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Why Your Fine Hair Won’t Hold a Curl

November 2, 2020

3 Min read

If you have fine hair and find that beachy waves or bouncy curls droop or disappear within hours of styling, you may be making one of these sneaky styling mistakes. Here’s how to fix your fine hair dilemmas.

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You use a round brush too soon when blow-drying

“The sooner you start pulling your hair smooth with a brush as you dry, the straighter your hair will become, and the harder it will be to add curls or bend later on,” explains Faith Huffnagle, Prose director of education and veteran stylist. A better strategy: Rough-dry your hair with no brush (just use your fingers and the blow-dryer) until your strands are at least 85 percent—then start using a round brush to smooth.

You stop blow-drying before your hair’s fully dry

“If there is still moisture in the hair when you use a curling iron, it will not curl as well, and the curls will eventually drop out,” says Huffnagle. To make sure your hair is fully dry before you curl it, blast it with cool air from your blow-dryer, then run your fingers through. It is easier to feel any damp spots, especially in the underlayers, when the hair has been cooled.


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You are turning your curling iron heat up too high

There can be too much of a good thing. When you use an extreme amount of heat (e.g. 400+ degrees) on the hair to curl it, you may actually make the cuticle (the hair’s outer layer) slam shut and flatten so much that it refuses to hold a bend. A super- flat cuticle works well when you want shiny, sleek strands, but not so much when you want texture. Huffnagle says using a curling iron with a lower temperature (between 300-350 degrees) will create a longer-lasting bend. Note: You can also turn the heat too low. If your curl drops out within a minute or two of twirling your hair, you probably need to dial it up.

You have too much product in your hair

Applying stylers with wild abandon can weigh down the hair, literally dragging down curls and waves. So, always start with a conservative application, i.e. a dime-sized dollop of gel or cream—or just three to four spritzes of wave spray.

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You flat ironed your hair recently

Hair does have memory, and if you blow-dried it straight and ran a flat iron through it sometime in the past two to three days (and have not washed it since), it will be harder to get your uber-straightened strands to hold curl.

You curl your hair in a humid room

If you blow-dry and curl your hair in the same room where you just took a steamy shower, you’re making it extra hard for your curls to last. Anytime there is extra moisture in the air—and thus your hair—it inhibits successful heat styling.

You are using the wrong size iron

“A very common styling mistake is using a curling iron barrel that’s too big,” says Huffnagle. Think about it: the larger the barrel, the looser your curl, the faster the dropout. If your waves and curls disappear in under an hour, consider using an iron with a smaller barrel.

You don’t let your hair cool for long enough

After curling, don’t touch for at least two minutes and until your hair feels cool to the touch! Once your hair is completely cooled, and you’ve allowed the bend to set, then you can rake your fingers through or do some gentle tousling.


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Comments [11]

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  1. I’m doing everything you suggest above to keep curl in my hair but none of these work for me….and i have naturally curly hair! it frizzes so i smooth it with a straight iron first. I don’t know whether to use a curling cream or not… Because that dries my hair out. if i don’t, my set just flops. I am wondering if i just have a badly done haircut. my hair simply will not stay combed no matter what. please help. thank you. (i do live in a very dry climate.)

  2. Btw sometimes the answer is just that it won’t curl unfortunately.
    Mine is very thick but fine and I can’t get it to hold a curl for more than a few minutes, even with a stylist and a ton of hairspray.

  3. This article was informative for me. Everything in this article describes every one of my problems when I curl my hair. I will be saving this one. Thank you.

  4. Sorry but none of your above’causes’ apply to me. My hair is very fine. I only use shampoo once a week. I have a heated roller brush which does curl my hair but the curl drops out in about an hour

    1. Hi Sue! All of our products are free of Parabens, Mineral Oils, Dyes, Sulfates, GMOs, Phthalates, and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) 🙂

      -Keely, Prose Community Manager

  5. My hair is very dry very porous and doesn’t hold a curl. I’m trying to figure out how to go natural. My hair is thin so I want something they can look full.Is there anyway that I can twist my hair and it hold the curl and it will stay loose and bouncy? If so how can I achieve that look.

  6. Nothing in your comments apply to me. I let my hair dry on it own but still I’ll not hold a curl. I have done hair. Only way I can get curl is to use mousse and hair spray. Only last 4-6 months. Changed nothing!

  7. Ok so I have tried all differant techniques, iron sizes, temp, no products, and crimping. Everything I have tried I mean everything can’t hold a curl for more than 30 min. I have 2a hair please, I beg you, explain.