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Hairstyling Secrets: Turning Curls Into Waves


Image Courtesy of Hannah Gordon

Image Courtesy of 2010

Some curly girls and guys may think their hair styling options are limited to either living with their curls or frying their strands straight with chemicals or hot tools.

In reality the following options exist for styling natural curls:

1. Going completely au natural via air drying or wet bunning. 2. Altering curl patterns naturally with wet sets, rag rollers or pin curls for looser curls or waves. 3. Softening curls into loose ringlets and/or waves with a flat vent or long or short finger diffusers. 4. Temporarily straightening curls with blow dryers, hot irons or electric or steam rollers. 5. Chemically relaxing hair which will soften many curls patterns into looser ringlets and/or waves 6. Thermal straightening which completely removes curls until root re-growth occurs 7. Attaching semi-permanent extensions to temporarily weigh down the existing curls. 8. Altering hair length. Cutting hair extremely short will remove the curl pattern while allowing hair to grow as long as possible will weigh it down.

There is also the option of having hair carefully sculpted and cut so natural curls nestle into each other and form a more compressed profile.

1. Going Natural

Image Courtesy of C. Boon

Image Courtesy of 2010

One option which is always available is to embrace your ringlets and coils. A great way to lavish Tender Loving Care (TLC) on your curls is to allow them to air dry by plopping them or wrap[ing ringlets into a wet bun to redirect or reshape the curls into your desired pattern.

Air drying is truly going all natural with your tresses since there is no heat damage of any kind.

2. Altering Curl Patternl

Rolling damp natural curls into a variety of wet sets will alter the curl pattern until the curls are again wet.

Popular wet sets include rolling the hair in rag rollers, pin curls, soft sponge rollers, straw rollers or even rolling hair sections around your fingers and pinning into place.

Velcro rollers or traditional hard rollers are also an option which can be utilized to soften curls. Keep in mind the larger the barrel of the rollers, the looser the curls or waves.

While utilizing Velcro or traditional rollers may be a time commitment, the results are definitely unique compared to other curling systems.

3. Softening Curls

Another option is to towel blot curls and apply a cocktail of leave-in conditioner and styling cream.

Attach the diffuser of your choice (vented, flat, long or short finger) to a blow dryer and dry your hair in sections to soften and loosen curls.

4. Temporarily Straightening Curls

Image Courtesy of Kennadys

Image Courtesy of 2010

If you have a hankering for straight tresses you can achieve a non-curly look by apply temporary straightening gels, creams or spray to damp strands and then blow drying straight with a paddle or round brush.

After the hair is completely dry you can also fine tune the strands to be stick straight with a straightening iron.

If you desire a little volume or bend you can set 100% dry hair on hot or steam rollers to create movement.

5. Chemically Relaxing

Although temporarily straightening curls with hot tools can provide a new look, it is only temporary. If you wish to have a longer term change you can opt for a chemical relaxing treatment which will not, in most cases, completely straighten curls but will usually transform the curls into softer waves.

Chemically relaxing usually eliminates a re-growth line since the relaxing slowly wears off over time allowing curls to slowly revert to their natural patterns.

According to some hair experts chemical relaxing, is not as damaging to fragile curls as chemical or thermal straightening which is permanent until curls grow out.

6. Thermal Chemical Straightening

Image Courtesy of Kennadys

Image Courtesy of 2010

Whether labeled Thermal or chemical straightening or some other marketing term, the basic process involves applying chemicals which completely eliminate curls from the hair.

There are may pros and cons about thermal chemical straightening. However, chemical straightening can be extremely damaging to fragile curls and offers challenges when the root re-growth occurs.

While there are drawbacks to chemical straightening, many enjoy the benefits of completely altering their natural curls.

7. Attaching Extensions

When applied properly add-on hair extensions attached through fusion or weaving may weigh down natural curls and alter the ringlet pattern. There are both advantages and disadvantages to attaching add-on hair to natural curls. In some cases it is not a viable option but it may work for some.

8. Altering Hair Length

When all else fails when attempting to alter your curls you can change your hair length. Going very short or allowing your hair to grow as long as possible will definitely change your curl profile.

Although it seems easy to just grow your hair longer, naturally curly hair which is not specifically cut in a sculpted manner to help curls flatten and nestle together may only grow out rather than down which would invalidate hair growth as an option.

Image Courtesy of Kennadys

Image Courtesy of 2010


Although some naturally curl haired people think their options for altering their hairstyles are limited, this is not really the case.

Whether you embark on a path or changing your curls into stick straight curtains or go for loose waves, there are many ways to achieve whatever goals you set for your ringlets.

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- Revised Publication Date: 01/01/10

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