6 Reasons Your Hair Won’t Hold Curls Anymore

Linda White

Who isn’t longing for a full head of lustrous, curly locks these days? We get it, you want to jump on the textured, beachy hair bandwagon – but it’s just not happening. You split your hair into sections, take a complete half an hour working on your entire head, only to find that your curls fall flat as you head outside. What gives?

Curling your hair is quite a convoluted process. There are many reasons your hair doesn’t hold a curl but understand it isn’t your fault. You have the best intentions and are willing to put in the work. According to the Indian Journal of Trichology, curly hair has a lot to do with genetics.

The way your hair holds curls isn’t really in your hands. The shape of the root of your hair follicle decides your hair type. Luckily, there are ways to prolong your hairstyle. With a little understanding of hair science, catching why your natural hair won’t curl and determining the best solution, your hair will be and remain Hollywood-worthy in no time!

Science Behind Straight and Curly Hair

Your hair consists of two main regions, the visible part of your hair called the hair shaft, and the section underneath your scalp called the hair follicle. Hair follicles anchor your hair into your skin. The base of the hair follicle is formed by the hair bulb.

Inside the bulb are live cells that are constantly dividing to grow your hair shaft. The hair shaft consists of proteins called melanin and keratin – along with trace amounts of metallic elements. The hair shaft is composed of three main parts. For ease of understanding, imagine each hair as being a tube with two inner concentric tubes.

The outermost tube, or layer, is the cuticle, which acts as a protective barrier. The cuticle is made of scales pointing downward. The middle tube is the cortex, which contains hair’s natural pigment proteins, called melanin, along with ovoid bodies which decide your hair color and hair shape. The innermost tube, called the medulla, is made of scales and may not be present in all hair.

According to the PeerJ journal, the shape of the cuticle is determined by your hair follicles. A circular, symmetrical cuticle results in straight hair, whereas an oval cuticle, gives rise to wavy or curly hair.

How Does Heat Styling Change Hair Shape?

The keratin in your hair is held together by hydrogen bonds. These bonds play a massive role in maintaining the shape of your hair. Hydrogen bonds can be changed in two ways: via water or heat.

When you modify hydrogen bonds with heat or water, you’re allowing your hair to be rearranged – before these bonds return to their natural shape. Therefore, despite any type of styling, your hair will remain in place for just a short period – or until it comes in contact with moisture.

When you curl or straighten your hair, your hair wants to return to its original shape.

Why Won’t My Hair Curl Properly?

When you use a curling iron or blow dryer, the applied heat breaks the hydrogen bonds in your hair. This strips away your hair’s natural proteins and oils. As we discussed earlier, heat modifies your hair texture, allowing you to mold it and achieve any look you want.

The shape of your flat iron or curling iron helps mold your hair to the style you’re after. After holding your hair in a particular shape, the bonds begin to reform to the new shape. These bonds will hold this shape until they’re broken down.

There are just a few beauty endeavors that are just as more exasperating that spending a decent amount of time curling your hair in the morning, to later catch a glimpse of your straightened hair after. We’ve rounded up some of the top reasons your curls may not be holding, followed by what you can do to make them stay intact for up to 2 days!

1] Weather is Working Against You

According to a research published in the journal, MDPI, One of the best ways to break down the hydrogen bonds in your hair is by the introduction of heat or water.

If you’re living in an area which is constantly humid or is frequently windy, the weather may be to blame. In humid, warm, or windy conditions, your hair cuticle swells to absorb moisture. This brings in water to your hair, causing hydrogen bonds to break and ultimately, preventing your curls from holding properly.

2] Not Using the Right Styling Tools

Check if your curling iron, blow dryer or flat iron has a heat setting. If your curling tool of choice doesn’t have a heat setting, consider picking up one that lets you crank up the heat. Thick hair requires higher temperatures to lock curls in properly. Therefore, if you have thick, coarse hair, consider increasing the heat to 415 degrees.

why won't my hair curl with a curling iron?

Remember, that high heat can cause hair damage so be sure to spray some heat protectant to keep your hair healthy and bouncy. We love the Bumble and Bumble, Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer because it’s free of parabens and helps protect your hair from the sun as well. Finish up with a tiny touch or argan oil to make hair appear smoother and more lustrous.

3] Not Giving it Enough Time

If you are having trouble holding curls in your hair, consider investing a little bit more time – especially if you have fine, straight hair. On days you want to mimic that fresh, out-of-the-salon, bouncy hair, you have to also copy how your stylist works. This means spending a decent amount of time styling your hair.

4] Only Using Heat

Most of us can make a reasonable amount of curl happen. It all depends on how much patience you have and how much time you can put into getting your desired type of waves.

If your hair is too thin or incredibly straight, you may see better results if you ditch your heat styling tools and force your strands into curls while you are air drying your hair. This can be done using rollers.

Sleep-in rollers are continually being modified, and manufacturers are making them much more comfortable than their 80’s counterparts. We strongly feel that one of the best products hold curls in straight hair may be a sleep-in option. We really like Thinkmax Nighttime Hair Curlers as they’re more comfortable and yield beautiful curls.

Alternatively, you can try braiding your hair or wrapping it around a headband, to coax it to curl while it dries during your sleep.

5] Hair is Too Clean

You’ve probably noticed that it’s much harder to style straight out of the shower hair than hair that is a couple of days old. Clean hair, especially if your hair is straight, tends to be so slick that it becomes incredibly grueling to make it behave the way you want it while styling.

By leaving the natural oils in your hair and not washing your hair every day, you’re creating more texture, or grit, to help your hair hold curls for much longer.

6] Haven’t Cut Your Hair in Months

Your curls change from 2D hooks to 3D local helixes and then 3D global helixes with changing parameters. This can happen when your hair moves.

Additionally, because the force of gravity is greater at the top of your hair strands, compared to the tips, the weight of your hair can pull down your curls. This causes curls to become more helical or straight, depending on your hair’s stiffness and length. You may have noticed naturally curly hair becoming less curly as hair is grown longer. Blame gravity.

natural hair won't curl properly?

Curl Fine, Straight Hair Like a Pro Tips

Many people envy fine, straight hair. After all, it seems super easy and effortless to toss your hair in a high bun or ponytail within seconds before you head out the door. However, anyone with this type of hair will tell you how difficult it is to style it.

Pulling off a dreamy, curly-haired style, whether it is for a date night or a wedding, should not feel like a hopeless feat. Understand that anyone can hold a curl with a little bit of knowledge and patience. Maybe you’ll need a more than a little patience. But trust us, the results will be worth it!

Keep reading for some tried-and-tested tips on how you can hold your curls for more than a day.

Cool Them Down

The number one trick to ensuring your curls stay intact is allowing them enough time to become cool before you set them down. Make sure you take each fresh curl, keeping their helical shape and secure them with a bobby pin – either to your head or two-thirds of the way up, depending on your style.

As your curls cool, the cuticles close, preventing moisture from entering your hair and flattening it. When you’re unclipping your curls, make sure you let them cool down further for about two minutes before you brush them out gently. Breaking the curls too early, whether it’s with your fingers or a brush, will cause them to lose their shape because there is still some heat left in them.

Once they’ve cooled enough, they become less susceptible to straightening as you stretch your hair while brushing it.

  • Pro tip: If you do don’t have enough time for your curls to set, pin them all to your scalp and blow cool air using your blow dryer from a distance. This is an excellent use for the otherwise ignored cool button!

Say Yes to the Right Products

If you’re hungry for gorgeous curls, it’s essential that you help your hair out a bit. Curling your hair calls for a brand new arsenal of styling products that are sure to produce results.

Apply styling products that are designed to hold curls for longer. Depending on what style you’re after and what works best with your hair, try applying a bit of mousse before drying your hair or use hairspray before, during and after curling. This gives your hair a grittier texture, which helps hold curls in place for much longer.

hair won't curl after flat iron

Be sure to apply heat protectant before applying heat to prevent damage to your hair. You’ll also want to avoid holding your hairspray to close to your hair if you don’t want that crunchy, heavy, product-loaded look. Spray a tiny mist from far away and wait a minute for it to dry before using heat.

Good Hair Tool

You’ve probably asked yourself this question a hundred times: “Why won’t my hair curl with a curling iron?” After all, it is designed for curling.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t your hair; it’s your curling tool. Using a high-quality curling iron will cause less damage to your hair and will heat up much faster, making hair curling a smoother process. For optimum curls, set your curling tool to a temperate of 300 to 350 F. if you’re using extensions, use a lower heat setting of 250 F.

Correct Barrel Size

Barrel size is an understated facet of hair curling, but it’s really important. Although it’s easy to believe that the bigger the curling want, the sexier the curls will be – sometimes this can yield results that are somewhat bland.

We find that on most occasions, a smaller barrel can do wonders to hair that’s difficult to style. Depending on your hair, try choosing a 1” or 1.5” barrel. You’ll notice a difference immediately.

With a smaller barrel size, not only do curls look bouncier and healthier, but they also last much longer. Often, larger barrels lead to big curls that can easily loosen up and fall flat.

Day-Old Hair

Old hair means unwashed hair, for at least one day. If you simply cannot stand not washing your hair, try washing it the night before you style it. Day old hair is perfect for styling because the built-up oils make it more adaptable to curling. Think about it. Your hair becomes more slippery when it’s just washed. On the other hand, it feels more texturized when it’s a day old.

The day before you style your hair, start by going light on your conditioner. Using too much conditioner adds excess moisture to your hair, creating an environment that isn’t ideal for styling. Although it may sound counterintuitive, smooth hair isn’t great when you’re trying to make a style hold for much longer.

Try reducing the smoothness of your hair before you style it to add more texture. Use a thickening product, such as a thickening mousse from root to tip if you’ve just washed your hair or a texturizing spray, such as the Living Proof Full Dry Volume blast if you’re using old hair.

If your hair feels too greasy, a dry shampoo for oily hair can help freshen it up and give it more volume.

hair won't curl after coloring

These products, along with the natural sebum in your hair, make your hair more malleable and prevent it from getting too slippery. Once you’ve finished curling your hair, use a lightweight holding spray that won’t make your hair too heavy and weight down your curls.

Pay Attention to Your Haircut

If you have thick or long hair, your haircut may be what’s weighing down your hairstyle.  The heavier or longer your hair is, the harder it is for curls to hang on and hold their shape for long periods.

Ask your stylist to give you a gravity-defying style by adding plenty of layers, particularly around your weight. This helps reduce the weight of your hair, without affecting much of its length.

Work in Sections

Even if you have fine, thin hair, working your hair in sections allows you to reach the roots at the back of your head and give you a bouncier, more consistent style. To section your hair, use alligator clips and divide your hair into four sections. Curling the top half of your hair helps you style the hair at the back of your hair to the root, ensuring that you don’t leave any piece of hair lying flat.

It also helps to work in pieces no bigger than one inch as it helps distribute enough heat to curl your hair. As you curl each piece, make sure you gently cup them or pin them till they cool. This will increase your curls staying power.

But don’t touch it. Constantly touching your newly styled hair deposits moisture and leads to unwanted tugging that can cause your curls to fall out. If you are admiring, admire from a distance – not with your hands. Also, resist the urge to pile on gels and product that will weigh your hair down. Simply give a final spritz of hairspray and you’re good to go.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.