Thin curls or limp waves, this is as good as it gets?

ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
Hi wavies, what to do? Or is this as good at is gets?

Hair type is 2a as far as I can tell, texture is fine, hair is on the thin end of the range and porosity is high (top) to medium/low (bottom). Lots of sun damage. I've bleached my hair twice in the last two years, but that together with sun damage means the top parts are terribly dry and all the protein in the world isn't helping a whole lot. I chopped off a good 2" in an attempt to fix this, but I suspect that going from chin length to much shorter is the only way to fix this.

I've spent the better part of the last month experimenting with my hair, and cutting out silicones/sulfates seems to have helped to a degree with the frizz I used to get. My hair also feels very soft now if I don't add any styling product after washing. I thought that my hair is "straight but frizzy" for most of my life, so the idea it's not is still new to me. I used to have cherub curls as a toddler and small child, but kind of forgot about these as I grew up and kept combing my hair straight when wet and letting it dry that way.

My current setup is this:

I wash with sulfate free shampoo once a week or so, taking care to get it to the scalp with my fingertips. Massage for a few minutes, wash out, add conditioner that I leave in while I go about my business. Wash out most of it, blot the excess moisture out with an old t shirt, being careful to bring the curly strands close to the scalp as I get out the water.

(Not adding leave-in, I tried and it just left my hair super flat and limp.)

Scenario A, I add styling product when my hair is damp/wet, the curls are more pronounced but terribly thin and brittle on the top whereas the bottom bits have a nice, bouncy, soft, loose curl pattern to them.

Scenario B, I let my hair dry on its own without messing with it, I get thicker strands of loose waves. Limp, loose waves. If I want it to look better, I go over my hair section by section with a gel spray and use that to lift the strands of hair out at the roots and give a little bit of individual definition to each curl... but then my second day hair just looks like a frizzy, wavy mess that no product I've tried so far has helped me fix, so I end up co-washing and going over the whole process again.

And clipping my hair up to pick up the waves when drying doesn't seem to help in any way-- in scenario A, I get a halo of brittle, thin curls going far away from my head anyway and don't need clips for this, in scenario B I don't use any product before drying so there's nothing holding up the waves after I remove the clips.

I've tried doing something in between and adding volumising spray before letting my hair air dry, but even small amounts make the top bits look brittle and separate into very, very thin strands.

So, uh, it's either live with limp waves, spend twenty minutes minimum on my hair every day and hope for the best, or haircut time? Or is there something I'm overlooking?


  • SavagegirlSavagegirl Registered Users Posts: 383 Curl Connoisseur
    Have you tried leaving out the leave-in but using Kinky Curly Custard (gel) to add definition and diffuse upside down? It will dry crunchy but this is what holds in the moisture...but when you scrunch the crunch, it leaves you with authentically soft and defined curly curls.
    2C-3A Fine, medium density, very long
    Modified CG Method / Natural Only since 2015
    Earthtones Naturals Lover
  • JD.GameAccouJD.GameAccou Registered Users Posts: 46 Curl Neophyte
    Is your hair TOO soft? So soft that the curls fall out? If so, you might have used too much protein. You may have to use ACV rinse to reset it. High porosity hair loves protein, but it doesn't mean you have to use it every day. I use it as a treatment every other week.

    Also, a lot of thin wavys have to lo-poo every day. Our fine thin hair can't handle too much scalp oil or it all goes flat and greasy. I NEED to wash it every day. I don't have to use something stripping, but I can't co-wash. Its a limp, nasty, stringy mess if I do, no matter what condish I use.

    You may want to start over, do a sulfate wash to start new and start a simple routine. Lo-poo, Condish, maybe a leave in and see how your hair reacts. Try the different condish techniques to see which work. Then slowly add products one at a time to see what the results are. You need to see how your hair behaves just based on using the sulfate free shampoo and condish. That in-of-its-self is a big change. It was for me. I had to get to know my hair using healthy products. Once I learned my new hair, I was able to analyze it to see what products I could use.

    it's a LOT of trial an error. I made the mistake of jumping in with both feet w/o looking. I changed EVERYTHING and couldn't see why my hair was a mess. I ended up starting over with a basic routine and tweaked as I went. Its going to be frizzy for a bit, your hair is going through sulfate withdrawals, so is your scalp. But once you get a good shampoo, condish, leave-in routine down, it will get better. I promise.

    Hope I was helpful

    - Rose

    2B/C wavy, fine, high porosity hair

    Poo: Renpure Bamboo Coconut Water Shampoo
    Condish - SoCozy Boing Sweet Crème Curl Conditioner
    Leave in- KCKT, JM Organics Citrus/Neroli Detangler
    Curl Cream: CJ Coffee-Coco Curl Creme-Lite
    Gel: *searching*
    PT: CJ Repair Me, Gelatin
    Pre-Poo/Overnight: Aloe, Jojoba & Tea Tree Oil Mix
    Clarifying: Redken Cleansing Cream Shampoo

    *Allergic to Devacurl and Herbal Essences
  • MeiMei Registered Users Posts: 259 Curl Neophyte
    Type 2s generally should wash more than once a week. I would try a no-poo (conditioning cleanser) like Matrix Biolage or Devacurl no-poo (or low-poo) at least twice a week. Too much sebum or product buildup over the week could be what is making your hair limp.

    Diffusing until 100% dry with a gel or mousse may help give you a stronger wave pattern and better retention.

    If your hair is damaged though there is only so much products and styling will be able to do, the best thing you can do is grow it out and don't process it anymore. Curl pattern will be stronger on healthier hair.
    Multicultural (Caucasian/Filipina)
    2b/2c - f - iii - low porosity - normal elasticity
    Holy Grail: Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioner for Curly Hair
    I rotate through the rest of my products depending on weather and etc but usually don't need them
    I try not to use products tested on animals if I can help it.
    Link: Updated hair picture January 2017
  • BabyfineBabyfine Registered Users Posts: 149 Curl Novice
    I agree with the others I must shampoo every other day with a good low poo, I rotate between several right now.
    otherwise I get product and scalp buildup and my hair looks weighed down and limp.

    It's a tightrope walk for me as I color and my hair is dried out from that.
    I low poo, use a good light conditioner on the roots,(Nioxin step 3) and a heavier conditioner on the longer lengths.
    I'm looking for more curl, body, volume, and shine-a miracle really.
    Poos" Nioxin, Devacurl, Jessicurl
    Leave in: Ouidad Moisture Lock/B'leavein
    Rinse out: VO5 Kiwi Lime, Mane and Tail,Too Shea
    Mousse: Oscar Blandi Hair Life, Ouidad Playcurl
    Gel: Devacurl Light defining gel
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    Thank you for all the responses!

    So, let's see... I was never in the habit of washing my hair super often, so I've gone from twice a week to once a week. Twice is probably more realistic, so I'll try that. We have hard-ish water here so I've been using ACV rinses on occasion, that seems to leave my hair nicer.

    I'm in mainland Europe so product availability is what it is, in other words not so great-- I can order some things from Amazon, but they cost an arm and a leg, otherwise I'm going with drugstore brands. (Have a shampoo with a milder surfactant instead of harsh sulfates so I'll try that to see if it makes a difference.) I do have Kinky Curly Custard so I'm going to try the trick with diffusing and then scrunching out the crunch the next time I wash my hair.

    I'll post an update with pictures when I start figuring this out. Thank you again to everyone who commented!
  • BabyfineBabyfine Registered Users Posts: 149 Curl Novice
    In my opinion drugstore products can be just fine.
    I've had good success with VO5,Tresemme,and Suave.
    I like the VO5 Kiwi Lime conditioner.
    Garnier Fructis is good, too.
    I don't know if you have those, where you are, but I really like the Tresseme Platinum strength( I. Have color treated hair)
    If these aren't available maybe there is something similar.
    I'm looking for more curl, body, volume, and shine-a miracle really.
    Poos" Nioxin, Devacurl, Jessicurl
    Leave in: Ouidad Moisture Lock/B'leavein
    Rinse out: VO5 Kiwi Lime, Mane and Tail,Too Shea
    Mousse: Oscar Blandi Hair Life, Ouidad Playcurl
    Gel: Devacurl Light defining gel
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    Hi again!

    Apparently I'm not allowed to post any types of links or images until I've posted "a few times" so I'll get busy first and attach photos when I can.

    I changed my regime a bit to something I could live with (I'm damnably lazy and low maintenance when it comes to skin and hair care despite my best efforts): I'm now low pooing twice a week, co-washing maybe once in addition to this. I was in a different country with much softer water for three weeks after starting this thread and stuck to the bare necessities-- I didn't have a blow dryer, so I just washed normally with my drugstore brand low poo with some vigorous scalp massage thrown in, conditioned (with Shea Moisture, which I read could be too heavy for my hair but seems to work pretty decently), scrunched the water out of the individual curls before patting my hair drier with an old t-shirt, and sometimes added Kinky Curling Custard after that. It... seems to be working ok? I combed my hair straight when wet on a few occasions too, and that worked fine on sunny days and not at all on rainy days.

    I still can't figure out what it is exactly my hair wants or how to type it (2a? I guess), but it feels incredibly soft to the touch for the most part, and if fluffy, thin cherub waves are what I get along with the occasional day of messy beach hair, I'm okay with that. My hair feels and looks better now that I've been silicone free for a good month, and, yeah, I did end up chopping off the most sun damaged parts and now rock a bob. Photos to follow!
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    Ha, I figured out how to use attachments.

    First photo is second or third day hair in its natural condition, no products, no styling, no plopping, nothing. And a massive hangover on top of that, that WAS my summer holiday after all.

    Second photo is my hair when it air dries and I apply gel spray to the roots afterwards to lift it up a bit.

    Third photo is with KCC + air drying.

    Fourth photo is with KCC + diffusing until almost dry.

    There's definite improvement. I'm still not sure what to call my temperamental hair-- it's fine enough in texture that I keep thinking it's typical 2A, but sometimes it surprises me with its wave and at others it's just stubbornly flat but frizzy. It seems to come in different patterns in different spots too-- the (damaged & higher porosity) waves on the top are looser, at the nape of my neck the pattern is round and large and perfectly defined, almost to the point of being curly, and some of the front bits curl up more with occasional corkscrew bits and actually lift easily away from the scalp unlike the waves at the crown of my head.

    These are my best hair day pics though, I seem to have less frizz and more shine when I use ACV rinses... but as I probably shouldn't do that every second day, I have plenty of weird hair days in there as well. Does anyone here use beer rinses? I thought I'd try that out next.
  • naturecatnaturecat Registered Users Posts: 1,986 Curl Neophyte
    Personally I found that constant ACV rinses weren't optimal, but I do benefit from using them every now and then. I've never tried a beer rinse but I've heard great things about it.
    Sorry, out of laziness I didn't read your entire routine. Have you ever tried using just lighter products? The KCCC for me pulled out my curl and also it makes the hair take so long to dry that that in and of itself allowed the water to pull out more of my curl. You mentioned parts of your hair curling up more, so I wonder if part of the problem is being weighed down.
    Have you tried IA girl's protein treatment? Basically just gelatin and water. That and lots of deep treatments are the way to go for your damaged hair. I think Fenugreek and Irish Moss are some of the best natural moisturizing treatments that really make curls pop.
    Glad things are improving for you. Stay patient. I was CG for two years before my pattern jumped suddenly from 2a or 2b to close to 3a. Most here don't take that long but on average there's a big learning curve you hit at 5 months, and your hair will start being more consistent and more curly. Considering you're only just starting CG I think that you're already making very good progress.

    Super baby fine hair, low porosity
    Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
    Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
    Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    naturecat, re: Kinky Curling Custard, I notice that my hair looks fantastic when I use only very little to set the curl pattern, especially when diffusing, but becomes a gloopy mess when I overdo it. I put in too much yesterday and ended up dunking my head in the sink and washing it out. The increased drying time, which you mentioned, seems to not to work so well.

    I'm currently experimenting with sea salt spray, which gives a lot more texture to my baby fine hair but doesn't really do much for curls. I'm putting it on dry hair though, so more experimenting is needed with moist hair.

    The products I'm using right now are the cheaper end of drugstore shampoos by Lavera, conditioner is Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus which I read ought to be too heavy for my hair but so far works decently. Many of the products I see recommended here are difficult to get or very expensive on my end of the world, although a quick google tells me the same works the other way around too with the Lavera line.

    Gelatin at least is one shopping trip away so that goes on my list of things to try, not so sure about the availability of fenugreek and Irish moss here. Google is my friend again, I expect.

    Since thought and action are pretty much the same thing for me, at least where hair is concerned, I did another chop... and put in some henna for good measure. My hair seems a lot dryer and stringier now-- protein overload? Maybe it's moisture I need. Or not fiddling with it so much!
  • MorrisonFan91MorrisonFan91 Registered Users Posts: 609 Curl Connoisseur

    there might have been some protein extracts in the henna?
  • naturecatnaturecat Registered Users Posts: 1,986 Curl Neophyte
    Henna is very drying to the hair. If you did not have anything moisturizing in your mix, a conditioning (if not deep conditioning) is needed. In the future, coconut milk in your mixes helps add moisture. Henna can pull out curl though, so just be careful.
    I'm not sure what you meant by increased drying time and not working well? Increased drying time is generally a negative thing, as it can cause water weight to pull out curl. When you use too much product it can take longer to dry and also as you noted, make your hair look overly product-y.
    Sea salt spray adds texture well on wet hair but not so much on dry. At least that's been my experience, and I've noticed others on here have said the same thing.

    Super baby fine hair, low porosity
    Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
    Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
    Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    Yeah, too much product = longer drying time = it pulls out some of the curl AND my hair looks gunky and overdone as f. Self, less is more.

    Some Shea Moisture later, my hair looks and feels halfway decent again. I just wish I had more (or thicker) hair-- my six-year-old has more than I do, which is pretty depressing.
  • melzwmelzw Registered Users Posts: 1
    Hey Confuzzment,

    I'm new here, first post, relatively new to my wavy hair as well, but I read your post and thought of something that is helping me with the same problem. First off, I think your hair is styled super cute in your pictures! I have your same hair: 2a, fluffy/bendy/straightish without effort. My hair is long though and I dislike my waves when they are stringy/beachy.

    Things turned around for me when I figured out how to form "clumps" and style them. I've found that I get my stringy waves when I apply products to damp hair (as usually recommended on the label) or if its already been combed or tossled in anyway, even wet. So its gotta be the clumps!

    Google "squish to condish" and watch videos on how to do it but rinse all the conditioner out instead of leaving some in (too heavy on my hair otherwise). Once my hair has clumps I wrap a towel around myself, head still bent over, exit the shower and throw another towel on the bathroom floor. I have my stylers on the floor awaiting my dripping wet hair. I take a seat, head still upside down and apply my stylers to each individual clump - I smooth it over without pulling (so I don't pull out the wave that's forming) and then scrunch more into the ends for definition. Then I do some hard scrunches to really get the product in and the water out. It sounds like this would take a long time (and I hear you on lazy), the first time I tried it I felt like it took forever because I was afraid I would pull out my curls! Now it happens fast fast fast, my hair makes the same 7 clumps in the same 7 places so its quick. I use a curl styler fist, then a hard hold gel. Drug store stuff is totally cool.

    Then I plop my hair while I get dressed, etc. I blot my hair with a tee before diffusing with my head upright. I scrunch in a little extra hard hold gel before diffusing to replace what I probably blotted out, I need a gel cast or my waves slip away before day 2. In the process of blotting, my big clumps will sub divide but that's OK, it would be weird to only have 7 curls!

    The only downside I've found to this, so far, is that my hair is layered so it can make the back of my head weird (since I am essentially gluing my hair together with my head upside down rather than the way it would lay when its right side up). If anyone has a good fix for that I would love to hear it because I can't figure out how to make clumps right side up!

    Sorry this was long. I found a video online which taught me how to apply the stylers, I'm so sorry that I can't find it again to share with you but I'll look harder if what I'm writing doesn't make sense, it was super helpful and I'm in debt to that woman! I've learned a lot from this site and from YouTube videos and we gotta share the love and knowledge, there just isn't a ton out there to help the loose wavies.

    Best! Mel
  • AlycatAlycat Registered Users Posts: 58
    I have fine hair that looks quite a bit like yours - although my curl pattern is much less even, some bits are curlier, some nearly straight.

    I found virtually all products weighed me down, but I get good results with KY gel, which is the same formulation as the more expensive Curl Keeper - there's lots of posts on here about both.

    My hair turns into smooth, shiny ringlets with KY. It has no weight but it makes my hair clump. It's not supposed to have any hold, but for me it does and I only use a tiny bit on top of a rinse out conditioner.

    The other thing that works, without any conditioner at all, is a tiny dab of Boots pink curl cream, if you are able to get that. It conditions, smooths and holds nicely for me.
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    melzw, that's very close to what I accidentally stumbled on through trial and error. I'm getting some pretty nice definition now with bigger clumps of curls, but it's a bit of a pain to style because my hair is so fine. I may have a normal amount of hair on my head but the individual hairs are very, very fine, typically Northern European. Seems all I got from the Italian side of my family tree was the ease of tanning, not the hair! Anyway, very large clumps of curls just look awkward on my head, so I'm separating the clumps a little when I apply gel. I also try to remember to use salt spray or some type of thickening styling spray before I put in gel, typically KCCC or sometimes plain aloe vera, which works well enough. I find I don't need a whole lot of hold-- now I put in so little gel that I don't even need to do much scrunching to get the crunch out of the curls once my hair is dry. The curls tend to loosen a little over the next days and I get pretty bad frizz at the crown, but I find I can usually get three days of good hair out of a single wash, especially if I spritz with water in the mornings and carefully reshape the curls.

    For me the trick seems to be using very little product and using the right techniques. I tried leave ins or not rinsing out all the conditioner but that just led to limp, flat, overconditioned hair. Some of the more porous bits on top tend to get a bit fluffy without extra condish but somehow my hair looks okay once it's all dried, it's the in between phase where some bits are dry and others moist that looks terrible. I've started diffusing my hair until it's about 80% dry and then letting it air dry without touching it, which ensures it retains the curl well enough and works with my lazy ass hair care regime.

    Alycat, I should be able to get my hands on the Boots curl cream! That def goes on my list of things to try.

    I'm adding a photo of my second day hair from about a week ago. I'm getting consistent results now with my hair, so unless something changes in the next months I suspect this is as good as it will indeed get. 2a? 2b? No idea. The front bits sometimes look more 2c even, there's some corkscrew action and the curl lifts away from the scalp by itself while the texture is more even and flatter at the crown.
  • naturecatnaturecat Registered Users Posts: 1,986 Curl Neophyte
    Looks 2B I think? But if it's 2nd day hair and your hair is curlier on day 1, it would be better to see day 1 hair. I'm glad you're getting consistent results now.

    Super baby fine hair, low porosity
    Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
    Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
    Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT
  • ConfuzzmentConfuzzment Registered Users Posts: 9
    naturecat wrote: »
    Looks 2B I think? But if it's 2nd day hair and your hair is curlier on day 1, it would be better to see day 1 hair. I'm glad you're getting consistent results now.

    Here we go! I read somewhere that 2b waves tend to stick closer to the head, which is all of the hair on my crown pretty much-- there's no root lift. The front gets a little more bouncy than that.
  • naturecatnaturecat Registered Users Posts: 1,986 Curl Neophyte
    I don't put much stock in how the hair behaves (close to the head or not)--I just look at pattern. What's interesting to me is your front pieces, because they look like they want to spiral more. It looks like you have some 2C tendencies in there. :) I remember your hair is damaged, so I imagine that as you grow out the damage your pattern is going to tighten up. When I started I was 2a. Now I'm... not sure lol. 3a some days, some parts are 2b, so 2c/3a on average. It sure helped to get rid of damaged hair! You'll just have to be patient and grow it out.

    Super baby fine hair, low porosity
    Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
    Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
    Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT

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