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How to scrunch out the crunch for beautiful and more defined curls

Do you have trouble getting rid of the crunchy feeling in your curly hair? Or maybe you dread using styling products because you want to avoid crunchy curly hair.

Back in the day, curly-haired individuals often embraced a distinctive look – a crispy, crunchy halo of rock-hard shiny curls achieved through the application of gel or mousse.

Unfortunately, the fear of resembling a perm gone wrong has deterred many from embracing their natural curls.

Little did they know that this ‘cast’ is in fact the key to achieving smooth, glossy curl clumps – and possibly a breakthrough moment in your curly hair routine.

So, how do you go about removing this crunchy cast? Enter the game-changing process known as ‘scrunching out the crunch’ or SOTC.

In this article, we’ll show you how to scrunch out the crunch and achieve bouncy, curly hair. Keep reading to find out more.

In this article:

In this article:

How to Scrunch out the Crunch?

If you apply gel to wet hair and then let it dry, it will leave a cast. This will give your curls that solid and crunchy feel.

You can ‘break’ that cast to reveal your soft and healthy curls. That’s called Scrunching out the Crunch also known as SOTC.

To do this, hang your head upside down, grab parts of your hair and squeeze gently until you feel the dried gel layer dissipate. This motion is continued from the ends of your hair through to the scalp.

This is only to be done on dry hair, because when you scrunch with wet hair it results in frizzy hair and saggy curls. And we don’t want that!

This may require some patience. Because when we say dry, we mean absolutely bone dry.

If you find yourself getting frizzy hair, you can put some jojoba or coconut oil on your palms before you start scrunching.

Bonus tip: If you have a date in the evening, you can choose to leave the gel cast all day and scrunch it out at the end of the day. This way you will have perfectly defined curls on your date!

What is a Gel Cast?

Curly hair can get stiff and crunchy from the cast that styling products create on the hair. This is called a gel cast.

A solid cast is formed by applying styling products to wet or damp hair. While various products can create different strength casts, strong-hold gels and mousses are typically the go-to choices.

Allowing your hair to dry without excessively touching your curls allows a hard, crystalline surface to form around your strands. This encourages the cuticle to lie flat and creates that coveted smooth shine.

However, you don’t want to walk around with rock-hard curls looking like you’ve just jumped straight out of an ‘80s MTV video.

10 Steps to Scrunch out the Crunch

  • Step 1: Start with clean, wet hair.
  • Step 2: Apply a leave-in conditioner or styling cream of your choice for moisture. Skipping leave-in or cream and only using a gel can result in brittle, dry curls.
  • Step 3: Thoroughly apply a gel. The stronger hold you choose, the stronger cast you will get. Curlsmith In-Shower Style Fixer and Shine Gel are the best option for strong hold, followed by the Curl Defining Styling Souffle. Apply gel liberally for additional hold.
  • Step 4: Style as desired.
  • Step 5: Scrunch out excess water and product with a hair towel or T-shirt. Cup curl clumps in sections and scrunch your curls upwards, adjusting the intensity based on your desired volume.
  • Step 6: Apply another light glaze of gel if more hold is desired, but make sure you only gently glide over the curls and not comb in between, or it will disturb the curl pattern.
  • Step 7: Diffuse or air dry, trying not to touch your hair while you do it. Touching the hair will prevent the cast from forming. As the hair dries, you will feel it gets progressively more crunchy.
  • Step 8: Make sure your hair is 100% dry, test this by gently squeezing a clump between two fingers.
  • Step 9: Crunch. Start by applying hair oil to your palms and rubbing them together. A little goes a long way with oils, so avoid applying too much so your curls don’t feel greasy or weighed down.
  • Smooth over the hair and gently scrunch. Continue scrunching your hair until all the ‘crunch’ is gone, leaving your curls soft and bouncy. Don’t forget the back – flipping your hair can ensure full coverage.
  • If you want to retain more hold, which will make your style last for longer, avoid scrunching out all of the gel cast.
  • Step 10: For more volume, reach underneath the hair and shake out the roots by gently massaging them. This can also be done throughout the day to boost hair volume for flat roots.
We are curious how you like our guide to scrunching your hair and what your experience is. Will you let us know in the comments below? And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Different Ways to Scrunch out the Crunch

Bare hands: This is the most economical option.

Silk scarf: Some prefer the added protection and luxury of scrunching with a silk scarf.

Hair oil: Apply a few drops of oil between your palms before scrunching for added shine.

Try alternative techniques: ‘Smoothing out the Crunch,’ ‘Clapping out the Crunch,’ or incorporating a pick for extra volume at the roots.

What If I Don't Achieve a Cast?

Fear not; smooth and glossy curls are still within reach. Experiment with different product combinations or try a strong-hold styler as your final layer.

You could also try applying an additional layer of gel/mousse when your hair is 80% dry, helping a cast to form before complete drying.

How to Prevent Frizz when Breaking the Cast

At times, despite your best efforts, dealing with a bit of frizz after scrunching out your gel cast is an unavoidable hiccup. Several common factors contribute to this occurrence:

1. Insufficient Hold in Your Gel: Check the ingredients in your gel, and opt for formulations with robust hold and humidity protection. Polyquaternium, for instance, offers maximum hold. For a softer look, consider ingredients such as aloe and flaxseed, providing medium or light hold while ensuring lasting moisture and definition.

2. Scrunching Damp Hair: Timing matters when scrunching out the crunch. If your hair is still damp, touching it can lead to frizz. Wait until your hair is completely dry before scrunching. After diffusing, allow your hair to cool down to ensure it’s truly dry, especially for thicker curl clumps that may take longer.

3. Your curls are not moisturized: Dry hair may result in quick drying and frizz when applying gel. Prioritize moisturizing by using a leave-in conditioner or styling cream as a base layer. This ensures proper hydration, with the gel then locking in moisture for effective hold. Regular deep conditioning is also crucial to prevent dryness.

4. Heavy Oils or Butters: Your choice of oils matters. Heavy oils or butters can disrupt the gel cast when scrunching, leading to unwanted frizz. Opt for a lightweight option like jojoba oil or argan oil to soften your hair without compromising the gel cast.

By addressing these common culprits, you can enhance the effectiveness of your scrunching routine and bid farewell to post-cast frizz, allowing your curls to shine with defined beauty.

The era of crunchy perms may be a thing of the past, but the secret to beautiful, defined curls lies in the art of scrunching out the crunch. Embrace your natural texture, follow these steps, and let your curls shine! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get scrunching!

We are curious to hear how you like our guide to Scrunching out the Crunch and what your experience is. Will you let us know in the comments below? And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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