One of the challenges with naturally curly hair is when it becomes extremely dry and starts to puff up.
When naturally curly folks experience puffing, also known as pouffing or poofing, the first inclination is to cut the hair hoping it will help. Cutting puffed up curls may have the opposite effect causing hair to form frizzy stacks.
Puffing, pouffing or poofing is usually tied directly to frizz although sometimes it can mean the the curls are separating or the actual strands are splitting.
Puffy hair can also suggest damaged strands ranging from slightly damaged to very damaged.
Response To Dreaded Curl Pouf
Many naturally curly haired people, men and women, will respond to dreaded puffing with a wide range of hair care products, dousing the curls with spring water or trying anything to relieve the condition.
Individual hair texture may impact the ultimate puffiness of the strands. As an example, puffing or poofing on fine curls may look different than the same condition on medium or thick tresses.
Although curl pride is encouraged by many natural curl enthusiasts, someone with chronic pouf may dream of straight strands as an instant relief. While the idea of stick straight strands completely free of puff is appealing, it may only offer a temporary fix.
Relaxers, chemical straighteners or keratin smoothing treatments may temporarily relieve curly hair puffiness but over time the application of any chemicals to alter the hair's natural texture may lead to even bigger problems down the road.
Sometimes the ultimate goal is to make curls less voluminous. The thicker the hair, the bigger the pouf potential.
One symptom of puffy hair can be the development of odd shaped clumps of curls. Puff can mean lots of volume in thick natural curls or frizz with no curls in fine ringlets.
Causes Of Naturally Curly Puffing
The biggest problem with puffy hair is that the curls get big and ultimately they may actually split. Bottom line? Strands just gets a lot bigger with a lot more volume.
There are several causes of natural curls getting puffy:
1. Brushing curls with an improper type of hair brush.
When curls are split apart by brushing, the result can be either frizz without definition (thin, fine, medium curls) or big and bushy with puffiness and frizz (medium to thick curls)
Generally speaking, brushing curls will only make curls blow up in size.
2. Some protein and glycerin rich gels can be wonderful for defining and elongating curls.
Unfortunately these types of gels may also be very drying, ultimately leading to more frizz and puffiness.
Always check the ingredients list carefully when searching for products for naturally curly hair.
Some curly haired people can only benefit from protein and glycerin infused gels if they combine it with a super rich moisturizing leave-in conditioner.
3. Minimize or eliminate hair care products with cones.
Some people tolerate cones and derive actual benefit. Others do not. Understand that no two heads of curly hair react the same way to any products.
Historically if your hair doesn't react well to smoothing products with cones avoid them to prevent ongoing issues.
4. Keep your fingers out of your curls as much as possible.
Use your fingers to intially fingerpick and detangle but once you begin either the plopping, air-drying, diffusing or blow drying, stop messing with your curls or else you will separate them and break them apart, making them more prone to puffing, fizz and fuzziness.
5. Avoid over scrunching your tresses.
If you routinely crunch or scrunch your curls. this can lead to puffiness. The proper way to scrunch is to have the ends of the curls in the palm of your hand and ball them up near the root. Your hair should be wet, almost dripping. Initially your hair may look flat. Curls won't fully plump up when hair is wet but will plump when dry.
You may mistakenly think your curls should be plumping up so you may over-scrunch when your tresses are wet. Limit your scrunching to just one round.
6. Allow hair to air dry.
Whenever possible allow curls to air dry. This methodology will keep your curls together. Too much scrunching will break them apart.
Scrunching hair products into your curls promotes curl formation, but it can also break them up at the same time. When curls break apart, it can lead to massive volume and the curls can become thin and frizzy.
Heat drying or styling will rob curls or much needed moisture which may result in chronic dryness and more frizz and puffiness.
Clumpy Curls May Not Be All Bad
Having clumpy curls means your curls don't split, but it also doesn't mean your hair is naturally a tangled mess.
Smoothing Out Puffiness, Frizz And Dryness
Once you understand the general causes of natural curl pouf you can get rid of frizz and elongate your curls. You can move towards more defined but less tightly-wound curls.
If you want to make your curls to be more condensed try a creamier, heavier conditioning or styling product which will weigh your curls down a bit.
Another option is to experiment with a range of gels which will provide weight and definition. Look for a good gel that will define your curls but not make them ore voluminous.
Consistent deep conditioning treatments help with terminal puffing by adding back and sealing in much needed moisture.
Using more leave-in conditioner often will make hair less likely to get puffy. It will almost always help with splitting.
Use a rich moisturizing rinse out conditioner, but use it as a leave-in conditioner rather than a rinse out. Experiment with adding more moisture.
Not all products designed for natural textures work well for all types of hair. Do your research and experiment.
When naturally curly hair becomes dry it often will start to puff up which leads to dreaded big hair. When naturally curly people experience puffing their first thought may be to cut hair or chemically smooth or straighten it. The first reaction to puff is to eliminate it. Unfortunately this may led to a vicious circle of hair puffing since cutting and chemicals will usually only make things worse.
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- Revised Date: 01/29/11
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