of my hair, and then apply my cocktail of products as I intend to use them on my whole head. I tend to do this the night before wash day, and go to bed with that section damp. I wake up in the morning, take down my scarf pineapple, and check the results. If I'm trying to decide between two gels or whether I need a cream or not, I'll split the section in half, apply my two variations, and compare in the morning.

I prefer this method to just mixing products in my hand, because there have been plenty of times where products blended smoothly in my palms, only to stage a clumpy, white, booger-ball revolt on my hair. It may seem like "doing the most", but for me, it's a far better alternative to having to do my hair all over 2-3 times in the same day....

Now let's get to what you really came for -- styling and frizz reduction!

How to Get Defined Curls with Less Frizz

Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture
LOG Method Curls with As I Am Leave-In, Coconut Oil, & Miss Jessie's Jelly Soft Curls

Although I'm not the most style-savvy natural out there, I do know my way around a wash and go and defining some curls. Here are 6 points to consider when trying to get your #curlsonfleek and reduce frizz:

1. Pick your products wisely & according to your desired outcome.
Do you want big day 1 hair, or do you care more about the wash & go lasting 3+ days? When it comes to picking your curl definer, that matters. As a general rule, lighter gels and creams will give you more big hair action on day 1, But lend themselves to frizzing quickly. More potent gels and harder curl creams won't start giving you big hair action until day 2 or 3, but then you have 2+ days of yassss after that. How do you know which result you're going to get? Even if you only do it once, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, please try the patch test. It will give you the best glimpse into what your hair will look like when all is said and done.

2. Don't skip the deep conditioning session. 
I can go on and on (or you could just read here), but deep conditioning is your first line of defense in fighting frizz and dryness in styling. So just make sure you deep condition (even if it is only the duration of your shower).

3. Wet hair. Wet  hair. WET HAIR.
Curl Care 101: Defining Curls, Managing Frizz & Maximizing Moisture
Defined, wet hair.
If you really want your best chance at fighting frizz, you MUST work on wet hair. Not damp hair, not hair that has been air drying for 15-20 minutes, but wet hair. Why? In general, frizz is caused by the cuticle of the hair swelling in an attempt to absorb water content from the air. This action is especially noticeable in kinky, curly, and coily hair, because our textures tend to be drier (due to the structure of the hair itself). If the hair is saturated in water, it will not as readily begin the process of trying to swell and absorb from the air around you. This is part of the reason why your hair looks so poppin' and defined when wet. I apply at least my leave-in and oil or moisturizer while in the shower, and use the water to help distribute it through my hair. My curls have much more frizz and I end up using way more product when I do so outside of the shower.

4. Pick a product application method.
You can rake, smooth, Denman, rake & shake, use praying hands, shingle, finger twirl, or use any of the other countless ways to apply product to your hair. Just keep Point #1 in mind -- your end goal. Raking with your fingers will yield a more piece-y result (with the potential for some frizzing), while smoothing or using praying hands will give you more clumped curls. I typically alternate between the rake & shake and a rake-smooth-shingle hybrid. Whatever you decided to do, just don't slap product on your head and walk away. #recipefordisaster

5. Get close to the root.
I disclosed this tip in my 7 Secrets to the Perfect Wash & Go video, and for me it is one of the most important. You don't have to slather products on your scalp directly, but do get as close to the root as possible. Otherwise, you'll have puffy, frizzy roots and well-defined length.

6. Hands off!
While your hair is drying, try your best to avoid hand-in-hair syndrome. Touching the hair before the gel cast has had a chance to set is a sure way to end up with frizz.

See More: 
Mud Rinse Your Way to Perfect Curls
Christina's Choice 2014: Curl Definers

After this point, you can choose how to dry your hair -- with a diffuser or by air drying. I air dry about 90% of the time, and diffuse when I've got somewhere important to be (like a hot can't lay on your boo with wet hair).

Once your hair is dry, you can use an oil, butter, or serum to scrunch the crunch and do some fluffing, picking, teasing, stretching, and everything else. Flip your hair, take a selfie (or 50), and WERK!

Stay tuned, because next week is all about how to maintain those gorgeous curls overnight!

Keep up with my shenanigans, product junkie-ing, and of course, the curls:
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  1. It might be because I may have overlooked a post, my apologies if so but do you use and/or have knowledge about puddings? I have kinkier hair and gel has yet to work for me. So I've started to get into puddings as an alternative for curl definition. With your knowledge, do you think puddings are a viable alternative for gel or would they still be considered a type of leave in?

  2. Yes w/ the WNG I learned the hard way to apply the product to the root of your hair. When doing a WNG I divide my hair in four sections (like I'm doing a relaxer) and I apply the product to the root w/ a tinting brush as if I'm apply color or a relaxer and OMG the difference. My WNG's are fabulous now and I swear by Cantu for Naturals its awesome!!! Oh and Cantu's Define and Shine curling jelly is awesome!!!

  3. I really like the way you are writing a blog post. Keep it up.

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