How to Use Hair Gel with Curly Hair

Perfecting your styling technique can be just as important as finding the right haircare products. If you have naturally curly hair and are looking for a new styling technique, using a gel cast can add definition to your curls.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this style before but are unsure of where to start and how to properly style your curly hair using gel. Or maybe you’re wondering, “What’s a gel cast?” Either way, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about gel casts and how they can bring the most out of your beautiful, bouncy locks.

Table of Contents

    What Is a Gel Cast and How Is It Applied?

    1. Start with wet hair

    A gel cast is fairly self-explanatory — essentially, it starts by applying gel to your soaking wet hair. Dry locks and hair gel are almost always a bust; fresh out of the shower is the best place to start. If you’re on the go, or your hair dries particularly quickly, you might consider carrying a spray bottle to spritz your hair with.

    You may ask, “What does applying gel while my hair is still wet accomplish?” The gel mixes with the water to coat your curls in a “cast,” a sort of crystallized layer that forms around each individual curl, keeping your hair defined as it dries and eliminating unwanted frizz.

    2. Test any additional products you use alongside your gel

    Products such as hair creams or leave-in conditioners don’t always pair well with gel. Before applying an assortment of moisturizers, oils and styling agents, test them by mixing a small amount with the gel in your palm. They should combine evenly without clumping or strange consistencies.

    3. Use the prayer hands technique

    To lock in texture, apply gel to the wet sections of your hair with “prayer hands.” Start with an appropriate amount of gel based on your hair’s length. Rub it between your palms to distribute it evenly across both your hands.

    Starting on one side, smooth the gel down one section of your hair at a time moving towards the center. Don’t rake your fingers; keep your palms flat. Then, gel down the opposite side of your hair and move towards the center once again.

    If you find yourself with excess gel on your hands, try using it to coat your roots and the back of your head. But remember — no raking! Be gentle about it.

    Now that the gel has been thoroughly applied, give your hair a good scrunch while it’s still wet. This ensures that the water and hair gel are mixed as much as possible and form a uniform gel cast.

    4. T-shirt for ten to fifteen minutes

    When you’ve finished scrunching, you’re going to want to grab a T-shirt — yes, a T-shirt. Flip your hair into the shirt and tie it up, completely out of your face. Leave it up for ten to fifteen minutes, depending on your hair’s length and thickness and how long it typically takes to dry.

    This T-shirt will absorb a good deal of water from your hair, as well as bits of excess gel. When you let it down, you should notice the effect of the gel cast on the look of your curls already. Now it’s time to dry.

    5. Let your hair air dry or diffuse it

    If diffusing, you’ll want to do so gently and on a low setting. You might even consider quite literally placing your hair directly on the diffuser. However, for luscious, gorgeous curls, air drying often produces the best results.

    Now that your hair is dry, you’ve probably noticed the gel cast is as well. Your hair may feel a little crusty or crunchy. Don’t worry, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be right now; time for another round of scrunching!

    6. Scrunch out the crunch

    Depending upon your hair’s texture, scrunching can be done through various methods to break the gel casing around your curls and bring out the softer, curled layers underneath. You may prefer to use your bare hands, perhaps with a bit of conditioner. Some prefer a thin T-shirt, a microfiber towel or a diffuser to break up the stiffness. You may even consider a lightweight oil or serum to add even more bounce and contrast.


    For more helpful tips and hair products with formulas specifically customized for your hair’s needs, take the Prose hair consultation today!

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