Do you ever look at someone with fabulous curly hair and wonder how they achieve those perfectly shaped curls that look like they just walked out of an expensive salon? As someone with naturally curly hair myself, I used to think tight spirals and flawless definition were mostly a matter of genetics and there’s no way to make my curls pop without spending a fortune at the salon. That was until I discovered the simple yet magical hair technique of scrunching.
You can achieve salon-quality enhanced curls at home by following this simple 7-step guide to scrunching that I prepared just for you curlies.
I know it may sound too good to be true, but trust me when I say the secret to irresistible curls is easier than you imagined.
What is scrunching?
Scrunching is a hair styling of cupping curls in your hands and gently squeezing or “scrunching” them to encourage spiral formation.
It can also be described as a curl enhancement product application technique that helps in proper cast formation/hold around your natural curl pattern and enhances them.
Why Scrunching Creates Such Defined Curls?
Now that you’re aware of the basics it’s time to dive a bit deeper – why does scrunching your curls make such a difference compared to just letting curls air dry? Well, there are two reasons:
Scrunching encourages your damp curls to clump together which is then set in place by the curl-enhancing gel or mousse. By squeezing and cupping curls in your hands, you help them take shape and form curl clumps rather than stringy pieces. This makes curls appear more coiled and bouncy. When your hair dries out the cast formed by the gel or mousse solidifies each of these curl clumps in their place- think of it like how a potter shapes wet clay into a desired shape and dries it out to make the shape permanent (not quite permanent in your hair’s case, but you get the gist).
Besides, scrunching helps remove excess water from your hair alongside shaping it, to prevent frizz. Getting rid of water droplets allows your curls to take form smoothly without disruption. Less water means less humidity exposure and friction to cause frizz and fuzz.
By activating these two mechanisms, scrunching gives you touchable yet defined curls every time. Now let’s get into the step-by-step process!
the 7 step process to scrunch your hair
The key to flawless curls starts before you even attempt scrunching. You need to prep damp hair properly so it responds well to the technique, hence the ideal time to scrunch is right after washing your hair.
You can also wet your hair with a mist bottle without the need to shower.
1. Soak excess moisture
Grab a microfiber towel and simply blot it over sections of your hair at a time, press (especially around your roots), and squeeze to soak in the excess moisture, just enough so that your hair feels damp to the touch but no water is dripping out.
2. Detangle your damp hair
Now comes the boring part- detangling your damp hair. Take a wide-tooth comb or wet brush start detangling sections of your hair from the very bottom and work your way up. This allows your curls to separate cleanly when you go to scrunch and helps in better clump formation. Trust me, detangling might be boring but it makes a huge difference!
3. Apply curl-enhancing product
Scrunching your damp hair on its own won’t give enough hold or definition. It needs a curl styling product to hold your curls in the desired shape until they dry out and create a crunchy crust around your clumps. It can be a curl-enhancing cream, mousse, or hold gel. Apply just a small amount so that a fair portion of your hair is coated, you’ll be applying another layer of the same product during while scrunching, we’ll come to that later.
My favorite curl enhancer is Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. But the product choice for casting comes down to preference, your hair type and hold needs.
With prepped hair, you’ve set the foundation for bouncy perfect curls. Now comes the fun part – let’s scrunch!
4. Flip Upside Down and Section Out Hair
Bend at the waist so that your hair is dangling by the roots. It helps enhance gravity’s effect and moderately weight down your curls to give your hair a pleasant appearance. I like to tip my head forward and down so my hair pours straight towards the floor before I scrunch.
Work in sections for best results. Gather the underneath layer and clip up the top. This ensures you can thoroughly scrunch each section without missing any curls. I tend to section my hair into 3-4 horizontal layers then scrunch each one individually.
5. Begin Scrunching
Now for the technique that makes the magic happen! Grab the curl enhancing product you used in step 3 and put a few dollops on your palms and spread it evenly.
Cup sections of curl clumps in your palms and squeeze inwards lightly as you slide each clump upwards from the ends to the top quickly. Avoid going near the roots.
While at the top squish your cupped palms harder and release. If all goes well you should hear a squelching sound during the squish as the product in your palm gets applied to the clumps. Repeat the same procedure for your entire hair section by section until fully scrunched.
Make sure not to overdo it – you still want a soft, touchable texture. The goal is to activate curls not squish them out of existence! When scrunched correctly, you’ll feel curls tighten and spring up. Your hair might feel a bit heavy at first. Don’t worry, your hair is not overloaded, the sensation goes away once your hair and product dries out.
6. Let Curls Diffuse/Air Dry
Don’t touch hair as it dries. Avoid running fingers through curls or messing with shape. Any disruption once scrunched can cause wonky pieces or frizz. Let curls set into place as they dry.
I generally recommend against diffusing as it involves touching your clumps a lot which can disrupt the curl formations if done incorrectly. But if you absolutely must, first loosely plop your hair and diffuse it upside down for extra volume at low to medium-low heat settings. Don’t forget your heat protectant spray girl!
Once hair is about 80% dry, gently pull apart any stuck-together clumps. Then let fully air dry/ diffuse the rest of the way with minimal touching.
7. Scrunch the Crunch
Now comes the step you’ve all been waiting for- it’s ‘Scrunch the Crunch’ time!
If you used a strong hold gel or mousse, your curls may harden with a “crunchy” cast as they dry. This last step “scrunches” that hardness out for soft, touchable texture.
Gently scrunch clumps between your palms once fully 100% dry. The cast will crack and break apart, revealing bouncy curls underneath! Just be careful not to disrupt curl formation.
And voila! Perfectly scrunched salon-worthy curls are all yours. No $200 blowout required. Just grab your favorite hair milk, flip it upside down, and scrunch away. From curly girl to curly girl, trust me – this technique is life-changing. I hope you love your brand-new scrunched curls!