Does your hair just not hold a curl, no matter how much effort you put in or how many products you use? Well, you're not alone. Curls that last on fine hair can seem as unrealistic and unbelievable as Bigfoot. But it's not just your genes—there are quite a few reasons why your fine strands fall limp within a matter of hours (or minutes!). Whatever your hair type or texture, it is possible to curl your hair and make it go the distance, even if your hair is naturally straight as sticks. We called on a handful of hair experts who revealed seven key reasons why your hair just will not hold its curl, so you'll know what to do the next time you want Hollywood waves, beachy texture, or full-on Goldilocks curls.
You haven’t got the temperature ‘just right’
“You don’t want to be using heat over 350 degrees,” says Aleasha Rivers, a Davines educator. “This could cause the hair to shut its cuticle and therefore flatten itself, unable to hold a bend. But you don’t want the temperature too low that it is not strong enough to heat the amount of hair you are picking up in each section.”
The solution: Aim for a heat that creates a curl in your hair without being over 350 degrees. This heat will vary depending on your hair texture and the style of curl you’re trying to achieve—practice makes perfect with this one.
Your in-shower products are coating your strands
“Make sure you are not using shampoos and conditioners that are creating wax buildup on your hair and therefore weighing down the curl and/or coating the cuticle to the point it cannot open if it wanted to,” says Rivers. Silicones, which are often put into hair formulas to add slip and shine, are the most common culprit. Try an apple cider vinegar rinse or clarifying shampoos weekly to clear up any existing residue.
You need to rinse your hair more
Even if you’re already using quality products, you want to ensure you’re thoroughly rinsing your strands in the shower. “Not throughly rinsing out the conditioner creates an oily residue which doesn't react well with heat, and it also creates a barrier that stops the heat from activating the hair curl,” says Laura Courtie, bridal hair expert from Laura Courtie Hair.
You're using the wrong hairspray
It seems like a no-brainer to mist your curls with hairspray when you’re finished styling, and you’d be right, but the hairspray formula is key. “Hairspray is great, but the formula must be dry—any wet spray will make the curl fall down,” says Valerie Maine, a hairstylist at Live True London. If you’re looking for a good one, hairstylists recommend Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($48; amazon.com).
You’re touching the curls before they’ve cooled
If you brush or touch your curls when they are still warm, well, it’s pretty much game over. “[You] need to let the hair cool down completely before touching it," says Stéphane Ferreira, a hairstylist at Live True London. "Do not touch the hair while it is still warm or it will break the curls. I recommend setting the hair with pins or clips until it has fully cooled."
You might need to ditch the styling products
“Sometimes products can actually reverse the holding process by creating weight in the hair, which contributes to the ‘drop’ effect,” says Steph Stevenson, celebrity hairstylist and founder of HNB Salon. “Trial and error works best here, so try with a product and then without; you’ll see what your hair reacts best to. It’s not super common, but some hair actually reacts better with no product at all!”
You might need a haircut
If your hair is naturally curly—but isn’t as curly as it once was—it could be solved by a trip to the salon. “If there is too much weight in the hair, it won’t hold a curl. Personalizing techniques such as ‘twist cutting’ can keep the integrity of your curl, but release a lot of the weight and literally spring life back into your strands,” says Philip Downing, TIGI creative & education director.