What Is The Shingling Method For Curly Hair?

We want your natural hair to look its best at all times. Whether it's silk pillowcases that prevent static or bonnets and scarves that promise to keep your hair silky and free of frizz, we are always on the lookout for ways to keep your 'fro and puff hydrated and defined. However, textured hair, especially for type 4 hair with its many joys, can be more difficult. Perm rod sets, curl formers, finger coils, and Flexi rods are all great ways to get curls on textured hair and give your afro a boost (via Natural Girl Wigs). But if you're looking for a method that offers a bit more definition and can be done on any hair length, that's where shingling comes in.


Shingling is a technique in which you apply curl-enhancing products like gels, leave-in conditioners, or curl creams to your hair by running the product through your strands, piece by piece, in order to define your curls and form coils (via Carol's Daughter). Shingling is great because it defines your curls by smoothing out the cuticles, which helps the style last longer and look healthier (via Naturally Curly). Now that you know what shingling is and why it's so great, here's how to get it done.

Prep your hair for maximum curl definition

First things first: you need to work on clean, deep-conditioned hair. Wash your hair with a non-stripping shampoo and conditioner like the Mielle Organics Rice Water Hydrating Shampoo, which boasts over 1,000 positive reviews on the brand's website, and the Oats & Honey Soothing Conditioner. To deep condition, section your hair and apply a deep conditioning formula like the Obia Naturals Babassu Deep Conditioner from the roots to the ends. After applying the formula, wrap your hair with a plastic bag and steam with a hair steamer (via Equi Botanics)


Your next step is to detangle. You can do this with your fingers or use a detangling brush to expose your curls. Detangling is especially important for thicker hair textures, like 4b and 4c hair, to prevent breakage and allow clumps to form easily (via Loving Kinky Curls). After detangling, divide your hair into sections once again. Sections help you work through your hair more efficiently and not feel overwhelmed, since this technique can take a bit of time, depending on the density of your hair. And now you're ready to shingle.

Here's how to shingle properly

Armed with a great leave-in conditioner like the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey + Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Leave-In Conditioner, scoop a little and run through thin strips of your hair, from the root to the ends, to form clumps. For thicker hair, you can fortify your clumps with a little hair gel. Try not to go overboard with the product, though. Repeat this process on the remaining sections, applying leave-in conditioner from root to tip on the strips and running gel over the formed coils/clumps. 


After applying the leave-in conditioner onto your newly-defined curls, go in with some oil using your fingertips. Oils like argan oil, neem oil, and castor oil are great for different hair porosity levels and can be used in this step (via Glow by Daye). Follow this with your favorite curl cream for maximum hold. Our favorite is Adwoa Beauty Baomint Moisturizing Curl Defining Cream. Natural hair enthusiasts and brands like Pattern Beauty call this layering the L.O.C. mixture, consisting of leave-in conditioner, oil suitable for your hair's porosity, and a curl-enhancing cream.

Lastly, let your hair air dry or use a diffuser at low speed if you're going for a look that includes a bit of shrinkage. Shake your head lightly to add movement and bounce to your curls and avoid touching your hair while it dries to maintain them (via Black Beauty and Hair).


Tips you need to know

Anyone with textured hair understands how essential moisture is in keeping hair soft and manageable (via Afrocenchix). While shingling, keep a spray bottle handy and spray light mists over your hair occasionally as you detangle and apply products over your clumps. Secondly, avoid using too much product while shingling. It can be tempting, especially since the technique entails you applying product to your hair in detail, piece by piece and section by section. However, excess product in your hair is counterproductive and you may find it hard to achieve your desired clumps.


Finally, your hair will last as your strands choose to stay clumped. Nevertheless, to get maximum curl definition for a longer period of time, Carol's Daughter recommends packing your hair into a pineapple — akin to a high puff — before going to bed. Your biggest enemy with this hairstyle is frizz, which can unravel your coils, but going to bed with a bonnet will help prevent that. Overall, shingling is a great heat-free way to define your curls and give your hair some intentional, product-filled loving.