Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Looser Curls

Q: I have thick coarse frizzy curly hair. I put product in it. A salon lady said I have strong curls. They even stay ringlets in the shower and when it's really wet. If I grow my hair out, will my curls become looser?
A: Well, depending on how long you grow your hair (and the exact strength of the curls) you will begin to see some stretching of the curls because of the weight of the hair. The curls will elongate near the scalp where the hair is supporting more of the length, and will get tighter toward the ends where there is less length pulling on the individual loops in the coils.
A good example of how this works is to look at different lengths of curling ribbon. If you take three different lengths -one that is 8-inch, one 16-inch, and one 24 inch - you can see how the length effects curl. Curl the ribbons and look at them first lying on the tabletop then held up by one end. Even though the ribbons may look uniformly curled from one end to the other when there is no weight on them, once you hold them up by the end, the weight of the hair itself will stretch the coils. How much the coils are stretched depends on the strength of the coils/curls, the texture and the length of the hair.
Obviously, the coils of the 8-inch ribbon may not seem to stretch at all, but the 16-inch and 24-inch lengths' coils will obviously stretch significantly more at the point where they are held (though they will get tighter toward the bottom of the length). This illustrates the effect the weight of the ribbon has on the coils. The weight of the hair has the same effect on the coils and curls in it.
You can alleviate this effect by using thinning shears (or chunking shears) on the hair to add some variance in the lengths overall without traditional layering. The "thinning" will allow the shortened hairs to maintain more of the coils near the scalp and give more even distribution to the volume of the hair. Apart from the thinning, it comes down to the use of good styling products (gels and mousses) and smoothing serums to keep the curls sleek and shiny.
Related posts:
Hair growth Q&A
Curly hair and hairstyles
How much hair can stretch