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The Struggle of Mixed Curl Patterns: All Variations, Likely Reasons and Ways to Undo It

No two curls are the same. In some cases, this difference between hair curls is quite extreme. That’s when we call it an “uneven/ mixed curl pattern” and it’s more common than you think. But why does this happen? And what can you do about it?

Well, hold tight because this article is all about the contrasting curl patterns you’re struggling with.

The Many Faces of Mixed Curl Patterns

An uneven curl pattern can materialize in different ways. Here are some of the most common mixed textures people experience:

1. Straight Roots, Curly Ends

This look is all about curl rebellion – your roots stay poker straight while the bottom half coils up. It happens when the hair at your crown lacks the oval-shaped follicles needed to curl.

While frustrating, curly ends with straight roots are often a temporary teenage phase. As hormones change, the curls may eventually take over.

2. Tight Coils on Top, Loose Waves Below

Now we’ve got curly domination on top, with looser S-waves taking over the bottom section. This can occur when the hair around your face is damaged from styling and harsh weather.

The solution is protecting those fragile curls on top with gentler products and techniques. Reduce heat styling and handle your crown like fine silk.

3. Curly Framing, Straight Part

Here your curl pattern perfectly frames your face, but parts into stick-straight stands down the middle. This happens when your hair parts at the rounder follicles but the surrounding sections coil up.

Work in creams and gels when hair is wet to encourage the straight pieces to clump with the curly ones. Air drying also helps them mesh together.

4. Inconsistent Ringlets

Is every curl doing its own thing? This mishmash of curl sizes happens when damage is unevenly distributed. To get uniform ringlets, focus on overall hair health and reduce styling manipulation. Your curls will bounce back!

The Likely Reasons Behind Those Unruly Mixed Curls

Genetics Play a Major Role

The leading and most obvious cause of an uneven curl pattern is your genetics, duh. The shape of your hair follicle determines how much curl or wave you’ll have. Curly hair grows out of oval-shaped follicles, while straight hair comes from round follicles.

Most people have a combination of curl patterns based on the follicles they inherited from mom and dad. So if one parent has pin-straight hair and the other has tight coils, you may end up somewhere in between. It’s like a genetic lottery each time a new hair strand sprouts!

Hormones Can Affect Your Curl Over Time

This is more like a phase and not permanent. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause usher in hormonal changes that can alter your natural curl pattern. The increase or decrease of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone may loosen or tighten your coils.

It’s common for curly-haired teens to start sprouting some straight pieces as puberty hits. Similarly, many women notice their curls become looser after giving birth. Hormones are powerful stuff when it comes to your tresses!

Different Textures on One Head

Genetics deals us a hand with hair cards, but how we care for our locks also factors in. Too much heat styling and chemical processing can cause sections of your hair to lose their natural curl over time.

This is why many curly girls have looser waves around their faces but tighter coils on the back of their heads. The hair framing your face endures more styling abuse from hot tools and experiences more sun damage.

Solutions to Get a More Consistent Curl Pattern

Alright, so genetics dealt you a hand of mixed curl patterns. Now what? While you can’t alter your genetic follicles, there are tips for coaxing your hair into a more uniform look.

Protect Your Curls

Avoid over-manipulating the more fragile curly sections. Heat styling, brushing when dry, and tight hairstyles can cause spirals to uncoil over time. Handle your curls gently and rely on deep conditioners and leave-in conditioners to reduce frizz.

Style with Care

When heat styling, take extra caution around naturally curly areas. Use lower temperatures and always apply a heat protectant. If your hair is diffusing differently, opt for air drying instead. This avoids damage from heat.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Moisturize often to keep all hair textures balanced and shiny. Curly pieces need extra hydration to stay coiled. Deep condition regularly and smooth on leave-in cream when damp. Oils like argan and coconut also nourish without weighing hair down.

Consider a Big Chop

If all else fails, it’s time for a fresh start by chopping off heat-damaged and processed sections. Then your new growth can emerge with a uniform curl pattern. You’ll have to be patient growing it out, but sometimes a major hair transformation is just what your spirits need!

Embracing Those Unique Uneven Curls Should Be the Goal

The bottom line is: When you look in the mirror and see a mix of tight coils and loose waves, remember, it’s normal! Having an uneven curl pattern is frustrating, but it doesn’t mean your hair is beyond hope. With TLC and smart styling, you can coax those straight pieces back to life.

It takes time to undo damage, so be patient and kind with your locks. Protective styles and low-heat routines will get your curls back on track. Embrace all textures on your head – the journey to healthy hair is always gorgeous!

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, co-founder of, is a UAE-based board-certified dermatologist. Committed to natural hair care, he's been quoted in MSN, Yahoo, The Mirror UK, Daily Mail UK, Chronicle Live, Gulf News, among others. He specializes in natural hair care, supporting individuals with a range of hair textures to achieve their hair goals