Why Your Hair Won't Hold A Curl - And What To Do About It

Few things in life are more annoying than spending an hour in front of your bathroom mirror with a curling iron only to have every single curl wilt to nothing within minutes. Though textured curly or wavy hair is a goal that most people will have at some point, it's true that genetics do play a role in how easy those curls are to come by. People with a very circular hair shaft, which results in naturally straight hair, will generally struggle to hold a curl, according to Southern Living. By comparison, those with oval shafts (wavy hair), oblong shafts (curly hair), and flat shafts (kinky hair) can hold texture for longer because their hair shaft already supports that shape, and hair is disposed to always return to its natural state eventually.

While genetics make curls easier or more challenging to achieve, anyone can have them. Speaking to Byrdie, celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa confirmed that curls are always possible, saying, "Now, with modern technology, any hair type should be able to hold a curl!" So if your hair just won't hold a curl, it's usually because of an easy-fix problem. Real Simple adds that sometimes a simple trip to the salon for an overdue cut can solve the problem, while other times it comes down to inappropriate products and tools or incorrect techniques. The first step is to figure out where you're going wrong, and you'll be well on your way to a head full of voluminous bounce.

Using the right products and tools

In most cases, your hair won't hold a curl because of the products you're using — or not using. Some shampoos and conditioners create wax build-up which weighs down the curl or coats the hair so much that the cuticle can't open up. Avoid products with silicone, and switch to a clarifying shampoo to eliminate any residue. It's also important to thoroughly rinse out your shampoo and conditioner so the strands are sufficiently exposed to the heat, which will activate the curl. Any product that is too heavy on your hair will be counter-productive, even if it's a specific holding product. Hairspray is a must, but opt for a dry solution rather than a wet hairspray, as wet hairspray adds unwanted moisture. The Everygirl recommends using hairspray before curling as this preps the hair to hold on to the curl.

When it comes to hair-styling tools, they weren't all created equal. Opt for higher-quality curling irons with ceramic plates, as these heat equally the entire way through. Contrary to popular belief, irons don't need to be scorching hot to achieve successful curls. Most people won't need anything hotter than 300 degrees, and those with fine or thin hair require even less heat. Barrel size matters too, as short hair curls better with thin barrels while longer hair benefits from larger barrels. Sunday Edit points out that thin barrels will result in a tighter curl, which will naturally take longer to fall out.

Using the right technique

Always make sure your hair is completely dry before attempting to curl. It's important that your hair itself doesn't hold any excess moisture, but also that there's no moisture in the air, which tends to happen in a humid bathroom. If your bathroom is still steamy from your shower, try taking your curling iron to a bedroom mirror or another dryer location. Curls are also less likely to hold if your hair is too clean, so depending on how oily your hair gets, it may help to wash your hair a day or two days before you curl your hair (via The Everygirl).

Though sectioning your hair is more time-consuming, this is a crucial step in achieving curl longevity. This is especially true if you have lots of hair, so you can guarantee that you aren't missing any pieces. Anything left out will make your hair look flat. According to Prose, you should never flat iron your hair before curling as this will prevent the strands from holding the curl. Curling from the bottom to the top tends to weigh down the hair, so try curling from top to bottom and then hold the curls in place with pins until they are cool. If you let them fall or brush them out before they have fully cooled, you'll end up losing them more quickly. Following these simple tips and techniques, even the finest hair will maintain texture and bounce all day.