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A Guide To Scrunching! Hair Styling Tips


The Brown Aveda Institute Mentor, Ohio

Scrunching has come back into vogue in response to the big demand for Spring 2006 lush loose curls and waves.

Scrunching, also referred to as "crunching" or hair "runching", is a technique which involves crushing sections of hair together. This process is used to add instant texture to naturally curly or wavy hair from enhancing curls and waves to creating a cross between the two.

Related Topic: Hair Tip: Scrunching Hair Tips

Although some types of straight hair with natural bend can benefit from scrunching, the process works best on hair that is curly or wavy. Scrunching can also be finished with a curling iron or hot rollers to add more controlled texture.

Scrunching can be performed with or without other tools such as a finger diffuser and/or a blow dryer.

Instructions - How To Scrunch Hair Steps

1. Use your normal shampoo and rinse out conditioner. If you wish to enhance your natural texture consider using a texture enhancing product mix like PhytoCurl which helps define curls or Phytobrush which was specifically developed for use in scrunching, blow drying and creating waves.

Note: Other products to try include

2. Rinse well and finish with a cool/cold water rinse which helps to seal in moisture, add shine and helps enhance the hair's ability to form curls and waves.

3. Carefully squeeze out any excess water with your fingers. Remember to never rub wet strands but use a combination of techniques from squeezing out the excess water and then blotting strands with a towel.

4. Towel blot with a thick towel or towel designed to speed dry your hair like the Earth Therapeutics Towel. It is best to wait to apply products to super wet strands since some of the product will drip off in the process.

5. Apply your product of choice to the middle and ends of your strands. Avoid applying product near the roots which may weigh them down except in the case of adding volume sprays like Phytovolume Actif or similar.

Model With Scrunched Hair

6. Don't be afraid to layer product to get the best look. You may wish to mix a defrisant products along with your styling product to add texture and block frizz at the same time. It is possible to mix Phytodefrisant with your favorite mousse, glaze or paste.

7. Once your hair has been properly prepared with the styling products of your choice, use your hands and work from side to side around your head scrunching individual sections.

8. You have the option to use a blow dryer or long finger diffuser to help set the scrunched sections. Whether you use a blow dryer or a long finger diffuse, remember to use a cool setting on a low speed to avoid blowing out the newly formed texture.

9. Scrunching hair is a lot like crumpling up a piece of paper. To scrunch effectively you need to pick up a section of hair, squeeze the strands between your fingers, and then crumple the ends of the strand up toward your roots, causing it to wrinkle and crinkle.

Adding The Appropriate Finish

Since scrunched hair can sometimes look rough around the edges, consider using a shine serum like Phyto's PhyoLisse or Rene Furterer's Spray Gloss. Apply the shine serum or spray of choice to the palms of your hands. Rub the product into the palms and then lightly glide over the top of the teased style to add instant shimmer and shine and remove any roughness. Spray well with hairspray like Phytolaque or Jessica Simpson’s favorite Phytolaque Soie made with real silk that adds a soft sheen to the final look and will also help soften the overall finish.

Scunching With A Finger Diffuser

When using a finger diffuser to scrunch, direct the air flow from the diffuser/dryer up the strands toward the chunk of hair you are scrunching. Do not attempt to use a regular blow dryer on scrunched strands since the force of the air will blow out the wrinkled effect.

It's also important to remember when using a diffuser, make sure hair is 100% dry to prevent frizz. Finish with an appropriate hairspray. For added shine, apply a tiny bit of gloss or shine serum to the palms of your hands and glide across the top of your newly crumpled do.

Scunching & Then Air Drying

If you prefer, you can apply product, scrunch completely and then let your strands air dry for a different effect.

A favorite option is to towel blot hair, apply styling product, scrunch and then use a bunch of condor, banana or regular duckbill type clips to hold the newly crunched form in place while it air dries.

My favorite technique is to towel blot my hair, apply a liquid glaze and then finger scrunch my hair. Then I create a series of two or three damp buns that consist of my newly scrunched hair that I clip with condor or dolphin clips. I let my hair air dry and viola, waves galore.

General Scrunching Guidelines

1. Experiment with styling products designed to be most compatible with your hair texture and type. In general it's best for every type of hair to avoid styling products such as heavy gels, thick waves and/or molding products which might make your strands sticky or give them a "too gelled" look after they dry.

Note: Mousse, light sculpting creams and styling sprays tend to be lighter and offer more control and a softer overall hold for fine to medium textures. A good hair glaze or hair paste works for thicker hair types and textures.

2. Use your fingers to scrunch individual sections to create a tousled look. Depending on the look you are going for, you can scrunch lightly, or heavily around your head.

3. Although you have the option to crunch as many or few sections as you desire, it is usually best to experiment a few times to determine the ideal look for your hair length and type.

4. Experiment with different methods of grabbing the hair in your hands. Interlace strands between fingers to scrunch to create defined waves. Ball hair up to create bigger curls or waves.

5. Scrunching takes time and patience. Think of scrunching as a type of ancient paper folding like Origami for your hair. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to create the style you desire.

5. Be willing to cheat. If you scrunch your hair and it looks more like you just came in from the rain rather than a hip, happening, scrunched look, dig out your curling iron to fine tune the curls and waves.

6. Keep in mind that crunching larger sections of hair will result in larger waves and curls.

7. Remember to take your time and experiment.

8. There is no right or wrong way to scrunch.

Scrunching Tips

After a few times of scrunching you will know exactly the best products to use to create the results you desire and will be a scrunching pro

For hair to scrunch appropriately, it requires some natural bend. Stick straight hair will definitely require more imagination to get the scrunched look.

However, never fear, it is still possible to get an edgy crunched up look that will not instantly fall out. The key is to sleeping in either rag curlers, soft rollers or braids. This will help to set the look you wish to achieve.

Before you got to bed spritz your hair to dampen with a water bottle. Separate hair into 1-2 inch sections. Apply your favorite setting products. Keep in mind that gel may be too heavy for hair that is thin or fine. You might try a setting cream or light paste.

Roll your hair in old fashioned rag rollers, soft rag rollers like those available from Conair or similar or soft sponge rollers. If you don't like sleeping on rollers, you can braid each section into 3 strand braids. Tie off each section of the braid with a hair friendly elastic band.

After you have finished setting your hair in your desired style, sleep on your set. In the morning remove the curlers or braids and use your fingers to break up the curls and waves. Spray with a super hold hairspray and you will have beautiful, long lasting texture, as if you scrunched it with your fingers.

If you want to try the crunch style but can't wait for the hair to set over night, you can sit under a hood dryer for 15-30 minutes to help the style set. Before you remove the rollers or braids, be sure that the hair is completely cool. Spray well with a super holding hairspray. Remove the rag curlers or braids and then use fingers to arrange. Finish with a final spritz of super holding spray.


Scrunching, especially for people with lots of natural texture and bend, can offer a whole new way to add lush natural waves and curls to your hair.

Scrunching can also be finished with a curling iron or hot rollers to add more controlled texture.

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- Revised Publication Date: 04/25/11

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