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How To Use Gel On Curly Hair

Gel is a commonly used product within the Curly Girl Method. And for a good reason, because the benefits of gel include: more definition, more hold and less fluff. And that’s what we want, right?

In addition, gel ensures that your curls retain the moisture better and are therefore better hydrated. There are many different types of gel and ways to use gel on curly hair. You can read all about it in this article!

Also read: How to start the Curly Girl Method: steps for beginners

In this article:

In this article:

The benefits of using gel on curly hair

So gel is popular among curlies. These are the benefits of gel on curly hair:

  • Gel helps define curls
  • It provides hold to curls, so that they don’t fall flat through the day
  • By using gel, you ensure that your curls retain moisture better
  • And therefore you have less frizzy hair
  • It helps curls to clump together

How to apply gel on curly hair

How do you apply gel on curly hair? First of all, you need clean hair. 

According to the CG Method, start with a co-washor another CG-proof way to cleanse your curls. After that, use a deep conditioner and let it soak in for a while. 

Once you’ve rinsed it out, apply a leave-in conditioner to wet hair. The last product you use is gel.

Apply this with the praying hands technique. Apply the product to your hands and then place your hands together in a praying position, with your hair in between. 

Slide your hands down in this position – from the root to the ends – so you apply the product gently without disturbing the curls. Use a generous amount of gel to create a gel cast (see below). 

Then scrunch your hair.

After this you can let your hair air dry, plop your hair or if you are in a hurry: blow dry with a diffuser.

Also read: The main techniques of the Curly Girl Method

What is a gel cast?

Is your hair completely dry? Then your curls probably feel hard or crunchy. That is called a gel cast: a hard layer around your hair. 

This layer helps to hold the curls in their natural formation until the hair dries and prevents frizz. The gel cast is an important step that can provide soft but defined curls.

But to get those curls, you have to break the cast first. This is called Scrunch out the Crunch (SOTC) and means you scrunch the hardened gel out of your hair. 

Simply break the cast by lightly scrunching upward. Shake your hair loose a bit, also at the roots, and voila! There are your soft, bouncy, fully moisturized, frizz-free curls.

Optionally, you can add a few drops of your favorite light oil on your hands to keep your hands from causing friction in your hair and disturbing the curls. Other options include using a microfiber cloth or cotton T-shirt.

Didn’t manage to get a gel cast? This can have various causes, such as:

  • You used too little gel or didn’t apply it all over your hair
  • You have used too many or too heavy other products
  • You used oily products to apply the gel
  • Your hair has build up
  • You touched your hair while it was drying. The more you touch your hair, the more likely you are to disturb the curl and create frizz and lose definition.

Check for yourself what caused it and remember this for your next wash day. Keep playing with the amount of gel, the method of application and drying.

What are clumps?

By using gel, you may get clumps in your hair. Clumps are curls that curl together or form one larger curl. 

They form within the hair by not brushing your curls, encouraging them to stick together. 

You can carefully take the clumps apart so that they become loose curls, or just let them sit together.

How to refresh your curls

So you washed your hair and styled it with gel. But what to do on the days after your wash day? Then you can refresh your curls! 

With a refresh you’re able to bring your curls back into their shape the days after washing, without washing them. Hair products such as gel aren’t immediately gone after a night of sleep. 

You can ‘reuse’ these products the next days, by activating them by reapplying the main ingredient to your hair. 

The main ingredient is the ingredient listed first on the list of ingredients on the product label, and that is often water.

So moisten your hair, in the shower or with a spray bottle, with a mix of water and leave-in conditioner. Scrunch your hair and let it dry.

 Sometimes it helps to use some extra styling products like mousse.

Also read: How to keep your curls looking fresh for days for several days

What is the best gel for curly hair?

To choose the best gel for your curls, it’s important that you know your hair characteristics. Think of your curl type, hair characteristics, and the porosity/ and elasticity of your hair. 

Once you’ve found the right gel for your curls, you can start using it!

Below you will find our favorite CG gel. These are products without silicones, sulfates and parabens. Some of the brands we recommend include Curl Flo, Jessicurl, Eco Style, Camille Rose, Curls Goddess, Bounce Curl, Curls, Aunt Jackie’s, and The Mane.

Which Eco gel is good for curly hair?


Eco CG is the method for curlies who want beautiful and healthy curls, but also care about the environment. Did you know that many cosmetics contain microbeads? 

And just think of all the plastic packaging you use every year. Fortunately, there are alternatives! There is a wide range of Eco CG products. 

You can make some yourself, but there are also plenty of zero-waste products for sale and brands that sell Eco CG products.

Examples of Eco gel that are good for curly hair:

Also read: Eco CG: the method for curlies with a sustainable heart

Hopefully by now you know everything about using gel on curly hair! Do you have any questions? Feel free to place them in the comments!


  1. My hair feels real sticky It’s like I can’t break the cast Did I use to much gel What do you do when it’s sticky

    • I’d say you used too much gel. Use probably a dime size amount and then use a curl oil to break the cast. Rub the oil on your mids and lengths and it should cause the cast to break. Some gels are sticky though.

      • *Make sure to apply the oil AFTER your hair dries

    • Hi Lynn,

      I would say that it is a result of heavy gel usage. To lessen that sticky feeling you can add a bit of water to your hair. You can break the cast by applying oil all over your hair.

      Hope this helps!

      Team Kurlify💜

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